Farewell to Summer

Our summer here is officially over.  Fall begins tomorrow. The high temperatures will linger into October but the nights will begin to cool. In November  we will experience our “fall” in Southern California.  From now until then we will have dry dusty days without rain, Santa Ana winds, and abundant sunshine. The palm trees will remain green, native plants will flourish, hillsides will continue to brown,  leaves will drop and blow in the wind, but a few splashes of fall colors maybe found.

Summer was wonderful.  Although we spent more time at home than usual, we enjoyed many opportunities to get outdoors and appreciate summer. Rather than bore you with details,  I decided to showcase a few highlights and allow the pictures to tell most of the story.

A visit to Berkeley and the University of California

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Exploring Berkeley and visiting with family.

Visiting a winery near Gilroy, California

Salinas, California-Home of John Steinbeck.

Beautiful Monterey Bay

Camping in Big Sur and exploring the California coastline.

Laughing in amazement at sun bathing sea lions.

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A Phoenix sunrise. One of two trips we made to Arizona.

Who knew Arizona could be so green?

We loved our visit to Oro Valley north of Tuscon, Arizona…

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…and even enjoyed the rain!

Our small garden yielded us tomatoes, onions, peppers, squash, and strawberries.

I worked on a few sewing and craft projects.

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We spent a great deal of time with family, friends, and just hanging out.

(and of course eating and shopping!)

So while we say farewell to the Summer of 2016…

I am looking forward to what comes next!

How was your summer?

(or winter-depending on where you live)

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!

Proud to be an American….

 

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I can’t listen to (much less sing) patriotic music without getting all choked up. Perhaps you too feel that way about your favorite patriotic songs either as an American or of your own home country. I think it is great to be proud of our heritage!

There is no time in the United States like the 4th of July (American Independence Day) to appreciate our patriotic music.  Some of our most beloved songs have been around for some time while others are more recent. Regardless, they still fill our hearts with pride and bring a tear to most eyes.

Some of our most well known and popular songs are:

America The Beautiful-sometimes called the national hymn of the United States. It was adapted by a poem written in 1983 by Katharine Lee Bates.

My Country ‘Tis of Thee (also known as America) was written in  1832 by Samuel F. Smith. It was his desire to create a National Hymn for the Untied States.

The Star Spangled Banner-our National Anthem. Written by Frances Scott Key in 1814, it officially became our national anthem in 1931.

God Bless the USA-sometimes referred to the  ‘unofficial National Anthem’ was written by Lee Greenwood in 1983.

This Land is Your Land-written by folk singer Woody Guthrie in 1940.

God Bless America-an American patriotic song written by Irving Berlin in 1938.

From the mountains…

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…to the prairies…

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…to the oceans …

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God Bless America

Cross at Groom, Texas

Many thanks to all who served!

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(my dad-his final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery)

Thommmee and his father-both proudly served as US Marines.

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(combined over 45 years of service!)

I am…

Proud to Be An American.

What is your favorite patriotic song?

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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Boys and Girls

Isn’t it interesting how families seem to have more boys than girls, more daughters than sons, or more guys than gals? In our blended family we have 4 girls and 2 boys, 4 grandsons and 7 granddaughters, 1 great granddaughter and 2 more on the way (due in April and May). Thommmee is 1 of  5 brothers and 2 sisters, I am 1 of 4 sisters and 2 brothers.

In our more local/ immediate family we seem be surrounded by girls. As a result, I spend time with the girls in efforts of cooking, sewing, shopping, etc. We all spend time together camping, vacationing, playing games, barbequing,  beach trips, and a multitude of birthday parties. When it comes to doing ‘guy’ things, however, I have often felt that I fell short. I recently decided to make more of an effort to participate in some of the things that they enjoy. Surprisingly (or not) we actually ended up having a really good time.

A few weekends ago my 16 year old grandson and I made plans to attend an outdoors/sportsman event near me.  We were both really excited to spend this time together but honestly I was a bit apprehensive that I would disappoint him or he would be bored hanging out with grandma. Although we are very close and enjoy a very special bond, we are usually a part of a group since he has become a teenager. He lives about 30 miles away and this would also be his first trip managing the congested Southern California freeways by himself. On a Friday afternoon he headed my way as soon as he got out of school and arrived at my house about 3:30. I had decided to just go with whatever I would normally do so we quickly got busy making strawberry jam. Now, I realize this might not be a 16 year old boy’s idea of fun but I figured it was still hanging out with grandma so…. It was fun and he learned a thing or two about making jam.  Since it was Valentine’s Day weekend, we took a jar of fresh jam and decorated it for him to give to his girlfriend ( along with his other special mementos).

While I cleaned up, he went outside with Poppa (Thommmee) to barbeque some steaks and veggies. I made potatoes and garlic bread.  After dinner we settled down to play some board games and cards. We baked brownies. We talked. We laughed.  Eventually Poppa was ready for bed but we sat up and talked well past my  bedtime. We really shared with each other and I will treasure that evening forever.

Early the next morning the three of us were up laughing and talking over pancakes and bacon (which is enough to make anyone happy-right?) We didn’t invite Poppa or anyone else to go along on this trip so the two of us headed off to the event. Now, I don’t know what I expected, maybe a bunch of dudes in overalls chewing tobacco or some other foolish notions of what hunters, gun carrying survivalists might look like (sorry if I offended anyone here-I am somewhat a sheltered urban raised girl ). Anyway, it was mostly men (hey ladies, the ultimate place to meet a guy maybe?), normal looking people, a few women, and even a few families. Nonetheless, I am fairly certain I was the only proud grandma accompanied by her handsome 16 year old grandson. We had a great time but for me this was a one time event (just the show not the grandson).

Encouraged by this adventure, the following weekend I offered to take Thommmee to the Gold and Treasure show at the Fairplex (formally know as the LA Fairgrounds). He loves to watch all of those treasure hunting, prospecting, gold digging type shows so he was all in! (maybe this is where I got that stereo-type idea of the outdoorsmen?) They were selling all types of  machines, gizmos,  and every sort of prospecting gear you could imagine. They even sold dirt and a dirt of the month club membership so you could pan for gold in the privacy of your own home…really? Again, mostly men but more women and families at this event…..normal people! I think get these ideas from the shows Thommmee watches. They must pick extremes types to keep the shows interesting.

OK. I tried. I love the outdoors. If you read my blog you know I love to camp, I sleep in a tent and cook outdoors. These two weekends were a bit of a stretch for me but these men  appreciated my willingness to try something new and I got to spend time with these great guys.  I am not complaining at all. Next weekend our church is having a ladies afternoon tea which I will be attending. Not sure this is a fit for me either. I like my jeans, sneakers and bracelets. Perhaps I am someplace in between but I would like to keep an open mind.

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Super Bowl Sunday and a day at the beach

Some people love football. Some people don’t. I don’t. Thommmee does. When faced with what to do on game day, he went to watch the big game with our daughter. She does. I picked up the 4 of the grandkids (they don’t) and we headed to the beach.

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It happened to be a beautiful day in Southern California.

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This was so much more fun than watching a football game.

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A New Chapter of Exercise

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Like many of us, I started the new year with a plan to start exercising more. Like many of us, the idea is easier said than putting into action. Since I have a local gym membership, I decided to find out what classes were offered that might help keep me motivated. Sometimes a commitment works better than just half of an enthusiastic plan. I found a class on Tuesdays and Thursdays at high noon so off I went.

I am usually a morning person so the idea of a noon class did not appeal to me but since I was making this commitment I went for it. This class is a senior exercise class so I expected to walk in to a bunch of…well seniors… sitting on a chair swapping recipes and talking about their next doctor appointment.

Was I ever wrong!

Yes there were chairs (for which I began to appreciate in the first 15 minutes), weighs,

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resistance bands, balls, music, and well…seniors!

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(no, this is not me)

 Not seniors like you might think of your grandma or that lady down the street, but active busy seniors that have a desire (and are able) to stay that way…well…like me! That is perhaps where the similarity ends.  These seniors (most of who had been attending for some time) know how to move. They can hop, pump, keep time, and go strong for the entire 60 minutes!  Although I did complete the class on day one, I was exhausted. To make me feel even less fit (if that was even possible) the instructor is a gorgeous 70 year old woman!

WOW!

As I stumbled out of there that first day I made the decision to come again. I think they were surprised to see me back knowing that the roads are paved with good intentions and this core group of seniors had seen their share of newcomers come and go before. Like I said, I am committed. Yes, I was thankful that we sometimes sit, occasionally hold on to the chair, take a few water breaks, but this one hour class is intense! I have adjusted my schedule (as well as my attitude) for the class at high noon,  put people around me on notice not to expect to hear from me during this hour and hey, I have to get going! Its Thursday and almost time to head off to class.

Until next time………

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Moving Forward

Last week I was merely looking forward and now I am actually moving forward!  As with most of us, we start out the year with the best of intentions and I am no different. How long we can keep it up?  Well, that depends on the person. Based on my past experience, I know that my excitement (and energy) may fade in time so I am trying to strike while the iron is hot as they say.

While my Christmas decorations still linger all over the house…

and our sad little tree, although stripped of its ornaments, still lies in wait for hibernation.

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We  bought this pitiful little tree about 4 years ago as a door buster/pre Christmas sale. I had wanted a new tree for such a long time but hesitated to spend the money. This was such a deal I jumped on it  and gave our nice full-slightly worn tree to one of our daughters. When I put this one up I wanted to call her and ask for my old tree back (which is still looking beautiful at her house by the way) but  that didn’t seem fair so we decided to just make the best of it. We have learned to love this little Charlie Brown tree and it is actually much more practical in our small home. This is true most especially  on Christmas Eve when we cram between 25-30 family members in this little place!

Anyway, I digress. As I mentioned in my last post I was excited to start organizing and purging and decided to ignore the holiday stuff for now (besides, we do enjoy our little tree as do the cats).

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Next I decided to tackle my sewing/spare bedroom.  I tossed out 2 bags of trash and 3 large bags to be donated or set aside for our next (probably unsuccessful) yard sale. After all, Why not clutter up the storage shed and a chance to maybe change my mind about a few things?

I began pulling things out of drawers and closets and created a great deal of chaos. I had scraps, lengths of fabric and craft supplies everywhere.

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When I returned to sewing a few years ago I read some advice that you should not throw away even the smallest scrap of fabric. There would always be some use for it down the road. Well, I took this to heart and complete disorganization erupted. I had stuffed and stashed in every spare inch . This was not going to be part of my organizational plan so I decided to only save the small pieces that I could fit into one container.

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Now don’t feel too sorry for me. This does not count the larger pieces of fabric, nor heaven forbid,  my FABRIC STASH. I painfully let go of some little pieces and some crazy things I would never use.

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I am sure I could find a use for the tiger scrap on top but not in my foreseeable future so I ruthlessly tossed it  out ( I kept the basket).

Then I got down to the nitty-gritty. This vacuum sealed bag of various fabric is going to the donation bin…. or the shed for the potential yard sale.

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It is difficult to get a true picture of how much fabric is in here. Most of it was given to me anyway so I  am fairly certain I would never have a use for most of it.

Things were starting to come together…

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I arranged some almost finished spools of thread in a decorative way so not to clog up my thread organizer.

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The closet was a bit more challenging but I kept at it…

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…and managed some organization.

Finally I surveyed the room and I have to say was somewhat pleased with the result.

It’s not perfect but everything has a place and all of my fabric is in a storage bin or neatly organized. I think my  guests next week will be comfortable.

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Lastly, I took a moment to not only appreciate two days of hard work, but to admire the view outside my sewing room window.

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Now it’s time to put away the Christmas decorations.

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Then I can begin my new sewing project.

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Yes…

I really did go out and buy more fabric!

Looking Forward

What a great time to look forward!  Nothing like the thought of a new year to inspire us to set goals, make plans, decide to eat healthier, and to get moving. For me, not only am I faced with a new year but I am beginning my third year of retirement!

I eagerly jumped out of bed this morning, (well, maybe I lazily I climbed out of bed) full of optimism to begin the new year. Grand ideas have been swimming through my mind these past weeks about what I might do and what changes I might make. The Christmas cookies were finally gone, any leftover treats either consumed, given away, or tossed. The last of the gifts have been given, and the left over wrapping paper stowed away in anticipation for next year. The day was sunny and the spirits high.

After my healthy breakfast (and coffee without cream), I decided to tackle cleaning out my closet and drawers. Why this seemed more important than putting away the holiday décor I can’t say but I was in the mood to organize so I went with it!  I purged and tossed, I set aside things to be donated and organized everything in sight.

My make-up drawer is ready for the new year.

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 I could not bear to take a before picture.

A few loads of laundry later it was lunchtime. I had whipped up some fat busting cabbage soup

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and consumed multiple glasses of lemon water.

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Fortunately I planned ahead and went grocery shopping yesterday to make sure there were plenty of healthy options on hand. Reminds me of a favorite quote:

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

OK, so the rest of the day? I talked to some of the kids by phone, chatted with my sister, texted some family and friends, and watched some You Tube videos for inspiration for new sewing projects. I did not watch the Rose parade going on about 30 miles away. No football for me. Overall if was a very nice way to start the new year. The gym will probably have to wait until next week.

Happy New Year

and welcome to 2016!

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.