Meet Payton (who is writing the blog today)

photokeep-calm-and-believe-in-the-sf-giants10730825_10153323738448916_7394067370246731283_nHi I’m Payton. As you can see by the title I’m writing the blog today. I’m 8 years old and i’m turning 9 in February. I’m the oldest grandchild. And i play soccer. I’m a HUGE Giants fan. I live only 5 mins away from my gramma. While my cousins either live in another state or they just live in another part of the state thats just really far away. I’m in the 3rd grade and for homework we have to write a story or a poem. I’ve decided to write a story. My story is called The Chiristmas Grinch. I’ve decided to keep you posted about my story untill Friday. I will not be able to on Thursday because I will not be here. But i will show (write) you my progress. I will be doing more posts in the future. This will not be the only one. But today i will read you my story so far.

                                                                             

The Christmas Grinch

Hi Im Gracie. People call me the Christmas grinch. They call me that because Im kind of… well Im grouchy when Christmas comes around. And the reason is because It’s hard to get everyone gifts when you don’t know what they want. Although It’s a piece of cake for my brother and our parents. But for my aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and friends it’s like rocket science.

So next week we have this thing called the elf shop. It’s basiclly this little gift shop thats in one of the empty classroms where you buy Christmas presents for your family and friends. So mom gave me $15 so I could get some gifts for my friends and family.

                        So i hope you guys liked this and i will tell you my progress tomorrow.

Bye

Payton♥

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Remembering my own dark days… I know I am one of the lucky ones…

Photo on 8-14-14 at 11.02 PMWith the world mourning the loss of our beloved comedian, Robin Williams, there has been much discussion centered around depression and mental illness. I haven’t blogged for awhile and decided to share my own experience and what happened to me about 25 years ago. Maybe I can help someone reading this to not feel alone. So… here is my story. 

I was sitting in a class being trained for a new position where I worked. The instructor wanted to go around the room and have each of us introduce ourselves. I had done this several times before in previous training classes. No big deal. But on that particular day, out of the blue, my heart started racing, my chest tightened up and I couldn’t breathe. My thoughts were lost and I couldn’t think or concentrate on anything. I heard the instructor say, “next,” and she pointed at me to begin my introduction. I couldn’t speak. The class was staring at me, smiling at me, waiting for me to say something… anything. Their smiles were not friendly in my mind, but instead rather haunting. Everyone looked like Jack Nicholson from that one scene in “The Shining.” I on the other hand, felt like a character out of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” What in the world was happening to me. I was able to utter a few words but I had to get out of this situation, fast! I decided to fake an asthma attack so I could be excused to get a drink of water. (I don’t have asthma.) Outside in the hallway I tried to calm myself down before going back into the classroom. That was my first ever experience with a panic attack.

As time went on, my attacks became more and more frequent. If I was called on to read I couldn’t do it without hyperventilating. I was constantly figiting, trying to escape the awful feelings of fear. If I was talking one on one to my best friend, she would all of a sudden look like an enemy that was judging me and laughing at me for being a fool. I struggled more and more trying to control whatever it was that had a hold on me. I would go to book stores and sit on the floor reading self-help books on panic disorders and how to ovecome them. I tried all of their suggestions but nothing worked. One day I discovered kelp – yep, seaweed . For some reason when I took kelp, my heart would stop racing and I could breathe like a normal person. I took kelp several times daily. I kept several bottles in my purse at all times. Anytime and every time I had to talk to someone, I would down a few kelp tablets to appear sane, normai, and in control. I lived like this for several years, trying to deal with panic and anxiety without outside help. What my mind was telling me is that it would look foolish to go seek the help of a doctor because they too would just laugh at me. 

Back in those days, I didn’t pay for groceries with an ATM or credit card. I wrote checks. I became so fearful of the outside worid, I was unable to write out a check in front of a cashier. My hand would shake and I would have to take several deep breaths to get through it. The cashier, like everyone else, was judging me. When this disorder reached a peak was the day  my home phone rang and I ran upstairs and hid in my closet. I was terrified of who might be calling. Another enemy? I don’t think I had any enemies but my mind was telling me different. It was that day that I decided I had to get help or I would surely go cazy. 

The day I went to my doctor my blood pressure and pulse were off the chart. I was hysterical and gasping for breath. My doctor asked me what I was afraid of. I told her nothing and everything. My world was completely upside down. Nothing looked right side up anymore. Since that day, I have been on medication for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD); “a mental health condition for which a person is often worried or anxious about many things and finds it hard to control this anxiety.”

Within a few weeks I returned to my old self and eventually I became a training instructor, able to speak for 8 straight hours, 5 days a week in front of a classroom full of students. I robbed myself of several years thinking it would be shameful in admitting that I have a form of mental illness. Some of us aren’t as fortunate. My demons weren’t as powerful as some others have to endure. But I do know from experience what a horrible way it was to live, feeling terrified and in constant fear. I do understand Mr. Williams seeking relief and I know he is now free. There’s just so much we can take. I know I am one of the lucky ones.  

This is for YOU – all you moms that are still smiling. Happy Mother’s Day! It was all worth it!

This is for YOU - all you moms that are still smiling. Happy Mother's Day! It was all worth it!

This is for you – all you moms that have weathered the storm of raising kids through the best of times and the worst of times. Happy Mother’s Day to you!
They started out giving us morning sickness. We ate soda crackers because they said they were supposed to work. HA! They didn’t. We threw up anyway. They gave us bloated bodies, swollen ankles and the necessity to pee every hour on the hour. We went to Lamaze classes and learned how to HEE HEE HEE to supposedly ease the pain during labor. REALLY?? That was a joke!
Then we endured that “happy” day when our baby was ready to be born. We Hee Hee Hee’d until we were silly trying to push through every agonizing pain and contraction. YEE-OUCH! And then we finally got our prize – the brass ring we had waited 9 long months for. They sort of looked like lizards but we thought they were beautiful. And they were!
We walked the floor at 2am for no apparent reason. They were dry, fed and coddled but they cried anyway and we had no idea why. Later they cut teeth and we stayed up all hours trying to soothe them. They had fevers and runny noses, earaches and diarrhea. They got chicken pox and we said “DON’T scratch!” We stayed up crying with them, right along with their pain.
When they started school we stood up for them when they were kicked off the bus for being “too entertaining.” OH COME ON!!  What kindergartener doesn’t want to sing on his way to school. We took their side when they were bullied or pushed off their bike by a bigger neighbor boy. We consoled them when they struck out in Little League and told them how very proud we were of their good sportsmanship.
We went to every open house, praising them for their wonderful folders full of artwork, science and history projects. A job well done. We wanted every teacher to know that this, OUR child was and should be treated “special.” Thats just what mothers do.
We were there to greet out middle schooler at the bus stop because he had forgotten his lunch. We were met with that look that says “drop dead.” But we smiled anyway knowing he probably really did appreciate having lunch that day. :/

And OMG those teenage years when they learned how to drive. We set a curfew when they were allowed to take the family car out on a date. They were never home at the exact minute they were supposed to be. We paced the floor and prayed like crazy that they weren’t in an accident. Then there was always a siren – it could have been in Texas but we heard it. We suffered heart palpitations as our heads went off in tangents imagining all sorts of horrible things. Then as they came sauntering through the front door, somehow we managed not to strangle them when they saw our frantic faces and said, “What’s wrong with you?”

We had days when we couldn’t wait for them to move out. Then one day they did and our nests were empty. We looked back at all those years of hard work, the chaos, the heartache, and above all, the joy. Our homes became quiet and we stared at their bedrooms wanting them to come back. We found out that we weren’t really ready, after all.

Through all of our trials and tribulations, our pleasure, our pain, our laughter, our tears, we somehow came out the other side in one piece. Why? Because we are mother’s and we are still smiling because we know, with no uncertainty, that it was, in the end, all worth it.

 

Roots… something to cherish…

Roots... something to cherish...

This past week I have been asked to help two of my grandchildren with their family trees. They are in the first and second grades and have reports due about their heritage. My granddaughter interviewed me and asked questions about what it was like when I was her age. She was so surprised when I told her I had to wear dresses to school – no pants were allowed. I walked to school without supervision, carried a metal lunchbox and backpacks were unheard of. She thought that was pretty crazy.
I have this old steamer trunk in my garage that belonged to my parents. My husband drug it out to see if it contained some facts that might help the kids with their reports. This old trunk was hauled across the Atlantic Ocean by my own grandparents when they came to America in the early 1900’s. They came by boat from Edinburgh, Scotland. They settled in Atlanta, Georgia where my mom was born. My grandfather left his family when my mother was three and she never saw him again. My grandmother died in her mid thirties when my mother was just thirteen. I often wondered what they were like.
In this trunk I found pictures of them, old letters and cards. Memorabilia engraved with their name, McCulloch. I found old dolls made of wooden legs and arms, handmade doll and baby clothes. I found my mom’s ice skates from when she later lived near Cleveland, Ohio, and skated on Lake Erie. Beaded purses, bibles with hinges and a mans shirt – maybe my grandfathers? I will never know.
What I do know, is that Charles and Mary McCulloch were my grandparents, born in the late 1800’s, who immigrated from Scotland and gave me my mother. I’m thinking of restoring this old steamer trunk, preserving it and passing it along to the next generation.
We all have roots, something to cherish.

These are the BEST years of your life…

These are the BEST years of your life...

Years ago I remember receiving a letter from my aunt. I had sent her some pictures of our busy life with kids and described to her how hectic our weekends were with three boys in little league. Seems like we were gone all day on Saturdays, running from one game to another. My husband was either coaching, managing a team or filling in as umpire. I either kept score, served as team mom or minded the snack bar. And of course there were practices in between, not to mention our jobs and school. When baseball season ended, there was basketball and golf in between. As with most families, our plates were full.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed at times, I hung on to the words in my aunt’s letter. She had written, “You will miss this one day. These are the BEST years of your life.”

Today my grown children all have families of their own. They are the ones juggling work, and school and all that comes with raising kids. I hear all about karate, ski lessons, soccer, gymnasctics, swimming, and dance class. I love getting pictures of my grandchildren in their uniforms and beaming smiles. Sports is serious business and they all take such pride in their activities. As they keep their parents, my own children busy and on the go, I want to tell them, just like my aunt, “you will miss this one day, these really are the BEST years of your life!”

And I just know ALL dogs go to heaven…

And I just know ALL dogs go to heaven...

One year ago yesterday I said goodbye to my beloved Maggie. I couldn’t believe I was losing her. And the day she had to be put down was my birthday of all days. Two days prior I had taken her to the vet thinking she was just constipated from a new medication she was on for arthritis. It was a beautiful day as she hung her head out of the car window, in the breeze, enjoying what would turn out to be her last car ride. A song came on the radio that would become “our song.” It was Christina Perri’s hit, “A Thousand Years.”

Maggie was my dream dog. My first yellow lab that was given to me as a Christmas gift from all five of my children. The lyrics to this song just seemed to express my love for her. I had waited a long time for this breed of puppy and she was the love of my life. Wherever I went, Maggie was by my side.
As it turned out, my sweet girl had cancer that had engulfed her entire colon and the vet told me there was really no hope. I remember sitting in the office with her in shock. “Are you kidding me?” She was only supposed to be constipated. I left her there so they could run a few tests because I wanted to be absolutely sure there really was no hope. I cried all the way home as the lyrics of “our song” played, in my head.
“I have died every day waiting for you… darlin’ don’t be afraid… all along I believed I would find you, time has brought your heart to me…”

March 12, 2013 was a beautiful Spring day as my husband and I drove back to the vet to hold and be with our beloved girl on her journey to rainbow bridge. She was sedated, outiside on a blanket on their peaceful patio. As soon as she heard our voices, she whimpered letting us know she knew we were there. We petted her and hugged her and told her what a great dog she had been. She looked at us as if she truly knew how very much we loved her.

Maggie, I will never forget you – every time I hear “our song” I think of you. “I have loved you for a thousand years, I will love you for a thousand more.” And I just know ALL dogs go to heaven.

We never forget those who make us feel good…

We never forget those who make us feel good...

Last night I found out that someone who made a real impact on my life had passed. I had met this man in 1961 when I was 10 years old. He was going door to door in our community letting people know that he was new in town. He was a pastor and wanted to start a church in our neighborhood. He didn’t yet have a building but invited us to attend services in his garage around the corner.
My brother was outside that day playing basketball on the driveway. As this nice man was heading to the house next door, he shot a couple of hoops himself and left with a great big grin and a giant wave. He had rather sizeable hands and a very warm smile.

Our family decided to try this new “church” around the corner, in his garage. We sat on folding chairs. There were not a lot of people those first few Sundays, but as time passed, our little congregation grew and spilled out onto his driveway. There was something about this man… he just made you feel good!
Eventually we got a building, a church name and had a full congregation every week. There was Sunday school, a youth group, and adult and children’s choirs.
Years later, I went away to college and left my home town. My parents still attended this church and kept in touch with this wonderful man long after he had retired. He had become more than a pastor, he was a true and loving friend.
There would be many pastors that followed but no one could ever replace him. There was just something about this man with the big hands and the warm smile. He made everyone feel good.

As my parents aged, I moved back to the area to care for them and started going to church again where my former pastor still attended. Mom was too ill to go anymore but Dad and I went every Sunday. Mom had asked him several years before that she wanted him and only him to conduct her memorial service when the time came. Well, the time came and he did and I wouldnt have wanted it any other way. As Dad became less and less mobile, he came to our home, prayed with us and helped my dad prepare for his own journey to his eternal home. And of course, he would be there to conduct Dad’s service too.

Today I have been tearful and sad. A man I had met on my driveway, going door to door, waving and smiling and shooting hoops, is gone. The man with the big hands, the warm smile and the most loving heart. I will never forget you Reverend Evers… you will always be the man who made everyone feel good.

Passing down the key…

Passing down the key...

With my granddaughter just turning eight, I thought about me being eight. That would have been 1959. Such a long time ago. So much has changed but In many ways, little girls are so much the same. They still believe in fairy tales, get excited about a skirt that twills when they spin around, love bows in their hair, and adore nail polish. They pride themselves on how many times they can rotate on a bar on the playground and how well they can do a cartwheel. They treasure those times when they get to wear big girl shoes, lip gloss and something that sparkles.
Eight is also the age when little girls have deep thoughts and their imaginations run wild. They read “chapter” books with few illustrations and can picture themselves in the story. They also want to tell their own story because they have a lot to share.
I decided to get my new eight year old a diary. I got my first one at about the same age. I wrote every night before going to bed and then locked it up so no one could see my “secrets.”
My own mother kept a diary for the better part of her whole life. She was very devoted. The one thing she said she failed to accomplish in life that she wanted to do was to write a book. I told her she did write a book. I kept her sixty some years of diaries after she passed on at the age of 83. What a story… they are truly a treasure.
Now her great granddaughter can write her thoughts down, record what happens in her life, and start her own biography. As time passes, she will enjoy going back to reread what took place on a particular day, at a certain age, or on a special occassion. The time has come to pass down the key.

“Hi. My Name is Helen Keller, and I am BEAUTIFUL…”

The things I had forgotten about Helen Keller...

One of my favorite things to do since becoming a grandmother is the opportunity I have had to work with children. Being retired I have the time now to volunteer in my granddaughter’s classroom and help with lessons and projects. I always wanted to be a school teacher, so this fulfills that yearning. Not only do I have the satisfaction of working with kids, I also get to go to school all over again and relearn things I have completely forgotten.

Today is a pretty special day. The second graders are doing oral book reports. Their assignment was to read a biography about a famous person. They had to write a written  report and then come to school dressed as their character and give an oral presentation  from memory. They aren’t allowed to read from notes on their index cards and must tell their story in first person, as if they are that person, telling about themselves.

Today, we are Helen Keller. During this last month, my granddaughter read “Helen Keller, Light for the Blind.” We watched a movie about her childhood when Annie Sullivan came into her life. She learned about this remarkable woman who had a huge impact on the world. Today as Helen, she will share the fact that she was the first blind and deaf person to earn a college degree. She wrote and published twelve books. She traveled to many countries and gave lectures. She is famous for teaching others how to overcome adversity and that no matter what your disabililty, you can do anything.

Yesterday as we were viewing images of our hero we had found on the internet, my granddaughter said, “Oh, look at this one Gramma. Isn’t she beautiful!” Yes Helen Keller – you are. You are BEAUTIFUL!