Monday, April 30, 2012

Books I've Read In April 2012

1) The Widows Of Eastwick, by John Updike
More than three decades have passed since the events described in John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick. The three divorcĂ©es—Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie—have left town, remarried, and become widows. They cope with their grief and solitude as widows do: they travel the world, to such foreign lands as Canada, Egypt, and China, and renew old acquaintance. Why not, Sukie and Jane ask Alexandra, go back to Eastwick for the summer? The old Rhode Island seaside town, where they indulged in wicked mischief under the influence of the diabolical Darryl Van Horne, is still magical for them. Now Darryl is gone, and their lovers of the time have aged or died, but enchantment remains in the familiar streets and scenery of the village, where they enjoyed their lusty primes as free and empowered women. And, among the local citizenry, there are still those who remember them, and wish them ill. How they cope with the lingering traces of their evil deeds, the shocks of a mysterious counterspell, and the advancing inroads of old age, form the burden on Updike’s delightful, ominous sequel.

2) The Christmas Wedding, by James Patterson
The tree is decorated, the cookies are baked, and the packages are wrapped, but the biggest celebration this Christmas is Gaby Summerhill's wedding. Since her husband died three years ago, Gaby's four children have drifted apart, each consumed by the turbulence of their own lives. They haven't celebrated Christmas together since their father's death, but when Gaby announces that she's getting married--and that the groom will remain a secret until the wedding day--she may finally be able to bring them home for the holidays. 

But the wedding isn't Gaby's only surprise--she has one more gift for her children, and it could change all their lives forever. With deeply affecting characters and the emotional twists of a James Patterson thriller, The Christmas Wedding is a fresh look at family and the magic of the season.

3) The Lucky One, by Nicholas Sparks
In his 14th book, bestselling author Nicholas Sparks tells the unforgettable story of a man whose brushes with death lead him to the love of his life. 

After U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman buried in the dirt during his tour of duty in Iraq, he experiences a sudden streak of luck -- winning poker games and even surviving deadly combat. Only his best friend, Victor, seems to have an explanation for his good fortune: the photograph -- his lucky charm. 

Back home in Colorado, Thibault can't seem to get the woman in the photograph out of his mind and he sets out on a journey across the country to find her. But Thibault is caught off guard by the strong attraction he feels for the woman he encounters in North Carolina - Elizabeth, a divorced mother -- and he keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret. As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate love affair, his secret soon threatens to tear them apart -- destroying not only their love, but also their lives. 

Filled with tender romance and terrific suspense, THE LUCKY ONE is an unforgettable story about the surprising paths our lives often take and the power of fate to guide us to true and everlasting love. 

4) The Resolution for Women, by Priscilla Evans Shirer
Written in partnership with Sherwood Pictures' film, COURAGEOUS, in The Resolution for Women, popular speaker and author Priscilla Shirer challenges all women to be intentional about embracing and thriving in God’s beautiful and eternal calling on their lives. 

Like the men in the movie who resolve to fully accept their responsibilities before God, Shirer explains how today's women can and should live out their own resolution. It is "a defining banner that hangs over your life, written in the ink of your own choices." A woman's banner should be an accurate reflection of who she desires to be-someone completely Christ-centered who blesses and changes things in her world for the better. 

The Resolution for Women inspires women with intentional, spirit-filled living from three unique angles. Section one, entitled, "This Is Who I Am," helps a woman define herself as "authentically me, purposefully feminine, surprisingly satisfied, and faithfully His." Section two, "This Is What I Have," invites her to value "my best, my blessing, my honor, and my heart." And Section three, "This Is What Matters To Me," focuses on joyfully honoring God as a wife, mother, and family member while resolving to live with the grace that leaves a godly legacy. The Resolution for Women is designed to inspire a revolution.

5) Good Christian Bitches, by Kim Gatlin

The GCBs of Hillside Park Presbyterian are praying for Amanda Vaughn--or so they claim. Will their evil gossip destroy her reputation, or will she show them exactly how to turn the other cheek
Amanda Vaughn needs some heaven-sent help. She’s divorced her cheating husband and fled, along with her two teenagers, back to her hometown, Hillside Park, a Dallas suburb so upper-class that the question isn’t where to bank, but whose family owns the bank. Amanda is thrilled to be back in Texas—after twelve years in Southern California, she’s ready to leave behind her shallow, Godless life and return to the welcoming Christian world where she grow up. Or at least that’s the plan . . .
But when she arrives, she’s met with some Texas-sized trouble. Her old friends, neighbors, and fellow church members treat Amanda like a long-lost friend . . . until her back is turned. Then the claws come out. Amanda finds herself trapped in a world of salacious rumors, secret affairs, and Bible-study sessions gone terribly wrong. And what’s even more puzzling is that a secret admirer is sending Amanda lavish gifts. Why, she wonders, would anyone send a Mercedes when a simple dinner invitation would do?
Packed with schemes, drama, and a Southern setting more fun than a barbecue at Southfork, Good Christian Bitches has humor, sass, and an unforgettable cast of characters.

6) Don't Look Behind You: Ann Rules Crime Files #15, by Ann Rule
Walking home on a dark night, you hear footsteps coming up behind you. As they get closer, your heart pounds harder. Who is closing in with dangerous intent—a total stranger? Or someone you know and trust? The answer is as simple as turning around, but don’t look behind you . . . run. Ann Rule, who shared her own nerve-jangling account of unknowingly befriending sadistic sociopath Ted Bundy in The Stranger Beside Me, chronicles other fateful encounters with the hidden predators among us in this riveting collection, fifteenth in the bestselling series drawn from her personal files. First in line is a stunning case that spanned thirty years and took a determined detective to four states—ending, finally, in Alaska—where he unraveled not one but two murders. A second case appears to begin and end with the hunt for the Green River Killer, focusing on a Washington State man who was once cleared as a suspect in that deadly chain of homicides. But the millionaire property owner believed he had successfully buried his own murderous past and the awful truth behind his young wife’s disappearance. She vanished soon after she left for a day at the Seattle World’s Fair, and her three small children grew up believing their mother had abandoned them. But one amazing witness remained—the missing woman’s best friend, who heard her last words in a frantic phone call—“He’s coming!”—before the line went dead. Only since Robert Hansen’s suicide has the monster within been revealed. In another true story, a petite woman went to a tavern, looking only for conversation and fun. Instead, she met violent death in the form of a seven-foot man who had seemed shy and harmless. You’ll feel a chill as you uncover these and numerous other cases of unfortunate victims who made one tragic mistake: trusting the wrong person—even someone they’d known intimately, or thought they knew.

7) The Best Of Me, by Nicholas Sparks
"Everyone wanted to believe that endless love was possible. She'd believed in it once, too, back when she was eighteen."

In the spring of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply, irrevocably in love. Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for one another seemed to defy the realities of life in the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. But as the summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths.

Now, twenty-five years later, Amanda and Dawson are summoned back to Oriental for the funeral of Tuck Hostetler, the mentor who once gave shelter to their high school romance. Neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever changed their lives. As Amanda and Dawson carry out the instructions Tuck left behind for them, they realize that everything they thought they knew -- about Tuck, about themselves, and about the dreams they held dear -- was not as it seemed. Forced to confront painful memories, the two former lovers will discover undeniable truths about the choices they have made. And in the course of a single, searing weekend, they will ask of the living, and the dead: Can love truly rewrite the past?

8) The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games," a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

9) Toys, by James Patterson and Neil McMahon
James Bond and Jason Bourne have just been topped! A battle for the world is set into unstoppable motion and Hays Baker is the only one who can save it.

Hays Baker and his wife Lizbeth possess super-human strength, extraordinary intelligence, stunning looks, a sex life to die for, and two beautiful children. Of course they do--they're Elites, endowed at birth with the very best that the world can offer. The only problem in their perfect world: humans and their toys!

The one with the most toys--dies

The top operative for the Agency of Change, Hays has just won the fiercest battle of his career. He has been praised by the President, and is a national hero. But before he can savor his triumph, he receives an unbelievable shock that overturns everything he thought was true. Suddenly Hays is on the other side of the gun, forced to leave his perfect family and fight for his life.

Now a hunted fugitive, Hays is thrown into a life he never dreamed possible--fighting to save humans everywhere from extinction. He enlists all of his training to uncover the truth that will save millions of lives--maybe even his own. James Patterson's Toys is a thriller on a hyper plane--with a hero who rivals both James Bond and Jason Bourne.

10) Explosive Eighteen, by Janet Evanovich
Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum’s life is set to blow sky high when international murder hits dangerously close to home, in this dynamite novel by Janet Evanovich.
Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, and she’s flying back to New Jersey solo. Worse still, her seatmate never returned to the plane after the L.A. layover. Now he’s dead, in a garbage can, waiting for curbside pickup. His killer could be anyone. And a ragtag collection of thugs and psychos, not to mention the FBI, are all looking for a photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying.
Only one other person has seen the missing photo—Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target, and she doesn’t intend to end up in a garbage can. With the help of an FBI sketch artist Stephanie re-creates the person in the photo. Unfortunately the first sketch turns out to look like Tom Cruise, and the second sketch like Ashton Kutcher. Until Stephanie can improve her descriptive skills, she’ll need to watch her back.
Over at the bail bonds agency things are going from bad to worse. The bonds bus serving as Vinnie’s temporary HQ goes up in smoke. Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls in love with their largest skip yet. Lifetime arch nemesis Joyce Barnhardt moves into Stephanie’s apartment. And everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii?

Morelli, Trenton’s hottest cop, isn’t talking about Hawaii. Ranger, the man of mystery, isn’t talking about Hawaii.  And all Stephanie is willing to say about her Hawaiian vacation is . . . It’s complicated.

Goal for 2012: 60   Total so far: 22

Z Is For Zero

Zero is for the number of posts left in the challenge after this one. Zero is also for the number of ideas I have for writing a post this morning!  I suppose I could have written about zaniness, or zebras, or a zillion other things, but nothing really appealed to me. So, from the zenith of my creativity, I decided to just write a few sentences about my writer's block. Zounds, this Z is one tough letter!   :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y Is For Years

Today is a pictorial blog....Teresa through the years.  Hope you enjoy!!!
This is me as a baby...about a week old.

This me at around 10, with my younger brother.

Me around 20, Christmas morning.

Me at 31, with Amy...her first Christmas, and she was NOT happy!!!

Samantha, me, Amy, and Barry....Mother's Day, when I was 40.

With Barry, just prior to my 50th birthday.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X Is For eXpectations

    WARNING: This post came out a bit longer than I anticipated!
  I‘m a people pleaser and I tend to do things that I might not want to do, just to live up to the expectations other people have of me.
     It started in childhood. Older members of my family wanted me to become a nurse, so that was what I said I wanted to be when I grew up, even I actually yearned to be a teacher. I joined a candy striper program in high school and hated every minute of it. Some weeks I would sign in, then spend my shift hiding in the restroom until it was time to sign out.
     I received a full scholarship to nursing school, and then forced myself through the first quarter. I even made it through one week of the second quarter before reaching my breaking point. One evening I wrote a short note, took a bottle of Tylenol, and went to bed, thinking it was the only way I could escape from my hopeless situation. Fortunately I was rescued before it was too late, and somehow found the courage to tell my mother I was going to pursue a career in education, not nursing.
     My first marriage came about because I was pregnant and it was “the right thing to do.” I put up with a variety of bad behaviors from my husband because I was trying to avoid conflict and keep my family together. I nearly had a nervous breakdown during my
second pregnancy because it was such a difficult time, and I had to go through most of it on my own--more emotionally than physically--while living in a foreign country and also trying to care for a three-year-old. Once again, I reached my breaking point, shortly after the birth of our second child, and I walked away from the marriage. There was no way we could fix it. Still, I felt guilty for letting everyone else down, regardless of how much better it made me feel.
     In my second marriage, I spent years putting up with emotional and physical abuse, hiding it from my family and friends, thinking I somehow deserved it. I told myself that if I were a better wife, then it wouldn’t be happening. Yet, no matter how much I changed, trying to make him happy, it was never good enough.
     I can’t count the number of other times I’ve given up plans of my own, shelved dreams and hopes, or even gone so far as trying to be someone I’m not, just so the people who matter to me can have the life I think they deserve, or at least some temporary happiness. Yet every time I do those things, I build up a little more resentment, and eventually I come again to a breaking point where I have to let it all out, or walk away, or find a way to restore some sort of balance.
    A few years ago, I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and found several passages that resonated with me. These words were most important:
When you sense a faint potentiality for happiness after such dark times you must 
grab onto the ankles of that happiness and not let go until it drags you face-first
out of the dirt.

     Since reading that book, I have definitely been grabbing onto happiness, holding on tight…and it’s begun to lift me from of the dirt. For a while I felt I had lived the best part of my life, and that all I had to look forward to was just getting by…that being “sort of happy” was all I deserved. Now I know better. I am happy, truly happy, and it makes a difference not only in the way I look at life, but also in the way other people look at me. At a recent family reunion, we were watching a home video from 1995, and one of my aunts remarked that I still look the same, only happier. In another part of the book, Gilbert mentions “putting on weight” by living a fuller, happier life…the stress is lessened, so I’ve gained weight in the physical sense and no longer look anorexic and sick. At the same time, “Teresa,” the real me, has more substance and being with every day, so I’ve also gained emotional and spiritual weight.
     I’m still a work in progress, but the goal is to stop trying to please other people with every decision I make, and to start making decisions that make me happy, that bring me closer to the life I’ve always imagined was right for me. It’s a one day at a time struggle, but it becomes less of a struggle every day.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W Is For Words

I think this poem I wrote in 2009 says it best:

I've clung to them, relied on them,
Trusted them, been hurt by them.
I've poured my heart into them,
And had them tossed back into my face.
I've waited for the right ones,
Settled for the "close enough" ones,
Believed the ones I should have doubted,
Doubted the ones I should have believed.
And through it all, I never realized
That what I really craved the most
Were the "words" that are never spoken--
The ones shared between two souls
In that mystical moment of togetherness.
© 2009 TDK

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V Is For Voice

This is about finding my ability to speak out on what I think, feel, believe, etc. It's not something I was comfortable with for a lot of years. I found myself going along with the majority opinion, whether I agreed or not, just because it was easier to get along with people that way. It wasn't until I had children and found myself going against the grain in several ways (see yesterday's post) that I began to feel strong enough to speak up, to stand up for myself and for my children. Beginning this blog a few years ago was another big step in that direction. I can write the things I'm thinking, put them out there for the world to see, and for me, that's less intimidating than actually speaking the words to someone I know will disagree. So, for anyone who's interested in "listening" to my voice, feel free to read previous posts, and to stay tuned for the future.  :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U Is For Unconventional

Unconventional is how I would describe some of my parenting choices, particularly in comparison to the rest of my family members. Here are just a few examples:
  • Each of my three children co-slept from the day they came home from the hospital (the middle one actually began co-sleeping IN the hospital), and continued to do so until they were between the ages of 2 and 3 years old, when THEY decided they were ready to move into a bed of their own.
  • Each of the three were also breastfed from day one, and continued until approximately 18 months of age, when they self-weaned.
  • I practiced "attachment parenting" for the most part, carrying or wearing them for a large part of each day for the first several months, so that they never had reason to cry, usually never did more than whimper. I most definitely NEVER believed in the "cry it out" method for them!
  • Spanking was never used in our home, nor was anyone else allowed to use it as a discipline method for them. We employed natural and/or logical consequences which related directly to the misbehavior, as well as using lots of positive reinforcement of the behaviors we wanted to encourage. 
  • We limited computer and video game usage to one hour per weekday, and two on weekends. 
  • Cell phones were something they had to be able to pay for on their own. When they could afford the monthly bills, then we bought the phone and paid for the first month.
  • Computers of their own were also something they had to pay for on their own....until then, they used the family computer, in a communal area where they could be monitored by an adult.
I am sure there are other examples, but this is just a short list off the top of my head.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T Is For Ten Things About Teresa

1) I was born and raised in Gallipolis, Ohio, a small town along the Ohio River.

2) I had eye surgery when I was 4 yrs. old, and again when I was 18, to tighten muscles and correct crossed eyes.

3) I had my tonsils removed over Spring Break of my junior year in high school.

4) I have a bachelor's degree in elementary education.

5) I have been married three times, and never had a bridal shower or a honeymoon.

6) I was a guest on the Geraldo show in 1993.

7) I have never been able to swim, or ride a bicycle.

8) I've been writing poetry since I was 10 yrs old, and published a book of my poems last year.

9) I lived in Germany for three years.

10) I've always been very quiet and shy.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S Is For Stories

Today's post will be stories from my very early childhood. These are stories that I have been told, not events that I actually remember.

The first thing actually happened before I was born, and has to do with my name. My mother had a friend in cosmetology school named Parthena, and so that was what she wanted to name ME, and call me "Par" for short. I can just imagine the jokes I would have had to endure, so I am forever grateful that my father put his foot down and also that he came up with Teresa.

The next anecdote comes from when my parents were attempting to wean me off the bottle, particularly at night. They would spell out the word bottle, presuming I wouldn't understand what "b-o-t-t-l-e" meant. That theory had to be tossed out, however, when I called out from the crib "I want my B-T, I want my B-T!"

In the summer of 1962, we took our first family vacation, shortly after my first birthday. Mom, Dad, and I, along with my paternal grandparents, drove from Ohio to California, to visit my father's brother and his family. Along the way, we visited Mount Rushmore, The Grand Canyon, The Painted Desert, and The Petrified Forest. While with my uncle and his family, we went to Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm, the World's Fair in Seattle, Washington, and to Tiajuana, Mexico.

The next story is something that took place the following summer. Mom sent me outside to play in the front yard while she was washing dishes. Our street was a dead end, and usually not traveled by anyone who didn't live on it, so it was always fairly safe to let children play in the yard unsupervised. Shortly after sending me out, Mom noticed that the few cars going by were going even slower than usual, and the drivers appeared to be laughing at something in our yard. When she came outside, she was shocked by what she found. My clothes were folded neatly on the porch, with my shoes sitting next to them, and I was running around the yard naked. She quickly hustled me back inside and re-dressed me.

Somewhere around that same time, I called Mom into my playroom to show her the picture I had drawn for Dad...unfortunately, I had drawn it all over the hardwood floor of the playroom! She allowed the picture to stay there until Dad got home from work, so that he could see it, and then she set me to work scrubbing the crayon off the floor. Needless to say, I never did THAT again!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

R Is For Random

And today I will just share some random thoughts about a variety of subjects.

* This is the weekend of the percussion competition at the local college....which means one of the team's is practicing in the parking lot of the YMCA directly behind our house, ALL DAY LONG. They start at 8 AM, and except for short breaks, practice till nearly dark. They started yesterday, and by this afternoon I'll have them tuned out, but until then...

*After having stayed away from it since July, and the end of The Trial That Shall Not Be Named, down in Florida, I have again become addicted to watching InSession on a daily basis. I am watching a trial related to the disappearance of Baby Gabriel, as well as all the preliminary proceedings taking place regarding George Zimmerman. My fascination with these things has probably pretty well destroyed any and all chances I might have of serving on a jury in any sort of major case.

* Two faced people are so much fun to watch, as long as you're not the person they're talking about. It's funny yet sad to hear them talk so poorly about people behind their backs and then act like their best friend to their face. And of course they're so convincing that there's no convincing the people being played that they really are being played!!

* No matter who you are, you can only lie to me and use me so many times before I wise up, get fed up, and walk away for good. You made your choices, now you're on your own....good luck with having to be a grown up for a change!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q Is For Quadruped

I decided to get a little creative with today's post. I thought of words like quiet, quirky, quarrelsome---but then decided quadruped was the perfect word.

For those unaware, a quadruped is an animal with four feet.  Our favorite quadruped in this house is pictured below:
This is Gandalf.! He's our grey, tiger striped cat who is about 4 yrs old. Like his human momma, he's a bit skittish when he first meets people, but once he gets to know you, he's very friendly and sweet. He is, however, the only cat I've ever encountered who licks curtains!!! He will sit on the back of the sofa, grab a curtain with one front paw to hold it steady, and start licking it. He also will stand up on his back legs and try to turn the doorknob on the back door if he wants to go outside....a strange cat, indeed, but we love him!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P Is For Phobias

So, today, let's talk about my phobias.  My first big phobia was bridges...more accurately, crossing them. When I was six, a bridge that connected my hometown in Ohio with a town across the Ohio River in West Virginia, collapsed, killing 46 people. Some bodies were never found, including the mother and brother of my best friend.  From that point, I was terrified to cross a bridge. I would close my eyes, hold my breath, and grip the door handle, from the time we got on one end of the bridge until we got off at the other end. This intense fear is one of the reasons I didn't get my driver's license until I was 22...I knew I'd never be able to drive over a bridge on my own! Even after I did get my license, my heart would race while crossing a bridge. I would say that I was somewhere in my thirties before I finally fully got over that fear.

My other phobia, which I still have to this day, is snakes. As a very young child, I went with my parents to the zoo in Miami, Florida, including the Reptile House. That night, at the hotel, I woke up screaming from a nightmare involving snakes. I can't remember the nightmare, but I know that from that day forward, I've been very, VERY scared of snakes. When the rest of the family decided to watch the video "Snakes On A Plane," I KNEW it was a bad idea for me to watch it, but I gave in, regardless. By the end of the film, I was a nervous wreck...I was seeing snakes crawling on our living room floor, and I didn't think I would ever get to sleep that night! Something tells me this is a phobia I'll be dealing with for my entire life.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O Is For Optimism

Day 15 of the Blogging From A To Z Challenge.

Today, I'm writing about my optimism. I've been through some rough spots in my 50 years....most of them of my own making...and I've always managed to make it through to the other side, and come out of it wiser and in a better place. But, contrary to popular belief, that's not been through strength, or my religious beliefs, or anything like that. The real explanation is much simpler, at least to me: crazy cockeyed optimism.

Yep, that's it, plain and simple. I get through the rough spots by keeping focused on the bigger picture. I've always believed that in that elusive "somewhere," there is a bigger, brighter, better life for me...and that I just have to keep looking till I find it. And now, at nearly 51, I've finally begun putting all the pieces into place, getting that life in order...and it's looking even better than I ever dreamed it would be. So, thank you to everyone who sees me as a strong woman...but forgive me when I laugh every time you say it, as I'll always just think of myself as the girl in the rose-colored glasses. :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

N Is For Names

Day 14 of the Blogging From A To Z Challenge.

Today is the perfect day to discuss how my children got their names,  :)

For starters, there's a family tradition on my mother's side which I'm sure was unintentional until I noticed it---female names that end with the letter A. My great-grandmother was Emma, my grandmother was Freda, my mother is Gloria, I'm Teresa, and my daughters are Samantha and Amylia. It appears the tradition may end with them, however, judging from the names they are throwing around (even though neither is currently expecting or planning to be any time soon).

When it comes to male names, I like names that have a history in the family. I like the thought of keeping them going, in some form. To me, it's a way of honoring family members who have come before us.

Each of my three children have names with stories behind them:

1) Brian Alan--Brian is his father's middle name, and Alan is his grandfather's middle name. If he had been a girl, his name would have been Brianna Elizabeth. :)

2) Samantha Adrienne--Before I realized I could continue a family tradition, I wanted to name her Adrienne Elizabeth, and her father wanted to name her Samantha this was our "compromise" name. If she had been a boy, her name would have been Gerald Alexander, names from great grandfathers on both sides of the family.

3) Amylia Marie--I wanted to name her after her father, but I don't like any of the feminine forms of George (they're a little TOO "old" for my taste), so I used his (and his father's) middle name of Amyl, and feminized it, so that it's pronounced Amelia--and we've shortened it to Amy. Marie is George's mother's middle name. If she had been a boy, we would have continued the tradition of the first name George and a middle name beginning with A, and she would have been George Alexander.

I also have names that I would use if I ever had another child (which is NOT going to happen)...Rebecca Anne and Jacob Alexander (yes, I'm stuck on Alexander as a middle name, and never got the chance to use it! LOL)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M Is For Music

Midway through the Blogging From A To Z Challenge's been a part of my life for pretty much ALL of my life.  I was in a children's choir at church when I was in elementary school, as well as loving to sing in music class. Toward the end of elementary school, I added instrumental music, as I began to play the trumpet. And of course, I always had music on at home, in my free time, whether it was the radio, my record player, or my cassette player.  In junior high, I continued to be in band and choir, and to enjoy music at home. In high school, I expanded my range: instrumentally, I participated in marching band, pep band, concert band, symphonic band, jazz ensemble, and took solos to contest two years; vocally, I was in concert and symphonic choirs, participated in three spring musicals (missed out my junior year because of a tonsillectomy and six weeks of recovery time!), and spent my senior year as a teaching assistant, working with several junior high girls ensembles.

While I no longer keep up with the trumpet playing, I am still very much a singer, although mostly just for myself these days, and I also have music on in the house almost all the time. I have very eclectic interests, from Lady Gaga to Miranda Lambert, from Neil Diamond to Pink, etc.  If you are a Facebook friend, you know that I post two videos per day, which very often have no relationship to each other in genre or content. I know what I like, and I love to share it!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

L Is For Liars

Day 12 of the Blogging From A To Z Challenge.

One of my biggest pet peeves is people who lie to me, for whatever reason. And if your lies impact my children as well, then watch out, because it's on, for sure. When my children were young, and they were dealing with absentee fathers who could sometimes be less than honest, I was sometimes Hell on heels :) when dealing with them.  What is so difficult to grasp about the idea of not getting someone's hopes up with promises, time after time, just to disappoint them? The logical thing to do would have been to not make a promise, and just tell ME what you're planning, then if you are able to follow through, it would have been a pleasant surprise for the child/children. To me, it was just common sense!

Aside from people hurting my children with lies, I've had my share of liars in my OWN life, unfortunately. I think I've mentioned before that I tend to take people at their word, and take situations at face value. While I much prefer being that sort of person to being a full-time cynic, I have to admit it really sucks when it blow up in your face time after time. I hate putting my faith and trust in people, and in their word, and then finding out, one way or another, that there was no truth in their words or their actions. 

I forgive those people, but they should all be aware that I do NOT forget, and I will be much more guarded in my dealings with them in the future.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K Is For Kindergarten

Day 11 of the Blogging From A To Z Challenge.

As a former teacher, the years I was in a kindergarten classroom were the most special to me.  I love seeing young children as they start the education journey. Watching them learn to read and write, and starting to develop other skills, and knowing that you're the one helping them take those first's just an amazing feeling. And it doesn't hurt that, for the most part, they think that their teacher knows everything!  :)  Even now, when I'm no longer a professional educator, I still have a soft spot in my heart for children 6 and under, and take pretty much every opportunity I can find to work with them.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J Is For Jokes

Day 10 of the Blogging A To Z Challenge.

This is another letter I had prepared in advance, with a post on jealousy. But, thanks to events earlier in the week, I changed it to what you're about to read. I am astounded at times by what some people think of as jokes. Why and how is making fun of another person, for any reason, humorous? And when that person is someone you care about, why would you want to make fun of them and hurt their feelings?  Yes, I understand that the intent may not be to hurt the other person's feelings...but when you say something, in a joking manner or not, that you know they may interpret in a way that will hurt them, it crosses a line, in my opinion. For something to be a joke, it needs to be humorous not just to the person who speaks it, but also to the audience who hears it!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Is For Invisible

Day 9 of the Blogging From A To Z Challenge. I feel some days. As if no one sees me, or hears me, or even cares that I exist.  When people have a problem, or just need someone to talk to, I'm the one who is always there....the one that everyone sees as "the strong one."  But let ME have a problem, or feel less than happy on any given day, and watch everybody scatter to the four winds. Seems that the support and empathy never runs in both directions. After living for nearly 51 years, you would think that I'd expect it by now, and not get my hopes up that maybe, just maybe, THIS time, someone will be there to help ME make sense of things, to hold ME together, to tell ME that it's going to be alright. Just more wishful thinking, I suppose!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

H Is For Happiness

Day 8 in the Blogging From A To Z Challenge.

Today I'm sharing some things that make me happy. First and foremost would be my husband.  We've been a couple for nearly twelve years now, and married for nearly nine. We've seen each other through some serious ups and downs, and come through stronger than ever. For both of us, I would have to say that the third time is, indeed, the charm.   :)

Following close behind Barry would be my children and my grandson. Below is a VERY rare picture of all of them together, taken when we celebrated Brian's birthday in January. 

Amy, Samantha, Brian---and Samantha's son, Micheal. (And they all even look like they like each other...LOL)

Other things that make me happy, in no real order:
  • Once a month trivia night with friends (We're #3, and proud of it!!!)
  • Thursday night Bible study, and the friends there.
  • Occasional days with an empty house...just me, a book and some music.
  • Sunshine
  • Any time I can spend on a beach
  • Knowing I'm loved and appreciated

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G Is For Grieving Those Who Are Gone

Day 7 of the Blogging From A To Z Challenge.

I'm a very emotional, very sensitive of those who takes everything to heart and feels EVERYTHING deeply.  So when I speak of grief in the title of this post, it's multifaceted. It's not just the grief of losing friends and family members to death, although that's a big part of it. I also find myself grieving for those people who used to be a part of my life, but who walked away, or just drifted off...and even the ones I had to walk away from for various reasons.

I had an entirely different post planned for today, but that was before I spent yesterday afternoon listening to some old songs and thinking...never a good combination for a sentimental girl!  Let's just say there were a couple of people who came to mind, a couple of relationships I WISH I knew how to heal...but I know it's never going to happen, and I just have to keep moving on with life the way it is.

Friday, April 6, 2012

F Is For Family

Day 6 of the Blogging From A To Z Challenge.

Time to to take a few minutes to introduce my wild and wonderful family. My name is Teresa, I'm 50 years old, a stay at home mom who lives in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio, and I'm working on becoming a freelance writer. I've been writing poetry since I was 10 yrs. old, and occasionally dabbled in writing prose, both fiction and nonfiction.

I have a variety of interests other than my writing. There's my family, reading (I'm always working on at least one book, and sometimes two or three at the same time), music, movies, crossword puzzles, genealogy, working with children, playing video games (Tetris and Bejeweled Blitz mostly)....and I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but they'll probably pop up in posts this month.

I've been married almost nine years now to my husband, Barry. He's a shift supervisor at a customer service call center...currently under contract with AT&T. He's got a knack for surprising me with little gifts "just because," right when I really need cheering up....and for frustrating/irritating me with some little thing, as well, so it all balances out! We share our love of movies, music and books, and we enjoy sitting out on the back porch in the evenings talking as long as the weather is good.

Then there are my three children...a son and two daughters. Brian is 26 years old, and lives with his fiance, Jennifer, in Monroe, Ohio. He works for Greater Cincinnati Computers, and is also going to college. He was recently in a car accident which resulted in a totally smashed right ankle, and has a long road to recovery. He is artistically inclined (I have several sketches he's done over the years), and also enjoys music, movies and anime.

Samantha is 22 years old, and lives in Union City, Michigan,  with her husband, Andy, and their 2 1/2 year old son, Micheal. She's a stay at home mom, and now that Micheal is two, she has even more appreciation for her OWN mother...gotta love that! :) She's always had a vivid imagination---I may have to do an entire post one day on some of the great stories she told us as a child--and has enjoyed writing stories since she was a preteen.

Amy is 19, and she plans to continue her education to get both an associate and bachelors degrees in nursing, looking at a career in pediatric nursing. She's always been good with children, and they seem to love her, so it seems like a good fit to me. Like her brother, Amy has artistic talents, AND she also has more writing talent than she'll give herself credit for having. Amy is engaged to Kenny, who is also a college student, majoring in electrical engineering.

Gandalf is the other major character in my life....and boy, is he a character! He's our grey, tiger striped cat who is about 4 yrs old. Like his human momma, he's a bit skittish when he first meets people, but once he gets to know you, he's very friendly and sweet. He is, however, the only cat I've ever encountered who licks curtains!!! He will sit on the back of the sofa, grab a curtain with one front paw to hold it steady, and start licking it. He also will stand up on his back legs and try to turn the doorknob on the back door if he wants to go outside....a strange cat, indeed.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E Is For Easter

Day 5 of the Blogging From A To Z Challenge.

Easter is coming up on Sunday. In my childhood, it was a big holiday for getting together with the extended family. It started bright and early in the morning, when I...and later my younger brother as well...would get up and search for where the Easter Bunny had hidden my basket that year. After checking to see exactly what I'd gotten, it was time to eat breakfast and get dressed for Sunday school and church. When church was over, it was off to a restaurant for lunch with my paternal grandparents. Oh, and there were LOTS of with the Easter baskets, pictures at home once we were dressed, pictures with the grandparents before we went to lunch. Then, once we left the paternal grandparents, it was off to my maternal grandparents, where all my aunts, uncles and cousins were gathered as well. There was lots more food, plenty of candy, and ALWAYS an Easter egg hunt or two or three....depending on how many times we could find someone to hide the eggs.

Even though my children didn't have the large number of cousins, I tried to keep most of the Easter traditions alive for them, as well. And my grandson is already going to Easter egg hunts, at age two, so at least some traditions are continuing.  :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D Is For Dreams

Day Four of the Blogging A to Z far, so good!

Today let's talk about dreams. I've had a couple of dreams for most of my life, and have finally seen one of them come true...and am making progress toward the other one  Last year, I actually published a book of my poetry (which I've been writing since I was 10 yrs. old), as well as taking a "writing for publication" class to sharpen up my skills. This year, my goal is to make the dream come true of becoming a published author, and sell one of my short stories to a magazine. I have a few submitted, and I have a couple of ideas for writing some more, so let's all keep our fingers crossed!

ADDENDUM: For those interested in the book, go to and type in "Teresa Kander"...the book, Heartbreak and Happiness, should pop up.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C Is For Collections

Day Three of the Blogging Challenge, and today I'm going to talk about my two collections/obsessions.

First, and the one I've been working on the longest--almost 30 yrs--is my teddy bear collection. I have bears in every size and color, I think. I get them for presents, I buy them as souvenirs, I buy them just because I find one that I "have" to have. These days, they have a rather permanent home in our guest room: Photobucket Photobucket

My other collection is only about ten years in the making, thanks to my loving husband...and it's actually bigger than my teddy bear collection. This is my collection of M&M dispensers and memorabilia.  There is so much of it that it's starting to take over the entire house. Part of it is in the dining room, in a cabinet and on a bookshelf
: Photobucket Photobucket

Most of the rest is in our bedroom, on shelves on either side of our bed: Photobucket Photobucket

And there are dispensers in the living room and computer room, as well.

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Blessings

Day Two of the A to Z Challenge, and today I'm talking about my blessings.  Seeing as how I've been whining a bit lately about what a "difficult" year this has been, in the first three months, it's good to stop and remind myself that I am, in fact, richly blessed.

My parents obviously played a HUGE part in how I started out, both in terms of my DNA and what they taught me along the way. Unfortunately, they also played a part in my low self-esteem and constant self-doubt. When your mother tells you, from the time you are a preteen, that you're crazy and you're going to end up locked up somewhere, that can seriously start to mess with your head!! And when she tells you that your poetry is just a waste of paper and ink and time, and makes you "weird," that makes you doubt what you've put your heart and soul into creating. And then, when your father leaves the family when you're 17, and slowly but surely cuts you out of his life, except for a yearly Christmas card....well, then you just KNOW that you're not good enough. :(
Don't get me wrong......there were a lot of good times.....I was an only child for six years, and spoiled rotten. I was Daddy's girl right up until the day he left home...which, by the way, was a matter of weeks after I SCREAMED at him to just get out if he'd rather be with his girlfriend than with us (more guilt issues, there, believe me!!) . Both before and after my brother came along, we did all the fun family stuff that "perfect" families do....and most of the time I would rather have been hanging out with my family--immediate and extended--than doing anything else. I think it was that "perfect" life that made the bad stuff that much more difficult to take. Overall, the good outweighs the bad, and I know that I could have done a LOT worse!!!

My grandparents--both sets were wonderful people. To my dad's parents, I was, for six years, the only grandchild they really had a chance to spoil, as my cousins lived in California and we were all in Ohio, and even when Mark came along, they just spoiled BOTH of us. They were always there for birthdays and Christmas morning, they went to band concerts, and in junior high I was able to go to their house every day for lunch....a nice half hour break from school, and REAL food!!
From my mother's parents, especially my grandmother, I got a sense of what a strong, abiding faith was all about, as well as a strong work ethic from both of them. And Granny was/is my role model of the type of grandmother I want to be, and how I look at life. I may get older, as I can't control that, but I will never be OLD.  I'll always be there for my children and grandchildren, and be having fun with them somewhere, somehow.
My mother's entire family was a big part of my growing up....aunts, uncles and cousins were always around. I will always remember Mom's youngest sister, Loretta, who was only seven years older than me, and was always more of a friend to me than anything else. I can remember once, when she had a date with Dad's cousin, Mike, and the two of them took me with them.....I have a strip of pics from a photo booth from that night!!! (Mike was another blessing to a teenager, it was SO cool to go out riding in his Corvette on a weekend afternoon...definitely an ego boost!!) Unfortunately, I lost both Mike and Loretta too soon.....and I miss them both!!
As I said, I have a huge brood of cousin's on that side, and we all hung out together in the summer....weekends and fair week, especially. Granny would have a whole houseful of us, and load us up to go to the fair.....but we had to earn our way by picking beans and bagging them up for her to take to the market in Huntington to sell. We'd go to movies, to the mall, to amusement parks....and Granny was always right there in the midst of us. Over the years, the group included, in some combination, me, Mark, Malynda, Mary Ann, Todd, Ladonna, Rick, Nickole, Michele, and CJ.

My children-Brian, Samantha and Amy. Many of the changes I've made in my life have been for their sakes, so I would definitely not be the woman I am today, with the life I have, if not for them. They will always be the BIGGEST blessings in my life!!!!!!

My husband--without him, I don't know where I'd be, or who I'd be. He helped me find the strength that I had lost, the courage I never knew I possessed. Although I would never change for anyone, I know that the changes in me are BECAUSE of him.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for April

Today is the first day of the 2012 Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For 26 days this month, I'll be blogging about a specific letter of the alphabet, somehow tying into my life at the moment.

Obviously, today's letter is A...and since today is April 1st, A is for April.  Yeah, I know, real creative.  :)

April has almost always been one of those "is it over yet?" kind of months, because I've always been waiting for  May and warmer weather. This year, with the crazy temperatures we've already had in March, that shouldn't be an issue.  And with the year I've already had in the first three months , I'm hoping to actually be able to S-L-O-W down, and actually enjoy April a little more than I have in the past.

The best part is that there's nothing really planned for the entire month, so we can just take things as they come. That means if we want to spend the whole month doing nothing special, we can...or if we decide to spontaneously do something on one of Barry's days off, we can do that, too. With a little luck, I can get some extra reading time in, and get closer to reaching my reading goal of at least 60 books for this year...right now I'm stalled at 12, because I'm having trouble getting through the three I currently have "in progress."

So, as we start the month, and the blogging challenge, here's to fun times all around!!

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