Puzzling!

Fun facts of the day!

According to an article by usatoday.com, did you know that by doing jigsaw puzzles:

You improve your visual-spatial reasoning skill sets such as:

Driving (helpful with parking), packing suitcases and boxes, and using a map!

Puzzles also help improve your short term memory that allows us to remember shapes and colors. Connections within the brain are also strengthened.

So, the next time you’re bored, get to “puzzling”!

“My son, leave them smiling”

Today, my “little boy” is 11 years-old. How fast the time has gone by. He amazes me and makes me laugh every day. He called me a “funny” mom one day, and I gasped a bit because, at the time, that was the highest compliment I had received in a long time!

What issues we dealt with at age four are different than today’s woes but still just as real. I mean, when you’re four and you lose your blankie that’s a BIG deal. When you’re approaching 11, and you lose your best Rubik’s cube that…is an even bigger deal.

Do you have children? What are some lessons they’ve taught you? Have they perhaps taught you to put a certain fear aside and be brave? Have they unlocked your inner child again through imaginary play?

What about certain virtues? My children have taught me it is much better to be patient, thoughtful, and kind – to laugh things off and also kindly said, “Mom, maybe you should just pray about it.”

In closing, I hope my son never stops making people smile and that he always helps them find their inner glow.

Happy birthday.

Love,

Your “funny” mom

Abundant Kindness

So this is love

So this is what makes life divine

So this is the miracle I’ve been dreaming of…

So This is Love lyrics Cinderella ©️ Walt Disney Music Company

As my daughter read her first bedtime book to me in April of 2018, my eyes started to well with tears. The “waterworks” turned on a little more when she read the page that said only three words. One glass slipper. However, she said “shwipper”! I refrained from correcting because I was so proud she was doing so well!

Who makes you proud? Maybe it’s your spouse, child(ren) or grandchildren, or close friends? Who brings a smile to your face when you see them? Tell them you love them and please, do it often.

My challenge for you IN ADDITION to a minimum of one act of kindness a day for the next week: send a quick text, leave a note for a co-worker (get the idea?) with a few kind words.

Friends, I think you AND the other person just might have a better day because of it.

Until we meet again.

Remember that time?

Remember that time we played endlessly in the sand box?

Remember that time you helped me with all those math problems?

Remember that time you built sand castles and I “smushed ‘um like a big giant”?

Remember that time you did three puzzles and two books with me before bedtime every night?

Remember that time you took us all skiing out West a couple times? What about the Caribbean?

Remember how you taught me how to parallel park?

Remember how you taught me how to get over my fear of baiting my own hook?

Remember how you always told me when it was chilly, “I’d bring a jacket if I were you”?

Remember when you walked me down the aisle and told me to keep…your…pace.

Remember how you now love and cherish my children so?

Dad…

Always remember, I love you so incredibly much. You and Mom, together, raised us with such love and unconditional affection. I cherish all these times and more. Just as the song goes, “You make me happy/when skies are gray”.

May the blessings and peace of God be upon you. Love, Annie

Relationship Heartbeat

Some of you may know, others may not, but my immediate family has you covered in terms of caring for your heart. Both my father and older brother are practicing cardiologists at the same hospital, my eldest brother sells pacemakers and defibrillators, and my older sister is a cardiac cath lab nurse!

However, this post will not be a medical lesson in stents or balloon angioplasties, but rather how to keep the romantic heartbeat of your relationship healthy and at a strong, healthy rhythm. Shall we?

1. Make time to talk in person to each other – DAILY

Folks, some of us lead incredibly busy lives. But, do you have at least 15 minutes to talk to your significant other (put your phone or other device down) and be engaged while communicating? Every night, when we wind down Aaron and I simply talk – about what’s going on the next day, the highlights of not so terrific parts of our day, even if that night’s supper was good? Communication is so key to a great relationship.

2. Do an act of kindness – DAILY

Nothing humongous, bring out the fireworks. It could be an encouraging message on a notepad for example. Doing a chore that the other normally always performs, etc.

3. Remember your manners

“Please” and “Thank you” are typically appreciated by the receiver. Also, be mindful to avoid being overly demanding or looking to “always getting your way.” Compromising is another pillar of a great relationship.

And finally…

Sometimes, all of us just need a hug. Whether it’s out of celebration, consolation, or a long embrace giving your significant other a hug might, just might…brighten their day all the while your romantic heartbeat is growing stronger and stronger.

Until we meet again.

Just for Fun

Today, friends, my blog post will be a bit different. It will be humorous yet somber at times but in the end my hope is that you’ll be smiling. Shall we?

10 things you may not know about me:

1. I finished college faster than high school.

2. I used to love dogs, but I’m actually a bit afraid of them now

3. Don’t give me anything containing shrimp-I’m allergic!

4. Purple should be a primary color

5. Orange skittles are yucky

6. I’ve beaten Zelda TWICE (1980’s version)

7. I want to cry happy tears every time I see, talk to, share a laugh with my father-a several time cancer survivor

8. I got kicked in the ear when I was swimming at the YMCA pool when I was younger. That’s probably why I’ve had problems with my right ear

9. I just got stung by a wasp for the first time at age 33

10. I stayed cavity free until age 28.

As always…until we meet again.

Teach a Man to Fish

Many “moons” ago, I was taught accelerated Math by a very wise and very intelligent teacher. Along with our daily math lessons, she would incorporate life lessons as well.

As we wrapped up the day’s lesson, she relayed to us a story that some of us were half listening to because we were packing up our books. But, my ears perked up immediately when she said, “Folks, give a man a fish…he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.”

What a brilliant statement! I thought to myself. It only fully and literally resonated with me 20 years later on one humid May evening.

My family LOVES to fish. In late May, my father and I joined my two nephews at a private pond. The sun was shining and the weather was perfect. Little did I know what great joy I was about to experience.

Nephew No. 1 had a friend, “Paul”, who I quickly determined A. Was not having much fun because B. He had no idea how to fish! (I could almost hear my Math teacher, “Teach a man…)

Had I ever met this young man? Did I know his name? No to both. But, my heart was full of compassion as I watched him catch nothing and I knew I could DO something about it. So, I taught him how to bait a hook, cast, and finally set the hook. The rest was up to him. As I walked over to the other bank I heard, “I GOT ONE!”

Paul had successfully hooked and reeled in his very own fish. To say he was beaming, is an understatement.

Believe it or not, folks, Paul caught more fish than me that day. Why? “Give a man a fish…he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.”

Until we meet again.

Happiness: To be or not to be

Ready for a bombshell, folks? Strap on your seat belts. I believe happiness is a choice AND something you can experience each day of your life. Yes, you read that correctly. I do not believe you stumble upon happiness, it is a pure coincidence, and only for the lucky, chosen few. Let’s dive right in.

How do you find happiness exactly? Let me give you an example that can be applied almost immediately. Go outside. It’s that simple. Go outside and then take a long, deep breath. What do you notice? Use your senses. Is it eerily quiet because it is in the evening? Is it sunny and (if you live in the South) pretty humid at this time of year? What thoughts are going through your mind? Try to slow your thoughts down as you notice your surroundings. If you can, sit a spell and close your eyes. Imagine a pleasant place you wish you could go to that brings you a deep, abiding peace. Now comes the fun part.

We all talk to ourselves. If you have a mean inner critic, silence it. Talk to yourself about the upcoming days’ events and the positive aspects. Leave out the mounds of stress about work just for a moment. If you are going to spend time with loved ones, “pre-celebrate” the upcoming event mindfully and be grateful for the people with whom you will spend time. The more you positively talk to yourself, do you believe over time your outward voice will take on a more pleasant, happier tone? To your significant other/spouse? Perhaps your children? Other persons you love and care about?

If you do have children, reflect on the last few interactions you have had with them. Have they tested your patience? If you have put into practice the strategies mentioned above do you think you would have lost your patience so quickly with he or she? Being understanding, loving, extending forgiveness, practicing patience and kindness-are these not some of the pillars of not just good character but monumental to having a good family life?

So, dear reader, I leave you with this challenge. Speak to yourself first with kindness and understand that you will undergo successes and lessons. So, too, will your loved ones and friends. So, when you go outside tomorrow, may you be filled with a deep and abiding peace.

Until we meet again.

Whining into winning

This post is for you, parents! Grandparents! Any one who cares for children honestly. Let’s talk about how to turn the perhaps daily whining festivals that take place within your home into winning situations that will make your home a bit happier with one short phrase. Shall we?

First, does whining about anything in any given situation accomplish anything? I hope you answered “no” or with a resoundingabsolutely not.” It’s wasted energy, and a great way to teach children to stay away from this habit is the following phrase, “Use your words.” Sometimes I have to say it twice. When used in a calm but firm voice in my household, I allow my child to express their real concern.

They stop crying almost immediately. We then discuss the topic as a family, tears are wiped away and encouragement is given, and we develop a revised game plan. For example, “It’s great that you ate most of your chicken. I’m proud of you for eating your red peppers, too. But you may NOT have three Oreos. One is enough.” Whining no more. Winning.

So, dear reader, remember: we never thought we would grow older but eventually we did. So, too, will our children grow up right before our eyes. Love them through their whines because even to this day we all whine about something, too!

A Dual: Spending battles

Raising kids, buying groceries, bills, anything on the planet (with some exceptions) requires funds! Sometimes lots of money. Careful planning and protecting your paycheck are so crucial. I learned this while working in the insurance industry that your ability to earn an income is your largest asset. This is NOT an article on financial planning, but keep reading because there may be a takeaway or two or three on how you might be able to curb your spending habits. As a wise high school economics teacher once told our class, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Everyone but me understood what she meant. And, after belaboring the statement for five solid minutes, yours truly understood, too.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. First, I’m okay at times restraining myself while at Target but other times, I get clumsy with my money and buy a share-size bag of peanut M&M’s, a bathing suit, and a pack of coffee drinks. What was I supposed to get? Milk, bananas, and Cheerios. Right. If what you just read sounds anything like you, cheer up. There is no known cure that I have discovered on my own but what you can do is bring in a checklist with you. Want to know the secret sauce to better handling your money when shopping?

STTL! (Code for Stick to the List)

What if the above scenario doesn’t apply to you? Do you have a checking account? What if you linked it to a savings account that automatically drafted a predetermined amount and deposited it there each week/month? Then you have more control of whether you leave it there to accrue interest or take it out to treat yourself in some way.

Now, let’s talk about the some other battles or challenges you may face when spending your money. To you married folks: having open, honest communication about whether the cash flow river runs high, somewhere in the middle, or is bone dry is one of many steps to understanding spending habits. I encourage you as well as the single population to keep receipts, balance a checkbook (or learn how to do so), and come up with quarterly savings goals. Why quarterly, you ask?

To me, a year seems like an eternity but if Aaron and I talk about getting a new privacy fence in 3 months, we can then calculate how much we need to save, and we stop buying the smallest of things like a coffee drink or even fruit-flavored Tic-Tacs from the gas station. Hard to do, but very worth it.

So, dear reader, go forth and fight the good fight in the dual against spending. Implement some of these strategies and you shall be victorious. If nothing else, STTL and don’t walk out of the store with a new bathing suit when the original goal was to get Cheerios.

Until we meet again.