"" Writer's Wanderings: 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

Let it snow!

Normally I would not be in favor of the "let it snow" campaign but it is Christmas and more importantly our little 2 1/2 year old Floridian will have the opportunity to see his first REAL snow. All he knows is a Miami version of snow--shaved ice blown into a big pile in the middle of a city park for the kids to play on until it melts. This is usually accompanied by breakfast with Santa.

Of course playing on that snow in a pair of shorts and short-sleeved Tee is a little different than having to don boots and jackets and scarves and going out in 30 degree weather. He may not like that so much. He told his mommy the other day when the temperature dropped to 58 degrees that it was "too cold" to go outside.

But I know we all would enjoy a Currier and Ives Christmas scene--even if we have to watch it from inside the house. No matter. What is truly important is that our family will all be together--migrating home from the south and west to the Robbins' nest for our celebration of Jesus' birth.

May you have a blessed Christmas--snow or no snow!

Friday, December 07, 2007

In My Lifetime--Christmas

In a world where things are always changing and progress happens in the blink of an eye, there is one constant that brings most of us all together again--Christmas. The things of Christmas have changed over the years though. Take trees for instance.

Growing up, there was always a live tree. I don't know that artificial was even available in those early years. The bulbs were multi-colored and hot to the touch and silver tinsel was a must. Then came the years of the aluminum tree. The silvered branches changed color as a disc with four basic colors, red, green, purple, and yellow, rotated in front of a spot light that shone on the tree. Mom refused to have one. I'm grateful.

There was one year when she succumbed to the flocking. I don't know how she talked Dad into it because I seem to recall him wrinkling up his nose every time he looked at it. Maybe she sold him on the idea because it was supposed to preserve the tree longer.

Of course the more popular artificial trees became, the more outrageous they got. Pink and purple and white. Each year we passed on the lastest fad and stayed true to the real smell, the real feel, and the real mess of needles to clean up.

Mom gave in to the artificial world when the trees became a little more realistic looking and my brother and I were gone. That way she could get us to come home and put up the tree early. Mom was not above a guilt trip. "I don't think we'll have a tree this year," always brought us home to decorate.

Bob and I started out with real trees. Our first, which was probably the most perfect we had, stretched our budget at $5. This year we had to shop for a new artificial tree since we lost ours in a flood last year. We thought we'd wait until the sales after Christmas and this year get a real tree--until we looked at the prices. A nice tree around here goes for at least $70. We bided our time and found an early sale on artificial. Now there are no fire worries, no needles to clean up, and our decorating is done and ready for the kids to come home.

While out shopping, we saw aluminum trees trying to make a comeback and artificial ones that were flocked. It made me think of all the changes over the years and the one thing that has remained constant. The reason for the season--Jesus.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Amazing Grace

Three days of our overland trip in China were spent cruising on the Yangtze River between Chongqing and Yichang through the Three Gorges area. Before going to China, I had prayed for God to show me moments that would reveal his presence. I knew we would traveling in countries steeped in Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, and Communism. I longed for His assurance that He was still at work there as well.

The Three Gorges area was beautiful even though we saw most of it through a misty and, at times, rainy fog. At the place where the Daning River empties into the Yangtze, we left our riverboat to board a smaller catamaran for an excursion up the Daning through the Lesser Gorges. Along the way we saw dramatic cliffs rising from the river, lush vegetation, terraced farmlands that reached to the mountaintops, and an occasional pack of monkeys scurrying through the bush or along the shore where they were feeding on corn dumped most likely by the tourist boats.

Because of the dam project near Yichang, the Gorges area is being flooded gradually. The final flood stage will be reached in 2009. Already many towns have disappeared beneath the 150 meters of water that has filled the Yangtze and its tributaries. The population is being relocated to new apartment buildings along the hilltops near the river. The younger generation is happy to have the new lodging. The older generation is very sad to leave their generational farms and homes. It is all for the need of a fresh water source for China as well as hydroelectric power for a county whose industrial progress and modernization is moving too fast for the old systems to keep up.

This was all explained quite well by the local guide on our excursion up the Daning. On our return trip, she told of some of the customs and traditions of the area and sang a folk song in her language. Then she asked the 100 English-speaking guests to sing to her a song she had heard in English, Amazing Grace. A hundred voices rang out in the middle of one of the most beautiful places in China. It was the biggest "God moment" of my trip.

His grace is truly amazing.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

In My Lifetime--Viet Nam Perspective

It's been a month since I've posted--a very busy month. We were traveling in Asia. A land tour as well as a cruise that took us through China and on to Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, and VietNam. Surprisingly, our favorite two stops were in Viet Nam.

Perhaps our interest was peaked most in Nam since we lived through the Viet Nam war era. I remember holding our breath through the draft lottery that would determine our future. Bob's number was high enough to make it possible to ensure he would finish school and we could continue with our plans for the future.

I recall the nightly reports that more than any other war brought home the sacrifices we were making. Then there were the protests, the draft card burnings on campus, and the young men who fled to Canada to avoid the draft. Viet Nam was certainly devisive in those years.

Our two stops in Viet Nam were quite different. The trip to Ho Chi Minh city gave us a glimpse of history--remembering the pullout of Saigon, the mass evacuation by helicopter, the war headquarters. Our other excursioin took us into the countryside where we met more closely the people of Viet Nam. Our hearts were touched by their lives as they shared customs, lifestyle, and traditions with us.

But what will stay with me are the words spoken so profoundly by one of our guides. "When people say Viet Nam they mean a war but Viet Nam is a country." Yes, a beautiful country with some very beautiful people.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Glimpse of Heaven?

Okay, I've hesitated to post this lest I appear a little, well, kooky. (That was a good term in a little earlier time of my life).

I was visiting a church this past Sunday that loves to sing the old hymns as well as some of the snappy new choruses. We were singing "Victory In Jesus." The words truly began to sink in around the second verse: "He made the lame to walk. . .blind to see. . .come and heal my broken spirit. . .and somehow Jesus came. . ." But it was the third verse that transported me.

"I heard about a mansion. . ." Time seemed to slow a bit.
"He has built for me in glory. . ." Something clicked in my head.
"And I heard about the streets of gold. . ." I was suddenly imagining gold bricks making a street like the old cobbled streets I've seen in Europe.
". . .beyond the crystal sea. . ." And here, time seemed to stop. In my mind, I had a clear picture of a body of water unlike what I had ever seen before. It wasn't the green of Lake Erie, or the deep blue of the Pacific or even the inviting turquoise of the Caribbean. It was clear, sparkling and pure--like fine crystal.

Have I lost you yet?

It was comforting and while I've never cared for the melody of the hymn, the words this time gave me a glimpse of heaven that sent goosebumps up my arms with the beautiful scene.

Jesus said he was Living Water when he met the woman at the well. I think somehow that crystal sea--so pure and clean--would be just that, Living Water.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

In My Lifetime--Required Reading

I'm a little out of touch with what is required reading today in schools since my children are now having children. (The sixth grandchild arrived last night!!) But here are some of the books I remember having to read:

Dick and Jane books (That's what I cut my reading "teeth" on)
Silas Marner (I think that was ninth grade)
1984 (I think they label this one history now instead of futuristic fantasy)
Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer (Through the years Mark Twain has been honored and banned)
Animal Farm
Lord of the Flies (Wonder if they based the new reality series on this?)
Catch 22 (This one may have been in college but I did take advanced Lit in high school)
To Kill a Mocking Bird (I'm reading about Harper Lee now--interesting)

Of course there was also Frost, Whitman, Dickinson, and ee cummings. I liked ee. I thought it was neat not to use capital letters.

Through the years authors have come and gone. Their popularity soaring and diminishing. Still there are those who keep on: Doctorow for one.

Today I wonder how long Grisham, King, Patterson, Brown, and the other "moderns" will hang on to their popularity? I think King might last a while because he's more unique--kind of like a Poe.

Well, so much for my meanderings this morning. What books do you remember as required reading in school?

Friday, October 12, 2007

In My Lifetime--Typewriters to PCs

Contrary to what some in my family may think, I did not start writing with a chisel and stone. I used an electric Royal typewriter that I purchased with S&H green stamps (redemption stamps should be another post). It came with a ribbon that had white-out on it and I didn't have to mess with a bottle of liquid that always managed to dry out and get white crumbs around the top. It was cool (language--another post).

A few years prior to this, my husband had scavaged computer parts from a dump behind his place of work and began assembling a computer in our basement. The computer took up most of the half-basement we had in our split-level house. It had huge tape drives and lots of flashing lights when it "thought." We oohed and aahed as the giant printer he purchased printed out a 30" wide Snoopy.

It was about then that the punch cards popularly used for programing a computer became obsolete and my mother and I took boxes of them we inherited and made Christmas wreaths out of them.

Then along came the Texas Instruments home computer, the TI-99. It was used mainly for games but it was the first step in smaller computers and was about the size of a small musical keyboard.

Next the Tandy came into our home. A Radio Shack special that eventually became totally obsolete and anything you did on it was pretty much worthless because it wouldn't transfer to the new IBM models that followed. The Tandy taught me about word processing. It also taught me to back up my work. I remember losing two hours worth of data entry one day to a komikaze squirrel who knocked out a transformer and caused a blackout.

From those early models, PCs lept forward with technology. The computers got smaller in size, bigger in memory, and faster in "thinking."

Today, the computer that took up half of our basement can fit into the palm of your hand and do the work of a dozen of those computers or more. And the white-out ribbon I was so excited about has been replaced by cut and paste in my word processing program that does about everything but create the words--oh wait! It does insert the right spelling and even suggests how I could say it better. It also automatically backs up. I no longer fear komikaze squirrels.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

In My Lifetime--Game Shows

I watched Wheel of Fortune last night and saw Vanna in dazzling evening gown lightly touch the puzzle board and set the letters in motion, popping up for the first round. She's come a long way in 25 years. So far that I'm surprised she still has a job. The puzzle board is so automated that except for "window dressing," she really isn't necessary. Any one else remember when she had to actually turn the letters around?

Game/quiz shows have been consistently popular as long as I can remember. They were also a point of cotroversy back in the late 50s when it was discovered that some shows were feeding answers to contestants they wanted to continue on. The $64,000 Question was one that was investigated.

Lots of game shows have come and gone. Some I watched were: Password, Hollywood Squares, The Dating Game, Let's Make a Deal, $10,000 Pyramid, Family Feud, and Jeopardy (back when Art Fleming was host, too).

Perhaps the greatest of these (in my opinion) and the longest lasting is The Price Is Right. It's been going since 1972 and looks to continue even after Bob Barker's retirement. I remember watching Barker on Truth or Consequences before TPIR.

Certainly game shows have truly changed in the amount of money people can win. Inflation perhaps? Deal Or No Deal this week was trying to give away a million bucks. They were trying so hard, they had four suitcases with a cool mil in them.

So, why the popularity? Is it the fantasy of winning big? The challenge of knowing the answers (Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?)? Whatever the reason we all love to watch. . .and dream.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Celebrity Look Alikes

For years I have had to listen to people say how much my husband looks like Ted Kennedy. That was good before the years of drinking and overeating caught up with Teddy. Now Bob looks much better than Ted. When my daughter-in-law found this site and ran their pictures for celebrity look-alikes I thought it might be fun. My son came out with Mel Gibson and Brad Pitt on his list. Hmmm. How accurate is this technology?

Here's mine. I'm surprised that I have two Japanese ladies and an Indian in my portfolio.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

In My Lifetime--Phones

When I was a child, it took a bit of dexterity and a strong finger to make a phone call. I grew up with rotary phones. You put your finger in the appropriate hole and turned the dial all the way to the little metal stopper to enter the appropriate number. When you didn't know a number, you dialed the operator and a real live person asked, "May I help you?"

Next came the push-button phone. This was a lot of fun at first because you could actually play a little song with the different tones the buttons made. Technically, I know that led to all sorts of other things--like the dreaded "press one for this and press two for that," etc.

This past weekend, we stopped at an AT&T store and took a look at the new IPhone by Apple. There are not even any buttons to push on this phone! It's all done by touch and in addition to it being a phone, it connects with the internet, plays personal music choices, displays a map for the directionally challenged, checks e-mail, does the laundry, cleans house . . . well, maybe not those last two--yet.

It's all about connecting nowadays and staying connected. If only we were as eager to stay connected to God.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Living Vicariously

We are often accused of doing this through our children and while my writing friend, Trish Berg is young enough to be one of my children, I'm living vicariously through her exciting week. Yesterday she had ABC news show up at her doorstep to tape "a day in the life of" segment about blogging moms.

Trish is author of The Great American Supper Swap and an upcoming book Rattled, Surviving Your Baby's First Year Without Losing Your Cool. She's a worker bee and deserves these moments in the limelight. More so because she is giving the glory to God.

Speaking of limelight (an old term for spotlight). . .I am committing to a more regular posting schedule for my blog. I keep waiting for life to slow down a bit but it ain't gonna happen. My theme for a while will be "In My Lifetime" as a tribute to my reaching six decades in this walk on earth. I remember all the good stories of my parents and grandfather recalling the "good old days." A lot of those days have been greatly improved and I am amazed at what has been developed in just the short span of my life. So, for posterity, we'll explore the changes in telephones in my next post. And no, I do not go back to the Alexander Graham Bell era!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Survivor China

This is too funny not to share.

We have been planning a trip to China and I have not been all that excited about it. Sure I love seeing other cultures and visiting ancient places of history but I am put off by the prospect of crowded cities and then the extreme: squat toilets in the "backwoods" areas.

I complained so much that we changed our original plans and have hooked up with a cruise company to do the land tour as a precruise expedition. There's a better chance of not getting bad food, getting lost where we absolutely know zilch about the language, and of course, perhaps finding Western style toilets.

This afternoon I was watching CBS as I ate my lunch and what to my amazement should appear but a commercial for the new season of Survivor---Survivor: China!!

I figure if that survivor gets a million bucks for surviving that trip, I should certainly get some kind of compensation. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Madeleine McCann--still missing

I received an email message this morning that is circling the globe by now I'm sure. It contained identifying information about little Madeleine McCann who was taken from her parents while vacationing in Portugal. I lost one of my kids for 30 minutes one day due to a mix up in school bus schedules. I cannot imagine the ongoing pain of this family or any other whose child is abducted.

The email message was about an unusual identifying mark in Madeleines pupil. Should she be seen anywhere by someone who is aware of this, the hope is that they will contact authorities immediately.

There is a website for Madeleine with all sorts of contact information on it if you are interested.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Cruising the Hawaiian Islands

At last! Finished assembling pictures and information for my page on Hawaii. Now to work on a page for the Tahitian Princess and our trip will be well-documented.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Cruising French Polynesia

We were gone a good part of June on a long trip/cruise to the islands of French Polynesia (Tahiti) and Hawaii. I've been busily working on getting the trip report up on my website. So far I have finished the FP page and am almost done with the page for Hawaii. It's tough narrowing down all the pictures to just a few and then getting them all to fit on the page but, if you're curious, take a look!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Neighborhood Gang

This morning I discovered that we have a gang in our neighborhood. There were at least six of them moving from yard to yard, being very boisterous. They were wearing their colors--black and yellow. I knew there was something going on like this. I could see the evidence in my own yard--the thistle in the feeder kept disappearing at an alarming rate.

The goldfinches are a welcome sign of summer. Their bright yellow bodies are the first signal that spring is here as they shed their drab winter gray. This morning though was the first time I realized they traveled in a group. They were flitting from tree to tree nosily chattering and just looking to get into trouble--I'm sure of it.

I wondered if it would have been half as interesting and amusing had I been walking with an MP3 player and earphones stuck in my ears. Seems like we have so many things that can keep us from being involved with our world. I enjoyed their happy chatter and the twitter of the less active songbirds of the morning. The neighborhood gangs harmonize pretty well.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lilac Junkie

It's a tough thing to come to grips with. . .but I'm a lilac junkie. I can't get enough of the sweet spring blooms. I have five full size bushes started in the yard--one white, two lavender, two pink--and a half dozen dwarf lilac bushes that are just now coming into full bloom.

Today the breeze was blowing just right and the beautiful lilac smell drifted in the kitchen windows. Mmmmm. I wish I could post some of that smell here. You could click and sniff. But alas the technology hasn't come that far yet. Maybe sometime soon. Meanwhile, I'll go back to the kitchen window and enjoy while I can. Spring seems like such a fleeting thing.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Yesterday for some wild and crazy reason, I searched Amazon for my out of print book, Divide the Child. Now the interesting thing is that most of the books I autographed were to friends and family. Sure enough, there on Amazon were at least six books all of which were said to be autographed or "seems to be autographed" by the author. I only signed "Karen" since they were friends/relatives.

Six people didn't want to hold onto those first books for sentimental reasons or in the hope that I might become a famous writer and the book would truly have some real value--other than being a good story, of course. I don't want to know who they were.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Milking the Cow

Okay, all you who have had farm experience can sit back and be prepared for a laugh now. While I grew up next to my grandfather's farm, the animals and fields were gone by the time I was old enough to appreciate them and learn from them. I've always wondered what it would be like to milk a cow.

Yesterday, our grandkids accompanied us to a large public farm in our area set up to let kids learn about farming. We adults learned a lot too. (Hubby is a city-boy). I didn't know there were so many different kinds of cows and that they each produce different kinds and quantities of milk.

Nancy was in line to be milked next and she was quite the lady walking up a couple of steps and into her milking station. We got a few quick tips on how to gently squeeze and pull and then lined up to milk the cow. I was the only grown-up but I pretended to be there for my grandkids. Our grandson started to back out at the last minute but he stayed for Grandma's sake and we each milked Nancy a little bit.

What an experience! Nancy was so kind to stand quietly and put up with our inexperienced hands. I didn't know until I saw the picture my husband took that I had my pinkie finger out. Hmmm. Maybe that's the formal way to do it.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Merry Easter!

Okay so we are a little mixed up in our holidays this year. Christmas saw mild temperatures and no promise of snow. Here we are, April 7, and we have almost a foot of the fluffy stuff. The opening day of the Indians' home season was whited out (unfortunately at the time when it looked like they could win).

But maybe the snow is a good reminder that Jesus washed our sins "white as snow" with his death and resurrection.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Great American Supper Swap

Note to my readers: I don't usually do book reviews and blog tours but this is a book that has lots to offer young moms. I only wish there had been something like this when my kids were little and I reached the 4:30 panic of what to make for dinner. Trish is a good friend and I know this works for her. Hope you enjoy the interview.

The Great American Supper Swap
Solving the Busy Woman’s Family Dinnertime Dilemma
By Trish Berg

Many moms struggle with their endless to-do list, and dinner is just one more thing that usually doesn’t get done. Author and speaker Trish Berg has a great way to solve your dinnertime dilemma and shares all her secrets in her new book, The Great American Supper Swap.

Thanks for being here, today, Trish.
Thanks for having me.

I wanted to begin by asking you what IS supper swapping?

Supper swapping is really a simple solution to that ever present “What’s for dinner,” question that hits most moms at 4:30 every afternoon.

Supper swapping is moms helping moms by sharing the cooking responsibility for their families. Moms cook in bulk then swapping meals during the workweek.

To give moms an idea of how supper swapping works, could you share with us what your supper swap group looks like?

Sure. Right now we have 3 families in our group, though I have swapped with 4 families in the past as well.

Our typical week looks like this:
Monday – Nann delivers supper to us at 5:30, hot and ready to eat.
Tuesday – Kelly delivers her meal at noon, prepared but not cooked. At supper time, I throw it in the oven and voila!
Wednesday – Our day off. We eat leftovers from Mon and Tues.
Thursday – My cooking day. I prepare my meal Wednesday evening, and deliver it Thursday around noon, prepared but not cooked.
Friday – Since we have had larger meals already, it’s easy on Fridays to make something simple like spaghetti, sandwiches or grilled burgers.

Each group can decide what constitutes a meal. We only swap one main dish and one side dish, and each family adds salad, bread or vegetables on their own to complete teach meal.

We usually plan 3 months at a time and print out meal calendars so everybody knows what meals are coming when. (Moms can print FREE meal calendars at http://www.trishberg.com/)

Why do you think families have given up on dinner?

I think moms are just exhausted. Run down. Stressed out.

According to current research, only 50% of American families have supper together regularly today. Of those meals, 34% are fast food or take out.

Why is the family meal so important to our kids?

Eating dinner together as a family opens communication, helps children to eat healthier, feel more connected to their parents, feel loved and cherished. These benefits have a lifelong impact on our children.

According to research from Columbia University, children who eat dinner with their family on a regular basis are 60% less likely to smoke cigarettes, 50% less likely to use drugs, and 66% less likely to drink alcohol.

The family meal has a lifelong impact on our kids!

In your book, you also mention saving money through supper swapping.

Supper swapping can save families up to $4000 a year or more as they buy groceries more in bulk, shop with a plan wasting less food, and reduce their expenditures on fast food and pizza.

I give several examples of how supper swapping can save families money, but here’s one quick example:

Ordering pizza or take out costs around $25 for a family of 6. If you are now ordering pizza or buying take out 3 times a week:

$25 * 3 = $75 a week
$75 * 4.5 weeks a month = $337.50 per month
$337.50 * 12 months = $4,050 per year

You could save over $4000 a year on that alone, and that’s not even counting the money you’ll save buying in bulk and shopping with a plan!

With so many other dinner options out there, why do you think supper swapping is becoming a hot trend?

Basically because moms need help. Today families run at a fast pace unheard of 30 years ago. Usually, dinner is a fast food, on the go grab bag, or relegated to pizza, take out or frozen quick fix meals. These meals are unhealthy and expensive.

Supper swapping cuts a moms cooking by up to 80% since she only cooks one day a week.

For about 1-2 hours of meal preparation and 15-30 minutes or less of meal delivery one day a week, you get a week’s worth of hot, fresh, homemade dinners.

If a mom wants to start supper swapping, where can she get more information?

There is a ton of how to information, delicious recipes, encouragement and support in my book The Great American Supper Swap, available at bookstores and online at amazon.com, christianbooks.com and barnesandnoble.com. Moms can also contact me through my website to order a signed copy.

What do you hope families gain from The Great American Supper Swap?

Supper swapping can save families $4000 a year or more, reduce cooking by 80%, create a greater sense of community by adding deeper faith and friendships, and help families eat healthier food.

BUT MOST OF ALL – it gathers families around their dinner table together. That’s my mission. A return to the family meal.

Though I’m an avid supper swap mom, each family must find what works for them and re-claim their family dinner however they can. Supper swapping is just one simple tool to help moms make that happen.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The dark side of Disney--Fantasmic

Those of my readers who subscribe to my Journeys newsletter received a Disney World edition this week. We had planned for the whole family to be together for a week there but learned shortly after making deposits on the vacation home that one son and his wife were expecting to deliver a baby that week. They allowed us to take the "big sister" along however and so 11 of us (7 "big kids" and 4 under the age of 5) spent a whirlwind week soaking up all that is Disney and remembering the times together when our boys were small.

Disney World has changed over the years. I wonder what Walt would think of it now? More and more, the rides are getting darker and spookier. While we enjoyed many of the shows and rides with preschoolers (It's a Small World, Dumbo, The Little Mermaid, etc.) there were some we entered and had to quickly exit. One such show was Fantasmic.

Fantasmic is the huge production put on in the evening at Disney MGM. The last time we saw it--a few years ago, it was a spectacular water, laser, video, parade, and fireworks show all rolled into one. The theme was Mickey's Fantasia movie and pink elephants danced across walls of water spray, green laser lights drew cartoon characters in the mist, and boats full of princesses and other happy Disney characters passed before the crowd. If Dorothy had been in the crowd with Toto, she might have turned to her little dog, hid his eyes, and exclaimed, "We're not in Disney any more!"

The villains--mostly female, by the way--have been made as popular as the heroes and heroines. They are featured in honored positions in the parades and in Fantasmic, they are the stars. Mickey's dream has turned into Mickey's nightmare and it will be the nightmare of many a young child in the weeks following thier Disney adventure watching the "evening spectacular."

So, a word of warning for those of you taking those impressionable youngsters. When the ride says "might frighten young children," you can almost count on it. If you can, ride first to preview the ride. Some of the rides are on video segments at the Disney site and may give you some idea. Also, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is an excellent reference, giving you some idea of what to ride with each age group you take.

One more thing: Don't expect to see everything all in one week. That's why all the signs leaving the park say "See ya real soon!"

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Time Spent

In a few weeks it will be my 60th birthday.

At 30 I felt like I had definitely reached adulthood. At 40 I was using L’Oreal (a darker shade than I do now) but I was worth it! At 50 I was looking at a writing career that had some potential. At 60 I’m thinking of my mother who died at 62.

Time is a gift given every second of every day.

We enjoyed a comedienne and singer, Judy Kolba, a few weeks ago on a cruise ship. She ended her performance with a reminder of how precious time is. It’s something we cannot bank for tomorrow or borrow from yesterday. It is here and now in the moment. We are each allotted the same amount of hours, minutes, and seconds each day.

Another comedian, Will Rogers said, “Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.”

Time management becomes a hot topic for busy people but it usually means adjusting schedules, time saving applications and devices, or how to do more in less time. To what end? To have more time to be more productive, or to make more money, or sometimes, hopefully to relax. But how can we relax when we continually stress out over how we can save time? And time can’t be saved. It can only be spent.

Today you started with 86,400 seconds. About 28,000 of those will be spent sleeping. That leaves around 58,000 to be spent working, eating, exercising, playing and all the other little odds and ends we don’t even think about. The seconds tick away like the cursor that blinks at you on your computer—waiting for you to do something.

How will you spend those precious seconds today? Some people say they can determine a person’s priorities in life by looking at their checkbook. I would challenge that. While money may be a good indicator of what you consider important in life, I think taking a good look at your PDA, your Blackberry, or, if you’re like me, the old fashioned calendar on the wall will show you where your heart truly lies.

I remember the last time I saw my mother alive and well. Dad had just bought her a new car and she came to the house to show me. I was busy cleaning. We were expecting company that evening. (Don't snicker. When you have 5 small children, you have to clean for company!) I took some time to look the car over and compliment her on her choice but I was rushing and she knew it. She didn’t stay long. She had something to do, she said. How I wish I had spent a few more seconds with her that day--long enough to say, "I love you, Mom."

You can borrow money. You can save it for tomorrow. But the time you have today is only for today. Horace Mann penned this little classified ad: "Lost, yesterday, somewhere between Sunrise and Sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever."

The gift of time. 86,400 seconds today. How will you spend them?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Thank you for smoking

Yesterday I had to take my car to the E-Check where they look it over, stick a probe in the tailpipe and test for bad emissions. My little car passed. Since it's a newer model, our state only requires I do this every other year before renewing the license plates. The last time I took the car (my husband did it in '05), I had to pay around $20 or so to have it done. This time it was free!

"Free?" The mantra my kids have heard over the years is: Nothing in life is free.

"Yes," the man answered, "you can thank all your friends who smoke."

I chuckled. What are we going to do when we finally convince people that smoking is bad for their health? Not smoking could be bad for our economy. After all, around here we have a stadium, an arena, improved city blocks, an arts program, and a free E-Check (I'm sure there's more I don't know) thanks to all those smokers paying a hefty tax to destroy their lungs.

So, to you who smoke: Thanks for all the freebies! I hope you will live long and be healthy enough to enjoy them too!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New Grandbaby

Yesterday I had the privilege of helping to bring our fifth grandchild into the world. For the second time, my daughter-in-law asked me to stay in the delivery room. She always worries about my son and how he will stand up as he participates. This time she was right to worry. After no sleep all night and nothing to eat, he was a bit pale and shaky as time went on.

I took over for him just as our little grandson was beginning his entry. I watched the doctor as she pulled him toward her and lifted a beautiful little baby into the air for mom to see. "He's perfect," I said, "just perfect."

We all shed tears of gratitude and joy at this wonderful little miracle.

This morning, I was reading in Romans and this passage jumped out:

"From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God." (Romans 1:20)

I've always thought that when people see and realize all the intricate details of that little miracle put together in nine months they couldn't possible deny God's creative hand. But then this morning, I wondered, what if I had not been able to say, "he's perfect" at that moment I saw him yesterday? Not all babies are "perfectly" formed.

I puzzled over this a while. Why is such a little word with such depth and often anguish. I prayed and as I did, I discovered that God makes everything perfect--to his purpose. Why is answered with "Because I am and all that I do has purpose for my perfect will."

Our imperfection is that we do not seek to accept, we do not trust, we do not acknowledge that he can take what we might discount or discard and in using it for his purpose, make it perfect.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Cold Reality

Okay, so I was off wandering again last week. We found a bargain cruise and escaped the cold weather for eight days. It was a beautiful warm meander through the Eastern Caribbean. Our last stop was in Nassau (no we didn't go see Anna Nicole's home). I caught a picture of the Celebrity ship Millennium as it sailed out of the harbor with the sun setting. Already I was beginning to anticipate what awaited at home--snow.

We had heard that the snowfall was tremendous. What we didn't know was that it would snow again on our way home. We had to be shoveled out of the parking spot at the airport and had to shovel our way into the garage. (Thankfully we have a plowing service that had the major part of the driveway done). I awoke this morning to see the accumulation. It has to be at least 2 1/2 feet deep.

The encouraging side: the temperature is rising and it could almost be gone by this time next week. I'm really not a cold weather person. Could you tell?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Wandering Writer

I knew I picked the name for this blog for a reason. It seems like that's all I've been doing is wandering this month. After we returned from our holiday cruise, we wandered down to visit our grandchildren and have Christmas with the one who was in Japan over the holidays.

Back home, my mind wandered (it does that a lot at my age) through all the preparations for the Christian Booksellers Association Advance show in Indianapolis. I pondered what it would be like, who I would meet, and whether or not I would interest anyone in one of my book projects. Wandering through Indy was exciting as the city was preparing for the Super Bowl. Everything in that city was blue and stamped with a horseshoe!

I wandered home through the cold and frigid temperatures--encouraged and discouraged at the same time--wondering if I'll ever get to publish another book. Maybe if I took to meandering instead. . .?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Let it Snow--In Florida!

Over the holidays, we spent some time visiting with our son and his family and were treated to a snow storm—in Florida! Homestead has an annual breakfast with Santa affair and to make it truly special, they create a pile of snow from shaved ice.

I was fascinated with its creation. I’m familiar with the snow-makers up north in our area that turn our bunny hills into “ski resorts.” They spray a fine mist of water into our cold temperatures to add a cushion of snow to the slopes but Florida snow is a whole different process. Large refrigerated trucks brought in huge blocks of ice that were run through a machine which reduced the ice block to shavings of snow and spewed it out through a large hose.

It took about an hour to create a large area of snow for the kids to play in but they were more than appreciative. In sandals and using socks for gloves, they scrambled onto the pile of snow and reveled in the feel and cold of their homemade snow that was quickly melting in the 75 degree temperatures. The pile lasted long enough for each of the 300 kids gathered to play in it.

It gives a new appreciation for God-made snowflakes.
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