Friday, April 30, 2010

"Face" The Choice Without Losing Your Nose!

This blog crosses a few labels but I put it under "Gratitude Moments" because it taught my oldest daughter a lesson that I think we can all learn from so I give gratitude for that lesson in a not so painful manner.

Many years ago when my oldest daughter was about 11, we visited Disney Land. We told the girls they could buy any piece of jewelry they wanted. The older two girls both picked out the same ring in sterling with the main Disney characters on it.

The rings were a bit big on the girls but I told them we could keep them until they fit and they would always be a fun keepsake and an heirloom they could hand them down to their children as they were made of sterling silver.

After returning home, we were going to a family gathering in a city about three hours drive from our home. My oldest daughter asked if she could wear her ring. I told her I would let her choose but I thought it was too big and she would risk the chance of loosing the ring and thought it better to wait until it fit her better.

Being an excited 11 year old, she put the ring on her middle finger and she sat in the front seat of the van as we drove the 3 hour drive. While on the way to our destination through very lonely roads, she ate an apple. We had merged onto a larger interstate highway and she finished the apple and wanted to throw the core out the window. We aren't in the habit of littering but if it will fertilize, we figure it isn't littering. So, I roll down the window and she proceeds to throw out the core.

After she threw it, she screamed that her ring had come off as well and went out the window. I was going 75 mph (the speed limit) and we were getting closer to a bigger city. I wasn't sure what to do but could see a few miles in the distance an exit ramp. I took the exit and drove back to the last exit and then reentered the highway. We drove as slowly as I dared in the slow lane and I told her we would never find the ring in the setting sun but if we focused on finding the apple core, we could then search the area beyond it for the ring as the ring would be heavier, it would go further but drop quicker as it wasn't thrown.

Once getting to the point where we could see the exit sign, I knew we were close and pulled into the breakdown lane so I could slow even more. We found the apple core. I stopped the car and we peered out. I suggested we pray for help. It may seem silly to pray for a ring but it was such an important thing to her. I got out and started walking in the breakdown area. After going a hundred feet or so, I thought this wasn't such a good idea as traffic picked up and a kindly elderly couple stopped and asked if they could help.

After explaining what I was doing and getting odd looks from the couple, I figured maybe it wasn't smart for me to be walking the highway looking for a $25 ring. As I thanked them for stopping and offering to help, I turned to head back to the car. Something caught my eye that was sparkling in the sunset. I couldn't see it before because of the angle of the sun. I quickly ran over and it was her ring.

It had scrapes and was missing Mickey's nose but she was so happy to have it back even with the scrapes. We talked the rest of our trip about how sometimes things in life seem so exciting that we try to make ourselves "fit" into that ideal or what others make sound "exciting" or "what everyone is doing" even if it doesn't "fit" what we know to be right or true. We sometimes will do things we don't feel are right or we know aren't good for us because we want to "fit in" with others.

She knew the ring was big and didn't quite fit yet. She wanted to try on something that she wasn't ready to wear. We talked about making mistakes sometimes and how you can perhaps turn around and try to go back and get to the place you were at before the mistake happened but, even when you do, you may not "find" yourself as we did the ring, we could have easily not found it.

You may go back to before the mistake and "find" yourself and start fresh but you can never go back to the clean and innocent or purer person as there will be some marks or consequences left on your memory, experience or life.

Sometimes others don't notice the "missing nose" or "scrapes" and you can pretend the mistake or bad choice didn't happen but in the end the scrapes and dings are still there. There are always natural consequences to our actions and if we are lucky, we can quickly correct our path before we get ruined with many bumps, scrapes and dings.

I told my daughter that in the end, almost all choices will be hers to make but I hoped that she would consider what the consequences could be by trying on something that may see exciting at the time but the consequences may not be worth the limited excitement of the moment. Sometimes the consequences result in hurting others emotionally or damaging our bodies or another person's body.

I hope we can "face" the hard choices in our lives looking at the choices clearly and make a choice without "losing our noses" in the process.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Book of Life or Lives

A few years ago I had reason to get my kids medical records in order and while at it, I started gathering other information and ended up putting them all in a book. It has been SO handy over the years. When I needed to get passports, drivers licenses, shots and other documents, I had all the information in one place and even if I wasn't home and someone needed documents, I could tell them right where it was located.

After seeing what happened with Hurricane Katrina victims, I took it a bit further by adding DVD and CD back ups of files and pictures off my computer. I have them all handy and a copy of the book at another location far enough that if I had any type of emergency, that book would be safe along with a copy of all our negatives so that if the house burned, I would be able to replace all our pictures.

The front has an index. There are dividers between each children's files. Each child has 1. Social Security Card. 2. Passport. 3. Immunization records. 4. Birth Certificate 5. Church records. 6. Finger prints. 7. DNA samples such as hair, fingernail clippings etc. 8. Current Photo (school picture for that year) 9. Copy of their drivers license. 10. Current medical records including a drawing of the body marking moles, scars, height, weight, eye color, copy of dental records, broken bones, hair color, etc. 11. Extra items such as awards received, diplomas etc.

In the main area, there is an index. The following items are included: 1. Car titles. 2. House deed or mortgage information. 3. Spare cash. 4. DVD/CD of computer files and pictures. 5. Life insurance policies. 6. Copies of medical insurance. 7. Copies of all items in your wallet including store cards, insurance cards, drivers license, credit cards, bank atm/debit cards, etc. 8. Stocks/bonds/other investment information. 9. Prescription or medical alert information (you can include a bag of prescription medication you could rotate through monthly so you would have at least a weeks worth of medication ready at all times) 10. Legal documents such as wedding and death certificates. 11. Diplomas and current professional licenses or degrees along with contact information on replacing them and keeping them current.

After each Doctor, dentist or eye exam, I replace the old record with the new keeping the information current. If a child were ever lost, you would have all the information and a current photo available within minutes rather than trying to get medical personnel to get the information and if it were a weekend, you may have a problem getting that information. Having it all in one book you can take it in if there were an injury and give them a copy of all their medical records.

When we moved, I collected all their records including copies of x-rays and have those also in folders inside the binder divided in each person's medical section so I can find anything within seconds.

If the house were on fire, I would grab my book and run. The nice thing is that all the information is included in a second book at another location so even if it were lost, the only thing I wouldn't have are the originals but if you have copies, you can obtain new originals in most cases.

I acquired all the medical information within a day as most offices are really kind to help when you explain what you are doing. We spent one evening doing the finger prints and marking moles, scars etc and obtaining the DNA samples. The whole process didn't take me more than a week or so and I have really enjoyed it over the years. When it was time to get the girls driver's licenses, I just took the sheet protector out with their main information and had it all handy within seconds. When we needed passports, I took 5 sheet protectors with me and we had everything needed.

One last section I would suggest is an "In case of Death" section. I included the will and living will information or advanced directives. This would be needed in case you become unable to make medical choices for yourself, you appoint someone to make those choices for you. I have this done for my mother but haven't gotten around to finishing this section for myself but I think I will take the challenge and finish it this week. I will include: 1. Copy of your will. 2. Living will. (This can be printed for your state online just do a search) 3. Life insurance policies. 4. Contact information for all your regular monthly bills with monthly average payments and due dates. 5. Bank accounts and the names on the accounts. 6. Copy of birth, marriage/divorce certificates. 7. A list of contacts or names of people you wish to be notified in case of your death such as friends they may not know. (A copy of your Christmas card list would be a good list) 8. Funeral obituary draft listing family member, (survived by) list of accomplishments in life you wish to be listed. 9. Program instructions such as favorite song to be performed or played, wishes for Paul bearers, favorite flower, outfit you would like to be dressed in for burial. 10. Any plot or burial insurance or information. 11. What you would like written on your headstone. Some put a favorite quote, children's names, spouse, flower, etc.

If something were to happen to me, it would make my family's life so much easier having my will, living will, banking information, funeral wishes, donation card and other things right at their home already with a current photo and obituary written out. A little planning now can really help those you love later when they may be under distress anyway.

Lastly, I would include any family heirloom items that aren't framed or in a vault or safety deposit box. Any coins, stamps or other items that may be of value to you or another family member that can't be replaced by insurance. Great Grandpa's diary may be best scanned and put on a DVD. Some things money can't replace. Taking the time now to prepare may save you hours later trying to contact each health department, vital statistics, bank, broker etc. My mother almost died two years ago and it would have been so much easier for me to take over her affairs if this information had been organized.

My hope is that none of us will need it but if we do, it sure is handy to have it all in one place. Happy organizing!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shaken To Perfection!

The Perfect Color of Paint
A true story by Tejae
August 27, 2005

All the rooms pictured in this blog were painted using the mismatched paint.

I was going through a very difficult divorce at the time this event happened and it is funny how such trying times can make us so strong and we can learn lessons from even the most frustrating of situations.

I bought some mismatched paint from the local K-Mart that was just off white and was marked down to $5 a gallon. When I bought it, I asked the clerk if it would be possible to retint the mixed paint and make it to be a color that I wanted. They said that would be possible so I bought about 15 cans of the mismatched paint.

Our home had always been white since my ex-husband was worried about resale value. During the divorce, I felt that our children felt powerless and felt that they had no say in what was happening, so, I told them to pick any color they wanted and I would paint their rooms however they chose. I wanted to give them a feeling of control in an awful situation.

My oldest child chose lime green to paint her room. I thought it would look aw
ful but being true to my word, I set off to the store with the mismatched paint. When I arrived, there was an older experienced worker that knew about colors and he was able within a few tries to get the paint exactly the right color. I was amazed that he could get so close by adding just a bit of this color and a bit of that color and shaking vigorously.

So, after I finished her room,
my next oldest decided she wanted Winnie-the-Pooh with clouds on the top and the mustard pooh color on the bottom. So, off to the store I go with two more gallons of paint. I get there and once again, the experienced worker was there. He quickly made the calculations and put the paint tint in the cans and shook them up. Out came a perfect match. I was beginning to think I had really gotten a great deal!

The next paint I needed tinted was a chocolate milk color. I went to the store thinking I would be done in a few min. This time, there was a younger worker that wasn’t so experienced but there was another worker visiting and he helped guide the worker after several unsuccessful attempts how to “fix” what he had done to the paint by adding the opposite color on the color wheel. It took about an hour to mix the gallon of paint. I thought maybe the paint wasn’t such a “great” deal having to take so long to get it mixed.

I waited several months before I could get to the next room. My life was going crazy with court dates and evaluations, and mediators etc. I decided on a color for my family room. This would be the room we would spend much time in and I wanted it to be a warm color. I took in several gallons of paint to be mixed. This time, there was a girl who had no idea what to do other than follow the exact recipe in the mixing book and turn on the mixer. I gave her the colors that I wanted the paint mixed and off we went. We would add a drop of this color and a drop of that and then put it into the mixer. Out it would come after having been agitated and we would anxiously open the can to see what color we had created. It took hours and we finally got close to what I thought I wanted.

I took the paint home and started putting it on the wall. I painted a small section and then let it dry. Even thought I thought at the store that it was what I wanted, after taking it home and “trying it on”. I realized, after all that work, it wasn’t exactly how I wanted it to be. So, off to the store I went with my paint. We added a bit more color, and, home I went. I put a bit on the wall.

Once it had dried, I realized it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. So off to the store I went to add more color and have the paint shaken to mix it up. After this last time, I put it on the wall and it was perfect. It was the exact color that I wanted.

It was at the store the last time that I realized that my life was like the mismatched paint. I felt discarded and rejected and not worth full price, just like the mismatched paint. Then, like I saw value in the paint, the Lord saw value in me. I take the paint home and ponder on what color I would like it to become. The Lord ponders on me and what I can become.

Then, I take action and go to the store and have a bit of tint and color thrown in. The Lord puts me in situations where a bit of color and tint is added by others around me. Next, the paint gets put into the mixer and shaken vigorously. I get trials that are suited to shake me up and mix up my sedimentary life mixing the colors and experiences together to make me a shade that he wants me.
Then, when the mixing of the paint is done, I take it home and try it on the wall. I let it dry and look at it in different lights of the day and decided if it is exactly what I want. The Lord, lets me out of my trials for awhile to see what shade I have become as a person and what I will do or be in different situations and “lights” and how I will respond to the different lights and experiences.

I decided I didn’t exactly like the shade of the paint, so off I go to the store for more tinting and shaking. The Lord thinks, “I know she could be better, she isn’t quite perfect for what I have in store for her so I will give her more tinting and trials to shake her up to become perfect for what I would like for her. I learned that when mixing paint, if you add black to the paint and you don’t like the color that it becomes, you can add the same amount of white and it erases all the effects of the black.

Just as the paint, if I make a bad choice during my trial and because of that choice darkness and black come into my life, I just need to use the atonement and add the same amount of light or white back in and it erases all effects of the dark or black paint from my soul.

So through the trials we go… being shaken, tinted, shaken, tinted, shaken and tinted until, like the paint for my family room, we are perfect. Sometimes we will have someone that is experienced helping us along the way and the trial (mixing) seems quite easy and we feel we are soaring through it. Other times, we have no one with experience that can help and we are mostly on our own and it takes much longer to go through than we would like but we don’t always get to choose the people around us or the length of our trials.

That paint was mismatched, discounted and unwanted. I felt discounted and unwanted after almost 20 years in an abusive marriage and having gone through a divorce. After being tinted and shaken at least 40 times the paint was perfect for what I needed it for.

Like that paint, I have been shaken many times by the trials of my divorce. But, as I go through each tinting and shaking trial, I come out one more step toward perfect for what the Lord needs me to be for his purpose. I see a value in myself. I know most people would have passed that paint off as unusable. I saw value, I worked at it and spent time with it and coated my home with it. I haven’t had a room in my home that hasn’t gotten complements and someone asking, “Where did you get the paint?” and “What color is this?”, or, “Can I use the same color in my house without offending you?”

Like the paint, I hope that when the Lord is through tinting, mixing, and coating me that people will see the value in what I have gone through and, that as I say, “Its perfect” about my paint, the Lord will be pleased and say “She’s perfect.”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Secret Garden.....

I had never custom painted a wall before 8 years ago. We had always had white walls for "resale" value. When we were going through such stress with a divorce, I told my kids they could choose any color they wanted for their rooms. When one said she wanted a tree in her room, I was so scared to try. Once I got into my head that if I messed up, I could paint over it, painting started to be fun.

This was my 4th room custom painting. I am not a painter and other than plain color on walls and a few crafts, this was a new thing for me. I did find however that once I started, there was no end to the creative outlet decorating and painting walls could be for me.

I made our upstairs guest bathroom into a "Secret Garden." I started painting a rock wall and used two or three bottles of acrylic paint in black and brown. I let the white show through that was on the wall already to lighten the paint. I kept the paint thicker for darker color on the edges of the "rocks" and added a little water which made the paint thinner to lighten some rocks.

If you notice, you can see that I started on the left and up and over the "door" and then realized that the rocks were leaning. So, I started at the bottom on the right and came up and met where I had stopped above on the right. If you try this, I would suggest that you build evenly starting at the bottom, just as you would a real rock wall.

I made an arched door out of paper. I folded the paper in half and drew half so that when opened it would be even on both sides. I then taped it to the wall where I wanted the door to go and traced it onto the wall with a pencil. I once again let the white of the wall show through as I used tan acrylic to paint the "door" planks on the wall. I used a smaller brush (1/2 inch wide) and brown paint to paint the lines defining the planks but held it sideways. I took a much smaller brush to draw the "knots" on the door.

I searched second hand shops for a towel bar that would make a good door handle. I got ivy at the dollar store and actually stapled the ivy to the wall along the door frames, windows, shower edges and fixtures.

I painted the back of the bathroom door with a wood grain texture also making it look like a hand made wooden door of a garden.

I painted the "rock wall" look behind the toilet and stapled ivy along the top of the rock wall. I framed some garden sayings and other sayings I like for decor on the back of the toilet and hung some on the wall. My favorite of these is "There is no testimony without the TEST." There is also a wooden frame hanging on the arched wooden door above the towel rack. The saying on that door is, "Ask and it shall be given you, Knock and it shall be opened unto you."

I stuck a watering can with silk flowers and greens in the window with a few other decoration and made a wall hanging with some clear frames of real dried pressed flowers to go above the shower stall. I liked that the real flowers added to the garden feel.

I added a few sayings I like about "Counting Your Blessings" and a "Bee Grateful" cross stitch done by a friend. It has been a fun room that gets comments often.

I finished it off by putting our favorite copy of "A Secret Garden" in there for reading material.

This is a garden you can make anywhere! Happy painting!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Feeling Worthy to Stand with God!

This isn't the blog that I had intended to write today. Sometimes our lives take on their own life. Today was one of those days. It was a stressful day with health issues and life issues of the divorced. With this crazy day, I was humbled to kneel and pray and bear my soul to God for help overcoming this new obstacle in my life. The impression was that I needed to take a step back, regroup and pray for inspiration.

Doing that, the thought of what I should blog about came into my mind. With my friend having problems asking Heavenly Father to show him he is loved, I remembered back to about 6 years ago when I was in a similar place.

One day I was in the middle of my divorce and I was doing laundry and I was walking up the stairs in my home when I looked up and saw a painting of Christ that sits at the top of my stairs. I looked it in the eye and immediately looked down in shame. I thought to myself, "Why would I look down rather than feeling comfortable looking at the painting?" I realized that I didn't feel like I was worthy to stand in God's presence.

That thought was very upsetting to me. For most of my life I have gone to church and prayed. I had no idea that under all that, I felt unworthy to be near God. From that day, I prayed that I would be able to let go of any feelings or beliefs I had that would keep me from feeling like I could stand with my Heavenly Father and my brother Christ. It took me two years to overcome that feeling. Here is what I did to help me get through those feelings.

I prayed for help. Because there was a war in Heaven, we fought for agency to come to earth and be tested. With that agency, God is bound to allow us to make mistakes. However, if we ask for his help, he can then step in and help. If we don't ask, he can't help because of our agency.

I then put as many paintings of Christ around my home as I could find. You have seen my "Christ table" and I have tried to put a painting in every room. I would force myself to look at the picture and ask myself, "What is within me that keeps me from feeling like I can look him in the eye?" Whatever comes up, I ask God to help me let go of that feeling or issue.

I would close my eyes and picture Christ standing before me. I would ask him for help letting go of "?" whatever feeling or emotion I was feeling at the time. Anger at my ex, sadness that my marriage had failed, regret that I had been harsh on my children. Whatever feeling that made me feel unworthy to stand in his presence. I would hand Christ the feeling and situation and say a prayer similar to this. "Dear Heavenly Father, I am feeling "?" today and have carried this issue around with me for a long time in many different situation. I no longer want to have this feeling and ask for thy help in giving it to Christ."

At this point, I picture myself handing the situation to Christ in my mind. I then thank Christ for taking it and ask if he has anything to tell me. I don't really hear him say anything but sometimes I get a feeling of overwhelming love or acceptance or other impressions.

Then, I picture Christ handing me the healing love of Christ and I picture that going in and filling the void left where the negative feeling had been in my body. I then thank him for atoning for my sins, picture myself hugging him and thank Heavenly Father for sacrificing his son and close in Christs name. ALWAYS thank both Heavenly Father and Christ!

Two things with this. One - If you give me a plant for my birthday and you come and water it daily, did you give me the plant? "No" so, if you give Christ the thing that you are working on and then proceed to worry and talk and stew about it, did you really give the problem or issue to him? "No!"

So, once you give him the problem you are working on, if it comes to your mind, quickly picture Christ there and hand it to him and thank him for worrying about it for you. It is no longer your plant to water!

Second, if you are walking through the grass and you pull out a rock and there is a hole left, what happens when it rains? Mud will be there making a mess. However, you take out that rock and replace it with a few seeds and cover it with some dirt, now what happens when it rains? Same rain! But, something beautiful can grow!

So, when you take out a negative thought or emotion and you don't fill it with something light and good, when it rains emotionally, it will fill up with the same murky muddy emotions that came out. (This is just like dust in a room will flow toward a magnet, remove the magnet and it will fall to the ground evenly)

If you fill the spot with Christs healing light, when it rains emotionally, something beautiful like these flowers can grow. You can then see the situation with different eyes.

When I have a stressful situation, I try to see some reason to be grateful right off which makes the situation seem smaller in perspective.

Doing those things and sitting in rooms with Christ on a regular basis has helped me overcome that feeling of worthiness. Give yourself time. As I said, it took me two years to really feel comfortable looking Him in the eye.

One day, I had a woman come to pick up my daughter for something. It was dark. I asked her to come and sit in my front room. She sat and then I turned on the light. She about came out of her chair as she looked at the wall in front of her and instantly became VERY uncomfortable. She had a huge weight issue and a low self esteem. I could see the paintings made her self conscious. I guess I wasn't the only one with worthiness issues so that is what I felt to write about today.

I hope in the end, we will all stand lovingly and in peace together with Christ.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Knowing God Knows & Loves Me

When I was going through my divorce, life was stressful and difficult. I was under great stress and felt like I was fighting for life itself as I fought for my girls. During that time, whenever I seemed to be under serious stress and doubt at the outcome, a certain song would come on the radio. Time after time, this song came on right at the pivotal moment in my life.

There hasn't been one court date in 8 years that I have come out of court and turned on the radio and this song has come on. There have been many court dates yet each time, this song comes on before I am home from court.

This song continues to come on the radio or in some other form just when I need it.

Through the years, other songs come on and something tells me they are just for me.

With others, as in the movie "Patch Adams," they have signs such as a butterfly. For my sister it is snowflakes. Another friend, it is apples. Still another is dragonflies. What is your sign that God loves you?

This morning I woke up to the radio. My daughter often comes in to turn off the alarm but every so often I get the feeling that the song is for me so I ask her to let it play. Today was one of those feelings. When the chorus came on, "Jesus loves you more than you will know." I had such a good feeling and knew that it was true for me. It got me pondering on how whenever I need it, God finds a way to get me the song, "The Middle" by "Jimmy Eat World." He even got me free tickets to see them in concert. Here is the ticket stub as seen on my "gratitude frame" above. I thought that would be what I would blog about today how God lets me know He loves me using a song.

As we got out of the car and headed into church today, my daughter says, "Jimmy." I notice the car in front of us is a "Jimmy" and she didn't say anything else. I just felt reassured that I was supposed to share with you that God does know us.

I had been wishing I had some pictures from the concert or something so I could use them for the blog but didn't have any. I had just finished writing this blog and got a phone call. As I was on the phone, my screen saver came on and started rotating through pictures. This picture came up. I have never seen this picture and scrolled back to see what it was. I looked closely and was in shock when I saw the faint "Jimmy" through the smoke and lights. I quickly went through the files on my computer that I didn't take.

My oldest daughter went to a "Jimmy Eat World" concert while at college. These were pictures off her phone file. There were three photos. This photo just happened to come up right as my blog was finished and ready to post. Wasn't that a funny time for a call? It just reinforced the thoughts I had that God wanted me to post this information today. I hope it helps you know he is aware of each of us and what is going on in our lives.

God is a loving Father in Heaven and He knows each of us and who we are. WE are the ones who block him from letting us know. My suggestion for this week would be to pray to God and ask Him to let you know in a way that only He could that He loves you. Some sort of sign or token just for you.
Don't forget to give gratitude when he does. If you do something for your children and one thanks you and one doesn't, which child do you want to give and do more for?

I had a friend read this and he said he tried it and it was very hard for him because he felt he was "sign seeking."
I asked him if he had a relationship with his father on earth where he could ask him for help and support and ask his father to show him how he loved my friend. He said "no." I asked if he had a spouse that he could ask to tell him how she loved him. He said, he didn't feel he could. So, I explained that since he had no reference to having someone close enough on earth to give him that unconditional love and someone that would "Show" him how he was loved, it was difficult to ask his Heavenly Father to show him he is loved.

This is not seeking a sign. This is a child asking a parent to reassure them of His love. If my daughter asked me to show her I loved her, I would do ANYTHING I could to show and tell her I love her. How much more does our Heavenly father know and love us? I hope you take this challenge and that you post a little note saying how God let you know He loves you!

Here is another favorite "Jimmy Eat World" song: "Hear you me."

God sees you and "I see you" to quote Avatar. And, I leave you with a line from the above song: "May Angels Lead you In."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Make Your Own "Tire d" Swing

Last week, we were blessed to make some new friends. These girls were the ages of my girls. After playing some games, they went out to the yard to play. While some jumped on the tramp, one of them decided to swing in our tire swing.

The girl's father had come to help me work on my computer. As we looked out the window where we were working, his daughter (who looked asleep) was gently gliding back and forth as the wind was rocking her. It brought to mind the lullaby "Rock a bye baby, in the tree tops, when the wind blows the cradle will rock."

This nursery rhyme had a happy ending however as in a few minutes she came in a bit shy and admitted she had fallen asleep in the swing.

Being single, I wouldn't have thought to put up a tire swing or even known how. My best friend's husband put one up in his yard one day and all the children would wait to take turns on the swing. I had a similar tree and asked him if he would show me how to make my own swing.

I was surprised at how easy it was. So, here for everyone to see how easy it is, are the instructions.

Get a large tire. I used one I took off my Suburban. Most people don't want to pay the dump fee so getting an old large used tire is the easy part. Any tire store would probably be glad to give you one.

Pick a tree. Find a branch that is strong enough to hold several children at a time as I have seen 4 larger kids on it several times. Make sure the branch is not too close to the trunk or they will hit it when swinging. Also, there can't be any lower branches that the swing will hit or it makes the swing lurch and hurts the tree and possibly your children.

Find a thick rope. The length depends on how high the tree branch is from the tire. I used three ropes so you would measure how close to the ground you want the tire up to the height of the branch and give a foot and a half for tying knots on the tire side and depending on the diameter of the branch you are putting it around, 4-6 more feet to tie it onto the tree.

Once you know how thick your rope is, get a drill bit as close to the size of the rope as possible. One bit size bigger than the rope is best. Next, drill three holes at even intervals around the top of the tire. These holes are for the rope to go through.

Next, take a smaller drill bit and drill holes every 4 inches or so around the bottom of the tire so that the water that will collect from rain or sprinklers will be able to drain and not be a nesting ground for mosquitoes or murky water getting your children wet when they swing. We didn't make enough and collected leaves and a small amount of water when the swing was level.

Cut one third of the rope off and leave the other 2/3rd in one length. You can climb the tree and shimmy up the branch. (I can't suggest that because if you fall, you could sue me so here is what I suggest.) You get a really sturdy ladder and have 4 people hold the base while you climb to the tree branch. Fold the longer section of rope in half and hang that loop over the tree. Tie a large knot in one end of the shorter rope and hang the knot through the hanging loop in the center of the longer rope. Then, place the two loose ends of the longer rope through the center of the loop on either side of the knotted end of the shorter rope. Pull tightly. This is where you get creative and make a few more amazing knots and make sure it looks just like the picture. (ha ha) Really, we just kept making knots. We didn't want the rope to rub the bark off the tree killing the branch so we tied the rope to itself.

Next, we stuck the tire on a table while we put the rope through the holes. We stuck tape on the ends of the rope first making it like a shoelace and it was easy to thread through that way.

Then we made sure that the lengths were even and tied knots once the rope was threaded through the top holes. We made the knots big enough they wouldn't pull through. Remove the table and the next thing is VERY IMPORTANT. PLEASE DO THIS!!!! I noticed after a day that the kids would stand on the swing and one would twist it around and around and the child's head or arm/hand could get caught in the ropes! I took some copper wire covered with plastic and wrapped it down low enough on the rope that the three ropes didn't have enough play to get anything caught when they twirled around. If you have a tall tree, those ropes could easily choke a child. (The nurse in me is always thinking.) So, please wrap a wire or another rope around the three hanging ropes low enough to keep there from being ANY chance of a child getting hurt. Another thing is make sure that the swing will not hit any other branches or the trunk of the tree before you make the effort only to find out you wasted your time and money. Also, make a test run yourself before allowing any children on it. Make sure the ropes won't pull through dumping a child on the ground. Take the swing out several feet and walk it around in a circle to ensure it isn't hitting anything on the lawn or the tree.

The last thing, large children tend to like to get on the swing in two or threes and push off etc. This causes the tire to rip and the rope to pull out. I limited the swing to one child over about age five at a time. Because of that problem, I had to retie the knot on one side of the swing. This caused it to recline. The kids actually like the swing better at an angle and it drains much better. Either way, it has brought years of fun to our home. You can tell just how much use it gets by looking at the grass below it in the picture.

So, if you want a rest, our "tire d" swings the best!

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Penny Saved is Worth $2,500?

About twenty years ago, we had some company for dinner. I was cleaning out the change in my wallet and was throwing it into our money jar when I looked down at a penny that was in my hand. It had the date of 1955 stamped twice on it and was blurry.

I said to our company, "Look at this penny, it is stamped twice." We passed around the penny and everyone looked at it. I then threw it into our loose change money jar. The husband of the couple said that he thought the penny may be worth some money. He said that he had a coin magazine that he could bring over.

Shortly after that we moved across the country from the Boston area to the west. In two months time, I found out our family was moving, had a baby, had surgery, got really sick and was hospitalized, had 3 children under 5 and we moved 2200 miles. Life was so crazy I forgot about the whole thing. I took the money jar to the bank to change in as it would have been heavy to transport across the US.

A few years later, I heard someone talking about the 1955 double D mint penny and how rare and valuable it was. I later looked it up on eBay and realized what a mistake I made.

I heard a story about an actor looking at his change once and giving it back to the clerk and told them to take it to a coin dealer and told them it was his "tip" to them. It ended up being worth thousands.

I now look at the pennies that cross my hands. The 1955 double D mint coin is so rare that fate would have to bring it my way as the odds are far against any of us finding one.

My girls enjoy sorting the coins and when they have been looked over, they place them in a bag. When they are looking for change to go to a show or something, it is easier for them to grab a bag of already sorted coins.

I found a story about a 3.7 million dollar nickel. Here is the link

We still have a money jar which we check from time to time but have only found a few wheat pennies. If you check eBay completed listing or "Google" your older coins, it may prove worthwhile!

Here is a list of the more valuable pennies:

· 1909-S V.D.B. ($700-$2000+)
· 1909-S ($100-$500+)
· 1914-D ($225-$3,500+)
· 1922 no mint mark ($650-$40,000+)
· 1931-S ($115-$250+)
· 1955 Doubled-Die ($950-$5,000+)

Wheat Cent Error Coins - Of the 6 coins above considered highly scarce or rare in the Lincoln wheat penny series, 2 are considered errors:

1922 no mint mark -- Only the Denver mint produced pennies in 1922, but weak dies (the device itself which actually imprints the image into a coin) produced coins with a faint "D" and some coins on which no "D" mint mark appears at all.
1955 doubled die -- This coin bears a distinct, doubled image on its front side (the obverse). This image doubling was not intended by the mint and, thus, is considered an error. (The above information was from

I thought that since everyone is having such a hard time in this economy that I would give this information. I am not in any way an expert but just someone that learned a costly lesson the hard way.

Sometimes a penny saved is worth $2,500!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Legend of the Salty Cookies.....

There is a legend in our family that gets told at most family gatherings where food is served. We have a few stories that make the rounds but this story is one of the favorites.

Whenever I take a homemade treat to a family potluck, I usually get a comment from one of my nephew or nieces joking that they hope my treats aren't "too salty." My brothers apparently told this story as a bedtime story to their children. I have another story that they tell about me but that I will save for another day.....

So, here I tell you, "The Legend of the Salty Cookies!"

When I was nine, I wanted to make some chocolate chip cookies. Now, in a family with 8 children, the middle to younger children were usually unnoticed unless a major issue arose. Having five children myself, I understand that we are there for every event of the first child's life and as we have more and more children, things just slip as you are busy helping the older kids or running children to lessons or games.

With that said, I was the fifth child and my mother was gone doing things only a mom does. So, I pull out a recipe card that looked good. I start to make the cookies. I get to the ingredient of salt. It said, add 1 c. salt. Now, I did remember thinking that was odd but what does a nine year old know. So, I think the person writing the recipe knows more than I do so I add a cup of salt. The cookie dough didn't taste so great but I thought maybe they needed to be baked before they tasted better.

They came out of the oven smelling heavenly. I took a bite and choked as if I had swallowed a mouthful of ocean water. It was so salty. I ran to the bathroom to spit it out. At that time, my oldest brother who was in high school went into the kitchen smelling the wonderful aroma of cookies. As I was headed back to the kitchen, there is an awful blood curdling scream from the kitchen. Of course, everyone in the house runs in to find my brother gagging over the sink.

My mother arrives home at this point and tries to gain control and console my oldest brother. She asks me what happened and I told her I followed the recipe exactly. I show her the card and she said, "Yes, it does say 1 c. but that is way to much salt."

My DEAR SWEET MOTHER doesn't want my first baking experience to be bad. Instead of throwing away the batch and making a new one with me, (which is probably what I would do) she turns it into a higher math problem and gets all the children involved in figuring out how many times we would need to multiply the recipe in order to use 1 cup of salt!

I am feeling horrible at this point but my older siblings figure out the lengthy math problem and the calculations for amounts of flour, sugar, eggs, chocolate chips etc but they didn't have to do much to figure out how much salt to add!

My mother whips out her wallet and proceeds to send my brothers to the store for hundreds of pounds of sugar, flour and other needed items. While they were gone, she pulls out our largest canning pan and the largest measuring cups.
Looking online at the Original Toll House cookie recipe, there is 1 teaspoon of salt in the recipe. If we put 1 cup of salt in, we would have to make 48 times the recipe. That includes 96 eggs and 97 cups of flour. I remember my arm trying to reach down in the dough and stir it with a long spoon and not being able to mix it. I think what we ended up doing in the end was washing our hands to above the elbow and several of us mixing it with our arms. My friend Jay said all he could think about was hauling in a cement mixer to mix the dough when he heard the story. Paints a funny picture! It would have made 2,880 cookies!

We proceeded to make the largest batch of cookie dough I have ever or care to ever see. We then wrapped and froze the dough and had cookie dough for at least a year and with 8 children sneaking it at every turn that is a whole lot of cookie dough!

I had forgotten that horrible event of the past but thanks to my brother's amazing bed time story telling abilities, I now get to hear my brothers laugh about it at least once a year if not more.

I figure if you can't beat them, join them! I hope you enjoyed the "Legend of the Salty Cookies" as much as they do.

I to this day, make large batches of cookie dough. It must have created an issue. :-) After mixing the main ingredients, I take a few cups out and put nuts and white chips in. I take another few cups out and put coconut and chocolate chips in them. I take another few cups out and add mint chips. I usually make about 4 times the recipe and then add the different extras and then I freeze them. I label the outside of the foil with a Sharpie and write what the "extras" are and what temperature and how long to bake them.

This way if someone I know is having a baby, has a loss or is just going through a hard time, I can take over a cookie log and they can bake it when they want them. Or, I just throw them in the oven for 10 minutes or so and have a hot plate of cookies to take over with a card.

To freeze them, I lay a long amount of foil down and then the same amount of Saran wrap on top of it. I then spoon the dough into the center of the wrap. I then take both sides of the wrap and lift it off the foil and kind of tap and flip the dough so that it forces the air out and forces the dough into a log shape. I then roll the wrap together in one direction until it is touching itself on the side and then fold in the sides back onto the wrap.

I then do the same thing with the foil rolling both down one side and then folding the sides in as you would a camp fire foil dinner. I label it with the baking info and content and place it in the freezer.

I tried making little cookie balls and freezing them on cookie trays and placing them in ziplock bags but it took a long time and for the amount of cookie dough I make, it also takes up more space in the freezer. I tried ziploc bags but the dough sticks to the side and doesn't freeze in a log which is easy to cut. The dough doesn't stick and when I cut it there is no waste.

When I have company or choose to bake them, I pull out the type we want. I turn on the oven, unwrap the dough and then using a butter knife, cut off the desired size cookie. If the bundle isn't round, I just take the frozen dough which thaws quickly and roll it around in my hand until it forms a ball and place them on a cookie sheet and bake.

I love that my mom helped me have a fun baking experience and that I still enjoy baking. What a mom....

Hope you enjoy trying this at home and hope that the memory of the "Legend of the Salty Cookie" brings a smile to your face as you do.