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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Gifts from the heart

Now that thanksgiving is over it is time to focus on Christmas. It is probably the most expensive day of the year, causing many to go into debt trying to impress others. I have always felt that gifts from the heart are much more valuable. Keeping that in mind I would like to share a couple of from the heart ideas that I have come up with in the last few years. They all start with a trip to my local dollar store. For one dollar each I am going to purchase a gold box, a clear vase and a small photo frame. Now the fun begins. I am going to fill the gold box with slips of paper containing 100 inspirational messages. Some of which are my own and some I gathered from online research. In the clear vase I am going to place a piece of parchment paper containing one of my inspirational poems. If you aren't poetic there are many sources available for fitting poems. One also could just write a heartfelt letter to the benefactor. A little ribbon and the message in a bottle is complete. Now for #3. I am going to choose a photo that I have recently taken. This particular one is a favorite of mine. There is no greater artist than the Creator. Photos of landscapes are also special for friends who have moved away and miss the familiar, such as a mountain or the local park. Other inexpensive gifts from the heart that I enjoy giving are those created in my kitchen such as homemade fudge. I have a friend who is widowed and if he didn't get a package of fudge for Christmas he would ask if I were ill. My point is that it is not necessary to go into debt when you choose gifts from the heart.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Is it the turkey?

On this day after Thanksgiving in the year 2013 I am asking myself is it the turkey that made me sad while eating dinner last night on a TV tray in front of the television set? I recall a cartoon years ago featuring an older couple sitting in front of the television set eating turkey TV dinners. Although my turkey was the real thing and was accompanied by dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, a vegetable, a roll and a slice of pumpkin pie with Cool Whip it wasn't far from the cartoon, which still isn't funny. Maybe it was the turkey that made me sad?! It isn't something I usually cook other than Thanksgiving so it does tend to bring back memories of family times that are no more. Perhaps it isn't the turkey, but all those trimmings that go with it. The bird itself is a mighty cheap piece of meat, providing the main ingredient for many future meals. I even save the carcass for soup stock. Habits are hard to break, but next year I may have to leave the past behind and find another way to mark the day of gratitude.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A new tradition

Today I dumped out my little jar of gratitude that I have been adding to for almost a year. As I read each little piece of paper I realized that it doesn't take a lot to make an impression on me. Some of the things I had written made me smile and some brought back memories that were a bit sad, but had taught me the most important lessons; for instance that I am not a follower, I am a leader. The smallest notation was only one word- Ejay and the date 12/8/12. That was the day I picked up a rescue dog, then 10 months old, from the local animal shelter. Someone asked me if I really needed a dog. Apparently I did because he is still here. I believe that all these little bits of gratitude scribbled on tiny pieces of colored paper and dropped in a jar has created a brand new tradition in my house that I just may keep. They also reminded me of a poem I wrote several years ago. "Just a little piece of paper with lovingly chosen words. If you could see beneath the pen, you would find my love will never end." BLG 2002

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A jar full of gratitude

About a year ago I saw a suggestion to find an empty jar and every day fill it with little bits of daily gratitude. It didn't seem to be all that much trouble so I followed the directions. All the little things that may have otherwise been overlooked in my busy life have filled the little jar.
Since thanksgiving is one of those family holidays that I have been spending alone, well except for my three furry children, I have decided to dump out the contents of the jar and read every single scrap of paper I have put in there over the last year. I could just feel sorry for myself that nobody cares that I am alone, but a jar full of gratitude seems to me to be a lot healthier way to go. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A safe place to hang out

In the past I have written a lot about the family center in my town. I spend a great deal of my time there and think it is one of the best things offered to "children" of all ages in our area. The building had its grand opening in 2000 and was built to provide a safe place for young people to hang out. "The inception took place in 1994, nearly a year after the brutal murder of a local teen, Crystal LaPierre." Over the years a multitude of souls have used the facility, both as students and junior staff (previously known as Youth Council), giving them an opportunity to learn skills and earn a little honest pocket money. Last September I was given an opportunity to pick up a little extra money of my own as a part time staff member. Although it has greatly helped my living conditions I had reached the point of seriously considering quitting due to the disrespect I had been dealing with from a few of the students who apparently do not know the definition of abuse. I have spent my life allowing others to abuse me in one form or the other so I am quite familiar with the fact that it comes in many forms. Last Thursday I had reached the end of what I decided I could tolerate and it literally made me sick. I had to ask myself if the money was worth it. Since this is only a two day week, allowing for a Thanksgiving break, I went to work yesterday afternoon with the mindset of "whatever happens happens". I even requested that the Archangel Raguel, who is the bringer of harmony, lend a hand. The director of the facility took over the regular Monday "kid's meeting" and she had a little surprise for the students who were there. She firmly told them she and her staff will no longer tolerate any student who is disrespectful and/or refuses to follow instructions; they will be written up and suspended for the remainder of the year to make room for students on a waiting list who really want to be there. The energy following her brief remarks changed everything. Thank you thank you! Perhaps now the family center will go back to being the safe place to hang out that it was created to be.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lost relative

Although I have really enjoyed my time on ancestry.com it can be frustrating. I found pretty much everyone I was looking for with the exception of my father's oldest sister. She was my favorite aunt and it upset me that I was having trouble finding information about her. I knew her husband had died of cancer when I was a child, but I could not remember his name. I clearly recall sitting outside of their house with my brother, while my parents went inside to find out the results of his recent surgery. There was a monkey tree in the yard, which still sticks in my mind. Returning to the car my mother said, "They opened him up and closed him back up because there was nothing they could do." I did remember Aunt Thelma had several children, the youngest a daughter. This morning I happened to hit the right button and found her!The information I revealed was very interesting and produced several facts that I can relate to. She had three children, two boys and a girl who was born when she was in her early 40's. That could have been my life. Her middle name was Christine. Unaware of that fact, I named my daughter Christina. Her husband's name was Donald. My second husband and Christina's father is also a Donald. Finally, Aunt Thelma was 98 when she died in 2001.I am very happy that I found my lost relative and wonder if I will continue to follow in her footsteps. The following photo is of my Aunt, her siblings and their mother, my paternal grandmother, Beatrix. Left to right we have Aunt Sylvia, my father Sidney, my grandma, Uncle Kenton and last but certainly not least Aunt Thelma. The Halverson clan.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A taste of female/male prejudice

Yesterday my 12 year old grandson got a giant taste of female/male prejudice at the family center. On Friday's a supervisor offers a cooking class to some of the kids. Noticing that my grandson had not been asked to participate lately I suggested on Thursday that he ask the girl in charge for permission to take part this week. He did and his request was granted. I assumed everything was going well until I noticed him standing in the hall with tears streaming down his face. I asked what was wrong. He responded, "I don't like the cooking class. I wasn't allowed to do anything. I guess only girls can cook." The person in charge is a 20 year old girl and it looks to me as if she needs to open her young eyes. My grandson happens to love to cook. It probably comes naturally as my father was a chef and also a cook on a fishing boat in Alaska when he married my mother. Both of my sons and my son-in-law are very good cooks. You might have noticed none of them are girls! I certainly can understand how hurtful this taste of female/male prejudice was for him.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Goodbye little brother

Following my intuition I took advantage of a free trial on ancestry.com a couple of days ago. The very first thing I did was search my brother's name. The next thing that popped up on my screen was the fact that he died in May of 2011 in California. I knew he had suffered a stroke several years ago and was living in a nursing home. He was my only sibling and left home at about age 14 to live with a friend. Our lives since that time had only touched each other on and off. He had one son, a little younger than my youngest child. It seems odd that my biological family has been so disconnected over the years. I always felt it was my job to keep people in touch. That's a lot of work for one person to take on. Most everyone is now deceased and I seem to be the oldest still living. Having lost touch with aunts, uncles and cousins years ago I decided to see what I could find out as long as I was on Ancestry.com. I started a family tree that so far has gone back to a paternal great great grandfather born in New York in 1834. Finding names I didn't know gave me a comfortable feeling of being part of something bigger. Perhaps it is still my job to connect the people. It vaguely reminds me of a book I read several years ago, "The Memory Keepers Daughter". After all I am the one who has in my possession my maternal grandmother's family Bible from Belgium. There just might be a new story in my future. In the meantime I will just say goodbye to my younger brother, Howard DeLoyd Halverson, 1939-2011. You always were a pest!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

An unexpected guest

Yesterday morning I got a phone call from a young man that I have a special relationship with. A voice said, "Grandma can I come to your house today?" What do you think my answer was? I had made pancakes earlier and the leftovers joined by a cup of hot chocolate found a very happy recipient. Although I see my grandson every day after school at the family center and at his sports games we haven't had much one on one time lately. The school year is a busy time for him. His visit yesterday gave me an opportunity to observe just how much he has matured. After breakfast we worked together to rake up and bag the remainder of my fall leaves, which also gave him a little extra change in his pocket. Later on he played some computer games and then he surprised me when he asked me to open my word document for him to write a story. He used his imagination and a very descriptive vocabulary to create a really good short story. He said, "My Language Arts teacher encourages us to use bigger words." I laughed because the person I did last summer's writing camp with always told the kids to use 50 cent words. A little later he took out a sketch pad and began drawing. I was amazed at the 3D images he created. Again he said, "My Art teacher tells us to never give up on a drawing." I responded, "It sounds as if you have some really good teachers this year!" Knowing that a teacher can only teach a child/person what he/she is ready to learn caused me to be very proud of my unexpected guest. It looks to me that he is growing up!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The real reason.

This morning I have been thinking about the real reason that I now have a part time job supervising kids. Lately I have been observing what is going on and I have found that I can relate to several of the souls (big and small) who have been placed in my life from 2:30-5:00 P.M. Monday-Friday. There is a young female staff member who has worked at the facility on and off since she was about 14. She is very efficient, has her own way of doing things and loves the power her job gives her. She is also a bit of a loner. I can relate. There is one little girl who is always the first to arrive. She is the cutest, sweetest child any parent would want to have. There are also a couple of girls of varying ages who are definitely seeking attention. One of them recently told me kids don't like her because they think she is a "geek". I know from my own experience at about the same age exactly how she feels and I have been trying to quietly meet her needs. Sometimes she just wants to know that other people see her. I just had a conversation yesterday with a male volunteer about his presence in the mix. I didn't think he realized that many of these kids do not have a male influence in their homes; as a matter of fact many do not even know who their father is. Just by being in the room he makes a difference in their lives and playing with them is even better. Of course, my biggest reward for the job I am doing is daily contact with my own grandson. I get to observe the way he interacts with his peers and the adults in charge. I consider it a gift that now even his parents, who work full time, have not been given. It looks to me that the real reason I am where I am is as an observer of relationships- big and small.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

It's over!

What a busy last few days I have had. I am happy it is over and I am very happy for the increase in my income due to my paid activities since October 31st. Bright and early Thursday morning I helped set up for the Halloween Carnival to be held at our family center later that evening. I had never been on that end of the event before and discovered it is a lot of work with many details, beginning with securing the tarp to the gym floor. The job also creates very sore muscles from bending and lifting equipment. I kept reminding myself that I was getting paid for the job. Working at the carnival was much more fun. This year I graduated from my 3 year experience of manning the duck pond (plastic ducks) to racing hot wheel cars. Because the race needed at least two participants I was able to convince several parents to play with their kids. Yay! I was told we entertained about 1,200 little people. The most popular costume this year seemed to be a bee. I had learned my lesson and since I wasn't asked, I did not volunteer to take everything down Friday morning. I did work my regular job of supervising the kids when school was out. We had expected them to be hyper due to their sugar rush, but the turnout was lower than usual. At 5:00 P.M. my day had only just begun. There was a dance planned for high school kids from 9:00-12:00 P.M. and yes I was scheduled to work. I didn't have much to do as again the turnout was low. Experiencing their music was LOUD and I was grateful when it was finally turned off. What happened to songs with words one could actually decipher? Oh well I survived and made sure I set my alarm for this morning. My grandson had his last soccer game of the season at 9:00 A.M. His team won 4-2 and Colin made one of the goals. Yay again! Although it was a little cold there was no wind so it wasn't too bad as fall games go. The rest of this weekend I plan to do as little as possible and just be grateful it is over!