A Reflection of Another Year Passed

Hey y’all! I decided I wanted to write a reflection of another year we’ve lived as we look to the future for a new year to come. Looking back, I’ve come to realize that every new year comes with its own ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, highs and lows. This year, 2021, has been no exception.

The biggest struggle of this year was social distancing. While it really didn’t faze my husband, daughter, or myself, other members of my family did somewhat struggle with it. Many of the decisions I had to make this year weren’t met with open minds, but nonetheless, I made my decisions and accepted that others would not agree. Life moves on.

My husband and I lost friends this year. A dear friend of ours crossed over into another world very unexpectedly and not a single day goes by when he doesn’t cross our minds lovingly. We miss him, but we must also remember that he is no longer suffering from the sickness that took over his body. I want to include that his health had nothing to do with Covid, but instead other underlying issues which persisted to worsen. His husband, of course, suffered the most from the loss. Unfortunately, as the year drew on, we also lost him as our friend. I can’t say what happened exactly to cause the change in our friendship because I don’t know. We were there for him as much as we could be. The only thing I can estimate is a misunderstanding that I couldn’t change because of other things I was dealing with.

The good things that occurred this year include becoming a published author in February with my book “Y’all Didn’t Hear it From Me: A Journal of Life Stories” which is available in both paperback and eBook through Amazon.com, buying a motorhome and exploring Florida as it was the only state on the East coast I had yet to venture, planning and accomplishing a birth week scavenger hunt for my husband’s 51st birthday (which he absolutely enjoyed), receiving Bindi Irwin’s book signed by Bindi herself for my own birthday as well as a signed postcard personalized with a birthday greeting from Robert Irwin, and completing two different photoshoots with my new Nikon camera. Now, these are just to name a few because honestly, I can’t recall every little thing.

My published book available in paperback and as eBook through amazon.com.

Since we’ve been on the road exploring Florida, I wanted to also share some of the unique sites we’ve seen.

Mickey Mouse ears in Orlando, Florida. We were hoping to see Disney’s castle, but that was a no go, and we weren’t leaving the interstate to find it only to take a chance of getting caught in traffic. Maybe next time around.
A ‘Jurassic Park’ jeep in Tampa, Florida. Sorry the iconic symbol on the side is blurry. I almost had the perfect photo, but an Amazon Prime delivery vehicle photo bombed my attempt.
I thought this was a very unique paint scheme saluting our troops. The wreath hanging on the front is very festive.
A new military utility vehicle on its way to California. The truck driver was also kind enough to allow me to climb up onto the back of his truck to get a glimpse of the inside of this military vehicle. I’ll tell you the inside looks like a very tight space with a couple screens and many, many gadgets and gizmos along its dashboard.
Another unique design on the side of a tractor-trailer parked at a truck stop just outside of Orlando, Florida. Better be minding Uncle Sam y’all.

I would say we’re finishing off the year on a positive note as we make our way back into Georgia to set in what we’re calling ‘dry dock’ so we can work on a few things, improve, and set up for our next adventure. We have many plans for 2022 including our own YouTube channel, but more details to come later, after the new year starts. Until then, we wish y’all a safe and Happy New Year 2022!

Fort Myers, Florida

Hey y’all!  Since we’ve spent the last two months traveling down into Florida and now back up through Florida, I wanted to take the time to tell you about our adventures in Fort Myers.  It’s a very popular town, to say the least.  We only spent about a week there, but it wasn’t without adventure. 

We traveled into Fort Myers during the first week of December and found a place to park in the back of a Pilot truck stop.  The day we pulled in, we decided to check into any RV parks that might have been in the area, and luckily, we found a very nice one barely a mile from the truck stop called Lazy J’s Mobile Home Park.  Normally I refrain from using names when writing, but in this case, the names are necessary.  Lazy J’s Mobile Home Park is run by a guy named Troy and his wife Sharon; two very hospitable people who additionally helped us out, not only did they give us a small discount for staying there, but he pointedly parked us a little closer to his place just so we could get the best Wi-Fi signal possible so we could watch the College Football SEC game between our Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama’s Crimson Tide.  Unfortunately, our Bulldogs lost, but life goes on. 

The day of the game, we pulled into the park just before noon, set up, plugged in, and preparing for game day, we drank a couple Budweiser’s.  Afterwards, hubby and I decided to take a small walk to Family Dollar, which wasn’t far; just one street over.  People were having outdoor barbeques and enjoying the hot, sunny weather.  However, the following morning, the road we had walked to get to Family Dollar was marked off with yellow crime scene tape and a sheriff’s car was blocking the way.  An interesting wake up call to say the least.  The road was blocked off for most of the day.  Why?  In the middle of the night, around 2:30am, there was a shooting… on that road.  To be more specific, the shooting took place at the house where just the day before we saw they were having a family cookout.  We didn’t stop or anything, just commented between ourselves how they were having a cookout.  Everything about the atmosphere on that street seemed so peaceful.  Well, something went wrong in the middle of the night.  Hubby was awoken by the flashing lights of cop cars; our daughter was awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of shots being fired.  I slept through the entirety of it.  In talking with the owner of the park, Troy, we learned that it’s a very rare occurrence in that area.  The last time, he said, was about four years ago. 

We pulled into the park on Saturday, for the SEC game, and were scheduled to stay until Monday, however, I was enjoying the serene scenery and the residents, we paid and stayed an extra day to further enjoy the area.  We would take a walk around the park in the mornings after having coffee, throughout the afternoon, and again at night after the sun went down and the temperatures cooled.  Everyone was decorating their homes with Christmas lights and inflatable Christmas figures.  Our first night there, as we were heading to bed, I noticed some major Christmas lighting through our back bedroom window.  Looking out was a magnificent sight.  There was a house literally on the edge of the water, and their holiday decorations were over the top according to my standards.  What made the scene so magnificent was how it reflected over the water. 

A spectacular sight.

The owner’s place was nicely done as well, but his had a musical accompaniment.  It was hard getting the right shot where everything was lit at once.  As we went to pay for an extra day at the office, we compliment Sharon on their Christmas lights display and found out he isn’t even finished with them!

Amazingly, he wasn’t finished with the lighting.

We met some very nice people during our stay there.  Everyone was so friendly, wishing us a good morning during our morning walks, and sharing their life stories with us if they caught us walking at night.  One guy, an older gentleman, who is now retired from the sheriff’s department following an incident in which he got hurt on the job, shared with us that him and his wife plan to travel after he has some surgery that’s required being how he got hurt.  He didn’t go into details, but he found us so interesting given how we’re traveling. 

During our time in Fort Myers, we also explored some Mexican cuisine.  First, we ordered from a small, local taco truck, called Super Taco.  We ordered some simple tacos and a super burrito.  Both were so tasty we went back the next afternoon in hopes of eating there again, but they weren’t open.  Since they’re food wasn’t available, we walked a little further up the street to what we thought was a Mexican restaurant, but it wasn’t a restaurant, it was a Mexican food market.  Inside this food market, in the back was a takeout counter like you find in the Walmart Deli section, but this was straight Mexican cuisine.  The food was absolutely fantastic!!!  My husband knows more Spanish language than I do, so he ordered for us and our daughter who stayed back at the motorhome with our cats and watched a movie.  I hate to say it, but I felt so out of place, I stuck to my husband like I was glued to him.  Additionally, I wasn’t big fan of Mexican food, but after eating from that food market, I have a changed palette!  For what we ordered, we received about the same amount as when you order from a Chinese restaurant… more than one can eat in a single sitting.  We ate that for lunch, dinner, snack, and the next day my husband finished it.  I would love to go back for more, but we don’t have the time to travel back down to Fort Myers.  My favorite part was their tortillas.  They’re nothing like the packs of flour tortillas you buy in your local grocery store, or even the flour tortillas that come with your meal at a Mexican restaurant.  These are homemade, pressed singly, and taste way better.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat at a Mexican restaurant ever again, because the Mexican food market figuratively blew my mind, and changed it.  I love authentic Mexican food!!!  Actually, while we were walking one night after the sun went down in the park, we were walking by a house that you could literally smell their homemade tortillas.  It smelled so good, I considered knocking on the door to ask for dinner.  LOL.  Just kidding.  I would never do that, but the next day, during our morning walk, the small Hispanic lady who lives there was smiling and very friendly, wishing us a good morning and asking us how we were doing.  We smiled back, and told her we were doing good, and joked with her that we almost stopped for dinner the night before.  She must have thought it was cute because she smiled even more with us.  Needless to say, I can’t wait to try out other authentic ethnic cuisines!

Yummy food but was only open the one day.

Visiting and staying in Fort Myers was an experience I would gladly do again.  The food was divine, the Christmas decorations were festive, and the locals were welcoming. 

Another place that was festive.
A few more Christmas lights.

Covid-19: Too Close To Home

Hey y’all. I said I would post again soon, but I did not anticipate posting quite this soon and so specifically on this topic. I’ve often written, sharing how we’re all faring while in quarantine. We’re doing this, we’re doing that, I’m rearranging, reorganizing; you’ve read it yourself. We’re doing everything we can to avoid contact. So far, so good.

While relaxing and watching television last night, I received a text from my bonus mom. She’s my ‘bonus mom’ because she was first, my friend, and with many passing years, she has become a strong mother figure in my life; kind of a role model to me. She’s always there when I need mothering advice. A simple text message away.

She was asking how we’re all doing. We haven’t seen her since Christmas Day when she did a drive by to pick up her Christmas Dinner from us. She stayed in her car while we; my husband, daughter, and myself, wore masks and put her dinner in the passenger’s seat and floorboard of her car. The process took all of 5-minutes at most. That’s the good news, that we’re doing fine. In her text message following, she was grateful to hear this. Then she told me, ‘I have Covid’. What? Ouch. Mom… No…

She thought she had a sinus infection, so she went to her doctor. While seeing her doctor, they tested her and she tested positive for the Covid virus. She has been so safe, but learning this makes every effort I have taken to keep my household safe, even if it meant angering select family members, worth the fight and sacrifice.

The holidays were not easy at the end of last year. Normally, we would have had my dad over for Thanksgiving dinner because my mom would have went to Florida to spend Thanksgiving with my brother. Instead, we did Thanksgiving food delivery. My husband and I spent the morning and afternoon cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner, then we put together plates for everyone; my dad, my mom, and our friends and neighbors in our neighborhood. When we delivered each plate, we wore masks and glasses, and immediately sanitized after. We did the same system for Christmas dinner. We really didn’t want to do things the way we did, but we had to bend with the pandemic and simply figure out a different way to share. At a distance. I know we aren’t the only people who came to this same conclusion. For example, Dr. Emily Thomas from Dr. Pol, as in ‘The Incredible Dr. Pol’. I follow Emily both on Twitter and through her and her husband’s blog. They concluded as well, it was and still is just too risky to spend the holidays with extended family members. Their kids were upset, select family members were upset, but they made their choice and stayed home where they are safe.

I’ll just be glad when it’s all over y’all. When vaccines have been administered to everyone, and we can all shake this Covid era, I will sleep so much better at night. Learning this from my mom last night, it kind of shook me, per say, on the inside. The good news is she is on the mend comfortably at home. If y’all would, add her to your praying thoughts for a good recovery. I’m praying for y’all as well.

In conclusion, as always, thanks y’all for reading. I’ll write again soon!

Happy New Year 2021, Now Get Back to Work

Happy New Year y’all! I hope everyone was safe, healthy, at home, and celebrating their own personal triumphs and accomplishments from the past year. We did.

On New Year’s Eve, we spent the day listening to music, my daughter and I danced and sang, my husband and I drank, and then we went to bed. We were going to stay up and watch the ball drop on Times Square via youtube, but after some thought, because we were all growing tired, because a private house party will do that to us, we decided to watch the 6 hour video on New Year’s Day instead.

New Year’s Day was about as eventful. As previously mentioned, we began the day watching the festivities in Times Square. I really enjoyed their theme for the year, celebrating our heroes– police officers, nurses, teachers, postal workers, and others who worked to help others during the most difficult of times last year. I’m an online English teacher and my daughter schooling is also online, but we were both set up this way long before this Covid era. I enjoyed listening to each interview. Every person there was nominated by someone, interviewed and tested, and then able to share their experiences of last year. It was incredible.

However, with 1-minute left on the Times Square clock, my phone rings, it’s my next door neighbor calling. Not being rude, I rejected the call to watch the New Year’s ball drop. My phone rings, it’s my neighbor again. This time I answer it, but tell them to ‘hold on’ because we were in the last 25-seconds of countdown, and I hold my phone at my side. We watched the New Year’s ball drop ‘Happy New Year 2021’, I put my phone back to my ear and ask what’s up. I did not expect what I got in response…

To make this possibly otherwise long story short, we were under a tornado warning and the siren was about to go off. In 5-minutes my husband and I put three cats into their own carriers, I told my daughter to grab her wallet, I threw my glasses and phone into my purse and threw it onto my shoulder, my husband did the preparatory walk through shutting this and that off around the house, and we rushed to our neighbor’s place. The siren sounding the entire time. We were lucky, three different tornadoes touched down, but none of them were in our county.

Now, over a week into the new year, I guess it’s time to get back to work. I love my work, but I also like the long breaks.

This week I have to really focus on my book because it’s all about cover design. I have 2 different photos to plan; ‘meet the author’ and my cover. I will be on both the cover and the back of the book. I am very nervous about this because I don’t normally have my photos taken. I’m the one behind the camera capturing the moments. Not this time. I was hoping for a haircut or trim, but I think I need to be more concerned about the weather. It would be hard to capture the meaning of my book through the cover art, if the picture is ‘rained out’. In the meantime, I’ll be working on my backgrounds through the week.

Well y’all, I’ll conclude this post, thanking y’all once again for reading and following me. Wish me luck as I proceed to wrap up my book publication. I’ll write again soon!

Surprise! Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Greetings y’all! Since my last post, many things have happened. We found a kitten, I moved into the ‘cover design’ phase of publishing, and Thanksgiving came. It has been an interesting few weeks to say the least.

On Saturday, November 7th, my dad gave me a ride to Macon, to Kitty City Cat Rescue, so I could pick up ‘Maleficent’ and bring her home. The whole idea was to surprise my daughter with her very own kitten. She has had the name picked out for years, though not as long as my husband and I had the name ‘Merlyn’ picked out before we were finally able to establish a home where we could have her.

‘Maleficent’ is proving to be very energetic, with a feisty attitude, but she loves to play. She reminds us of ‘Merlyn’ when ‘Merlyn’ when her age.

The day I brought her home, we absolutely surprised our daughter. ‘Maleficent’ had spent the entire 45-minute car ride, from Macon to Thomaston, meowing, which is normal. Unfortunately, the long car ride mixed with my dad’s driving technique, gave ‘Maleficent’ a queasy stomach. Luckily, I decided to include the blanket you see in the photo, in her carrier, and she only got sick on it. Twice. The good news is she hasn’t gotten sick since.

Having ‘Maleficent’ around has been different. ‘Merlyn’ and ‘Carlee’ are 8 and 6-years old respectively, so it’s been quite some time since we had a kitten around. ‘Maleficent’ is feeling right at home though because she runs the halls with ‘Carlee’ at night and into the early morning, and she gets her roughhousing with ‘Merlyn’ during the day, when she isn’t sleeping. Her favorite early morning activity is to play in my bed, attacking different areas of my bedding, about half an hour before my alarm goes off for work. I admit, it was kind of annoying at first, but what do you do when it’s a kitten.

I mentioned earlier, my book has moved forward, and now I am in ‘cover design’ mode. As soon as my friend whose a retired hairdresser can trim my hair a little, I get to experience my own little homemade personal photoshoot. I’ve never had a personal photoshoot, unless you count glamour shots that sadly fell through due to cost. That’s a story for another time.

Now, Thanksgiving. That was a busy day. I took the day off, meaning I didn’t open any time slots for my student’s parents to book. Instead, I woke up at 4am to begin prepping and baking. A week before this, my husband and I created the menu we had been planning to cook for our family and friends.

As you can see, we offered several choices for Thanksgiving dinner.

Preparing everything was tiring, but fun and worth it. By the time my husband got up at 6am, both pumpkin pies were in the oven, and I was filling the deviled eggs. Afterward, I started in on mixing my no-bake cheesecakes together, then I took a break. All the prepping we did, it reminded me of my mornings when I worked as a prep cook for Applebee’s in Monroe, Georgia. My husband and I learned early on that we work better in the kitchen together than anyone else we know. There are some people who don’t understand how we work so well together.

Now, to say our Thanksgiving day went absolutely perfectly smooth, that would be a lie. We did reach a hiccup in the system plan. First, it rained all morning, off and on, from heavy downpour to light drizzles, back and forth. We might have gotten past the rain, but the hiccup that followed left us without further options. We hooked everything up correctly, the propane tank to the turkey deep fryer we purchased, but there was a hit/miss somewhere because we weren’t able to officially deep fry the turkey. It wasn’t raining when my husband hooked everything together. It wasn’t raining when we set it all up in the spot we designated specifically for it. It began raining as we were trying to ignite the purpose, and because it did, we had to shut it down. So, instead of deep fried turkey, we properly executed a last moment oven roasted turkey. It was delicious!

The hardest part was sending text messages to our family and friends; “Due to inclement weather, deep fried turkey is now oven roasted. We’re sorry for the switch.” I felt like Gordon Ramsey on “Uncharted” when he’s unable to deliver his original dish idea to his guests of their culture. I am so thankful everyone was understanding. Well, almost everyone.

I experienced an additional hiccup, but it was neither food nor Thanksgiving related. At least I don’t think it was, but I don’t honestly know. My husband and I decided to do Thanksgiving this way because, as I mentioned and we all already know, we all have to take caution against Covid-19. I spent Thanksgiving, planning, prepping, preparing, and cooking with so much care, love, devotion, and thanks. Every plate we made, everybody we fed, we did it because we are thankful to have each and everyone we included in our Thanksgiving feast, in our life.

Our delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

Well y’all, I think that’s all for now. Christmas is right around the corner and with Christmas comes our Christmas menu. Yes, my husband and I are planning the same kind of theme for Christmas, but yes, a different menu. No turkey. We’re thinking about a spiral ham, prime rib, and colorful side dishes. Equally delicious.

Additionally, it’s not just Christmas we’re planning for, my husband and I were blessed to have a child born exactly 2 days after Christmas. This year, she turns 16, but because she’s a Descendant’s fan, it’s not ‘sweet sixteen’, she prefers her 16th birthday VK (villain kid) style; ‘sinister sixteenth’.

Thanks for reading y’all! I’ll post again soon!

What a Monday

Hey y’all.  How was your weekend?

My weekend flew by while I was dealing with an ache in my body only women endure from puberty to menopause, and then I was dealing with my truck.  I’ve had ‘the beast’ for three years, but it’s time that I get rid of her due to cost of maintenance.  She’s an old girl, a 1996, but she’s worth her weight.  She’s perfect for farming.

Monday.

This week my daughter faces taking her final exams to mark the end of the first semester.  I’ve had her studying, reading and rereading, over and over, the study guide answer sheet her teachers supplied each student with to prepare for the tests.  Today she took her math test.  I can’t say that she did excellent, but she did take her time and tried to work out each problem.  Tomorrow, we test for English/Language Arts, Wednesday we test in Science, and Thursday we test in Social Studies.  Wednesday, after school, I have an online teleconference, to go over gathered informational research from throughout the first semester to decide the plan for next semester with a couple of higher-up members of the academic staff.  I don’t know how it’ll go as they’ve not gone well before, but things have changed.

I’m not rooting for recognition or fame, but I do want to share that it’s been a daily struggle to get my daughter this far.  I’ve mentioned before that my daughter was ‘next-to-failing’ in brick and mortar schooling; because I’ve been able to personally work with her, one-on-one, giving her my full-blown attention, she has gained so much more understanding and confidence in herself and her ability to grasp class instruction, but it’s not been easy.  Most mother/daughter relationships go one of two ways.  I’ve had to be what most parents have considered to be really strict, or too strict, but she’s a better person for it.  She’s a better person than some of the kids I’ve known.  I hate to say that, but I’ve known some kids… a story for another time.

So, I’m finishing up first semester with my daughter this week in addition to selling my truck.  I’m also baking cupcakes for my daughter’s gymnastics class, for her birthday since classes are out the week of Christmas, so we’re sharing this week.  After that, I’m cleaning for Christmas, wrapping a few gifts, baking an apple pie, and enjoying a nice long vacation from middle school academics and extracurricular activities.

I’m going to put more focus instead on writing, and submitting more work to here and there.  This place and that.  Chicken Soup for the Soul is my first and foremost target.  I’ve been studying, and by studying I mean I’ve been reading from my personal Chicken Soup for the Soul collection like I’m taking a class in college–Chicken Soup for the Soul 501–it’s a Master’s class.  Just kidding, but I am serious about how much I’m reading.  I started with Chicken Soup for the Girls Soul, then I read Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom and I just finished reading that yesterday afternoon.  Yesterday evening I started Chicken Soup for the Soul: Random Acts of Kindness.  Just wait until the new year!

In closing, thank y’all so much for reading and following my blog.  I love knowing I’m talking to someone.  Wink, wink!

To everyone reading, have a very Merry Christmas, a very Happy Hanukkah, or if you don’t celebrate either of those, comment yours so I can wish you one in return.

Happy Holidays!! 🙂

The Saturday After

Good morning y’all!

I took Thanksgiving off.  I didn’t work (except for in the kitchen), I didn’t write, I didn’t read, I wasn’t on social media, and it was the perfect day.

Mom and dad invited some friends over to have Thanksgiving with us, our daughter made a new friendly acquaintance, I socialized while keeping up with the kitchen, and we all enjoyed ourselves (with the exception of the fracture currently in dad’s back between his shoulder blades).

My husband cooks the turkey every year while I’m in charge of cooking and baking the rest of it–the fried collard greens with little smokies, green bean casserole, savory herb stuffing, ranch-infused mashed potatoes, gravy I made from the turkey drippings, King’s Hawaiian rolls, canned yams, jellied cranberry sauce, homemade deep-dish pumpkin pie, and homemade sugar-free peach cobbler.

Normally, Thanksgiving leftovers take days to finish up, and there’s still a good chance you’ll throw something out.  Somehow I pulled off the opposite and made the perfect amount for everyone.  I made Thanksgiving lunch/dinner, eating around 2pm, then ate leftovers for dinner/snack that evening.  Yesterday we ate leftovers for lunch, and then again for dinner.  Now, the pumpkin pie is gone, the peach cobbler is gone, and I’ve gotta make more cobbler.  It was delicious!

Yesterday, my husband helped me bring up our Christmas decorations from the basement.  We decorated our office, doing a ‘Christmas Around the World’ theme this year.  My husband set his village up along a high shelf, I set my late-grandmother’s Native American Nativity scene up on a shelf below that, and on another side shelf, I placed my Nativity scene of Bethlehem, Egypt.  Christmas around the world.

I placed Santa under our tree, to portray him waiting patiently for Christmas, to make his yearly trip ‘around the world’, delivering the childish spirit of the holiday.

I spent the rest of the day decorating the rest of the house, putting the other tree up in the living room for my parents.  I hung the stockings for show, some garland for sparkle effect, and put the place mats out just because.

Now it’s Saturday.  This afternoon our Georgia ‘Bulldawgs’ play the Techies (Georgia Tech).  Our dawgs are aiming for another awesome year being 10-1!

I’m still waiting to hear back about the writing sample I submitted for review.  I think I did well on the assignment, but I’m not reviewing myself.  As long as they can see that I know what I’m doing, that I can tutor their way with their paperwork, and I will only improve with time and practice, then I have my case made.  I wasn’t thrilled with the sample assignment, but I’m glad for having done it because now I have the idea, and I think that’s the point.

At first I looked at the assignment like it was in a foreign language.  I think I read everything 10 times over before finally wrapping my mind around the system; I was trying too hard.  Once I relaxed and let myself fall into the assignment, comments, remarks, and direction came easier.  When I felt like I’d completed it properly and to the best of my current ability (as my APA/MLA formatting is a little out of practice) I sent it off for review.

Now I’ve taken a step further than I normally get.  All I can do now is wait patiently, cross my fingers, and hope for the best.

Thanks for reading with me and I’ll write again Monday!