When Animals Discover they’re at the vet’s – Take 2

I have more pictures of animals discovering they’re at the vet’s sent to me by my sister-in-law. I hope you’re enjoying these as much as I did.





















Awwww! Poor babies.











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Filed under Amazing Animals, Attitude, Favorite Photographs

Cookie Cutters!

I just received 101 plastic cookie cutters in a plastic bucket that my husband ordered for me online. :0)

This is all Ginger’s fault – she baked 16 cookies for Viv’s 16th birthday, with shapes of Arkansas, dog paws and dog bones (since the high school football team is the Bulldogs), two cute cupcake shapes, dog shapes for our dogs, Molly and Bambi; a cat shape for our cat, Abby; and a horse shape, since Viv may get to meet one of Ginger’s horses. This was absolutely the cutest, most personalized and creative birthday present I’ve ever seen.

It really made me want to

  • bake some cookies, though mine won’t taste as good as Ginger’s
  • use cookie cutters, since the shapes were SO cute
  • and have cutters on hand for the various holidays – just in case the mood struck me  :0)

I’ve just finished dividing up all the cookie cutters that came in the plastic tub. I have

  • numerals
  • letters
  • basic shapes (like stars and circles)
  • shapes for most of the holidays
  • even more shapes for some animals and vehicles

It’s a really cute set. I organized them into gallon plastic bags, and then put them into a 5 gallon labeled plastic bucket so they’ll all be easily findable.

I still would love to get

  • a shamrock shape
  • a birthday cake or cupcake shape
  • a candle/firework shape (though I think I can use the ‘1’ shape)
  • a thanksgiving shape

I will need to find a wonderful, basic sugar cookie recipe, and I would love to get some decorative tubes of icing…  I think the first thing I’ll try is just using a knife and trying to cut out some leaves to celebrate fall!


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Filed under Arts and Crafts - Teaching, Childlike Fun, Decorating Ideas, Favorite Things, Gift Ideas, Holiday Gift Ideas, Holiday Goodies, Opportunities!, Recipes


credit - peter callesen _creativity2go

credit -
peter callesen _creativity2go

This shows you one of the many reasons I’m proud to be part of the human race. Give a person a piece of paper (and, in this case, probably an exacto knife) and SOMEONE will be creative and skillful enough to do this.  AND, not only does he do something really ‘out of the box,’ his design spills off the edge of the paper – making a wonderful use of the shadow box and light, showing different pieces of the background in the actual design.  I love it, Peter Callesen!

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I’ve tried a couple of times in the last several days to work on getting my art room cleaned out. My latest excuse for not actually making much progress is the quote above – which is absolutely true, by the way.

I’m lucky because we converted a third bedroom into my art room. Then I spilled over, putting books, magazines and finished products into what we called our ‘guest’ room. When we made the life-changing decision to be host parents for a foreign exchange student this year, we asked our son to clean out his stuff when he was here for a visit – keeping what he wanted and bringing the rest down to be given away or disposed of. (We have three LARGE bins in the basement now with our son’s stuff.) Then it was MY turn to clean out the rest of the room of my slop-over art stuff , the floor-to-ceiling shelves, and our out-of-season clothes that filled up the walk-in closet. I was also forced to clean out the hallway that goes between the guest room and the third bedroom (art room) because it looked like what it was – a storage area for things that needed a home. After I did THAT, the room – with its bathroom – was then a good, comfortable spot for Viv, our new ‘daughter’ from Germany, to call her own.

We gave away a lot of things, and for that I’m happy. Hopefully, other folks will get some good use out of extra sheets, blankets, towels and clothes, shoes, cold weather stuff, as well as some extra hair dryers, etc. The thing that remains is my art room -

The quote above is so true I laughed when I saw it. I really TRY not to react to what I find in there. I go in with the mindset that I need to throw out what I haven’t looked at or used in the past year or so. Since I contacted the library and our local high school and they have no interest in my art magazines, I’m throwing them out, a handful or two in the bottom of each trash bag we put out for pick up for the week. This is a slow process, but it will allow me to get to the end of it eventually. Meanwhile I have two large trash cans out of the art room and into the hallway full of ‘stuff.’

The real problem is that I’m lucky enough to have LOTS of things in my art room that are calling to me to use them to create something else!

For quite awhile, I’ve been working with my husband in the shop to create mailbox decorations. That didn’t leave much time or energy to even go into the art room, much less clean it out or try to make something up there. We’ve slowed down on the mailbox decorations for a time because the days are flying by with Viv in school during the day and then adapting to her plans for evenings and trying to arrange fun things for the weekends. It is also a good time to refurbish the critters around the yard who have lost beads, or need new googly eyes, or need a general brightening up of the paint.

Are you beginning to see the pattern here? ANY excuse, no matter how valid or how lame, keeps me from actually cleaning out the art room. It’s a good thing that there is a door on the room that I can keep firmly shut….

credit - funny2014.com

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Filed under Arts and Crafts - Teaching, Attitude, Challenges, Favorite Quotes, Housekeeping?, The Joys of Geezerhood

Dog Lessons for People

credit - lisa bearnes richey

credit -
lisa bearnes richey

This was posted on Facebook by my friend, Lisa Bearnes Richey. We agree that dogs are really smart and that we should take some good lessons they’ve learned and thrived by.

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Amazing Animals, Attitude, Challenges, Encouragement, Favorite Quotes, Opportunities!, Philosophy, Quality of Life

When Animals Discover they’re at the vet’s – Take 1

My sister-in-law (and good friend) Mary Lou sent me a wonderful group of pictures of how animals look when they discover they’re at the vet’s office. It doesn’t matter how wonderful or caring the vet and his or her staff is, the reaction is the same. My own dogs look like we’re abandoning them to a terrible fate, so they really resonated with me, so I thought I’d share them with you for your “awwwww” for the day.



















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Wooden Wonders – Take 13


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credit – webneel.com







Can you believe this is made from wood? Simply amazing.

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Filed under Creativity, Favorite Things, I'm Glad I Found...., It's a Wonderful World!, Our Diverse Culture, Wooden Wonders

Monday Musings

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It was hard to get up this morning, even if it IS the first day of fall.

It was the perfect day to sleep in. In fact, Viv did, and I had to roust her at the last minute in order for her to throw on clothes and scoot out the door to meet the school bus.

I’m about to go back to sleep. My husband is already under a comfy throw in his recliner.  This morning we have a thing called, “Life Line Screening.”  – preventive health screenings for heart disease, stroke and other forms of atherosclerosis (plaque in the arteries) among patients with risk factors, but who otherwise show no symptoms.

We saw an ad on TV or in a magazine and tried to find it online. We saw that it’s a service that travels all over the United States, offering low-cost screening that may save your life. Since we’re old, we asked our primary physician what he thought. He told us he thought we were smart to do this, and that it would cost a lot to get the same tests through any referrals he could make.

It takes about 90 minutes they said. Our appointments start at about 11:30. The bad part is that we need to go in fasting. We were up at 6 a.m. to get Viv off to school and now are waiting to go for our screening – over 5 hours…. We’ll sleep for part of it, and that will make us happier campers.


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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Health Alert

“Delicious autumn!”

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” –  George Eliot

Isn’t this photograph fabulous? It doesn’t look a THING like this in Arkansas right now, but I’m hopeful we’ll have a pretty fall this year. Many times the summer is SO hot the trees shed their leaves early in order to survive. This year we had a cooler, wetter summer than normal, so most of the leaves are still on the trees. We’ve gone from the high 90’s with high humidity to a high of 79 today. I’m hopeful that the delicious change in temperatures will start the trees thinking about putting on a show for us! I hope that you can enjoy a gorgeous fall this year, too.


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Filed under Arkansas, Awe-Inspiring Photography, Changes, Encouragement, Favorite Photographs, It's a Wonderful World!, Lifting Your Spirits, Mother Nature, Quality of Life, Seasons

11 and still counting…

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Yep. We just returned from relocating raccoon #11 of the year…

I really find it hard to believe that we’ve had so many this year. The closest water is across the road from us, and the animals have to come up a fairly steep hill to get onto the civilized part of our property. We have two dogs and a cat who go in and out regularly, so it’s not a particularly safe place to be, either. Finally, we have a humane trap that we leave ready, with sunflower seeds in a bowl at the far end. The trap is designed to shut when the animal steps on a metal plate. The bowl is just past the metal plate. Then the poor thing is trapped from the time the trap shuts to the time we discover him, plus ‘relocate’ him. (Read as – dump him out in a creek about 5 miles from here.)

We really didn’t need to add this chore to our daily list. I wish they’d get the memo that they should mosey on down the road to someone else’s house!


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Filed under Amazing Animals, Challenges, Mother Nature, Seasons, The Joys of Geezerhood


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From this quote, I must be the consummate gardener.

I spent a morning about two weeks ago planting seeds for my fall garden in seed starter thingies with peat pellets, seeds, water , a little Miracle Gro, the cover, and lots of sun on the back porch. To date, I’m not seeing anything, so my moniker “Serial Seed Killer” still applies. I’ll try something else next week and see if that works.

This spring I sprinkled carrot seeds into the squares of the deeper square foot planters. Apparently, a better method would be to fill up the ‘carrot squares’ with the special Mel’s mix, then water those squares thoroughly, and THEN carefully sprinkle the carrot seeds so that they don’t all end up in clumps where they can’t grow they way they should.

The next time I plant potatoes (although I got a wonderful number of them this year), I’ll dig out a bunch of the Mel’s mix, plant a layer of potatoes with eyes, wait until they sprout a bit, and then put in more Mel’s mix and more potato eyes, over and over until the squares are filled to the top of the planter.

Early next spring I’ll install tomato cage thingies around my asparagus plants so that as the ferny plants grow, I can tie them to the cages for support. This way I can leave the ferny plants to grow and provide nourishment to the roots while harvesting spears and then not have to move all of them as I try to move through the garden.

I’ll read all the information I can find on growing green bell peppers and cucumbers again. I got only two bell peppers so far – not impressive in anyone’s book, and I didn’t get any cucumbers – just a plant.

I’ll also read more on watermelons. They apparently didn’t like being planted in the faux terra cotta pots. I got vine, but very little watermelons that never really grew this time.

I’ll try to figure out what I’m doing wrong with the seeds in the meantime…

So – mistakes I’m making, and lots of them, but we still had a lot of delicious tomatoes, onions, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, some asparagus spears, and potatoes. That’s pretty good for someone who doesn’t know what she is doing!

credit - dreamstime-com

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Filed under DIET!, Gardening, Healthy Eating, Opportunities!, Quality of Life, The Joys of Geezerhood


Today and tomorrow are still hot here (90 degrees with high humidity) but THEN we’re getting a nice break. Just in time for the official beginning of Autumn, our temperatures in Arkansas are supposed to be in the mid 80’s and below for HIGHS. Isn’t that wonderful?

We’ve already started to enjoy football games and back to school supplies, but the rest of this list is pending.

I love the fall for so many reasons. I get a spurt of energy to be outside. I love weather where I take a sweater or a jacket, wearing my UGG boots,  drinking in the fall colors, searching for creative pumpkin carving, enjoying a cup of steaming coffee out on the porch….

I’m really tired of wearing a sweat band while working. I would love to be able to leave them hanging on the hooks on the back of the utility room door until next year. I would love to come inside to warm up!

Our wood burning fireplace is one of my favorite things. I also love our electric blanket; hot soaking whirlpool baths, snuggling under a throw in my recliner with a dog in my lap and maybe the cat, as well. :0)

This year I’m looking forward to taking some weekend day-trips with Vivian now that we won’t melt into a puddle being outside. There are lots of wonderful places we’d like to share. I want to try to carve a Jack-o-lantern with her, cook Thanksgiving dinner with her, decorate for Christmas with her….

I’m looking forward to taking her shopping for some warmer clothes, helping her spend the gift card we gave her for her birthday.

The fall is a truly glorious time of year. I love it when the trees put on their party dresses and each tries to be the best dressed tree in the woods. We can enjoy informal sports on the driveway pad or in the front yard together for awhile after school or before it gets dark.

I hope the weather where you are is getting the memo that a wonderful time of year is beginning!

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Filed under Arkansas, Being a Host Family, Family, Greenwood, Quality of Life, Seasons

One good deed….



Today was the day I was determined to clean out the fridge.

I have a wonderful refrigerator in my kitchen. It’s a GE Profile French Door refrigerator and I love it. It is difficult, though, to clean. The space we have for a fridge in the kitchen is limited by two things: a wall on the left as you look at the front of the fridge and a built-in counter/desk with shelves on the right. We JUST got it in the space.

That means that we have had to learn a method for getting out the ice maker bin to empty or clean it. The same applies to the two produce bins that sit above the fridge-wide pull-out drawer with pop-up lid.  I can’t find a way to get THAT drawer out at all.

I have to admit that my cleaning-out-the-fridge days include nameless horrible things that are found at the back of the fridge. I’ve quit trying to identify them. I either wrap the whole disposable container up, hold my nose and throw it out, or take glass bowl containers to the sink and dump the contents down the disposal as quickly as possible followed by cut up lemons.

My husband has learned the art of giving me a wide berth while I’m cleaning the fridge, refraining from asking dangerous questions, such as, “What is THAT?” “How long has THAT been in there?” or comments such as, “Woo. That’s so bad even the dogs won’t eat it…” He quietly bags up the trash and takes it out, or starts putting containers in the dishwasher.

Now the fridge is fresh and clean, with great-looking bowls of grapes, apples, cut-up strawberries and sparkling shelves. AHHHH!

I have another fridge in the pantry that I need to clean out before making a menu for next week with grocery list….

Wish me luck?

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Housekeeping?, The Joys of Geezerhood

I’m a dog lover

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” – Will Rogers

credit - lovelyanimals via paula teshima

credit -
lovelyanimals via paula teshima


“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.” –  Ben Williams

credit - k9sforwarriors via paula horlick

credit -
k9sforwarriors via paula horlick


“Anybody who doesn’t know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.” –  Franklin P. Jones

“The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.” – Unknown

credit - online.wsj.com

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“You can say any fool thing to a dog, and the dog will give you this look that says, “My God, you’re right! I never would’ve thought of that!” – Dave Barry

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credit - FB/Sun Gazing via Cathy Ruggiero

credit – FB/Sun Gazing via Cathy Ruggiero

I laughed when this was posted by my good friend, Cathy Ruggiero. It’s so true for me.

I keep adding to what I would like to do on a regular basis to ‘be a better me – better than I was yesterday,’ but I can’t seem to do my whole list!

I’m trying to -

  • do a much better job of LISTENING rather than talking
  • impress my pedometer with more steps than I logged in yesterday
  • do at least 15 minutes on my elliptical trainer
  • keep my square foot garden under reasonable control
  • have my flower planters tended
  • establish a house cleaning routine I can actually keep up with
  • finish cleaning out my art room so that I can get in there and have fun!

There are many more things on the list, but you get the idea. If you’re old enough to remember (or can Google ‘Ed Sullivan,’) I feel like the wonderful plate spinners he had on the show from time to time. The man had poles on which he would start a plate spinning. He would start a second one, going back to increase the speed on the first one, increase it on the second one, then add a third plate. He went on and on until he had about 8 plates spinning at once! I thought it was impossible (though I watched it and was amazed) and I STILL believe it’s impossible. It would be wonderful, though, if I could add something to my list without one of the other plates losing steam and falling off the pole…

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Attitude, Challenges, Changes, Dreams, Encouragement, Favorite Quotes

Paper Dreams – Take 4


credit – artclub.blogs.brynmawr.edu

I find it almost impossible to believe that this is made of paper. The lace is incredible, but the HANDS just blow me away.



credit – indulgd.com by calvin nicholls

Can you imagine the skill, patience, and attention to detail required to create this FUR, not to mention the gorgeous bear…



credit – newbeautifulera.wordpress.com

And this beautiful Indian celebration – all created from paper. You can almost hear the drums and voices, can’t you?




credit – _www.thisiscolossal.com by motohiko_odaniby_christopher_jobson

Fantasy brought to an art form! The unicorn and the girl are amazing – but the movement and other-worldliness the artist added to them!



credit – http://www.thisiscolossal.com by vally_nomidouby_christopher_jobson

Simply gorgeous.


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Parent-Teacher Conferences – Take 2

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My husband said very sternly yesterday, “You’re on your own on this” about going to Parent/Teacher Conferences. He agreed to pick up Viv from softball practice, so I tried to time my arrival at the school at 3:30, right when the conferences started.

I went into the office/lobby area of the high school and a nice guy in a football coach type uniform gave me directions to the library. I saw that several people were sitting at one end of the room with signs, such as “A-L.” I got Viv’s report card and took it, along with the list of classes, teachers’ names, and room numbers Viv gave me and went out into the hall.

I had subbed for an entire year when we first moved to Greenwood, but things had changed drastically since then, so I was lost. I was saved by a lady who came by and explained the hall system to me.

For the next couple of hours, I found room numbers, read notes on the doors directing me elsewhere, followed the leads, asked for directions again, and stood in long lines to talk with teachers. I went to the main building, the arena, and the performing arts center to see the teachers who were available. I was glad my husband wasn’t there. He would have had a fit, leaving in a huff, after the first 10 minutes.

I finally managed to talk with 5 of the 8 teachers. Happily, Viv was doing fine in all of her classes. Some are more difficult because of trying to function in a foreign language PLUS learn the jargon associated with each subject. All were very complimentary of Viv and all of the foreign exchange students. I think the exchange students, the regular Greenwood High School students, and the teachers all enjoy a much more interesting year when they enjoy the fruits of a foreign exchange facilitator group. The comparisons of different languages, lifestyles, and customs; plus the realization that kids are kids – no matter their race or country of origin – are all mind-expanding and stimulating for all of us.

For some unknown reason the air conditioning in the school was turned off at 3:05, so by the time I finished hiking around to talk – or not to talk to – all the teachers, I was pretty overheated. I did impress my pedometer a bit yesterday, though – always a good thing. :0) I have to admit that I had to adjust my thinking – hard – when I saw a lady who was coming out of one of the buildings using crutches…

The high school campus looks much like a small college now and continues to expand. The voters in our community just accepted a tax hike in order to fund the building of a new “9th grade center” which will allow shuffling of all of the rest of the schools feeding into that center in the future, allowing more room to grow.

I’m glad I took the time to try to meet all of Viv’s teachers. I now have a mental picture of most of them, making what Viv says about them more understandable, and sometimes more amusing. :0)

I was also pleased to see a LOT of people there. When students are supported by both their teachers and their parents, they have a much better chance of doing a good job of preparing for their futures.

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Being a Host Family, Challenges, Family, Greenwood, Our Diverse Culture, Special Occasions

Wonderful spirit-lifter!

credit - angee chase

credit -
angee chase

I have an instinctive, gut reaction when I see flowers and purple – one of intense pleasure, a lifting of spirits, an enthusiasm for life.

There is no ‘why,’ it just IS.  I’m simply  flooded with positive emotions.

This glorious photograph of purple crocus by Angee Chase is an example.

All I need to do to lift my spirits is Google “purple flower images” and I have a stunning array of beautiful images to savor!

Between the music videos I told you about yesterday and a couple of purple flower images, I’m ready to have a terrific day.

What is a spirit-lifter for you?


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Filed under Awe-Inspiring Photography, Encouragement, Favorite Photographs, Favorite Things, Lifting Your Spirits, Mother Nature, Quality of Life, The Joys of Geezerhood

A beautiful way to start the day

Many days I need some help waking up, getting my act together, and feeling great about getting going for the day.

I’ve shared these before, but I want to do it again. There are two videos and songs that affect me in very different ways. If you haven’t heard these or recorded them, here’s a chance to do so.

The first one I listen to is

“A Special Version of Hallelujah with a Christian Twist” by Cloverton. The lead singer is Lance Stafford and the Cloverton band is wonderfully talented. “Hallelujah” was originally written by Leonard Cohen, but this is a beautiful version that makes me feel that the music and song are coming up from somewhere deep inside me, vibrating everywhere, making me feel a vital part of the music. I love watching the video and Lance Stafford’s voice is hauntingly beautiful. This makes me feel happy and calm.

Lance Stafford - Cloverton

Lance Stafford – Cloverton

To give me get-up-and-go, the second song I listen to is

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams. This video was posted on Facebook by Mario Patterson. It is absolutely impossible for me to watch this video without first dancing in my chair and finally getting up, dancing beside the computer with a goofy smile on my face. I love the video because it shows all kinds of people from all walks of life, dressed in many different styles, all bopping to the same song, each with a different ‘move’ showing how personal happiness is and how very many ways there are to show it.



“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” Victor Hugo

“Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.” – George Carlin

What’s YOUR favorite music right now?

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Filed under Encouragement, Favorite Videos, I'm Glad I Found...., Music, Quality of Life

Awe-inspiring photographs – Take 2


credit – blog.fly51fly.com



credit – photograph_digital-photography-school.com



credit – photograph_digital-photography-school.com



credit – petapixel.com



credit – photography_digital-photography-school.com

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Parent/Teacher Conferences

This afternoon will be interesting for me.

As a former teacher, I was always disappointed that so few parents showed up for conferences. I had made careful notes as to what I felt the parent should know, how they could help their child at home, etc. I was delighted when one or both parents came. It was wonderful to add parental faces, discuss the child briefly, and get their input on what I could do to improve.

As a parent, I felt a bit defensive for some reason if they didn’t think our son was wonderful. I was well aware that he was far from perfect, but somehow my instincts were to defend him. I had to forcefully squash that down to really HEAR what the teachers were saying – unless they were telling me how much they liked him and how well he was doing. :0)

Our son was very independent and stubborn, holding to his beliefs no matter what the consequences. He went from honor roll in junior high, to a statement that the faculty would be very happy if he did not return at one private school, to suspension in high school because he wouldn’t be molded. I ended up home schooling him until the next GED test. He passed with such high scores that the group contacted me about possible scholarships. He didn’t get the bug for doing well in school until he was halfway through college. THEN he would pin the teacher to the wall in his quest for knowledge – IF he wanted to know the subject. He was then upset that some of the people who had the same computer science degree that he received could not write a program that would do anything if their lives depended on it. Now he speaks Mandarin, has lived in China two times in two different cities and is now working with a cutting edge development company on a product that will make a huge difference. I’m still happy when a former teacher asks how he’s doing. :0)

This afternoon I’m going as a parent again – but this time to find out how Viv (our foreign exchange student from Germany) is doing. The whole feeling is different. To us, Viv is a young woman who is extremely impressive, speaking really good English – in fact, better English than a lot of Americans we have known. This is a ‘lost’ academic year for her. She has graduated from her ‘high school’ equivalent in Germany. She has had most of the classes she is taking before – except in German. The change this year for her is to attempt to do it all in a foreign language. She must listen, speak, and read English all day, functioning as much like the other students as possible. When she first started this year, she felt as if her head would explode from the strain of functioning in another language all day long. She needed to get some peace and quiet. She went to the library at school in order to be able to REST before her afternoon classes, and then still enjoys time to herself when she comes home.

It’ll be interesting to hear from her teachers how she is doing. I’m interested to know what my husband and I can do to help her.

The conferences are from 3:30 until 8:30 today. I’m going to try to get there at 3:30, because I know a lot of parents work and need the later times. I wish they gave appointment times. All I know is that I’m supposed to go to the library.

Wish me luck!

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Attitude, Being a Host Family, Challenges, Special Occasions

The Cutest Birthday Present EVER!

Ginger, from our veterinarian’s office, called this morning to see how Bambi was. (If you’ve missed some blog posts, Bambi was attacked by dogs, coyotes, or some other critters and his legs were really badly chewed up recently.) Happily, I was able to tell her that Bambi ate with appetite this morning, walked outside the garage to the edge of the yard to take care of things, and drank a bunch of water. His wounds are still seeping blood, but much less today. One wound, in particular, is essentially a big hole in his leg and will take quite awhile to heal. Our basic concern is infection, and we’re washing the wounds several times a day, covering them liberally with Betadine. We’re giving him two different antibiotics twice a day and a pain pill each morning. Hopefully, we can get our sweet dog through this.

The second reason Ginger called was to tell us she had baked cookies for Viv’s 16th birthday! We picked the tray of cookies, and honestly – this is the cutest present I’ve ever seen!


First, there are 16 cookies- or WERE! After Viv stopped exclaiming over them and read the card, she asked for Ginger’s cell phone number, wanting to text her, and grabbed three cookies on the way up to her room. :0)


The high school Viv is attending is Greenwood High School, home of the Bulldogs football team. The red cookies above show the state of Arkansas and where Greenwood is in the state, just southeast of Fort Smith.


Paw prints represent the “Dogs,” and these are two.


And, of course, dog bones…


Then Ginger really personalized these. The white dog is our dog Molly. The light brown one is sweet Bambi, and the cat is Abby.


Viv loves horses. Ginger has some horses, and she has kindly offered to have Viv over to meet her horses and maybe take a ride!

Then there were the cute cupcake cookies with cherries on top.

I practically cried at the vet’s office just looking at this creative, personal gift that included our entire family honoring Viv’s birthday!


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Filed under Being a Host Family, Birthday Wishes, Friendship, Quality of Life

New Year’s Resolution in September?

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Wouldn’t take much…. I think I’ll try this!

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Attitude, Challenges, Changes, Encouragement, Favorite Quotes, Quality of Life, Thought for the Day

Some Photos Need No Captions – Take 7

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Birthday Celebration


We had a good time at Viv’s 16th birthday celebration last night. Viv wore a pretty white dress. We picked up Maxi (also from Germany) and Mimmi (from Sweden) and went to dinner at a Fort Smith restaurant Catfish Cove.  It’s a buffet style restaurant that offers all kinds of fish, chicken, salad, veggies and dessert. At one point my husband challenged everyone to try frog legs. He ate some and Mimmi tried it. No other takers. :0)




We brought everyone back to the house for chocolate birthday cake. It had numerals for ’16’ candles, plus ‘flower’ candles in 3 different colors all around the 16. These were SUPPOSED to ‘sparkle,’ but the makers of the candles lied. Viv liked them anyway, noticing that two of the flowers were pink.

Birthday greetings were sung in several languages with lots of laughs. I’m so impressed by the foreign exchange students I’ve been able to meet and talk with. The girls couldn’t have been nicer. They seemed to be having a good time, chatting, laughing, taking pictures on their phones, comparing notes on school and more.  They happily included me in their conversation.   (I’m showing you a couple of pics of the decorations. I promised Viv I wouldn’t post pics of her, or even send them to her mom, without her consent. I do have some nice ones of the three girls if Viv will allow me to show them to you at another time. ) :0)

We took everyone home at about 9:30 or so, since it was a school night.

Viv finally opened her presents from us when we got back.


Her favorite present was from our cat, Abby, who had tied pink bubble wrap sheets together with a pink bow for Viv’s pleasure in popping them. :0)

Viv planned to open her presents from her mom and grandmother when she went up to bed. She received the cutest, cuddliest stuffed animal from the two girls. She was upbeat, but with sad overtones. I had realized that celebrating a birthday away from home, family and friends would be difficult. I wrote her mom earlier in the day. Tanja described the birthday ritual that Viv has enjoyed since birth – a beautiful all-day celebration anticipated and enjoyed by all.

Viv’s mom was happy for Viv that she was on a big adventure, but sad that a birthday must be celebrated so far from home. Viv was happy with the celebration, but understandably sad that she was in a strange country for her birthday, far away from all she knows. I was happy for Viv, and sad that this will be my only celebration of a young woman’s birthday. (My own daughter died of SIDS when she was 2 months old. She would have been 34 this December).

Life is full of happy-sad situations/celebrations. One of the many reasons I decided that I wanted to be a host parent this year was so that I could selfishly enjoy doing so many things with Viv after having raised a son. It couldn’t be more different – more fun.

Isn’t it wonderful that a decision to throw your life up in the air, being host parents for a beautiful young woman for a school year, can bring you an entirely new focus, priorities, and joy?

Happy 16th Birthday, Viv.

Thank you for allowing us to be host parents for your wonderful daughter, Tanja.

Wonderful, happy year to us!



Filed under Being a Host Family, Birthday Wishes, Quality of Life

“I love you”

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Filed under Favorite Quotes, Opportunities!, Philosophy, Quality of Life, Thought for the Day

New Creative Artworks Blog Header – 9/16/2014


“Cat-Puzzle”-Original-Painting – ID # 5920 by Michael Bridges

“Cat Puzzle” is an original oil on canvas by Michael Bridges. The dimensions are 16 x 20 and the piece will be shipped ready for you to frame. Please allow one week for delivery.

You can see more of Michael’s work on Creative Artworks HERE.



Note Cards – “Yoga-Girl-Diva” – -Pkg-of-8 – ID # 14181 by Lenore Garnhum

These note cards are prints of original artwork by Lenore Garnhum. They are blank inside for any message you choose to write, and can be used for any occasion. These designs are young, stylish, and fun – both for the sender AND the receiver! Package of 8 cards with envelopes. The size is approximately 5.5″ x 4.25″. Please indicate your choice of “Caucasian” (shown) or “African American” in the special comments section of the shopping cart.

See more note card and Christmas card designs by Lenore HERE



“Basset Hound and Butterfly” 2-Pack Card Set – ID # 15313 by Darlene Fletcher

Package of two cards. These high quality 5″ x 7″ blank greeting cards come with white envelopes and are printed on FSC certified card stock.
Basset Hounds are some of the sweetest dogs you’ll ever come across. Weighing 60-70 pounds, their gorgeous big eyes and floppy, velvety ears are irresistible. They love to play and bark at squirrels, and are very smart. Generally, Basset Hounds are white and many shades of brown. They tend to be very happy, thoughtful dogs. Did you know that they originally came from Great Britain??
We are passionate about helping pets, wildlife and habitats at risk, so we donate $1 from every card sale to local organizations that care for what we believe in.

Don’t miss the “5 card Mix and Match” listing in this section!

See all the card designs by Darlene Fletcher on Creative Artworks HERE

Come visit us at Creative Artworks and find something Handcrafted – Hand-Painted – Unique -AHHHH!


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Split down the middle

I’m of two very different minds today -

MIND 1: 

I told you yesterday that our dog, Bambi, was attacked either by other dogs, coyotes, or other critters. I don’t know if Bambi gave as good as he got, but we’re really concerned about him.


We brought his dog bed from the shop to the garage last night, figuring he could rest as much as possible overnight. My husband took him out this morning and he did eat. One leg is really swollen. It was hard to get him up off the bed so that we could wash him carefully, get Betadine all over the wounds, and get him down again. We gave him two kinds of antibiotics and a pain pill. We’ll wash him again about noon, about 4:00, and then before bed tonight. The washing causes him to bleed again. I guess that’s good, because we’re trying to keep the wounds draining and hopefully keep him from getting infected. The vet warned us that deep puncture wounds tend to get infected, and that’s really, really bad. We’ll just do the very best we can and hope he’ll pull through. A word of warning to any coyotes or aggressive dogs around here – don’t let me see you!


The second part of our day is happy – the celebration of Viv’s 16th birthday!

We’re taking Viv and two other foreign exchange students to dinner tonight, and here at the house for cake and presents afterwards. I wrote to Viv’s mom today, thinking that today must be bittersweet for Viv and her family. Happy she’s here on her fantastic year in the United States, but sad that she’s not home for a celebration. 18 is the ‘big’ birthday in Germany, I understand, when girls can drive and are considered adults, but any birthday is big, as far as I’m concerned. We hope she’ll enjoy the evening of celebration. Having her here with us is celebration enough for US. I hope some of the silly stuff we’re doing will make her smile.




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Filed under Amazing Animals, Being a Host Family, Birthday Wishes, Quality of Life, Scary Stuff

Happy Birthday to Vivian!

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We hope you have a wonderful day and that the year ahead is filled with much love, many wonderful surprises and gives you lasting memories that you will cherish in all the days ahead. Happy Birthday!!!!

Linda and Harvey


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Filed under Being a Host Family, Birthday Wishes

A very bad day

I’ve told you that we live about 4 miles from Greenwood on top of a ridge line. We have two dogs – Molly (a cross between a cocker spaniel and a schnauzer) and Bambi, a pit bull. They put up with our cat, Abby.

We’re very careful to let the dogs out one at a time. If we are successful, all is very uneventful, though we feel a bit like ‘doggy doormen’ from time to time. Our dogs are sneaky, though, and if we get distracted for just a second, they speed out the door together. They form a pack, going much farther from the house than either of them do by themselves. Usually they come home stinky and tired.

Today they did their pack thing. They finally came back just before we were going to run some errands this afternoon. Molly was filthy, and I was gritching as I went into the garage, that I would have to put her in the sink and scrub her when we got back. Then I saw the garage floor and my blood ran cold. We had a LOT of blood on the floor! I quickly looked at Molly once more, but didn’t see any blood. I then looked for Bambi.

My husband had chained him to the dog washing area and was spraying the garage floor. I went out and started hosing off Bambi. One leg, in particular, was bleeding. I hosed him off as best I could, but he was bleeding a lot. I went in and called our vet. Ginger told us that it would be awhile before the veterinarian would be in, but she would call him and tell him we were on our way.  My husband had to help Bambi get into the back of the truck. I cleaned my husband off the best I could with a towel and we headed for town.

When we got to the vet, a wonderful tech, Alecia, sat down on the floor with Bambi, and held the place he was bleeding the worst. Ginger stayed right there with us, too, leaving only when the phone rang. I think we sat like that, trying to keep Bambi as calm as possible, until the vet could get there, about an hour.

They took x-rays. Although it looked to us like someone had shot Bambi with buckshot, the x-rays showed that wasn’t the case. The vet thinks that Bambi found a coyote or two or some really aggressive dogs, and lost the fight. He has a BUNCH of puncture wounds.

The vet told us it would be best if we left the wounds open so they could drain. The vet gave him a really strong shot of antibiotics and gave him a shot for pain. He told us to wash all the areas down really well several times a day, and use Betadine or Hydrogen Peroxide or the like as an antiseptic. We give him two kinds of antibiotics this evening and then twice a day until they’re gone. We can start giving him the pain pills tomorrow morning.

Here’s what our baby looks like after whatever chewed him -




The biggest thing is to watch for infection because we don’t know who chewed him up like this.  I hurt all over looking at him like this and not being able to wave a magic wand to heal him. We’ll be spending a lot of time hosing him down, washing him thoroughly several times a day, covering him thoroughly with antiseptic, trying to keep him from getting infected.

I’m not normally a hostile person, but if I could find the animals who did them, I’d shoot them in a heartbeat.

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I’m going to rest a bit more, check on Sweet Bambi again, and put Molly in the sink…



Filed under Challenges, Family, Quality of Life, Scary Stuff

The unexpected

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carolyn cochran

This sweet little dog is reacting to the unknown with trepidation, rather than looking at the soap bubble as a possible source of fun.

I recognize the feeling because MY first reaction to suggestions for much of my life has been, “No,” –  followed by reconsideration,  – followed by acquiescence,  – and finally enjoyment, much of the time. My efforts to discover WHY I’ve reacted this way haven’t yielded satisfying answers, so I decided many years ago to fight it. I leveled with my husband years and years ago, telling him honestly that I didn’t know why I did this, but wanted to change. He’s learned to suggest something, then give me time to go through my stages and finally give him a considered answer.

It is said that being AWARE of a shortcoming within yourself is the first step to doing something about it. I’m glad that I at least KNOW I’m reacting in a stupid way that probably keeps me from enjoying many opportunities. I may be the only person on the planet that enjoys expected and anticipated stuff better than surprises, but I AM working on it.

Maybe I should adopt this poor doggie.  We can huddle in a safe place and protect each other from unexpected stuff…


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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Amazing Animals, Attitude, Challenges, Quality of Life