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Showing posts from 2016

"A baby changes everything"

December is a diverse month.  Winter officially begins, shopping is in full swing, it seems dark more than it is light and for me, this month is bittersweet.

Over the years, December has proven to be a difficult month for our family.  We have suffered significant health issues and loss.  At times it has been difficult to hold on to the hope that this season offers.

This is in sharp contrast to growing up; this time of year was filled with anticipation and excitement.  By Christmas Eve us five kids never could seem to settle down and go to sleep.  I remember still being awake in the wee hours of the morning.  I am sure by that time, mom was desperate to finish wrapping and GO TO BED.

My earliest recollection of the true meaning of Christmas was when I was in 5th grade.  We did not go to church regularly as a family, but often times we were included and attended with neighbors and friends.  The lady across the street was our "before school" babysitter and her family attended a…

Which one do you feed the most?

A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other.  One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred and fear.  The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”  The grandfather quietly replies, “the one you feed the most” .   This story has many titles, and variations and the source of origin is unknown.  What is consistently the same is the outcome. 
I am a "half-full" kind of woman.  I believe I am this way because of  "the one I feed the most".  Katy and I have talked about this; our shared ability to turn a negative into a positive...or at least find a bright light in any given circumstance.  And when no bright light can be found, we take comfort in the fact that it wasn't any worse.
Thirty years ago (to…

The trouble with dream vacations.....

Wow!  What a great week spent celebrating our 20th anniversary and having our friends join us on our adventure.  We accomplished so many "firsts" for all of us (and at our age, I didn't really think there would be that many left).

I have also discovered as I have entered this phase of my life (not sure exactly what it is) that I am much braver than I have ever been before.  I tend to make plans without going over every little detail that could possibly go wrong...who am I?

Example:  Last week on our "escape from reality" I zip lined.  Not just one line but six...did I mention this was in a jungle in Jamaica?  WHOOHOOO.  It was simply amazing.  And obviously a first because I am not keen on heights...or I didn't used to be.  A couple of these lines went from tree to tree with a very small platform to stand on (with about 10 other people).  I may have become a "tree hugger" also (he he).

Next up - Mayfield Falls.  I thought we would hike along the f…

The other woman

Can you believe it?  Days before we are scheduled to leave on our 20th wedding anniversary cruise
, Mr. French brings another woman to live with us?   Even though blogs, Facebook, and all other forms of social media seem the place to hang out the dirty laundry, I never thought it would be me on the "sharing" end.

Just when I thought we were doing great, embracing the "empty nest syndrome" and entering the children free zone with vigor, a stranger has entered our midst.  Not only did he upset my apple cart, he upset the little apple that didn't fall far from either tree (Madi, for those who don't follow me).  Yes, it was the day before Thanksgiving when this happened and she was home to witness the bold entry this woman made.

I asked him "WHY? Why now?  What could possibly be missing from your life.  His answer surprised me.  He said "I just need someone who will listen to me (translation ,,,,and do what I say,,,,every time I ask).

So there you hav…

If my memory serves me might be a first!

I have been trying to remember (with little success) when I first noticed that I didn't always remember things correctly.  I know it has been over a period of several years and it hasn't gotten any worse.  It just "is what it is".

Names are particularly challenging to me.  Whether it is the name of a musical group, movie, book or person, I can slaughter them all. The bad thing about getting a person's name wrong is that if I go uncorrected for any amount of time, then I start second guessing myself as to which name is actually the right one. That is where "hey, buddy" has come in handy for me.....many times.

I know my daughters (yes, plural) take particular delight when I misspeak.  An early example was when the group "Lifehouse" became popular.  I really enjoyed their music.  Unfortunately, for the longest time I thought they were "Lighthouse".  Sigh.

Obviously my memory isn't hopeless, because I can remember my mistakes.


Still crazy after all these years!

My best friend Catharine (also known as Rissy's best friend) used to say she couldn't take me anywhere.  When she worked with me as my Administrative Assistant, there were times when we would travel together and on more than one occasion, I would attract some man's eye.  Okay, kids, this may have been a few years ago but not THAT long and if I can still remember it couldn't have been that long ago.

So, it happened again this most recent trip.  And I have to say, I was a little embarrassed at first.  Let me set the stage.

I am standing in line waiting to board (A21) when I heard a man calling out to my left.  I looked over and this good looking man was intently looking at me.  Almost as if he knew me.  I looked around to make sure he was directing his attention at me and when there was no doubt, I just smiled slightly and looked away.

IT DID NOT STOP THERE.  Now, he is verbally trying to get my attention.  I am giving him the side-eye glance and he is smiling …

It's complicated

What goes into a friendship?  Or love?  It's complicated, right?

When I was young(er) ...also could be stated as when dinosaurs roamed this earth - my first impressions of people revolved more around how they looked.  I believe I did this because at some level, that is how I wanted to look.  My sister Katy reminded me of when I started working at the same place she did when we were in our 20's.  She asked me who I thought I would be friends with.  I quickly said Rita and Sheryl and I chose them because they were a little older than me, dressed smartly, and were in low management positions.  They also "looked" friendly.  There came a day (as I was beginning to know them) that how they looked to me changed.  And it wasn't positive.

This had everything to do with "who" I thought they were, rather than "who" they really were.  It had nothing to do with who they were married to, slept with, what their political affiliation was, their skin color or …

(My) Internet Life

Who remembers encyclopedias?  In the "olden days" there used to be encyclopedia salesmen that would worm their way into your house, and before you knew what happened, they were holding your wallet.  Yes, you had agreed to buy a 24 volume set (with a few extras tossed in) for the small monthly fee of $$$$ that would last long after the golden etching wore off the books.

And then came the Internet.  What a glorious day that was.  I didn't fully appreciate the "Dear Abby" connection when it first came out, but I am a card carrying member of instant gratification of knowledge (and just about everything else) now!

Imagine, you are sitting in a meeting, lunch, the passenger seat of a car....and a question comes up.  No need to say I don't know or I will find out.  You go to the appropriate Safari app on your oh so very smart phone and type in the question that needs answering.  Low and behold, you will have a plethora  of answers from various sources!  (Validit…

Copy that!

I have told (and been told) that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  All my girls have had times in their life when someone was "copying" off of them.  I would instantly bring out this remedial saying, which we all know brings no comfort at the time of imitation.

Yet, as I look back (on all things copied and copied) I have to believe that this saying is true.  I have to believe that things I have picked up from other people have helped shape the me I am.  We are all so many pieces before we equal a "whole".  That is not to say that every habit or trait I have picked up has been the best for me.  But in total, it is who I am.

One of the worst habits I picked up was smoking.  I discovered this vice late in life (so to speak) as I was already well into my twenties.  I can still remember my dad's final days as he lost the battle to lung cancer (brought on by 45 years of heavy smoking).   A smoke break was needed after every visit.  It has now been 20 yea…

Miles to go before I sleep

October has always been a busy month for me and mine.  Just about everyone I know was born in October (or so it seems when I buy birthday cards).  We have Halloween to look forward to and the promise of fall is in the air.  For clarity - in Texas that is all we have gotten....the promise.

This month at work we have kicked off a wellness and safety campaign that I have fully embraced.  And those who know me, understand I can take a bulldog approach to anything I have deemed worthy.

So together our group is walking the "million mile month".  What does that mean to me?  And those who have the (mis)fortune of being my friends/family?  It means 3+ miles of fast walking and minimal talking during our lunch hour.  If eating is a necessity - multi-task and get it done on working hours.

Obviously, as I discussed last week, trails have become a way of life for Terry and I.  Plus don't forget the "couples" 1.5-2 mile walk every evening.

My game is full....on.  Whereas…

Happy trails!

Terry and I have taken our relationship to the next level.  Considering we have been married almost 20 years, one might say we have eased into it.  Yes, we have added communal exercise to the mix. We did have one false start a couple of years ago, when we were both in the same boot camp.  Once I returned to work, I had to let go of the early morning workouts.  Now, however, we are hitting the trails on Saturday and Sunday, exploring Texas and logging in the miles.

This is a match made in heaven for me.  Everyone already knows about my compulsive obsession with Fitbit (I may have mentioned before - I call mine Karibit) and counting.  This takes it to the next level.  No longer will I have to be content by circling the neighborhood for 45 minutes to reach three I can explore the great outdoors, (with my partner in crime) and the time flies by.

Did I mention I felt the need to upgrade my existing Karibit to a Charge 2?  This little beauty tells me everything I need to know f…

Can I help you?

I love to help (with the exception of moving, packing or unpacking households, baiting fishing hooks....this list is not all inclusive).  However, given any other situation.... I enjoy participating, interacting and cheering.

As hard as it is to believe, there are some instances where my help might not always be appreciated.  That is the bad news.  The good news is I am starting to recognize "some" of those instances.

One of the toughest assignments I have been working on giving up is being "co-pilot".  As an expert driver, I know how hard it is to hear the gasps, grabbing hold of the seat or door, sometimes accompanied by helpful hints about traffic conditions.  And still...

I have latched on to a new remedy.  Now I bring my knitting to the car with me on longer drives. I am so involved with my latest project, I forget to look up.  Because when I look up, I am not enjoying the scenery,  I am scanning the horizon for potential roadblocks (literally and figurativel…

Life is a process....

Lately I have found myself in many discussions involving the "process".  It is amazing what fresh eyes will bring to a review.

This past week a group of us were talking about a business process, and what we ask for ....and why?  In this specific line of work, the rules governing what we CAN ask for are broad.  Basically, we can ask for anything, at any time from any one.  This all sounds well and good but the complaints I heard were that some of the information requested was not being provided.  My next question really helped us zero in on what is important.

I asked, "what are the consequences?"  Herein lies the problem.  There were no consequences.  We could ask for anything all day long but without consequences, the "ask" really was meaningless.

We then started down the path of discussing what we REALLY need to make a decision, realizing the lack of consequences.  Thus began a new process that was less cumbersome, less frustrating and would allow us to…

Play it again

Fall is my favorite time of year.  Even though it is contrary to the notion of winding things down, I always liken Fall to new things.  For example, school starts in the fall which equals new clothes, experiences and opportunities.  At least this is how I remember it.

While I have been out of school for 11 years (most recently), this is the year that I am working on accomplishing things I generally just think about.  As I have already mentioned, Rosetta Stone Espanol is happening at my house and I have made it to Unit 2, Chapter 2 (there are 22 units with multiple chapters in all of them).  At this rate, this may be a multi-year effort.  And mainly because I am expecting perfect scores (or pretty darn close) for each chapter.  This has meant that some of them I have repeated a time or two (specifically pronunciation chapters) so that I can achieve a final score I can live with.

What else?  Okay, last week I started a Bible Study at my church.  This particular group meets at 4:00 pm an…


What happened Sunday afternoon could have been the opening scene for one of my favorite shows, Dateline.

Madison and I had just come back to the house after finishing errands.  It was time to take her over to Robert's so they could head back to school.  She ran upstairs to grab a few things while I waited in the kitchen.

First, I heard blood-curdling screams accompanied by stomping and running.  I froze in place.  Almost immediately, I heard Madi begin screaming.  Before I could react, Madison screamed, "Mom, he's coming for you."

And he did.

This wild man burst into the kitchen.  He had the crazy eyes going and was coming for me.  I positioned myself on the other side of the island and we began running - him trying to catch me and me trying to get away.  I thought about running out of the house, but I couldn't leave my baby.  This went on for a few minutes before he leaped up on the island and lunged at me.

Yes, football season has begun with a hard fought vict…

College parties and all-nighters...who knew?

Today marks that longest time Terry and I have ever gone without seeing our baby (10 days). I didn't realize those parties and late nights would begin so early.  For all the planning and preparing we have done over the past year, this is one issue that still caught me by surprise.  As I have mentioned before, we started "dating" again and both of us have picked up a few new hobbies.

Mine involve knitting (for gifts and others), reading (a lifetime pursuit) and most recently....about ten days ago I would say, (here's your hint)....hola, mi amigos!  Yes, I have started Rosetta Stone -Spanish.  I can already tell I am going to be a natural and I haven't even made a dent in the program.

Terry has been busy managing the construction of our latest family business....more to come on that in a later issue.  He has also been quite the activity planner.

But back to the closing down the party in the wee hours of the morning.  Right out of the gate, Terry planned a dinner pa…

Still singing my song(s)

As all my kids will attest, there is nothing I like more than singing in the car on long road trips. Okay, truth be told, I will sing in the car for a five-minute drive.  I am also very guilty of playing the same song OVER AND OVER again, for a variety of reasons.  Now, if I am trying to learn the words to a song, of course I need to hear it many times.  Sometimes my OCD nature just locks in on a particular song (due to mood, memories, etc.) and then I might play it the entire way home.

When Madison and I were getting ready to leave for our road trip to Tyler, we talked about our music choices the night before.  The iPhone makes it so easy to have all your music with you and available, but if you didn't buy it from iTunes, your selection won't be as all encompassing.

Enter my first iPod.

I didn't even know what an iPod was nine or ten years ago.  My co-worker Janet had just purchased one and since I was traveling much of the time, she encouraged me to ask for one for my b…

Waking up confused

When I first moved to Texas five plus years ago, I had responsibilities across the state. This wasn't any different than I had experienced in Kansas with one small caveat  Texas is a BIG state. When I travelled across the state in Kansas, even venturing into Oklahoma (and always starting in Missouri) I put 40,000 plus miles on my car annually.  The only places I drove my car in Texas were to the office and to the airport.

It was during that frenzy of travelling, usually weekly (and sometimes with more than one trip) that I overcame my fear of flying. I racked up frequent flier miles and even earned a companion pass. This went on for almost three years before I departed that life.

Why bring it up now?  There are a few reasons. When I reflect on the past 26+ years of my career, travel has always been a significant part of the gig.  It's only been the past (almost) 2 years, that travel has become a "planned" part of my life.  Because of this, I now have a greater apprec…

The (mad) dog days of summer

The summer is winding down. August is now closer to ending than beginning.  But what a summer it has been.

I believe we have packed more activity into this summer than some years all rolled together. And it's not over yet.

This past weekend we flew from Austin to Kansas City, and then headed north to Iowa.  My mother-in-law and her family were all gathering for a family reunion.  Not only did we get to enjoy more time with Madison (we are on the final countdown) we enjoyed time with the other French kids and their spouse or significant other. Not to mention our youngest two grandsons. And quality time with Terry's four sisters and their families.  And of course,  Terry's mom!

Sunday found us heading back to Kansas City for Averie's birthday party (hello terrible two's) and time with the older grandsons.  By evening we were heading west to Topeka for time with Grandma Jones.  Back to KC on Monday night and then a great opportunity to eat lunch with four former KGS e…

Life's lesson plan

When I was growing up, I loved school.  Or at least the learning part. Before I finished sixth grade, I had attended five different grade schools. Yes, we moved around a lot. However, once we landed at my last elementary school, we lived in the same neighborhood through high school.

As much as I liked school, I loathed being the new kid in class.  Maybe that is why I have stayed at my "grown-up" jobs for so long.  I like to get to know people, and have them know me.

Being a non-traditional college student , I was reminded again of my enjoyment of formal education.  With young kids at home plus working full-time,  I attended what I call "real college" because I wanted the experience.  Granted, I never lived in a dorm, but I did get a taste of college life.

After completing my bachelor's, followed by my master's degree, I could easily been persuaded to go for my Ph.d, but that wasn't part of my life's lesson plan.

But I never stopped learning.

The &qu…

It's my birthday...NOT!

Yesterday was Averie's birthday.  She is my favorite (only) granddaughter and she is now two years old.  My daughter is accommodating my travel schedule and only celebrated Averie's birthday with immediate family.  Her "party" will be later this month when I can be there.

I hope we aren't starting something.  You'll see why in a minute.

Everyone celebrates birthday's differently.  When "us five kids" were growing up, there were enough of us already to constitute a small crowd so we didn't have friends over.  If a big present was received by one, it was a guarantee that we would all be receiving the same for our birthdays.  For example, my brother's birthday was in January and when he was around 11 or 12, HE RECEIVED A BIKE!  This was a big deal since none of us had one.  My nose was slightly out of joint since being the oldest, I thought he shouldn't have a bike before me.  Luckily, my birthday was next up on the calendar and my blue…