What do you mean it’s winter?

We’re still in denial that it’s winter here, even as snow falls outside our window and forecasters warn us that we could wake up to a foot or more tomorrow morning.

The kids and I have severe cabin fever and long for the days we could spend our days in the backyard with Zooma The Wonder Dog in the warm sun. Sunlight isn’t something we see much of these days so if it peeks out from behind the clouds, we either rush outside into it or we sit in the square of it that shines on our floors.

When my dad decided he would take the kids down to see how frozen his pond was last weekend I rushed to get my coat on, even though 1) I didn’t want to go out in the cold and 2) my 4-year old needed a nap. I needed to get outside and photograph something – anything. None of the photographs were exciting but at least we experienced nature – freezing cold, cough-inducing, nose running – nature.dsc_1810

Once at the pond Dad cut a hole in the ice and measured it. Since it was only two and a half inches none of us could go out on it – except for the dog. The youngest didn’t mind since she was still crying, partially from the cold, and because it was clear she desperately needed a nap. I had to carry her both up and down the hill which isn’t as fun now that she’s almost 30 pounds and solid muscle. Once back in the house she fell asleep within a few moments and I decided maybe we’d continue admiring the sun from inside the house, at least until the temperature rises again.

 

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Zooma the Wonder Dog takes over to lift the winter blues

It’s been a while since Mom has let me take over the blog. For those of you who don’t know who I am, I’m Zooma the Wonder Dog and from time to time I like to take over the blog so you have something actually interesting to read. Shhh…don’t tell Mom I said that. You can read more of my posts (you know, the good ones on this blog) here and here and even here and oh yeah..here too.

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You’ll notice I’m calling Mom Mom now and not “mommy”. That’s because I’m finally a teenager and my childish ways are behind me. Mom says my childish ways are not behind me since she’s caught me in the trash more than once and chasing the cat more than once, as well, but I ignore her because, well, I’m a teenager. I don’t have to pay attention to what my parents say.

I know, I know. Some of you may claim you saw me running around the yard the other day, being silly and acting like a young pup again, but you’d be wrong. I was simply working out to keep myself young and trim and looking good for the boy dog I saw walking by the other day.

Mom is such a killjoy. She says I can’t be around boy dogs until I’ve been spayed. I don’t know if she has a lisp or what, but I can’t figure out what being spayed has to do with me liking to bark a hello at the boy dogs walking by. I mean spaying is what they do to keep you clean right? With water and a hose? I don’t know for sure but Mom says I’m going to be spayed in a couple of days so I’ll find out then.

I saw a dog get spayed on TV on one of those shows Plaything 2 watches and that dog had soap and warm water so I hope I get spayed like that. I’m not a fan of baths, or soap, but being spayed with water might be fun. I’ll let you know what I think about it all in my next post.

Since moving here I’ve grown pretty fond of – I mean, I’ve grown accustomed to living here with my human family. Mom and Dad are pretty cool. Dad is grumpy sometimes when I wake him up early to pee but then he’s even grumpier if I let him sleep and pee in the living room. It takes a lot to make him happy it seems. Mom doesn’t like when I rip toilet paper up all over the bathroom floor or the backyard and she keeps telling me to leave The Beast alone.

The Beast has started to love me. She has. Don’t let her tell you any different. She misses me when I’m gone – like when I went to Grandpa and Grandma’s for something everyone called Christmas. There was a lot of food there but Grandpa and Mom were the only ones who gave me any. Grandma kept reminding Mom of that time Mom said it was bad to feed me from the table.

Now I know where Mom gets her fun-killing attitude. I can’t imagine why it’s bad to feed me from the table.

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The new human Kim was nice and if I didn’t love my current family so much I’d have gone to live with her. Of course, I decided going home with her wouldn’t be so much fun since the other new human (who Mom called Butthead, but I don’t think that’s his real name), said they live with a beast even bigger than The Beast and that it would rip my face off. I don’t want my face ripped off. Then  I couldn’t sneak food from Plaything 2’s plate when she leaves it down, which is always, because she’s almost like a teenager, like me, and doesn’t listen to Mom and Dad.

Wait, did I say I love my family back there? Um…yeah..well..I know I’m a teenager, but I guess I sort of do love Mom and Dad and my human brother and human sister. And of course Grandma and Grandpa. Mom says Grandma isn’t really a “dog person” but she is now because of me. That makes me proud. I’ve clearly charmed her.

Just don’t tell my family I said I love them.

Talk to you soon.

Can’t wait to tell you about the spay and if it really makes my fur feel better or not.

10 on 10 for January or the one where I barely had any photos to share

I’m not going to lie. I’ve barely touched my camera since the weather grew cold and the sun left us for what seems like for good. I am not a fan of dreary winter weather so trying to be creative in the midst of it is a true struggle. When the ladies in my group were talking about sharing 10 on 10 posts for this month I was excited until I realized I have very little to share. The idea is to share ten photos from the same day but I don’t even know if I have taken ten photos from the same day in a couple of months or even longer. So today I thought I’d share ten photos that represented our December. Mainly we prepared for Christmas by preparing my dad’s star to hang up on the hill behind his house, going to cut down a “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” from Dad’s other property (where I grew up), and hiking in the woods behind the home to cut princess pine.

Hopefully the next few months will inspire me to pick my camera up more than the last couple have but since we are in the midst of a very dreary and sunless winter, I am not sure how that will unfold.

Since this is part of a blog circle project, I hope you will continue on to the next blog by finding the link at the bottom of the post and then find another link in that post and so on until you come back to me. Take a journey with our photographers and you might just take a virtual and visual journey around the world.

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To continue the circle please visit Penelope’s blog.

Keep singing me that song, sweet girl

dsc_0620“Mama, I have something to show you,” you said while I was trying to cook dinner one night.

“Um..not now, honey. I have to cook dinner,” I told you.

“But moooom…” you sighed and rolled your eyes with your head tilted back like you had been doing a lot lately.

I sighed myself, without the eye roll and set the chicken aside so I could sit in the kitchen floor with you.

“Today is a special day to tell you how to feel, in my own way,” you sang with the song on the app and slid into my lap. Your voice was tiny and sweet.”I really want to tell you Mom, I love you so. I love you so. You take care of me and help me grow. When I am sad you always know. When you teach me things I feel so proud. You pick me up when I fall down. You pick me up and keep me safe. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be, than wrapped up in a hug from you, ’cause I love you and you love me.”

You leaned against me and looked up at my face as you sang and somehow I think you knew what would come next. Tears. From me. Not simple little …. tears but big, full-on ugly cry tears.

You continued to sing and sway a little in my arms. Supper was later than usual that night but it was worth it. It was even more worth it when your dad came home for supper and you sang him his version of the song. Apparently I’m not the only one who ugly cries.

Every once in awhile, at least once a week you come into the kitchen with the phone and you hold it up to me and push play. Each time we sit next to each other and I hold you close and you sing the song to me.

Sweet girl, please never stop coming to me with that song.

Never stop asking me to let you sing it to me.

Never stop looking at my face to see if I’m crying again.

Never stop waiting for those kisses on the cheek and the gentle squeeze as I pull you against me.

I know I can say it, can ask you to always sing this sweet little song to me and love me when you’re older as much as you do now, but I also know one day you won’t sing to me anymore.

One day you’ll rush off to play with your friends, go shopping, or rush to practice and simply wave at me over your shoulder on your way out the door.

You may one day very well forget how much you wanted your mama to know you loved her, but your mama will never forget it and I will also never forget the feeling of being the center of your world.

May I never take for granted these days that can sometimes seem so long but are rushing by so quickly and may I never take for granted your love for me.

And may you always know the love I have for you.

 

 

Word of the year: contentment

“If thou indeed derive thy light from Heaven, Then, to the measure of that heaven-born light, Shine, Poet! In thy place, and be content. . . —WILLIAM WORDSWORTH”

Once upon a time I picked out a “word of the year”; a word meant to set the tone of the upcoming year. It is closely related to the idea of a New Year’s resolution but instead of promising to do something to change yourself in the new year the idea is to change how you think about your life.

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A couple years ago I chose the words “peace” and “simplicity.” Everything in my world was not peaceful or simple during that year but there were periods of peace and simplicity at least. Decisions were also made with those words at the forefront of my mind, as much as possible anyhow. To keep with the sentiment behind the words I also cut out some people and aspects of my life that created little more than stress.

This year the word “contentment” has been on my mind a lot lately and I think one reason is because I am rarely content, but am getting better. In fact, two days after I chose contentment as my word for 2019, I wound myself up in an anxiety-ridden ball of discontented stress induced by the restless feeling that I should be doing more with my life. I was agitated, snappy and definitely not content with life for three days straight.

Being discontented isn’t always a bad thing. Someone in a bad relationship or a dead end job might say “I’m not content to stay where I am in this life” and in those cases discontent is not only understandable but acceptable. The good discontent leads to positive and needed changes. Sometimes, though, we need to learn to embrace contentment in our lives; contentment in where we are and what we have and who we have in our lives.

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Blogger Stacey Pardoe wrote on her blog recently:

I’ve always been drawn to the familiar words of Psalm 46:10, “Cease from striving and know that I am God.”

Some translations read, “Be still and know that I am God.”

For years I assumed the words “be still” meant to stop moving and focus on God.

What I didn’t know was that in the original language, the word for “be still” loosely translates as “let your arms hang loose or slackened.” A more literal translation is, “Let your hard-working arms hang limp and loose. Lay it down.”

I thought of those words as I stood in the shadow of the crescent moon. And in the milky glow, I let my arms hang loose. I laid down all my careful plans and all my striving to bring the plans to pass. It was terrifying.”

This year I want to do my best to be still while I try to embody the word contentment.

Contentment with being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom.

Contentment with people who reach out only when they want something from me.

Contentment with the lack of strong friendships.

Contentment with the journey to better health being slow but purposeful.

Contentment with what plans God has for me.

Contentment in the waiting.

Contentment that I may not always embrace contentment.

And when I don’t embrace being content I hope I will square back my shoulders and try again, relying on God’s wisdom to show me if I need to be content with where I am or if God is calling for a change.

I hope this new year, and each new day in it, we all remember contentment is how we hope and strive to feel.

It may take time to reach the level of contentment I feel I should have but when I fail I pray God reminds me to be still until I find it again.

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All images by Lisa R. Howeler


Lisa R. Howeler is a wife, mom, writer and photographer. She resides in Pennsylvania and is a former journalist. She currently provides photographs for bloggers and for stock agencies, Alamy, Cavan, and Lightstock.

 

Logged back on Facebook. Experienced full body shudder. Logged back off.

After 30-days of Facebook detox I logged back on this past week and almost immediately regretted it.

From someone calling someone else they disagreed with a Nazi to fear-mongering posts about health issues my heart was pounding within a few minutes and I logged back off again and reached for my Teddy Bear.

Facebook has become a landmine of stress for this anxiety-ridden soul, which may be something I need to seek out a therapist for, or it may be simply a sign I need to stay off Facebook as much as possible.

The odd thing is that I don’t even follow any controversial people or news pages so the fact every day people are now flipping out on each other over the simplest of things seems to be a sign that we’ve lost respect and decorum. Obviously this has been happening for a long time but nowhere is it more evident than in social media where people forget there are real people behind the computer or smartphone.

This latest incident involved a thyroid expert I follow who had been featured on a show people didn’t appreciate. She wasn’t exactly called a Nazi but she was told the views of the people were Nazi views, which makes me realize that this far out from World War II some people need to read some history and remind themselves what a Nazi actually is.

Since I haven’t yet seen this particular organization call for the extermination of all Jews, but in fact supports them in many ways, I don’t see how they received the Nazi label, other than this is what certain groups seem to call people now when they don’t agree with them.

Well, anyhoo, based on of the idiocy that is modern discourse and the tendency for everyone to be offended by everything, I’ve decided Facebook may be a once a month thing where I check in on some friends and family but then log back off. My blog posts and photos on Instagram are automatically shared to the platform and luckily don’t require me to log into my timeline.

If you’re going to stay on Facebook and want to avoid stress, I highly recommend avoiding scrolling your timeline and instead visit the individual pages of friends or family members. That way you can avoid being slapped in the face by bizarre articles about girls who think they are boys because a therapist told them they were, people who think anyone who wears black shoes are racist, and politicians calling each other Nazis and immoral while they all conducting themselves in immoral ways.

You can also avoid headlines like “three foods to avoid in 2019” and “What you’re eating/wearing/drinking/thinking may give you cancer” and “New test will determine what day you’ll die” and the ever popular “The end of the world is near. Read here for the signs of the end times” (save yourself some trouble with that one and see the headlines and article topics above for those signs).

Bottom line? If you don’t have to use Facebook, avoid it. Go out and experience life. Take a walk, read a book, study God’s word, watch a comedy, write a silly blog post or two about Facebook or notice you have children and play a game or two with them.

You’ll be better off for it.

I know I have been.

I’m not just here to serve my kids

Sometimes I think my children think I’m their humble servant. I sit down to start work on a blog post or edit photos or cook dinner or read a book and I hear “Mama? Can I have a drink?” “Mama! Can I have a glass of milk?” “Mama, can I have a snack?” I won’t lie. All I want to say back to them is “I don’t know. Can you?”

I mean seriously. What did I do to make these children think I’m going to wait on them hand and foot and do everything for them?

Oh right.

I know what I did.

I waited on them hand and foot and did everything for them. For years.

Read the rest of this post at Her View From Home:

https://herviewfromhome.com/im-not-just-here-to-serve-my-kids/

Because she would want us to

My aunt Dianne was sitting in her recliner bundled up in a thick sweater pulled over her plaid button-up shirt she’d been wearing almost every day for two months with a thick, fluffy blanket across her legs. A knitted shawl with a hood was draped around her head and shoulders.

She looked – as she might say herself – like a tick about to burst.

“Lisa, is that heat on?” she asked and when I assured her it was she shivered. “Well, good gravy, I don’t think it’s working.”

On the TV Ree Drummond was pouring half a quart of whipping cream into a bowl of potatoes and telling viewers “Now, don’t judge me, or judge me if you want, but I just think these mashed potatoes are so much better with all this whipping cream.” Then she smiled at the camera.

“I can’t believe she’s not 300 pounds,” I said.

“All that cream is a little overboard isn’t it?” Dianne asked, rhetorically.

We both knew it was overboard.

We laughed a little and shook our heads.

We watched The Pioneer Woman whip up the potatoes and set them aside.

“Now it’s time for my famous chicken fried steak, which cowboys just love,” Ree said and smiled at the camera again, dimples showing.

I rolled my eyes.

“How hasn’t anyone in that family had a heart attack?” I wondered out loud, the irony not lost on me since my aunt had had at least two heart attacks already. I hoped she didn’t take my comment as a personal jab at her.

“Well…..” Dianne said and shrugged a little, leaving the rest of her response to be guessed.

The Pioneer Woman drives me nuts with her fattening recipes but her chipper personality and knowing I can modify the recipes for a healthier option make looking away hard to do.

Next to me the Christmas tree was bright with lights and ornaments. Out the window Dad’s star was shining bright against the dreary winter clouds at the edge of the field and woods.

 

Before long my aunt was asleep in her chair, chin into her chest. She’d been falling asleep a lot like that lately, sometimes almost in mid-sentence, and I knew her health was getting worse. So that day we enjoyed her when she was awake and tried not to think about how much longer we might have her with us.

A couple weeks before she’d been messaging me, asking me for gift suggestions for my son and daughter and I knew she was anxious to spoil them and see them smile as they opened their gifts. She was planning how to make sausage balls, a Southern tradition, without “poisoning me”, knowing I was allergic to corn and had also gone gluten-free. I told her not to worry about me and simply make the treats for the rest of the family. I offered to make some as well so she wouldn’t have to do all the work. We messaged back and forth and then I accidentally bumped the video chat button in messenger. The button is annoying and most days I hate it because I rarely want to video chat with anyone, especially via Facebook. I missed her call but she tried to call me through the ap and her voice was recorded. It was only for 17 seconds,  enough for me to hear her voice call my name, thinking I’d picked up. I didn’t discover it for a couple months, when she was already gone.

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Sometimes, when I’m missing Dianne the most, I scroll back to the recording and listen to her call my name. Of course, I always cry. When I first discovered the recording I hit the play button without thinking. Her voice could be heard throughout our house and my son’s head lifted quickly. He looked at me in confusion and then we burst into tears.

My mom said many days Dianne could barely make it from the bathroom to her chair without needing to sit down and catch her breath but she sat the kitchen table for hours and made the sausage balls, kneading the meat and flour and cheese together and rolling them to put in the oven to be cooked.

“She just seemed so delighted she could do that,” Mom remembered. She grew quiet and I saw tears in her eyes. “Well, anyhow…” her voice trailed off and I knew she was trying to stay happy and not bring the mood of the day down.

On my phone is a video of my aunt opening a gift from her grand-nephew, my son. She could barely catch her breath, but she seemed excited and hugged him and told her how much she loved the gift.

Four days later my husband’s phone rang and I heard him from upstairs.

“No! Oh no!” I heard emotion heavy in his voice.

He came downstairs and held the phone against his chest.

“It’s your mom,” he said.

I didn’t want to take the phone but I did.

“Dianne died,” Mom said in a voice mixed with sadness and shock.

She’d called my husband first to make sure someone was with me when I was told, just as she had when my grandmother had died 15 years before.

Though I knew it was coming my head still spun when she said it and I had to sit in the floor because my legs didn’t seem to want to hold me.

I sat in my parents living room the other day.

The chair was empty.

The Southern accent couldn’t be heard.

I couldn’t kiss her soft cheek or try to squirm away when she blew “zerberts” (messy, slobbery kisses) against my cheek.

I couldn’t feel her arms around me or hear her laugh when one of the kids said something funny.

Somehow it feels a lot less like Christmas this year with her gone.

Still, I know she would scold us for dreading gathering without her.

So we’ve promised each other to cook the sausage balls, decorate the tree, wrap the gifts and to cook the collard greens I forgot to get her last year, even though she asked.

We will drink hot cocoa while we watch her favorite Christmas movies: “It’s A Wonderful Life” and the black and white version of “A Christmas Carol.”

We will share the funny stories and laugh as we remember her.

We will, somehow, find the joy in the midst of sadness and enjoy those who are still with us because that is exactly what she would have wanted us to do.

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