Sunday, May 8, 2016

My Cool Mom!

Heading into Mother's Day I wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to my Mom.  I wrote about Mom's love, care and self -sacrifice as she took care of my Dad- here.  Love Steps Up  She naturally demonstrated the same characteristics as she raised her 5 kids, as well as many foster children, also. Here's to you Mom!
Food and Fun
I had a Pinterest cool Mom, way before Pinterest was a thing.  Let's start with birthdays!  I loved that Mom let us pick out whatever our favorite meal was and she would make that for our birthday meal. Spaghetti with Mom's delicious meat sauce and Chicken and Broccoli were some of my favorites. Mom was known for her delicious cooking. She definitely had her own knack for it that I haven't developed. She is one of those add a pinch of this or toss in some of that cooks. I haven't learned that ability yet, I have learned that things go much better when I have a defined recipe to follow.  Dad was of a waste not want not mentality, which is great unless that means you are to eat liver, heart and whatever else grossness from the animals we butchered ourselves. How I loved and appreciated that mom fed some of those things to the dog when Dad was away. We still had to eat some of it, thanks to Mom though, not as much. Mom also made the coolest shaped birthday cakes. I think they were from a Baker's Coconut cut- up cake book.  We would pull out the booklet as our birthdays approached and choose which one we wanted.  I remember the hot air balloon being my favorite. They were spectacular, and not once did I ever hear my mom complain about making them.   The joyous memory of these awesome cakes and a mom that wanted to make our birthday special remains with me.
Mom was also awesome at making cool boxes for Valentine's Day.  I don't know where her ideas came from- because I am not naturally creative, but they were cool. She also gave us paper lace hearts on valentines day that were special coupons- I can't remember exactly what they were for but things like getting to choose a dinner meal, or not having to do a chore. It was lovely.
Mom also had the philosophy that if you got a day off for bad weather in the winter, that you should also get a day off for nice weather in the spring. She  tried to make work fun, by having a job cup, that along with chores we had to do, if we got lucky maybe we would pull the "chore" of taking a 10 minute break.
I can't write about my mom and not mention her love of flowers. She had many flower beds and always took a bouquet of flowers to church. She always sent them home with someone and I know she thought about who might need some brightening in their day as she chose who to give them to. I loved growing up with some many flowers around, often making my own vase of flowers for my room.
My Dad worked out of town for weeks at a time, so my mom raised us almost as a single mom. I don't know how she did it.  5 kids, 42 acres of land, farm animals, huge gardens. Sometimes a running car, sometimes not. She has told me time and again that you just do what you have to do. Because what other choice is there? That has been a great example to me. She was the one there figuring out and managing the day to day needs of kids and the farm. She helped the livestock through birthing issues, buried dead animals  and chased cows many times. She canned tons of food, gave birth to 5 kids, not one born when Dad was home, and  raised those 5 kids to be functioning adults. I know that she had great struggles and I'm sure she often felt alone and didn't know how she was going to do what had to be done. However, I'm so thankful that she did and so are my siblings. Mom has touched many lives and has taught me the importance of always moving forward and just doing what needs to be done no matter how hard it is.  However, she also brought joy and happiness to our lives by all of the other things mentioned above, teaching me to find the beauty in the daily routines.  Here's to you Mom! Happy Mother's Day with lots of love!

And so it goes...
Just Read- "Rain Village" and "The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend"

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Power of Confidence

Confidence- I've known for awhile that the more I try to project confidence the more I feel it and others may feel it from me as well.  However what I'm thinking about today is how powerful and empowering it is to have others show confidence in you.

Recent jobs have made me reflect on this- 2 of them making me feel empowered and 1 of them making me feel the exact opposite. In my job as an activity director  at Ohesson Manor, I was all of a sudden asked to do all kinds of things that I had never done before- big things, scary things, cool things, amazing things.  Of course I didn't let on how overwhelming some of those felt.  I just said ok and went to work.  However, the kind words, help, support and overwhelming expectations that I could and would do just fine made such a difference.  They thought I could do something so I jumped right in and did so. They recognized my strengths and understood that since someone hired me to do this job, I could and would do what was needed. I felt empowered.  I feel like that job gave me a lot of personal growth- I moved outside of my comfort zone and did cool things- things I didn't know I had the ability to do until someone showed confidence in me.

As a recent classroom aide, I was basically told you are on the lowest rung of the ladder.  I felt like although I had a background that may have been useful in this setting, it didn't really matter. It just felt uncomfortable and depressing to be there. Not empowering.

I recently started a new job.  My first vote of confidence came from a former co-worker who said really nice things about me to her current boss, recommending me for the job. Another confidence boost came from a former employer who said the new place would love me.  So once I started working I was thrown into a tricky situation, but my boss just said ok this is what we are going to do and we did it. AND IT WENT FINE. I don't know that I would have trusted myself to just jump right in, but she did.  Afterwards she mentioned how impressed she was with how I handled it. Which just builds more confidence.

I'm grateful for those who have shown confidence in me. It has changed me.  It really makes me want to show confidence in others- to build others up, not put them down. I want my kids to feel confidence, that even when they don't feel up to something, that I'm going to be behind them knowing they can.  I want to help others in whatever situations to have the confidence to just move forward and try. I'm on your team.

And so it goes...

The Journey Continues

Here, Wanted- Cheerleaders,not Coaches and here healthy changes- follow up ( click on to read previous posts) I wrote about being overweight including  my reflections of why and also my plan to get healthier and why it was so important to me. I'm still reflecting on this and working on this and learning.  I want to show a great before and after picture, however there is none. In reality in this past year I have gained a few pounds instead of lost any.  But, I'm still trying and learning, so I won't say I failed.  I am trying to figure out what to do with what I've learned about myself and my struggles with food.  So I'm just going to write a little about what I've learned- I need to do this for myself as a way to document and reflect.

One change I made, did make a difference, not in weight, but I think in health. Some results I could see externally, I hope there were/ also some results internally that made my body healthy as well. There are lots of articles out there that make me think it must have.  DRINKING WATER- I upped my daily water intake to about 9 cups a day. ( I also almost stopped drinking anything else except juices/cider) This is what I noticed. My pms acne went away, flaky skin on face went away, my nails looked lovely- shiny and no longer breaking/cracking. So I started that in April and continued until about September- and I didn't mean to stop but in September I started a job that just seemed to make it hard to get 9 cups of water in each day. It wasn't convenient to have a water bottle with me and I didn't feel like I could always run to the bathroom if needed. Coming home and drinking lots of water at the end of the day didn't work so well as it meant I was up too much during the night!  However, what I learned- that just may help me as I think about other ideas or strategies, is that it took about 3 months until I started to see the reverse effects.  Around December, all of a sudden I noticed a little bit of  flaky skin by my eyebrows, acne started to show up again and right now my nails are awful! Thankfully, I have changed jobs ( not because of the water) and am now back to drinking more water, but the change isn't immediate and I am hoping that in 3 months my skin and nails will be back to awesomeness!

What I really took from this is the time it takes my body to respond to a change. 3 months. So in my earlier trial I went a month without eating sweets and was disappointed that I didn't lose weight or feel any better or notice much of any difference. So I didn't continue with that goal. I'm wondering now what would happen if I did 3 months and on of doing that.

Food issues- I tried different ideas- such as only having one helping, but I found I then gave myself an extra big helping. I've never not had food available to me, so I don't know why I have this fear or whatever of not getting enough. I continue to be a stress eater and need to become more aware of this. I do like fruit and veggies and feel like I  do a fair job incorporating them into meals, but know I could do better. One thing I have really started doing, especially with pasta, but other things too, is making less.  If there is only enough pasta for everyone to have one serving there is no temptation to have more.

Exercise- as I mentioned in one of the previous posts I always end up injured. That has held true, as I've gone through having a torn meniscus! I have recently made a "Move It" playlist that will hopefully encourage me to walk more.

When I made my New Year's goals this year - my goal was to lose 10 pounds this year. Sometimes looking at losing 100 pounds seems so impossible.  But surely I should be able to lose 10, and by documenting what I weighed then I can work towards it. I still want to lose 100 pounds, but losing 10 is better than gaining five.

Please don't think I don't understand the basic concept of eating less and moving more- I get it. However, what I am still trying to do is figure out HOW to do that and HOW to make it work for me.
I'm still learning and trying...
And so it goes...

Just read- "The Rithmatist" by Brandon Sanderson- a decent enough teen read

Sunday, October 11, 2015


In the last General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Brother Durrant encouraged members to "ponderize" a scripture weekly.  His definition of ponderizing is 80% pondering and 20% memorizing. You can read his talk here:  It's a great talk, highlighting the benefits of scripture study- specifically that it gives our thoughts a higher place to go.

I took his challenge and this past week I have been ponderizing John 15:12-15.  I chose this scripture because I have also been working on a 45 Days of Christ scripture reading that I found on Pinterest.  If interested you can find it here:  As I was pondering John 15: 13, I had strong feelings about it, and as I was looking for a scripture to ponderize, I returned there and was also lifted by the other scriptures around it.  I'm going to share a few feelings and the insights I've had as I've thought about these scriptures.

12This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 
13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends . 
14Ye are my friends , if ye do whatsoever I command you. 
15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends ; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

What initially stood out to me were the words "lay down his life", I felt the spirit testify that although Christ had to lay down his for us physically, there were plenty of ways that I could and should be "laying down my life" for those I love.  Laying down my life means that I think less of myself and more of others.  That there are times I need to put aside my petty wants to more fully meet the needs of my family. It means my heart changes and I become more Christ-like. For me personally it means I take a job that perhaps I wouldn't normally choose because it meets my families needs better, but I not only take the job, but I find happiness and joy in it- not because it meets my needs, but because it meets their needs. I'm still working on this.  And please don't think this means that I am saying that you always have to "play the martyr" and never have the things you want.  That's not true or right, I know Heavenly Father wants us each to be happy and have things we like and enjoy, but I also know true joy can come as we sacrifice for others. There is just something about truly considering another and their needs that can lift us as well. Christ wasn't asking his disciples to give up their physical lives for him, but he was asking them to "lay down their lives" by giving up their sins, and weaknesses and self- centeredness.

Verse 15 also spoke to me.  I just love that Christ calls us his friends and basically uses the analogy saying a servant doesn't know what the Lord does, but Christ is saying we are his friends and he has freely given us all that he can. He hasn't held anything back from us. He wants us to have eternal life and exaltation and has freely and fully given us the knowledge we need to obtain it.

I'm grateful for the opportunity and encouragement to ponderize scriptures. I'm going to sit and consider what I will ponderize for next week.  If you have been pondering scriptures as well, I would love to here your thoughts and insights.

And so it goes...

Friday, June 19, 2015


Perspective. It changes things. It changes the way we see situations, and the way we see situations then changes the way we act or feel in a situation.  And sometimes a small change in perspective can make a big difference.

Teamwork, yeah, yeah, we've all heard it before. We are all working for  the same thing and if everyone does their part then the team is successful. Although I've been married for 20+ years, I feel like I've recently learned an important team work lesson.

So Richard and I are a team. We use to tell the kids that when they were little ( Don't ask Dad if Mom has already said no!), and it's still true, we just don't say it as much anymore.  Our team's goal is to have a functioning family life.( ideally a happy, fun, supportive one, but sometimes functioning is enough right!?) To accomplish this we both have some primary tasks,some joint tasks, and some tasks that no one is ready to take on right now! ( those we just talk about !)
Anyhow right now Richard's primary task is to earn those $'s, that allow our family to meet the demands of groceries, medical bills, netflix, clothes, pet food and more.  My job is to spend that $! No really it is!  I buy the groceries and then have to come up with something to do with the said groceries ( yuck, I know.), and then clean up after.  ( another yuck) I manage doctor appts, and pay the bills. I usually tell the kids what $ they have for clothes or take them shopping, so you see, I really do spend the $.

Anyhow what I've realized is that teamwork involves everyone having their turn at crap jobs and then their turn at just enjoying their job.  I was sitting on the porch on a lovely warm day recently, a nice breeze blowing occasionally and reading a book,  Although it should have felt perfect, what I kept feeling was guilt. Guilt because I was doing something I enjoy, when at the same time I knew Richard had been having a week of just getting beat up at work. I felt like I shouldn't be enjoying the day when he wasn't. But in my mind I kept on thinking, Sue, you really need to savor this moment. You need to rejuvenate yourself. Doesn't it seem silly that perhaps I would have felt better if we were both having bad days? I talked with my teammate about this and he said that he has done the same thing- feel guilty if things have been easier for him, but harder for me. So some things I've come to realize about teamwork and having a HAPPY family life.

  • We each have things that we like or dislike about our roles right now.  Neither of us have a "job" that is always full of happy moments, but we both have things that we find relaxing or inspiring within these jobs.
  • We don't have to feel guilty for enjoying those times when we'd give our job an A+ rating. It's okay and positive and right to bask in the positive moments. It gives us serenity that will help us help our teammate through those days when their job feels like a full fledged F!
  • Just because we have miserable days or moments,we don't want our spouse to feel that same way.  Yes, I want my husband to listen to me vent about whatever was hard that day, but he doesn't need to feel guilty about the fact that I had a hard day. He has hard days too.
  • It really is about teamwork.  We both have things to do that we don't like to do,( we are waiting to get a new dishwasher so hand washing the dishes is right up there for me!) but we do them because as a team we are working to have a functioning, positive and happy family life.
  • Sometimes it's your turn to have a good day, sometimes it my turn.  And hip hip hooray for the days when we are both having a good day!
And so it goes...

Just Read- "Sister" by Rosamond Lupton. It surprised me how much I liked this book. A good crime fiction book that kept you wondering, but more than that she is a good writer. Several times I would read a sentence and then say that was a good sentence. She uses words well.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Family Update!

It's been awhile since I've written just a general blog about what our family is up to , so I'm going to try to do that now, although I'm sure I want be able to do justice to everything that's been going on- I wish I was better at blogging and including photographs and keeping it up to date.

We've lived in rural central Pennsylvania for about 4 years now. We find it different than anywhere we've lived in our adult life, and the kids have definitely found it different than anywhere they had experienced previously. There are negatives and positives, but what Richard and I and the kids have all felt is that even now this still doesn't feel like "home". We've all tried to "Bloom where you're planted" and I am especially so grateful that we have each other as we make a home and life where we really don't feel at "home." We did list our home for sale for awhile, but we have the unfortunate reality that since we moved here our home has been mapped into a flood zone, now requiring really expensive flood insurance if someone were to buy it. So between that and the fact that we don't have a lot of equity in the home (which would allow us to sell for less to offset the insurance), we recognize that we may be here for some time. However, at the same point we recognize that we may not. And life up in the air, is not one of my favorite feelings.

Richard continues to work as an IT specialist for Penn State Hershey Medical centers in State College area. For the most part he likes it, but does get tired of the politics between the State College branch and Hershey. It's hard having 2 bosses in 2  different places telling you 2 different things that don't always agree with each other.  On the other hand he is really enjoying teaching the PA state motorcycle safety courses.  It's like a hobby for him, but also helps with extra income since I'm not working outside of the home right now. I see the teacher in him as he really likes to see how the students progress from the beginning to the end of the course.  I've considered taking the course from him as well, but not sure if that would be a good or bad thing for our marriage!  He likes to stay busy and in his spare time has been busy wood working.  The other day I was considering everything he has made: coffee table, picnic table, bookshelf, corn hole, side table or seat.  He is handy to have around! 

Andrew has finished his 2nd year of college and has one more year to get his associates degree.  He started out in a 4 year major, then changed to a 2 year major, thus the 3 years. It will be in computer tech ( or something similar, I can't remember the exact name.) He especially enjoys the networking side of it. His girlfriend Nina still lives in Buffalo and spent some of last week with us. They seem to have done really well with this long distance relationship thing- and I know he didn't get that from me! Although, perhaps I've matured some in my years, I use to get a "If you're not here when I need you, then I Don't need you" attitude when Richard would be away.  They are tired of the distance though and  Andrew hopes to return to Buffalo to work and live after graduating. He is working his second summer at the local amusement park, Del Grossos. He works in the games department and comes home with interesting stories about co-workers and parents and kids.

Whitney just graduated from high school as Salutatorian. I'm really proud of her of course and I absolutely loved the speech she gave. She wrote it herself, but really said things I am pleased and proud of her for. As I said previously, this doesn't feel like home, but in her speech she said the things that she has learned here. If you want to see her give her speech here is the link. Whitney's speech.She starts at about the 39:39 mark. She struggled with deciding what to do next and decided she wanted more time before heading to college and having to decide a major. She has decided to do 10 months in FEMA Corps. This is a branch of Americorps that focuses on disaster preparedness and relief. She will start in Iowa and will then travel throughout the US working on projects.

Jayna just completed her 7th grade school year.  She is clever and has a good sense of humor. She has pretty severe scoliosis and we will be seeing a pediatric orthopedic specialist this week to see if she will be having surgery for it. From the research I've done on it, it seems like given the fact that she has two places where her spine curves greater than 50 degrees, it is likely.  I want to make June a fun month in the event that surgery will happen this summer. She is going to miss her sister when she leaves in August, and will kind of become an only child! We may be off to volunteer at the animal shelter tomorrow. ( This makes me a good mom, for those who know how much I like animals!)

I'm not working outside of the home now. With Andrew and Whitney getting more involved in their own lives, I really needed to be available to get Jayna wherever she needed to be. Living in  the country we are often driving about 40 minutes to go to a class or activity. So I keep busy "MOMing", and with the house and reading and such. I have started doing some mystery shopping where I act as a regular customer then write an evaluation on specific criteria. It gives us a few extra dollars here and there. I much prefer it when I can give a positive review! I've been looking into the possibility of returning to school part time to get my bachelors degree as well. I have been looking at a few different major possibilities, however need to wait and see what happens with Jayna and surgery this summer and where she will be attending school in the fall.

So, there you go, a brief little update and now some pictures!

 Whitney with her boyfriend Luke. I have to say she seems so much more relaxed and comfortable and herself when she is with him. I have to say I appreciate that he brings that out in her.
 Jayna overlooking Raystown Lake. We love the beauty of Pennsylvania.
 Jayna and I went to Living Treasures Animal Park and it was cool to see a baby joey peeking out of it's mama's pouch.
 We get a family picture together like never! Graduation was a good excuse for one!
 Sisters! I guess sometimes there is a question as to who is oldest by looks. And recently I took Jayna out to lunch and the waitress asked if it would be one check or separate and Jayna looked at me and said "I'm only 13!"
 We don't get to see the grandmas much and especially not together! It was nice having them around for Whitney's graduation.
 Jayna wasn't so sure about the cow that put her whole hand in it's mouth!
 A girl and her dog! Whitney and Muffy just love each other!
 Family fun playing corn hole that Richard made for my birthday!
 Andrew and Nina making lots of Easter treats! Yum!
 Jayna bottle feeding a baby camel.
 Non-crafty Sue said let's try this Pinterest idea!
 I love our peony bed, wish they bloomed longer!

And so it goes...

Reading now- "Sister" by Rosamund Lupton. A little different than my normal read, but I do like her writing style.  Crime fiction, pretty good so far.

Just Read- "All the Light We Cannot See"- by Anthony Doerr, I liked the story, but not how he went back and forth between times.  It gave me insight into WWII and how things just happened.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gratitude- Again.

Some day soon I want to do another Ashead update, where I share "what in the world are the Ashead's doing?", but today something else is on my mind.  Gratitude. Thankfulness. Peace. Remembering. Gratitude.

The past several months have been a big struggle for Richard and I - a lot of hard things have been thrown our way.  It seems one after another, without the first one or several getting resolved before we have more thrown our way. It has been a challenge and I'm not going to get into the details of the issues that remain at hand and hard, but as I thought about these stresses today, and prayed, God answered me in the way he often does. Gratitude.  I am brought to remembrance of the many good things still in life and a need to know that blessings abound, sometimes they are just not the ones I'm looking for- so I might miss them.

So, today's gratitude list.

**  Although things have been hard for the parents of the family, the kids do not seem overly affected. They are all functioning well and seem only marginally aware of the concerns.  I'm grateful for this, that for the most part  it appears, they are not feeling the weight of the world upon them as it seems we are.

** I'm grateful that through the  winding path of life and the places I've been and people I've interacted with I've made friendships with people who have been a strength in a variety of ways.  Maybe they have expertise or experience with some of the issues we are now dealing with and lend an ear, or insight, support and encouragement. Others are true friends who reach out in support and allow me to ramble and rant at times. Especially grateful for those who get me and my personality and why some of the things we have been dealing would be hard for me.

** There are still lots of great things going on for our family such as
     * Whitney will be graduating next month.  She is looking forward to her time with FEMA Corps. She just attended prom with a sweet young man and was on prom court.
     * Andrew just finished another year of college successfully and is home for the summer and working.
     * Jayna is doing well in school,and also just had her 2nd piano recital.
     * We have a vacation planned to Boston with plans for whale watching, seeing Newsies and more!
     * Richard is enjoying teaching the PA motorcycle safety courses.

** Then there are some of the "big" more universal things to be grateful such as living in a country and area where I don't fear for my family's physical safety regularly,  Having a home and food.  Libraries where I can get lots of books. A belief in answers to prayers.

Anyhow, that is where I am today. Trying to find peace in the good and being grateful for that.

And so it goes...

Reading Now- "Mozart's Last Aria" by Matt Rees
Recently Read- "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande- highly recommended reading for every adult! We need to have conversations about life, living and dying and what is most important to each other individually.