Archive | February 2014

The Perfect Morning

What’s my perfect morning starter? Knowing I can roll over and go back to sleep! No alarm, no chilly room. Just me, my heated blanket and the realization that I don’t have to go anywhere.

I’ve never been a morning person. I like working on my projects after the house is quiet and everyone else is in bed. For many years this is how it worked at the Meisinger’s. It was a great fit because Mark is an earlier riser and he enjoys his alone time with the sun-rising as much as I enjoy the stillness of the night.

What an adjustment this year has been. For the first time ever in our marriage, I am the first one up. The one who wakes to a chilly, dark house. The one who startles awake with the clanging of the alarm clock so no one else is disturbed. We are headed into our eighth month of this schedule, and I still haven’t adjusted and I still don’t like it.

So for me, the perfect start to mornings are those precious Saturdays and the priceless days off when I don’t have to set the alarm and when I wake up I can roll over and go back to sleep.

Enjoy your weekend–I’ll be sleeping in!

Sara

Shhhh…silence required

The fact that I am late in posting, on my day to post, is evidence of my lack of routine for any time of day.

I’m in such a different stage than my fellow bloggers–retired.  Period.  I have no  job, thus no decision to make as to what to wear to work. No children at home, and no lunches to pack.  My exercise consists of getting up, getting dressed and walking to the coffee pot (although getting dressed BEFORE a cup of coffee is an option on most days.)

Hubby doesn’t like to talk when he first gets up. So most mornings we sit in our rockers, drink our coffee and watch the sun come up, with nary a word spoken. We are even to the point where he fixes what he wants for breakfast, and I fix my own. We have found, after all these years, that silence in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s the way we start our mornings. It’s predictable. It’s comfortable.

It gets our morning off to a good start.

 

road 2 we like!

Taking Pressure Off the Mornings

pressureThere is nothing I’ve come to dislike more than a day that starts off under pressure.

You know those mornings when you are constantly eyeing the clock, wondering how 20 minutes slipped away from you so quickly. Your blood pressure starts to rise as the kids move at a sloth’s pace. And just when you think you’ve beaten the clock, you realize no one’s lunches have been made. All this craziness results in you slinking past your boss’ door, hoping she doesn’t notice you’re 10 minutes late.

Can you relate?

So here are my two tips to start the morning right.

1. Give yourself enough time.

I like sleep. Who doesn’t? But I’ve learned how rewarding it is to be disciplined to wake up early enough to give myself the time needed for the morning routine–plus an extra 10-15 minutes for those unexpected situations that may arise.

If you get up with only enough to time to get ready for a perfectly orchestrated morning…that will be the day when the dog gets out of the yard, an accident causes slow down or a day when the kids just won’t cooperate.

2. Prepare the night before.

In addition to waking up early, preparing as much as possible the night before helps to lighten the morning pressure. Lunches may not be packed, but definitely planned; all outfits are picked (including the parents!); papers are signed; and, backpacks are loaded.

My mornings are still not perfect and some days I still feel rushed. But I find if I try to stick to these two tips, then it makes for a better start.

Cherie Gagnon– Cherie

What do you do the night before? Or do you wing it in the morning?

8 minutes of the e-word

It’s not that I don’t like exercise. It’s that I hate exercise.

Really. I’d rather work than exercise. I do like that feeling afterwards and I know it’s good for me, but as for the actual exercise…. I don’t even like to say it.

So it’s pretty weird that my tip for getting the day off to a good start involves “the e word.” (God bless those people who bounce out of bed and go jogging at 5 a.m.!) Several years ago, I saw a segment on TV about a guy with a book called 8 Minutes In The Morning. The explanation made senses I reasoned that eight minutes equaled just one push of the snooze alarm, so I might be able to manage. After trying it, I discovered it really was doable and made me feel better

Observing a milestone birthday this fall motivated me to look again at my health. I remembered those morning exercises and pulled up this routine on the Internet. It was hard to get started, but now, doing two little exercises is part of my morning ritual. I won’t say I like it, but I don’t mind it and getting moving in the morning makes the rest of the day go better.

I think it’s no accident that for each day, there’s one exercise on the floor. Some mornings, just getting up off the floor four times is a workout in itself. Has the weight magically disappeared? Not exactly, but I can tell a difference.

Susie-3994-EditPS 72How do you feel about “the e word” in the morning or any other time of day?

~ Susan

Customer Service?

Have you ever had that moment when you’re standing at the checkout counter and the cashier says something so…so…well, you wonder if they really said what you think they said? That comment that later you wonder why you didn’t just walk out. Have you thought of a time? Maybe you could fill a list of times.

Over the past two weeks, this has happened twice to me. There are times when you wonder if people really understand the price of customer service. Remember that old credit card commercial? One well stocked store, $$$. Three working cash registers, $$$. One friendly and fast cashier, priceless. Priceless and not always easy to find.

Recently I was in our local Dollar General. We live near a small town and our choices are pretty limited. The cashier has worked here and at a different store in town. I searched through my purse, trying to find my own pen to write the check. Because there is only one line available at this store, the line was growing behind me. Finally I asked if I could borrow a pen. My cashier grabbed a pen, tossed it onto the counter and muttered loud enough for me to hear, “I wish people would start bringing their own pens.”

What? Had I really just heard that correctly? When my youngest son looked up at me and suggested next time I’d better have a pen or I wouldn’t be able to write the check, I knew I’d heard right. I stopped writing my check long enough to explain to him that there might not be a next time because there was always another store that would be happy to provide a pen for me to write with.

One pen + one muttered comment= one customer that isn’t going back.

Then last weekend we ran to the city and I needed three books from the bookstore. I ran in, found the books and once again found myself at the checkout counter. This time a man was the cashier and he asked if I had one of their store cards. Okay, I pretty much dislike store cards. There is one or two that I have but I don’t shop often enough or at one store so my perks never show up. For that reason, I told him I didn’t have one and wasn’t interested in one at the moment. “Really?” He asked. “You’d save 10% just today. It’s really a no-brainer, if you ask me.”

I didn’t ask him. I just wanted my books. But I obviously had no-brains because then he had to continue by telling me I didn’t need to write out my check, which by the way would be completely obsolete with in the next 4-5 months. NO store would be taking checks. Well, even their registers weren’t made to take checks anymore. Yep, he’d just seen it on CNN that morning and no one would be accepting checks in a few months. Finally I suggested that perhaps this would be my last trip to their store. I left there and completely understood why bookstores are going out of business so quickly.

One know-it-all cashier + feeling like I had to defend my payment method= AMAZON.com.

When did things become so skewed? Did either of these people remember that my check is their paycheck?

I did learn a lesson through both of these experiences. I’ve learned how much I really appreciate those who do their job well and I tell them. Where good customer service use to be the norm, now it’s nothing to take for granted. Knowing that, it makes it much easier to complement the person who is making a real effort to help you.

So, what great stories do you have? I’m sure we can all relate!

Enjoy your weekend,

Sara

Bored or Board Games?

Our family gets together quite often. I enjoy the food and visiting. If I can, I like to sit with one person for awhile and really connect.

On a holiday, I prefer an early dinner followed by a walk before dessert. It’s a good break and a nice chance for quality conversation. But in this long, cold winter the walks have been out of the question. So board games have come out of their boxes.

Truthfully, I’m the last to join in a board game. I find learning all the rules tiring. Then we discover one person abides by a set of ‘house rules’ while another sticks to the book. Just when you think you’ve got the game, suddenly there are all these exceptions. And, while everyone is concentrating on strategy, no one wants to talk about what’s going on in their lives.

Yesterday, however, I gave in. My sister was visiting from out of town. She loves games and, admittedly, she is the livelier one between us. She and my husband convinced me to finally learn a game the rest of the family has been playing for a while…The Settlers of Catan.

Susan and Grant ran down the rules of the games. I wasn’t sure if I got it all, but I was ready to play anyways. I was prepared for an embarrassing loss. At least now I could say I knew how to play, and just perhaps I might jump in a game at the next family gathering.

Well, it might have been beginner’s luck or the excellent instructions that they gave me, but I ended up winning twice! I’m thinking about retiring on a high note.

image

Poor Susan…she likes to win.

Cherie Gagnon– Cherie

What about you? Do you like board games?

Neighborhood Watch

IMAG0811

If there is ever a crime committed next door, this should be the first witness called to testify!

I can guarantee he saw it happen, but it might be hard to get the story out of him.

Happy Monday!

Susie-3994-EditPS 72~ Susan

To have a friend, or be a friend…What say ye?

We’ve all known at least one…or probably more.

Those who count every ‘follower’ on face book, and every ‘twit’ on their Twitter account, as a friend. My goodness, look at me!!  I have six trillion followers on Twitter and I’m only following one hundred. Or–I can’t believe you only have two hundred friends on face book.  Why I have….

I understand this whole social networking thing. And I’m guilty of having friends on my face book that I wouldn’t necessarily recognize in person.  And I recently opened a Twitter account…which is interesting in itself.  And yes, I’m guilty of spending far too much time checking both.

We are celebrating friendships this week on this blog…this week before Valentine’s Day. That day when suddenly the whole idea of friends takes on a different meaning. Now the focus changes from many, to ‘special’, and the pressure begins. I can’t help but think of those who suddenly become invisible…no ‘to my beloved wife’ card…no ‘to my dear husband’…or ‘sweetheart’…or ‘significant other’…not even a ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ and saddest of all–no ‘to my special friend’. Nothing. Zilch. Zero. And the only thing you have to look forward to is the chocolate that goes on sale February 15.

But friendship, true friendship, that  ‘I would give my kidney’ or ‘I’d sell the farm  for you’ kind of friendship doesn’t need a holiday.  It’s everyday. It’s sitting by bedsides, rejoicing, weeping, taking, giving. It weathers storms of hurt feelings, misunderstandings, jealousy. It fills cupboards when it might leave yours bare. It’s believing, and supporting, and cheering for causes that are not necessarily your own, but it will benefit them. It’s giving even if you never get anything in return. It’s remembering the good times, and forgiving the bad. It’s…”no greater love than this…that a man lay down his life…

There are all kind of little ‘signs’ that say  “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.”

But I have a sign that a true friend gave me that says (and you may have to click on the pic to actually see it)

100_2314

The truth is–Friends ARE family.  I’m so very, very grateful for those people in my  life that are my ‘indeed’ friends.   My ‘say ye’, ‘hear ye’ friends.  My silly, maddening, too much fun, too little time together, ’til we die’ kind of friends. Those friends who give advice like a mom, or make rules they insist I follow–like a dad. Those who argue and nose into my business like younger siblings. Those who have held up my arms when I was too weak to do it myself. Those who loved me when I was everything but lovable. Those who believe in me, even when nothing is happening for them to believe.

But there are many, many, many people are out there who dread the family/lover-centered holidays for reasons they’ve had no voice choosing.

But you and I DO have a voice and we can choose.

MY CHALLENGE:  BEcome in the family way!! BE a friend.   🙂 

Lest you think I’m against romance…let me assure you I am  not!

 My hubby is the most romantic of all–the last Valentine’s gift I received from him was a cast iron skillet that took three hearty  men to lift, complete with the lid that utilized a crane to maneuver.  “For camping,” he said.  “Good ‘ole country, outdoor cooking,” he said.

“Ummm–sweetheart, I love you, but we never go camping,” I said.

road 2 we like!

Cousins: My First Friends

I came across this quote, “A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.” For me this is very true.
girls on beach

Although I didn’t have any first cousins on my dad’s side of the family, I was very fortunate to be one of twelve on my mom’s side. We all lived relatively close to one another and so we grew up together. We are all still in contact with each other, though we are spread out from Southern Ontario to Calgary, Alberta.

My oldest cousin's wedding with the younger ones (three are missing from this picture).

My oldest cousin’s wedding in the early 80’s with the younger ones (three are missing from this picture).

When I think about my childhood, my cousins played a big role. We swam together in the summer, had fashion shows at grandma’s house, sleepovers with little sleep, tomato picking with our mothers, trips up North and to the zoo.

It didn’t matter really what we were doing, we were together. And the memories that we made those many years ago stick with us today. We tease one another (sometimes a little too much), recalling funny things we did or said as kids. Years and years of inside jokes.

Did we always get along? Oh, there were times when we misunderstood one another, but we learned to forgive and love. We didn’t walk away from each other, we stuck together.

Of all the things I value with my relationship with my cousins is a shared faith in Christ Jesus, knowing we can call on one another for encouragement and prayer during times of need.

Me with the cousin closest to me in age. Still friends in our 40's :)

Me with the cousin closest to me in age. Still friends in our 40’s.

The youngest of us is now in his mid-30’s and the oldest is just over 50. And our family continues to grow, embracing spouses and welcoming babies. It’s wonderful to see the connections are still there and seeing the friendships grow in the next generation.

My son with my cousin's son.

My son with my cousin’s son.

– Cherie

And for our readers, we have two cousins on this blog. Do you know who they are?

Called to Write – Will you be there?

We are “Celebrating Friendships” this week and I am looking forward to seeing some dear friends at the Called To Write Conference. The countdown is on – it will be here in about seven weeks.

Called To Write was the first writers conference I ever attended and as I go back year after year, it keeps getting better. It’s where I first met Julane and Sara and Kathy and other writers who I love to connect with each year.

The conference will be April 3-5 in Pittsburg, Kan. Julane and her chapter have managed to line up some world-class presenters. Best-selling Christian authors Janice Hanna Thompson and Kristen Heitzman will be leading several classes. The other presenters include Kathy and myself. I’ll be teaching on writing for newspaper and I’m quite looking forward to it.

Besides the wonderful classes, the Called To Write conference focuses on a writer’s calling to serve God and minister to others through the written word. It is an amazing value for just $70.

If you’ve ever thought about being a writer, you will not find a more affordable, uplifting, instructive conference than this one. Please consider going – if you haven’t signed up al ready! Click here to register.

Susie-3994-EditPS 72I’ll see you there!

~ Susan