Friday, October 31, 2008

simplify the holidays...organizing pro style

If you're anything like me, the thought of managing all the details of the upcoming holidays inspires a little trepidation and anxiety. We have to think about shopping, and wrapping...oh, wait. We have to wait to get lists from the kids because we prefer to try to buy them things that they want. That could take a while.

And what if we can't find it? We'll be some of those last minute frantic shoppers buying gift cards for the store that is out of what the kids want, just because it got so late in the season.

And we always do something with the family over Thanksgiving, and someone has to coordinate the meal. What is everyone going to bring? How are we going to simplify it this year so it's not so overwhelming? AND WHAT ABOUT THE SHOPPING? That hangs over my head for all of November and December.

We don't buy a lot for each person, but our family has gone from a family of thirteen to a family of thirty, including all the "other halves" and the grandbabies. That's still a lot, no matter which way you cut it.

I got an email asking me if I wanted to host Marcia Ramsland and preview her audio CD, Simplify the Holidays. Well, of course I did. It's right up my alley. She has so many helpful suggestions packed into this CD that I almost wanted to take notes. (There's my frustrated organizational side kicking in, trying to whup the random side of me into shape.) Marcia was kind enough to answer some questions for me and explain how this all came about. Read on...

Simplify Your Holidays Blog Tour

By Marcia Ramsland
Organizing Pro, National Speaker, Media Guest, and Author

Simplify Your Holidays:
A Classic Christmas Planner to Use Year after Year

(Thomas Nelson 2008)

Are you looking for a way to simplify the most stressful time of the year? Feeling like it’s impossible to keep up with all the demands of the coming holiday season? Marcia Ramsland, The Organizing Pro and author of Simplify Your Holidays, has found a way to change seasonal stress into intentional success! She believes everyone can find that calm and peace they are looking for.

1. Every year the holidays come around and we face them with mixed emotions. You have a great book title of Simplify Your Holidays, but how do you simplify the holidays?

I love the dictionary definition of “simplify” – “To make something less complicated and therefore easier to do.” I can’t think of a more complicated time in the year than the holidays. Why? Because we are already busy 24/7 and then we add another layer of complexity to our lives – the holiday season.

In my view as a Professional Organizer, simplifying your holidays is all about having a meaningful Christmas without feeling overcommitted or under prepared. And my motto is: If you do anything more than once in life, organize it and simplify it. That’s especially true for the holidays that come year after year like clockwork.

I can’t think of a more complicated time or emotionally challenged season, but I also know you don’t have to stress to get through it.

2. Were you always ready and organized for the holidays?

No way! Before I became “The Organizing Pro” I struggled with holiday pressures big time. I was stuck in the mall shopping for gifts at the last minute, standing in the rain looking for a “real” Christmas tree late in December, and staying up Christmas Eve wrapping presents. That was a stressful life I decided to change, and did years ago.

One day I sat down at the kitchen table determined to get control of the season. Looking at my calendar, it suddenly dawned on me -- there was an easy way to manage it all! It all hinged on one date and no, it wasn’t Thanksgiving.

Many people, myself included, have used Thanksgiving to trigger serious action steps for Christmas. It just didn’t seem right to commercialize Christmas by purchasing gifts before Thanksgiving. But that’s the problem. Waiting until after Thanksgiving does commercialize the holidays and puts us smack dab in the middle of a mall with throngs of shoppers.

3. So how did you change from frazzled to peaceful… and you now have a beautiful new three ring notebook, Simplify Your Holidays? And Sam’s Club just bought 15,000 of them! Good for you.

My first personal turning point came when I discovered one particular holiday occurs exactly eight weeks before Christmas -- and it’s NOT Thanksgiving. It is Halloween. That event is important to note because the next day you can kick off your holiday plan on November 1 every year.

Noting that November 1 is your springboard to begin the holiday season means you have eight weeks until December 25. Now you have a structure to easily organize and prepare -- with a good plan. You’re back in control whatever day it is.

Once I figured that out, I found you can organize your holidays no matter how many weeks you have left before Christmas. In my book I have an 8-week, 4-week, 2-week calendar plans you can choose to guide you whatever day you start. The Plans are like a “holiday compass” that people use year after year to stay focused and take the stress out of the holidays.

4. What else can you tell us to ease the calendar stress for the holidays?

My second discovery came when I noticed that almost all holiday events landed the three weeks of December right before Christmas. Children’s school parties, the neighborhood cookie exchange, church events, civic symphony concerts, friends’ Open Houses, and an office potluck luncheon the last day before vacation. ALL fell into the last three weeks before Christmas.

No wonder we are stressed trying to buy gifts and partake in the busiest social season of the year. All these things are good, but it’s plain stressful to be listening to the Hallelujah chorus thinking about how many things you have to pick up on the way home and still get on-line to purchase gifts with “expedite shipping” costs involved.

5. Ok, but the thing I dread is going to the attic and basement dealing with all those holiday decorations that take up so much room. What can I do?

I agree. My third discovery came when I tried to simplify my holiday decorations after the holidays. It just seemed too much to put it all up so I thought I’d simplify it.

But alas, I found even charities would not accept holiday decorations after December 25. They had nowhere to store them until next year. That was the next discovery – if I store holiday decorations for 11 months of the year, then why do we hesitate about getting them up?

A recent poll showed most people take down their holiday decorations the weekend after New Year’s Day. If that’s the case, what date do we need to put them up to enjoy them for 4-6 weeks? Especially when they are taking up valuable space for 11 months of the year.

The answer? Pick a date (or weekend) to put up your decorations early every year so they can be enjoyed. Typically it’s either the first weekend in December, or even Thanksgiving weekend to be ready to turn the lights on December 1. I found I’m happier the sooner I start and get full enjoyment of them for the season… and give some away each year.

6. Before you give us “A Dozen Gift Theme Ideas,” tell us what’s in your notebook and why is it considered a classic Christmas planner to pull off your shelf and use year after year?

Once I got organized I thought of every woman struggling to pull together meaningful holidays in an already busy life. So I created a hand made notebook years ago which my publisher picked up and is available right now on my website or wherever books are sold. This is a holiday planner you can pull off your bookshelf any time day or night and start the season.

The six tabs inside the three-ring notebook include: The Plan, Gifts, Cards & Decorations, Events, December 1-25 Inspiration, and Recipes. There are almost 200 pages of charts, table talk topics for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, room for photos, and even journal pages of “The Best Things that Happened This Christmas.”

Within those six tabs I’ve sprinkled “10 Tips from 10 Experts” covering things like 10 Money Saving Tips for Holiday Gifts, 10 Super Simple Holiday D├ęcor Tips, 10 Holiday Tips for the Working Woman, 10 Tips to Serve Fabulous Food and Impress Your Guests, 10 Tips for a Successful Event, and 10 Tips to Celebrate and Not Gain Weight!

7. Give us your plan to “Simplify with a Gift Theme” for this year, especially for the busy woman starting to think about the holidays.

Simplify with a Gift Theme

(Excerpt from Simplify Your Holidays, Marcia Ramsland (Thomas Nelson 2008)

Simplify shopping by visiting only certain types of stores for everyone on your list. Choose a giving “theme” for the year. Get a different gift in that theme for each person so it is personalized. For example, all the women get jewelry, spa baskets, certificates or robes. Men get sporting event tickets, restaurant certificates, or tools. Sweaters, CDs, DVDs or books all make a great theme for the year, too.

A Dozen Gift Theme Ideas

Sweaters for everyone
Favorite Restaurant or movie gift cards
Gloves and mittens
DVD's
CD's or books
Tickets to a play, musical, or retreat
Photo Book or digital camera
A trip or the latest technology
Favorite magazine plus a year’s subscription
Chocolate, nuts, or gourmet food basket
Spa, massage, or bath items
Jewelry, purse, or accessories

Keep track of where you get your gifts each year and head there first. They will have new merchandise that will probably work well for you again.

Remember a gift shows you had the person in your thoughts and a note on your card tells them why you thought they’d like it. Gift giving is a skill to learn. Keep working to hit the mark of delight and surprise with the receiver. With all your lists in one notebook, you’ll be able to do just that as you see what worked well before.

Question 8: Any last words of encouragement for the woman who wants to pull together a meaningful (and peaceful!) holiday season?

This is your year! The Simplify Your Holidays notebook will help you create that organized Thanksgiving and Christmas you’ve dreamed of with all your notes in one place! You’ll love its beautiful red cover, sturdy tabs, and attractive green charts.

To simplify your holidays, manage your time with our holiday plan and keep your notes all in this notebook. You will graduate from seasonal stress to intentional success!

Thanks for having me today. I truly believe you can simplify the coming holiday season and have a more meaningful season than ever!

Marcia Ramsland, The Organizing Pro
Speaker * Author * Media Guest Expert



P.S. Can you simplify your holidays this year? I truly believe so and am eager to know how you do it with my new book, Simplify Your Holidays.


Start today by getting your notebook and downloading your FR*EE Master Gift List at http://www.organizingpro.com/

another great read

If you want a book that reaches out and grabs you right from the beginning, Along Came a Cowboy is for you!

I'm not always a fan of a story told in first person, but Christine Lynxwiler worked it out with this one. Rachel is such a complex character, which makes her as real as my best girlfriend. So real that I'm sure I know her from somewhere. You get to hear her thoughts, and y'know, she almost sounds just like I do inside my head sometimes.

Her story is the classic "I have a bad secret" scenario, and of course, she can't tell anyone. So the secret becomes the elephant in the living room, preventing her from moving forward into a relationship. She either has to walk away, or risk everything by telling the truth about the mistakes she made in the past. Big mistakes.

There are some interesting aspects to the story...Lark's infertility, the waitress Sheila's predicament, the whole story about Jenn's real mom, and of course, the snotty power-hungry Blair, whose yellow journalism gets way out of control. Blair is the one I love to hate in this story.

Rachel is a doctor, and her receptionist, Norma, is the woman I'd most love to sit next to at dinner. She has an opinion about everything, and they all make me laugh. Just listen to this:

My receptionist, Norma, sidles into my office like a spy in an old movie, softly shuts the door and turns to face me, her brown eyes wide. "Whoever warned mamas not to let their babies grow up to be cowboys," she whispers, "never saw the man in our waiting room!"

Is that not a great line?

Christine Lynxwiler hit a home run with this one. She addresses some delicate topics very tastefully in here. I'd give this to my girls to read without a qualm. It's a perfect book to read in a weekend, or to take to work with you and devour on your lunch hour.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

the other day...

The other day I went downtown to run a few errands. I went into the local coffee shop for a snack. I was only there for about 5 minutes, and when I came out, there was this cop writing out a parking ticket.

I said to him, "Come on, man, how about giving a hard-working person a break?" He ignored me and continued writing the ticket.

His insensitivity annoyed me, so I called him a paper pusher. He glared at me and then wrote out another ticket for having worn tires.

So I proceeded to call him a 'doughnut eating do-nothing'! He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first.

Then he wrote a third ticket when I called him a moron in blue.

This went on for about 20 minutes. The more I talked back to him the more tickets he wrote.

Personally, I didn't really care. I came downtown on the bus, and the truck that he was putting the tickets on had one of those bumper stickers that said, 'Missing your cat? Try looking under my tires.'

I try to have a little fun each day. The doctor tells me that it's important to my health.

the new job

How many civil servants does it take to change a light bulb?

Twelve. One to change the bulb, and eleven to do the paperwork.


It's almost Friday!!! Hurray!

The new job is...doable. Is it as much fun as my last job? No way. Is it a change? Absolutely.

I like my supervisor. I like my coworkers. The red tape and the paperwork are insane. It's not enough to fill out a form and ask for clearance for things (for my supervisor). She had to go back over her tracks and re-ask all the people for the same things again.

I'll reserve judgment. I'm sure there is a purpose for my being there. I'll learn things that will help me in the future. I'll be working the four weeks over the holidays instead of sitting at home, not getting paid. And I'll be working next summer instead of having to be shuffled around between temp jobs or having no work at all.

The down side? Being new. Feeling unprepared. Worrying about upcoming tasks that I don't know how to do. Having to be to work earlier (and I'm not a morning person, if you didn't already know that). Feeling isolated. Doing mindless work (retyping fifty pages of notes because someone misplaced the file).

Well, it could be worse...here's another new job story:

A passenger in a taxi leaned over to ask the driver a question and tapped him on the shoulder.

The
driver screamed, lost control of the cab, nearly hit a bus, drove up over the curb, and stopped just inches from a large plate glass window.

For a few moments everything was silent in the cab, and then the still shaking driver said, "I'm sorry but you scared the daylights out of me."

The frightened passenger, apologized to the driver, and said he didn't realize a mere tap on the shoulder could frighten him so much.

The driver replied, "No, no, I'm sorry, it's my entire fault, today is my first day driving a cab.... I've been driving a hearse for the last 25 years."


Have a beautiful Friday!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

another giveaway!

**Angie from Sandals n Daisies is the lucky winner of this giveaway. Thanks for stopping by, everyone!**

Even though I'll be over my head with things to do, I've plugged my nose and I'm jumping into the bloggy giveaway madness with both feet.

I'm going to stick with a tried and true favorite. This giveaway is for a Starbucks gift card--yum, yum!--and four of my hand made greeting cards, my choice of design. I can almost taste my latte now (the latte that I always buy when I go pick up the giveaway gift card) and my mouth is watering.

I don't splurge on these very often because we're budgeting and I have limited my spending money. No charging! So I have a secret agenda here...this will be such a treat for me. *creepy cackle* Do you know they have a new one...something about salted caramels? That sounds absolutely delectable.

I know you're busy and you're trying to get through as many giveaways as you can, BUT if you can tell me which of my cats you think is the cutest--tell me why, of course--well, I'll give you four extra entries in the giveaway. If you don't want to track down the cat pictures, I'll still give you one entry. Have fun! :)

For more of the bloggy giveaway carnival, click on over to the site with with the Mr. Linky list of all the free giveaways.


Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

it's time for the bloggy giveaway carnival

**Tiffany from Lattes and Life, Alyce from Flute Mom, and jnmcdonald from New SAHM alone in a new city are my winners! Congratulations to you, and my thanks to everyone for stopping by to smell the daisies.**

I would love to offer you a Chex Mix Bars Basket of Indulgence with a box of tasty Turtle Chex Mix Bars, chocolate candles, caramel lotion and spa essentials like a loofah, hand massager, nail brush and spa towel.

I have three of these Spa Indulgence Baskets to give away.



Leave a comment and a way to reach you if you aren't leaving a link to your blog.

Visit the Bloggy Giveaway carnival for more fabulous prizes.

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

Saturday, October 25, 2008

bittersweet endings and new beginnings

I left work for the last time Friday. It didn't really feel different than any other day, except that I kept reminding myself that I was not coming back, at least as an employee.

I only cried once during the day when someone said something sweet and nice to me, but then at the end of the day when my friends walked me out to the car, they started crying. And I started again. We were laughing and crying at the same time. I'll miss them so much.

My honey and I went out for dinner, and afterward, we took a little drive past my new job. I think it's about the same distance, and it'll probably take about the same amount of time. At least I know where I'm going now.

New beginnings. Time to start fresh. It doesn't seem real. I don't have the same emotions as I did the last couple of times I started a new job. I was confident, excited to be done with the one and to start the other.

Today I have a rather flat, flavorless emptiness inside, like a pop that has been allowed to go stale. I don't know what to expect, and I'm a little apprehensive. I miss my cozy nest of a job, but I know it's time to go. I couldn't stay. All the reasons why I was looking in the first place have not changed.

My mind keeps ticking. What's it going to be like? Will they like me? Will I be competent? Is this right for me? What if it's not? Then what? Did I make the right move?

I have all these questions rolling around in my mind, and I can only think of one answer:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

deer season

"Shh. They'll never see us here!"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

more on the story

Thanks, dear readers, for all your thoughts. I always hesitate a little to post about politics because it can become such a heated topic, but when I see and hear things that get my dander up, I have to speak up.

Taking a look at the facts is not the problem, in my eyes. Racism is the real ugliness.

And taking a tip from Ephesians 4:25, the Matthew25 Network has created a site called Put Away Falsehood, which addresses and clarifies many of the things that have been said about Barack Obama.

It's definitely worth a look if you are a Christian and are choosing not to vote for Obama based on your religious beliefs, or even on issues such as taxes or other concerns that keep coming up in the dialogue about the election. I could tell you what I learned, but I'd rather let you decide for yourself.

And to answer some of you who commented, I totally get it that race may not be a factor for everyone, but it is definitely a part of this election, particularly for people like this man, Wade Williams, 75, who was arrested October 8 on a felony terrorizing charge after allegedly calling the Registrar of Voters and warning that he would come to the state office and empty his shotgun unless he got his registration card. Using profanity and racial slurs, Williams told a state official "about needing to vote to 'keep the n***er out of office," according to an Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office affidavit.

I don't see any other issue but race in this case. But enough said. Do your homework. :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

more food for thought

I totally stole this from an online comment from a news story, but I thought the points were so well made, I wanted to throw it out there. This comment addresses the effect that racism has on this whole election process.

Just think. What if Obama and McCain traded places?

What if things were switched around?

Think about it. Would the country’s collective point of view be different?

What if the Obamas had paraded five children across the stage, following the debate, including a three month-old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter?

What if John McCain was a former president of the Harvard Law Review?

What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his college graduating class?

What if McCain had only married once, and Obama was a divorcee?

What if Obama had met his second wife in a bar and had a long affair while he was still married?

What if Michelle Obama was the wife who not only became addicted to pain killers but also acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?

What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?

What if Obama had been a member of the Keating Five? (The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s.)

What if Obama couldn’t read from a teleprompter?

What if Obama was the one who had military experience that included discipline problems and a record of crashing seven planes?

What if Obama was the one who was known to publicly display a serious anger management problem?

What if Michelle Obama’s family had made their money from beer distribution?

You could easily add to this list. If these questions reflected a reality, if the tables were turned, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are?

This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities and emphasizes negative characteristics in one candidate, and does the opposite in another candidate when there is a color difference. Racism takes the stereotypes that already exist, and builds on them as if they were known facts rather than unmerited assumptions.

And, think of this - the candidates’ educational backgrounds:

Barack Obama:
Columbia University - B. A. Political Science with a Specialization in
International Relations.
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J. D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:
University of Delaware - B. A. in History and B. A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J. D.)

John McCain:
United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin:
Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B. A. in Journalism

Education isn’t everything, but this is about the two highest offices in
the land, as well as our standing in the world.

You make the call.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

so hard to say goodbye

It's only Tuesday, and I'm up to here with saying goodbye. I swear I'm ready to run off to a nice little cabin in the woods and cut my losses until it's time to go.

Think breaking up with your boyfriend. A boyfriend you really like. Then do it over and over for two whole days, and know that you have to do it for the next week or so. It could be a new movie: 50 Last Dates.

Arghh!!

on my mind

I wanted to write about Dancing With the Stars, but I came across this on my lunch hour and it resonated with my thoughts. I wanted to share it and just ask the question, what if. It's a video, but I'm tacking it onto my Tuesday post instead of my wacky web Wednesday post, because it's not wacky. It's timely. I could call it a Timely Tuesday Tidbit. Short, punchy...I'll say no more.

Monday, October 13, 2008

just one more thing...

One more piece of trivia about Governor Palin: it's become clear that the country is pretty evenly divided between people who love her and people who can't stand her. Where do you stand? Go here and vote.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

i hate goodbyes

Friday was a horrible day.

I've been applying for jobs all summer long, and finally got a job offer that I accepted Friday morning. I'm excited about it. It's going to be a challenge, but I'm pretty sure I'm up to it.

The horrible part? Telling my boss.

I don't deal with resignations well, at least my own. And I had to wait till the end of the day to tell her, because neither one of us had free time at the same time.

So every time I was sitting at my desk and I'd think of talking to her, I could feel the adrenaline kick in. My heart would start pounding, and a couple of times I could feel a cold sweat breaking out. I had to focus on slow breathing to slow my heart rate down. It was ridiculous. I was a nervous wreck.

And you know I didn't make it through talking to her without crying. I feel like such a wimp. And then, after all that, she already knew. Cuz they called her for a reference, which I had told them they could do if they were going to offer me the job.

I was trying to get the words out, and she says, calm as can be, "Are you leaving?" She congratulated me, and she was so gracious about it. She understood perfectly. She gave me a great reference, even though she knew it would mean I was leaving. What a great role model she's been for me.

If only I could do it via email...I could cry while I typed, and the other person would never know the difference.

How do you deal with quitting a job? Have you come up with a good way to give your notice?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

an eye-opener for me

Margaret Iuculano's new book, My God Box, is both a dark, distressing story about her childhood, much of it spent in foster care, and a glowing story of hope, the hope that is found in a loving God. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down until I had finished the book.

Reading this was heartbreaking. I have a very soft heart anyway, but the statistics Margaret quotes in her interview below are staggering. Five hundred thousand kids--that's half a million, people--are currently in foster care. I can't fathom it. Do you think our throwaway mentality in our society is an influence here?

How can this be? Who speaks for the children? What kind of a life do the children have if the foster parents are mainly doing it for the money? When I read My God Box, I realized that sometimes no one is there to stand up for the children. They are powerless, vulnerable, and end up bearing the brunt of the consequences for choices they had nothing to do with.

I was fortunate enough to get Margaret's perspective on this, and her thoughts are below. She was kind enough to answer some questions about herself, and about foster care in general. The best part of the book is the part behind the scenes, where I could see God orchestrating her life and carrying her through the tough times in her life. Thank you, Margaret, for being willing to share your story.


A special opening message from Margaret Iuculano:

I want to thank our Blog Host for taking the time to read My God Box a memoir about an abusive childhood but more importantly on how a mustard seed of faith in God turned around the life of a child. I feel blessed that you are willing to share the book on the Blog Tour Name. You are helping to create awareness about a topic that desperately needs to be addressed and has reached epidemic proportions - 500,000 children in the Foster Care System within the US.

Our country is in a crisis with an overloaded Foster Care System and children falling through the cracks daily and being put into homes to provide safety only to be left neglected again. How can we expect these children to become productive adults growing up in this environment? How can we teach these children how to have faith in God and then themselves to correct the wrongs being committed in their lives? How can we help Foster Parents to recognize the difference they can make in a life of a child and the importance of their role? And most importantly, how can we teach to break the Cycle of Abuse so we can shrink the numbers of children going into foster care in the future?

There's a truth I came to realize that changed my life and can change the lives of others. Have Faith in God - put your troubles into his hands and allow him to use you for the purpose you were born for. Once I started to follow this truth in my life I came out of despair to complete happiness and peace. I recognized my ability to help others and the importance of viewing each other as Gods children, people who possess a lot of value and have a mission just like I do for God.

When I began to see that God had a mission for my life, I started to embrace my challenges and learn from them without looking back. I was able to rid myself of the victim mentality and succeed where I was told I never would.

My prayer is that you see the message in My God Box and that it will inspire you to learn to overcome a traumatic experience and more importantly help someone else. I pray that you will agree that all it takes is a mustard seed of faith to realize your God Given potential.

God Bless You,
Margaret Iuculano


Here are some of the questions Margaret answered for me:

How many kids in the U.S. are in foster care?

On any given day the statistics show over 500,000 children in the US in the foster care system. The number has reached an epidemic level which has burdened a system not built or equipped to handle the issues facing these children.

How long do they stay in foster care (on average)?

2.5 years is the average across the US - the federal government has asked the individual states to try and reach a permanency solution for these children within 9 months but unfortunately the system is not equipped to meet this goal.

Do they live with the same foster parents the entire time?

If they are lucky! I personally experienced over 15 different living environments and see the same movement between homes and shelters happening today.

You grew up in foster care - what was your experience like?

My experience was most of the foster parents were not equipped to handle a troubled child who needed help. I was in poverty struck homes as well as abusive homes within the foster care system and these are the homes I advocate against. Children removed from their abusive home environments should not be put into a system that is not providing them a better environment than the home they were removed from.

There are many wonderful foster parents who want to help children. But there are people who take in foster kids for the money - how can that be changed?

Not all but too many foster parents see their role as a job not wanting to get too attached to the child as it is a temporary situation thus making the child feel like a 2nd class citizen. The daily stipend a foster parent receives is not a lot of money but if you take in a few children it can be more than a welfare check.

What compelled you to write My God Box?

I feel I was blessed to have found God amid all the pain and misery I endured during my growing years. However, I also feel it’s time to give thanks and give back. I struggled for over two years with doubts and mixed feelings about setting my life in print, but whenever I took a step back, I was energized and encouraged by the awe-inspiring certainty that God wanted me to tell my story—for self-healing, but more importantly to open the minds and hearts of other suffering individuals to the mercy and goodness of God. God is hope. Without God there is no hope. Without hope there is no life.

What are some of the stark realities surrounding Foster Care Programs?

The truth is that children are not ‘OK’ just because they have been removed from an abusive home and entrusted to a foster family. Although there are kind, nurturing people enrolled as foster parents, on the flip side there are individuals interested only in the monetary aspects of the program; individuals often just as, if not more dysfunctional, emotionally unstable and abusive than the child’s biological parents. This is one of the reasons why I wrote My God Box—to bring awareness to the plight of foster children—and to hopefully fix the shattered parts of a system in desperate need of repair.

Thank you for allowing me to share my book and God’s mission for my life with you. If you would like to learn more about me and my mission please visit - http://www.margaretlano.com/ and http://www.angelsforfosterkids.org/ and know that 100% of the book proceeds goes to Angels for Foster Children. Please feel free to contact me at anytime.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

wacky web wednesday 10-8-08

This really works! I am always going to make them this way now, from here on out to forever, or whenever. I did this last night with a half dozen of them, and it worked every time. It completely blew my honey's mind. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I cheated

I finished watching DWTS online tonight (from the 1:30 in the morning show), and then I cheated. I looked online to see who got eliminated instead of waiting to watch the show tomorrow. We went to get an antenna for the TV since we canceled the cable, but we only got back in time for the debates.

Since Misty blew out her Achilles tendon, she and Maks were dropped, and that Rocco guy just got chewed out. I realized that I had actually confused Brooke and Misty the first time I watched them. Actually, in my mind, they were combined into one person. I've got it straight now, though. Cuz Brooke is still here, and Misty is gone, duh.

Misty is the one who I thought was trying to wrestle the dance into submission that first week. Did you see her biceps? That is one tough chica! I wouldn't mess with her. If I were the dance, I would just surrender. LOL

Brooke is the one the judges were swooning over the first night. They still love her, actually. She was so graceful this week...what a charmer.

Quit laughing, Gail. Hey, it was an honest mistake. They both have longish dark hair, and they're both brunettes, built close to the same...it makes sense. Just wait till you get old. You'll forget things, too. If I still remember then, I'll remind you I told you so.

Monday, October 6, 2008

there's been a big mixup

My show is postponed. Arrggghhh!

Monday nights are for dancing, not football. Don't those big network bigwigs know that? It's Monday night. Mondays are for dancing. Dancing with the Stars, people.

What is this football junk? The Vikings have pre-empted my show. What a bunch of ... oh, words fail me. What a bunch of HOOEY!

Do you know what time they're playing my show???? 1:30 in the MORNING. It plays until 3:30 AM!!! And the results show is tomorrow, just as scheduled.

I'm beside myself. One more reason to rip on football.

I guess I can have an early night of it, then. What if I recorded it and got up early to watch it? That could work.

Not. I am NOT a morning person. I know I will not get up early. No matter how early I go to bed. I get up at five to make sure Dee is up, and I go right back to sleep until I have to get ready.

I guess I'm just going to have to complain.

I know. I'm such a whine baby. It's not like it's life or death. But doggone it. It's the one little bit of entertainment I take time to see. :-{

a piece of financial peace

Are you familiar with Dave Ramsey? He's the Financial Peace guy, with a plan for your budget that will whip your finances into shape, as long as you follow the plan. Sounds like my weight-loss plan. It'll work, as long as I follow it. Following it is the hard part.

Well, a couple of years ago we attended a several week long small group thing, and we worked through this presentation of the Dave Ramsey program. It is amazing when you stop and evaluate how you are spending the money you have coming in.

It actually is quite similar to the non-profit Consumer Credit Counseling Service that I used years ago, except that you are completely responsible for the payments. With the CCCS, they negotiated payments, reduced interest, and you had to send your monthly payment to them. With the DR program, you learn how to do that for yourself.

The goal is to get out of debt, and to be able to use cash for your future purchases. The program spells out bite sized steps you can take in order to get your spending and your budget in line.

We've been working on getting the plan in place for some time, and it's all down in black and white, now. Hooray! It's going to be much tougher for me than it is for my honey, though. He is so...strict? rigid? opposite of me? ...what nice word can I use...disciplined? methodical?-- about how he tackles these things.

Well, it's all for the best, especially in uncertain economic times. It's best to keep whittling away at that debt. The trouble with that is that it seems like NO ONE ELSE is doing it. Everything you see and hear is about buy it now. Have it tomorrow. Ninety days same as cash...take it home tonight.

What happened to saving up for things, and living within your means? Apparently the government has been listening to all that marketing hype, too, because look at the fix they're in. Balanced budget? Ha! What's that?

We decided to eliminate cable for now, to help balance our own budget...so when my honey went to the local office of the cable company, they asked him why he was cancelling the service. "Eight years of Republican government," he told them. The lady behind the counter said she knew exactly what he meant.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

fringe benefits

I'm so glad I talked to the pharmacist when I got my prescription.

The doc told me (Thursday afternoon) to take the full day's worth of prednisone in three separate doses before bedtime so I'd get it all in on the first day. So a full day's worth in about six hours. This is a tapered sequence, with the first day's dose being the largest, mind you.

When I had it filled, though, the pharmacist warned me about the side effects. She told me the prednisone could make it hard for me to sleep, and that it would probably make me feel quite...zippy. I don't remember how she worded it, but that was the gist.

I decided to start taking it on Friday. I have enough trouble sleeping through the night as it is. Most nights lately I keep waking up, or I can't fall asleep at all. I'm awake until three or four in the morning...just laying there, staring at the clock.

**Augggghhh! I just saw the creepiest spider! Hold that thought...

Sorry. I HATE spiders in my house. Spare the 'spiders are your friend' speech. I get it from my honey already. I don't care. I smash them into paste when I find them in my house. Eeeeeewwww!!**

Back to the meds, here. Okay, zippy is an understatement. I feel like I've been taking speed. I have to keep backspacing to fix my typos because my fingers want to move faster than my brain is thinking.

And even though I didn't sleep well anyway because my elbow hurt so badly that first night, I'm glad I didn't take the meds til Friday. The morning was a little rough, but around noon, I started feeling pretty energetic.

Even with my sore elbow, I vacuumed, cleaned the kitchen, did the dishes, did the laundry, cleaned off the table, put the toys away, made beef stew, baked peach upside down cake, cleaned the cat boxes, and took out the trash.

I went out for coffee and then stayed up late last night with company, got up much earlier than I usually do on Saturdays, and I'm not tired a bit. I'm still rarin' to go. I want to get my curtains cut out...I think today will be a great day to do it!

Just let me go take my next dose so I don't run out of steam halfway through the day, and I'll be good to go. Side effects, schmide effects. I call 'em fringe benefits!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

who woulda thought?

Who would have thought a little bonk on the elbow could cause so much trouble? The other night, I was harassing my honey about taking over my side of the bed.

I was laying there on my side, minding my own business, with my elbow pointing to the middle of the bed. Here he came, and by the time he got settled, his elbow was touching mine. I purposely try to leave a little space, so I was SURE he was on my side of the bed. I bonked his elbow with mine and called him a bed hog. LOL.

"I am NOT on your side of the bed," he said. I was so sure I was right that I was ready to to get up and measure it, but...I was too tired.

The next morning, my elbow was a little sore. As the day went on, it got worse and worse. I suppose picking at the dry skin on my elbow for the last week didn't help matters either.

By the time I got to the doctor today, my elbow was in excruciating pain, and it was swollen, red, and hot. I couldn't straighten my arm. The red was going down my arm about four or five inches, and it was starting to hurt down to my wrist and almost up into my shoulder.

The doc took one look, put some gloves on, felt it a little, and sat down to write out prescriptions. I have bursitis, and it's infected. He had a fancier name for it, but do you think it stuck in my head? My head was so fuzzy already that the words just kind of went in one ear, bounced around like an old ping pong ball, and went right out again.

I got the meds, an antibiotic and some prednisone, and I'm headed off to bed to watch the VP debate. Toodle loo!