The Public Library

A much younger person once told me that the day of a public library had passed. He felt there was no need to check out books, sit in a stuffy place while people around him said shhhhh. Computers were a much better way to research any bits of information that a person might need.  Uh…hadn’t I ever heard of Amazon???  Sitting to read a magazine or explore a bookshelf seemed like a waste of time to him. The idea of handling a bunch of musty old books or any other such nonsense seemed incomprehensible. As much as I tried to plead my case for the need of libraries, he just didn’t get it.

Ahhh well…youth…????

With a broken computer at home I am at the library-using a public computer. Having a smartphone or tablet  I seldom need an actual computer these days-except to write a blog post, type or print a document maybe. It might be more fashionable to head on over to a Kinko’s or some other such place, spend a few dollars and act like I don’t really need to be there…but… why would I want to do that when I can do this for free with my

Library Card!!!

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Oh sure, if I want to print something here it will cost me 10 cents a page (although it was free for may years) and I can only use the computer for 2 hours per day…but

 Why not?

If you have read my blog previously you may  know that I have fond memories of libraries-about my father taking us to the library as children while my sister and I checked out stacks of books (for free-if you don’t count the overdue fines we inevitability incurred). Most recently I talked about how much I enjoy the online services offered. I am able to search for a book at online at home, place a request, and then wait until the book is located. A text message will alert me when I am able to pick it up and for how many days it will be held. I can then pop into the library to pick it up. I also receive a text message when the due date is approaching. I can log on to my library account and renew my book several times before I actually need to make another trip into the library. No more overdue fines and super convenient!

OK, you might say. That is all very nice. After all, you can just run to the local big name book or warehouse store to purchase a book. Of course there is Amazon. If you have Prime you can even receive it within hours or the next day. No worry about fines or library cards and all of that nonsense.

Good thought.

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Well….

Today I needed to use a computer. Since the computers at the library are in high demand, I am assuming many other people need computer access for some reason. As I nosily look around, I see people job searching. Some here are seniors, some people dressed nicely-others not so nice. Perhaps  owning a computer is not within their budget. A few students are here working on projects of some sort. For some families a computer might not be in the budget or if they have one the cost of internet is too high. In our area you can expect to pay $60 a month (at least) for home internet service. McDonalds  or Starbucks might not be convenient or available or whatever.

The library is getting busy as kids finish their school day. I see a few young people here-a couple of girls quietly giggling together while they have school work laid out on the tables before them There is a young couple studying. What a  nice way for teens to study together.

I picked up a flyer at the door.

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They are promoting upcoming library events like storytime for kids on Tuesdays  or a free craft corner in the evening. The library is celebrating Hispanic Heritage month and a date for a puppet show of Alice In Wonderland is approaching. There is a literacy program. There are opportunities for volunteers. The Friends of the Library have a small bookstore where donated books are sold for a fraction of the cost of a new book. Contact your local library to see if they are taking book donations. (Most of us have a few laying around gathering dust and taking up room) Movies and books on tape/CD are found here too!

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Who knows? The children’s reading area might stimulate a lifetime of learning!

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Maybe the library isn’t for you but this really is an opportunity for many…people of all ages!  It is diverse in its offerings and with a county or city library system if your location does not have what you are looking for they probably can get it! The reference librarian is available to direct and assist you in your search.

And its free!

I passed a young mother on my way in today. She had a young boy of about 6 years old in tow. Her arms were overloaded with a stack of children’s books.  They were laughing and talking as they walked away. I envisioned them laying all of those books on the living room floor to explore together. Or maybe she would read to him as he snuggled beside her in a cozy chair. They may have some set aside for bedtime stories. Bonding time. Books can take you places or stir the imagination!

We will go shopping for a new computer this week and I will probably not be back to use the computers anytime soon. Sure, I could pop over to the bookstore and buy a book but I feel my money is best spent elsewhere (we all have our priorities). Sure, I buy books on Amazon if I need to own an actual book. There is, however, something about the atmosphere of the library that makes me love being here. Few distractions, no cell phones, no dirty dishes calling to me!  Maybe it’s the memories it evokes. I don’t know for sure.

What I do know for sure, is that the library system we have here is a gift and I hope it is one we can embrace in a changing world. A library just might be one of the best kept secrets!

Summer, Sewing, & Retirement

Every once in awhile I need an attitude adjustment. This retirement thing is a work in progress. Even after 2 1/2 years I can easily fall into lazy habits, get off track, cringe when I jump on the scale, and well…basically I need to refocus! Not that I am not busy but I sometimes have found myself being busy with the business of being busy.

Huh????

Last week is a perfect example. On Monday I was at the hospital all day waiting for the arrival of our newest great-granddaughter. Very exciting! I was the on call labor coach in case the young parents needed reinforcements. I have been front and center for four of my own (of course), my sister, and four grandchildren. For six others I have impatiently sat in the waiting room. I have completed 3 Lamaze classes, read countless books, and offered too many hours to count of advice by phone, visits to nervous moms, and had more than most of sleepless nights in this miracle of babies, pregnancy, and babies being born. So there was no place I would have rather been!!

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I mean, is she perfect or what????

It was also the weekend visit of one of my oldest and dearest friends, a baby shower of her second grandchild, and a visit from our oldest grandson, home from almost two years away. During the week I met a sister for lunch, had my brother staying with us (and thrilled to have him back),  met a friend for coffee and another dear friend for our usual swimming meet up. Church, household stuff, Bible study, and oh yeah…Thommmee-the most patient and understanding husband on the planet needed some attention too.

Anyway, I realized that all of this business was causing me to stress a bit and I wasn’t enjoying the moments with all of the scheduling. I was talking too much about what I still had to do (how special did that make the person I was with feel?) so….readjusting and focusing on my friends and family became priority. Fortunately, these wonderful people love me as is and were most patient with me. I have to say, I treasure each and everyone of them!

Once I realized what I was doing I reminded myself to do what I love, make Thommmee a top priority, and slow down a bit. After all, retirement does not need a checklist!

What does that have to do with sewing you might ask? One of the things I love is sewing. My newest project is making these Sprocket Pillows.

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(for a niece)

They are so fun to make and a great way to use up scraps of fabric.

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(given to a granddaughter)

I am giving them away as fast as I make them.

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(another granddaughter)

I am not offering a tutorial as I was not able to obtain permission from the website where I found them (besides her tutorial is so fantastic). You can find instructions at cluckclucksew with a template included.

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(my friends grandson-nursery colors black, white, and gray!)

They are simple, fairly quick, and come in two sizes.

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We are leaving in a few days for a trip. It will include a visit along the California coast. Our itinerary open and flexible. Brother is back to work, baby and new parents are doing fine (we saw them yesterday). The grads have graduated, no birthdays, and the diet is out the window anyway.  No sewing next week but, that is alright.

I am ready for some quiet and time with Thommmee.

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Raising Teens in Today’s World

It is never easy to raise a child-especially a teenager. Anyone who has experienced this can relate to this statement. I  am often grateful that my years of raising my five children is over (yeah-right)!  Watching the struggles of my kids, now parents, raising their own children is hard enough but I can turn the ringer off of my phone and pull the covers over my head at night if I want to. No waiting up to make sure everyone is home and tucked in for the night.  I sometimes cringe when I recall some of the conversations I had with my teens. Occasionally, however, I can smile with a hint of pride on how other discussions turned out. I tried my best but, as you probably know (either being a teen once or raising a teen), things do not always go as planned. It was all very hard work-a true labor of love-but not one I would like to try again anytime soon!

Today I felt more than a twinge of pride when I read my daughters Facebook post. Her courage touched me deeply and I wanted to share what she wrote:

Hi Mom,

I know you aren’t on Facebook anymore. This is what I posted this morning. It was a wow moment. Thought I would share! Love you.

Please read! I have always had open and frank discussions with my children about safety, danger, peer pressure, life in general. Sometimes, I get the eye roll implying “mom, we’ve already heard this”. With my son now licensed and driving, and my daughter in middle school, I continue to, from time to time, remind or reiterate these dangers, providing tips, advice, and love. Last night after my son got home from the football game, I decided to sit him down for another talk. The question often is “why don’t you trust me?” My reply is always the same, I do trust you, it’s the rest of the world that I don’t trust. He became a little irritated by the conversation of what to do if someone is drinking, not getting in cars, call us if you are ever in a bad situation, never let others drive, etc. I am not in any way condoning underage drinking, however I am not naïve to believe such situations aren’t happening at some time or that our children are not at some point being exposed. I felt bad for irritating him, especially following a fun evening for him and a safe return, my timing probably wasn’t great. This morning I got up and was doing my usual reading the news online and came across this story.

‘We felt invincible’

Irritate your children! Talk to them! Pound it into their head! Say it and then say it again!!!! It’s worth it. They are worth it!

Wow is right!

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Guess she was listening after all.

A Mother’s Day letter to Mom

A mom is such a special person. Mom’s seem to care about all of those little things that probably don’t much matter to anyone else. Yes, they care about the big stuff too but somehow since you have been gone, it is  the little things that I miss the most.

When the kids were young I would call you for advice or just to listen.  As I have grown older (and so have my own children) I began to realize how tired you must have been coming home from a long day at work. You still had dinner to cook,  teenagers to deal with, a house to keep up, and many other things pulling at you, but somehow, you always made time for my phone calls. When maybe all you wanted to do was soak in a warm bath, you found the time to listen to me anguish over parent teacher conferences,  unexplained rashes or fevers,  parenting, and anything else that I called about. You always remembered to follow up after doctor appointments or check in on that headache that wouldn’t go away. You never forgot a birthday and as sure as the sun rose in the morning there would be an Easter, Halloween, or Valentine card in the mail for each grandchild. You understood the thrill those little ones felt from getting a piece of mail addressed to each one of them. And yet..how did you know to do this this? You did not have the childhood of story books or a mother you could call when you were raising six young children. How did you know to braid our hair or polish shoes for Sunday school? Who taught you how to help with homework or play Candy Land and Old Maid? It could not have been easy and yet…you seemed to do it all with such expertise that one would have thought you learned these things from your own mother-which sadly we knew was not the case.

You were my champion in the (so called) fight to grow up. While we had an amazing father (many could only dream of), he was strict as well as loving. You were there, the quiet force behind the man, guiding us to independence and  knowing that letting a bird fly free would allow them to grow. And we did. You were the heart of our father. Together you taught us respect, honesty, faith, integrity, kindness, patience, and most of all love.

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I miss you, Mom. I miss those phone calls.

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I miss our breakfasts together and sitting around the dining room table with you. You never sought the limelight but always allowed us to shine. You seemed to bask in our successes and loved us through our failures. You bandaged our scrapes and held us when we cried. You supported us every step of the way and I have tried to follow your example. When deciding what to do I often reflect on how you might have handled a situation and follow your lead. You never pried and never offered unsolicited advice-which I am still working on.

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As we face another Mother’s Day without you I am reminded of how much you were loved and of how much you are missed. I am grateful for the years we had together. I know you are at peace. I am very grateful to have had you as my mom.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom

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I love you.

 

 

Waiting

Waiting for something or someone…although I do have more patience than I did when I was younger, waiting has been challenging for me at times. I guess that might be said for most of us. As kids we waited excitedly for Christmas or birthdays or summer break. Perhaps the wait was fun because these were such big events in our little lives. It must have been difficult but looking back it seems like half of the fun was the anticipation.

As we grew older we continued to wait. Summer vacation still loomed before us but perhaps in a different way. I loved school so summer vacation meant I waited for summer school to start. We would take classes during the summer so we could take more electives during the regular school year. Usually it would be a history class-which I did eagerly wait for so that I could take two choir classes in the fall. I definitely looked forward to that! I waited to be with my friends during school. Summers were long and hot in Southern California and in those days most people did not have air conditioning and we did not take many vacations. We waited to turn sixteen, getting our drivers license, dating, weekends, school football games, and dances. We waited for graduation. (Turning eighteen was not such a big deal because if you lived at home you were still under your parents rule). Getting your first apartment,  your first job, your first car-now that was something to wait for!

After high school we waited to begin college, begin a career and find a life partner (not necessarily in that order). We then waited to become a wife and mother. Some of us pursued our careers-some of use chose to stay home as full-time or working mothers. Waiting for each child…waiting for that first day of school…the cycle continued but now we were waiting for our children to reach their own milestones and we were  seeing the world (a very different world) through their eyes.

Now waiting became an entire new concept. Waiting to feed our families, waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting for bedtime (because we were so exhausted), waiting for school to be out, to pick up kids from soccer practice or other activities (because kids can’t walk anywhere now). Now I waited for them, report cards, drivers licenses, graduations, college and the world goes on.

All too soon I was waiting for them to move out, get a job,  get married,

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start a career-or both-or something! I waited to become a grandmother and to then figure out what I am doing with the rest of my life! Have I waited long enough to pursue a career-or continue an old one, will I celebrate a milestone anniversary or will marriage survive the changes?

I have waited a long time to begin my life anew. For some it might look different. For me it is retirement and spending time with those I care about (and especially Thommmee).  I don’t seem to be waiting so much these days.

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I am  actually living  and appreciating life in ways I never dreamed of. Waiting now is a time of peace. I could be a bit saddened to think of how much time was wasted waiting when I was younger but you know what? I am not. I loved the waiting. I loved the anticipation of life around the corner and while I may have not known it at the time-that was life! Now this is life. Waiting for a flower to unfold,

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the spring blossoms,

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waiting for one of the kids to call and interrupt my sewing, waiting to grab my camera to catch that magnificent sunset,

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waiting to put on my comfy slippers,

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or to sip my morning coffee,

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or to take my cake out of the oven.

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I love waiting to spend time with the grandkids.

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Do you know what…

it was worth the wait!

I forgot to mention…

I am waiting for the birth of our newest grandson who is due at any minute!

Unsolicated Advice

I received a call from my daughter today. Actually we speak regularly so there was nothing special about the call. After some time, however, she was asking me about parenting, relationships, and growing wiser with age. As I offered some opinions and thoughts she asked me why didn’t I blog about these things instead of ‘oatmeal pancakes’ (my most recent post).

I explained to her that generally speaking, most people really aren’t interested in my opinions. There are many self-help books out there, mass media psychologists,  and that many people already have their minds made up anyway.  She disagreed with some of my reasoning. Well, yeah, sometimes my kids listen to me-in fact more since they have grown older! Perhaps that is one of the things I have become wiser about as I have aged-minding my own business!!

Mind Your Own Business!

Mind Your Own Business!

However, I thought about what she said and decided to throw some ‘free advice’ out there. These are the ideals I try to live by. I am, however, a work in progress (still after all of these years) so I am not saying I am always successful.

Thoughts on  parenting:

1. Love your children.

2. Spend time with your children.

3. Respect your children.

4. Listen to your children.

5. Don’t be afraid to discipline your children. They have friends-be a parent.

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Thoughts on relationships:

1. Love (or like as appropriate) the people you care about.

2. Cultivate and appreciate your relationships.

3. Respect the people in your life.

4. Respect yourself -you will have more to offer that way.

Respect

Life:

1. Care about people.

2. Be honest and have integrity.

3. Respect others-them, their property, their thoughts.

3. Love God.

4. Care about the world around us.

That’s it!

Oh…and it’s ok if you don’t want my advice.

I am going back to minding my own business now!

 

 

The kindness of stangers

My daughter was recently traveling alone.  She called to chat briefly while waiting for her flight. We hung up after a few minutes as she prepared for the boarding call.  About ten minutes later I was surprised to receive another call from her phone. This time, however, it was a stranger and my heart sank. A stranger had found my daughter’s cell phone in a very busy airport.

We hear about the theft of these desirable smart phones, the indifference of people, or just the hustle bustle of our daily lives in today’s world, but a woman took the time to call the last number dialed on a found cell phone-the number listed as mom. I was able to give this kind stranger limited information, no flight number, only the destination, the approximate flight time, and which airline. I also gave a description and her name. We quickly hung up while this woman hurried off in search of my daughter. No luck. In no time at all, she called me back to say mission not accomplished but that she would keep trying. This traveler had just arrived at her destination and of course was anxious to move on with her own plans. I thanked her profusely and she said she was going to try again to locate my daughter. Needless to say I was feeling some anxiety at this point. Sure enough, I received another call from this Good Samaritan who told me the flight had boarded and she was not able to find my missing daughter. (Although she is a 35-year-old woman, a mother always worries-right?) If all else failed, she would hand the phone to the gate agent.   About 15 minutes later, my daughter called, saying she was on the plane, phone in hand, and they were about ready to take off. It was not until my daughter arrived home that I was able to grasp the extent of what this traveling stranger had gone through to return the phone to its owner.

The mysterious woman had waited at the gate after the flight boarded. When my daughter was on the plane and realized she did not have her phone, she pushed past boarding passengers (annoyed passengers I am certain) and rushed back to where she believed she had left her phone. She thought she had heard her name called out but did not stop to investigate. Defeated, she headed back to the plane to reboard and there, waiting patiently, was the kind stranger, awaiting  her return and to hand her the phone. She must have seen her exit the plane, called out, and receiving no response, knew she would be back before the departure. With the flight about to leave, there was no time to exchange names or do more than a quick thank you before both women headed off in different directions. I hope she knows how much her kindness was appreciated.

Many times in life we are given the opportunity to offer kindness to a stranger. I want to use this as a reminder of that. May the next time I am able to show an act of kindness-even in some small way- I will step up and take that offer. Will you?

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