2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 13,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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No. 1 Billboard Hit, 1996

Whew! !996 seems to be getting a little more back on track with some worthy music of the number one spot on the Billboard charts.

On my 25th birthday on February 15, 1996, the number one hit on the Billboard charts was One Sweet Day by Mariah Carey with Boyz II Men. Mariah Carey has one of the most powerful voices of all time and I could listen to her all day long, no matter who she is singing with or what song she is singing. Her vocal abilities never cease to amaze me.

The number one Billboard hit on July 14, 1996, Jeremiah’s 5th birthday, was How Do You Want It by 2Pac. I only know of 2Pac because both of my boys have several of his CDs and talked about his music quite a bit. I really enjoyed listening to this song as it has a great rhythm and he is not as bad as I had imagined. I suppose I just assumed that whatever music my kids liked would be something I did not. Well, in this case, that was an incorrect assumption. Go ahead, give it a listen and tell me what you think.

Here are both of these songs, but for now, I must run. I have a commitment this morning that I cannot bail on. The next Billboard post will begin to include my youngest son’s birthday’s number one hits as well. Zachariah was born on May 28, 1997.

Until then, Ciao!

Molly Gets Her Wings

Our Beloved Molly
2000-2012

As you may have noticed on the bottom of Molly’s picture above, I have some sad news. Our precious pup, Molly, passed away Monday, June 4, 2012 at a little after 10 AM. Hip dysplasia got the better of her and Cherie and Mary made the most difficult, but most loving decision to have her put to sleep. She could no longer run and play, could barely stand, and then only for seconds at a time, was almost completely blind, and had been clutched by a fear that could only be calmed if she could feel the loving hands of one or more of her family members petting her gently, but constantly. The vet was a very nice woman and took the time to explain that we were not only doing the right thing, but all the reasons why. She also shared her own experience in that she knows that her dog is still around on occasion due to some occurrences that could only be explained by his presence.

Molly was not alone; she had her mothers, Cherie and Mary, with her, and Steven and myself there to hug, kiss, reassure, and love her to the end. She was very brave and laid calm and peaceful through the short process and in the end, as her Mama Cherie said, “She looked so beautiful.”  Molly was born on July 25, 2000 and had the best 12 years of life that any dog could have. We all spent the remainder of the day sharing many great memories of Molly, laughing and crying, and supporting each other as a family.

I have personally only known Molly for a little over a year, but I grew to love her as if I had known her my entire life. Molly was a very special puppy. It was Mary’s first Valentine’s Day gift to Cherie very early in their relationship, some 11 years ago. Molly has been there to get them both through many hard times in their lives and has given them a lot of laughs, stories to tell, and memories to cherish and treasure until the end of time. Here are bits and pieces of Molly’s amazing life and journey that have been shared with me.

Mary had recently obtained a job in the World Trade Center towers. She had not been there long when she had a doctor’s appointment and at that appointment, she learned the devastating news that she had Multiple Sclerosis. The following week, as Mary was taking some time to adjust to the news and attend follow-up appointments with her doctor, she was astonished to see on the news the events of 9/11 as they were happening. Mary and Cherie lived in an apartment in New York City just a few miles from the Towers. What they went through that day and are still dealing with today is a story for only the two of them to tell. I mention it only because, it was the medical news and then the attacks that Mary was referred to a support group. I believe it was a 12 week program that helped individuals to deal with trauma and tragedy and so new groups would join previously set groups and these groups would cycle in and out.

Molly and Cherie Napping Together

Though Cherie had a very well established dog walking and pet care business in which she had 300 clients and was highly sought after, she did not at that time have a dog of her own. Cherie wanted (and still does) an English Bulldog. Mary knew she wanted to get Cherie a puppy for Valentine’s Day, so she was on the look-out and one day, she saw a poster with Molly’s adorable little puppy face needing a good home. Molly’s previous owner had learned she would be put on dialysis and would no longer be able to care for Molly. Mary knew that a Boston Terrier was not an English Bulldog, but she was just too cute to pass up and so she called and arranged to go meet Molly after her group session. As Mary sat in her chair, holding the poster of Molly in her hand, and sharing the news that she was going to go pick up her new pup, a woman spoke up, one of the new group members, and said, “That is my dog you are coming to get.” This new woman was in the group to find support in coping both with her dialysis and with having to give up her puppy who was not yet a year old. In that moment, both women knew that it was what was meant to be for Molly.

Molly (front left), Tucker (standing behind Molly and a client of Cherie and Mary’s), Mary (the human), and Katie (another client).

Molly was, to say the least, a blessing for Cherie and is in large part, what helped Cherie cope with the life-changing tragedy of 9/11. Molly also got Cherie through another very difficult time; that of the hurricane Katrina that turned New Orleans upside down. Not only is New Orleans where Cherie was born and spent the first 40 years of her life, but her son, Steven, was living there at the time the hurricane struck, and for nearly nine months after, she was unable to get a hold of him. She was certain that her son was dead, and try as she did to find him, she could not. He did finally call her and she was relieved to hear that he was safe and sound and alive. Cherie had a lot of support through this period of time, but it was Molly’s love and devotion that helped keep her going. Molly has been there for Cherie and Mary through several death’s of family members, through many sicknesses, and the times when Cherie was near death, more than her share, Molly continued to be a constant.

Molly was a comforter, a hero, a loyal friend, and dependable companion, but she was also a champion athlete. Her favorite thing to do was to run, chasing a ball, and playing until she was stopped against her will. She could find any ball, anywhere, and she did this to a miraculous extent. Mary and Cherie have taken Molly on many trips, including a cross-country trip from New York to California. Along the way, they, of course, made many stops for gas, to eat, and to use the restroom. On one such stop, at a gas station deep in the desert, they let Molly out to potty, and before they knew it, she took off like a jack rabbit. They couldn’t imagine what she was up to, but never would have expected exactly what had taken a hold of her. Moments later, Molly returned from the dessert…with a tennis ball in her mouth! Only Molly could find a ball in the middle of the desert. 

Another one of Molly’s favorite trips to take was to go see Angie, one of the family’s dearest friends, in New Orleans. Angie’s house is set on two acres and Molly couldn’t be happier than when she was chasing one of her many balls all over Angie’s large property. It is a rare treat when these ladies, Mary, Cherie, and Angie, can get together, sitting on Angie’s porch, drinking coffee and just enjoying each other’s company and long conversations. As they sat talking, Molly would chase the ball, return it to the porch and be at the ready for the next big throw.

On one of these occasions, time passed without notice, and someone realized that Molly had been running for hours and hours and should probably come in for a rest. After hiding the ball from Molly’s sight, they were able to get a hold of her and bring her inside. She drank long and was sure to get plenty to satisfy her thirst, immediately followed by peeing on the very spot she stood, on Angie’s floor. She then hopped up on the bed and with little strength left in her tiny, muscular legs, collapsed from exhaustion. As she rolled over on her back, everyone noticed that Molly’s belly was red and covered with red ant bites. Molly had proved, yet again, that nothing would keep her from having fun and chasing her ball; not hunger, or thirst, not exhaustion or pain, and not any amount of time. So much exercise Molly got on that trip that she lost nearly half of her body weight.

Molly’s love for her family was boundless, but the one person she was most excited to see was another dear friend of the family, Marlene, in New York City. Marlene is allergic, but risked any and all consequences when she hugged and petted and kissed Molly. Molly would get so animated when she saw Marlene that she would nearly have a coronary trying to escape from the car to get to her. Molly not only loved those in her life, but was deeply loved by many.

Cherie, being the fabulous cook that she is, has spent a lot of hours in the kitchen. Molly was always right there by her side waiting for any morsel of food to be dropped, spilled, or flown to the floor. She was also given many pots and pans to lick prior to their making it to the sink to be washed. During dinner, Molly would sit very still and quiet and stare at us while we ate. Her eyes would bulge out of her face and ears perked straight up, waiting for anyone of us to take our last bite, as she knew the plate would then be hers to lick spotless. Molly never begged, but occasionally gave a quick bark as a reminder if, for some reason, we were not paying attention or forget to set our plate under her nose. She was such a good girl!

Molly at Pride NYC

Molly was a proud puppy. She has marched with her mamas in the New York City Pride Parade, wearing her Pride rainbow, frilly collar and held her head high, marching along as if she were a celebrity on a runway. Often during this 10 mile march, she would be offered water, but would refuse to drink it in front of her fans. It would be much later, once the crowd had begun to fade away, that she would finally indulge and quench her thirst with a rainbow, Italian ice. She was quite the Princess that way.

The Pride Parade was not the only place Molly would strut her stuff for the crowds. As I have mentioned, she has spent time in New Orleans, and she has shared in the festivities of Mardi Gras. Here, she would wear her pink tutu, and was the center of attention. Mary said she was a major chick magnet, as dozens of strippers would flock out to the street to ooo and ahh, pet and admire, and in some cases take pictures of Molly.

There are many more beautiful, fun, and happy memories to be shared about Molly, but her moms want to write some of these themselves. Once finished, I will share what they have written with you here, but for now, I will share one last memory of Molly that I was a part of. Last Christmas, Molly was on Cherie and Mary’s bed, Jingle Bells was being sung on the television and I sat beside Molly and began to sing along, but in a dog howl kind of way. Molly joined in and howled with me. She has been known to bark, but never has she howled until this moment. From that night on, whenever I would enter the room where she was, she immediately began to howl, letting me know that she wanted me to sing with her. Cherie, especially, was not amused and would thank me with sarcasm for teaching her this new noise. Cherie’s gratitude always made us laugh. I am going to miss that precious little pup!

Molly in her Tu-Tu with brother Steven (left), Mama Cherie (center), and Mama Mary (right) on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

I find comfort thinking of Molly joining Manhattan (my kitten whom I lost a little over a year ago) on the Rainbow Bridge. I can see Molly running, chasing many balls, tongue hanging out and a smile on her face, blissfully passing the time until one of us comes to retrieve her. We love you Molly, so very much, and we will see you again!

Sworn In

Welcome to my 100th post! The following video shows my step-son, Joshua, being sworn into the Army. Please know that I am not wild about the military, for reasons I do not wish to divulge, but I am very proud of Josh! The father of my boys and my ex-husband was married once before me and had three children from that first marriage. I have mentioned Jacob, the oldest, in my post, Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss. Joshua is the second son, followed by Anna, and then my two boys, Jeremy and Zachary. As you watch this video, you will see Joshua and his mother, along with my oldest, Jeremy (the skinny kid in the background), and another woman whom I do not know.

I am proud of Josh for the obvious reasons, including, as you will see in the video, that he is among the only 1% who has volunteered to participate in the military. But I am also proud of Josh for another reason: he has Asperger’s Syndrome. To give you just a little background of what that entails, KenCrest describes it this way: “Asperger’s Syndrome is the mildest and highest functioning end of the Autism Spectrum. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome experience problems in social interaction and often have restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities.These difficulties may include eye contact, facial expressions, and social gestures; poor peer relationships; lack of spontaneous sharing with others; lack of social or emotional give-and-take; preoccupation with certain interests and subjects; inflexible routines or rituals; repetitive movements.” Though there is no cure for Autism, as of yet, Josh has learned to overcome some of the social and emotional symptoms, and has become a better son, a better brother, and a better friend as a result. What a man he has grown into! Yea Joshua! Way to go!

Without further ado, please take a few minutes to view the video and share in this grand moment with me.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

Though his passing has been over 20 years ago, and that is sad indeed, I want to honor Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel on this day, his birthday, and share what impact this wonderful, brilliant man has had on my life. First, here is a very small amount of history of the great, late author and illustrator from Wikipedia.

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, published over 60 children’s books over the course of his long career. Though most were published under his well-known pseudonym, Dr. Seuss, he also authored over a dozen books as Theo. LeSieg and one as Rosetta Stone. As one of the most popular children’s authors of all time, Geisel’s books have topped many bestseller lists, sold over 222 million copies, and been translated into more than 15 languages. In 2000, when Publishers Weekly compiled their list of the best-selling children’s books of all time; 16 of the top 100 hardcover books were written by Geisel, including Green Eggs and Ham, at number 4, The Cat in the Hat, at number 9, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, at number 13, and Dr. Seuss’s ABC. In the years following his death in 1991, several additional books based on his sketches and notes were published, including Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! and Daisy-Head Mayzie. Although they were all published under the name Dr. Seuss, only My Many Colored Days, originally written in 1973, was entirely by Geisel.

Wikipedia

I have loved to read for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest childhood memories is practicing my reading with many of Dr. Seuss’s books. There were many and I loved them all dearly, but my favorite was, of course, Green Eggs and Ham. Though my artistic abilities, or rather desires, did not come to light until I was in my 30s (see The Artist in Me), when I reminisce those younger years, I remember that the brightly colored pictures are what lured me to know what the words said. It was through his books that I found a love of color as well as a love of reading. I can recall the many coloring books I had and how carefully I colored so they would be as dazzling and happy as the pictures in my favorite books.

One of the things my mother said all the time was that there is always a bright side in any situation. I have found that to be true throughout  my life and one very good example of that involves Dr. Seuss. During some of the darkest days in my marriage to my children’s father, we also had custody of his three children from a previous marriage. My oldest was about four and I was still pregnant with my youngest. Jacob, the oldest of my step-children, was having trouble reading his fourth grade reading assignments. He would read out loud, as it was easier for him, and I would hear not only a very monotone consistency in his voice, but he did not pause for commas or at the end of sentences. He did not enjoy reading and struggled through his required homework every evening, but he was trying. I decided to help in out, but to do so in a way that would not hurt his self-esteem.

I went to his room, sat him down and told him that I needed a huge favor. I said that I had not been reading to Jeremy (my oldest) as much as I should be and just did not have the time. I handed him a stack of about seven Dr. Seuss books and asked him if he would read them to Jeremy and that I would sign his reading slip, confirming that he did indeed read for 20 minutes. I explained to him that he did not have to continue reading the book he chose for his homework because in reading to his brother, he would be reading and that was what mattered. He looked at me like he was waiting for the catch. I assured him that I was serious and that it was very important to me that he help me out.

I explained to Jacob that one of the most important things to do in helping a young child learn how to read was to read to them. I opened one of the books and showed him how I wanted him to read the books. Loooooooong words were to be read drawn out, BIG words were to be said in a loud and deep voice, and little words were to be read in a higher pitch voice, but spoken quietly. I demonstrated and said that this was key in holding Jeremy’s attention and keeping him excited about the story. I asked Jacob if he understood and he shook his head yes. I said to let Jeremy pick which books and then to make the reading as fun as possible, looking surprised or happy or confused or sad depending on what was happening in the story.

Once I had convinced Jacob that he really would be helping me and that he would get full credit for doing his reading homework, he started right away. A few weeks later, I was passing by his bedroom door and could hear Jeremy giggling and Jacob making a big show of the story. I truly hope that my intentions would pan out. They had. Even more than I had expected. I was almost done cooking dinner one night and went to get the children to come to the table. When I reached Jacob’s door, I could not believe my ears! He had, without being told to, picked up the book he was reading before I asked him to help me Jeremy, the one he had struggled to read and was now reading again from where he had left off. His articulation had improved dramatically and as a result, he was reading more smoothly and the hesitation and forced effort seemed to have nearly disappeared.

Just as I had suspected, by incorporating the emphasis that is so strongly integrated in Dr. Seuss’s rhymes and illustrations of the words, into Jacob’s daily reading, had in fact improved his ability to read and much to my surprise, he was reading because he now wanted to. That was not the only proud moment that came out of this adventure. Jacob went on to graduate high school with a 4.0 GPA and is now in the Navy, serving our country. Thank you, Dr. Seuss!

Ladybug in All Her Glory

I Love Ladybugs! I have a lot of reasons why I love them, but before I get to my silly, personal reasons, allow me to share with you one of the most important! “The Ladybird [Ladybug] street tile is a symbol against ‘senseless violence’ in The Netherlands and is often placed on the sites of deadly crimes” (Digitalism Magazine). I realize that the following paragraph has a lot of big, foreign words in it, however, the information is worth choking through (or skipping over) those words and I believe an example that should be followed in other countries, as well. I, personally, am going to see what it will take to establish this awareness in my own country, America! I am open to any and all suggestions on this, so please, feel free to comment your hearts out!

“The Dutch call the Ladybug an Onze-lieve-Heersbestje , a crude translation being ‘Our dear Lord’s Little Beastlet.’ It’s not surprising that the Ladybird is the Dutch National symbol against aggression and mindless violence with well over 300,000 people who wear the Ladybird pin expressing this symbolic sentiment. Since July 2004, NRG Rex-Rotary Netherlands has been one of the official ambassadors of the Dutch National Foundation Against Senseless Violence…Landelijke Stichting Tegen Zinloos Geweld (LSTZG). Bart Wisbrun started the Foundation in 1997 with the Ladybug paving stone which literally paved the way for others around the world to think the same. NRG Rex-Rotary [in the] Netherlands had salespeople place 250 paving stones in school playgrounds as part of the Foundation’s philosophy that by not treading on this paving stone and by walking around it carefully it would remind us of what the Ladybird stands for” (Digitalism Magazine ©).

I also found this fun little bit of information on Wikipedia; “Ladybirds are and have for very many years been favorite insects of children, who are reputed to regard them tenderly. The Ladybird is immortalized in the children’s nursery rhyme extant:

Ladybird, Ladybird, fly away home
Your house is on fire and your children are gone
All except one, and that’s Little Anne
For she has crept under the warming pan.”

In many places is North-Europe, tradition says you get a wish granted if a Ladybug lands on you. I have always believed that too, though I am not from Northern Europe. If you Google “symbolism of Ladybugs” you will find a list of sites that have a variety of said symbolises. If you count the spots of a Ladybug that lands on you, it will indicate how many months before true love finds you. Or, a Ladybug that lands on your arm is said to measure you for gloves to be worn at your wedding, which you can expect to take place in one year. Ladybugs bring love, luck, and loot—the financial kind. And you have to admit, for an insect, it is pretty darn cute. Did you know they have an array of colors, not just red, but orange, yellow, and even some shades of purple? One myth says that the number of spots on a Ladybug’s wings indicate its age, but that is just a myth because a Lady never tells her age.

You may also thank the Ladybug, as they are loved by farmers. Why is that? Because Ladybugs gobble up aphids at a rate of nearly 75 per day—each! More Ladybugs mean less pests, which lead to bigger and healthier crops, thus lower prices at the supermarket. Sure, ok, theoretically anyway. But enough of the boring facts. Why do I love Ladybugs?

When I was a very young child, my Aunt Terry was killed in a drunk driving accident. It was July 4th, and it was her 25th birthday. She and my Uncle Kyle were on their way to Memaw and Pappy’s house for dinner, birthday cake, and presents. A truck came out of nowhere, driven by a 15-year-old girl, with two more girls her age in the seat beside her. They had all been drinking and instead of stopping at the stop sign, they slammed into the passenger side of my uncle’s truck. My aunt died two hours later at the hospital.

Less than a year later, my Memaw died. Her death certificate says she died of heart failure, but my mother always said she died of a broken heart at the loss of her youngest child. All I knew was that my heart had been broken and I didn’t think I would live much longer myself. I was only eight, but had never experienced the kind of pain that the loss of my beloved Memaw caused me. I never wanted to love anyone as much as I loved her ever again and risk feeling this awful when they were taken away from me.

Sometime later, (maybe about two years…I’m not exactly sure) my Uncle Kyle got married again to a beautiful and wonderful woman who was called Bunny by her family and friends. I tried to ignore her, though she was always so nice to me and talked to me more than most adults did. I couldn’t help it; I came to adore her (I still do). Aunt Bunny called me Ladybug. I loved walking into their house and hearing her say, with a huge smile on her face, “Well, hi there, Ladybug! Fancy seeing you here” and we would laugh. She spent a lot of time with me. Aunt Bunny would bake with me, do my nails, perm my hair, and let me dress up in her many gorgeous outfits that filled her walk-in closet. She hummed all the time and it was a very soothing and comforting sound.

I have loved Ladybugs ever since. I have Ladybug earrings, a Ladybug planter, Ladybug stationary, a “beanie” Ladybug, and a stuffed bear in a Ladybug costume, just to name a few. In this past year, I have made a new friend. She is smart, funny, very caring, and is wiser than she knows. From our first conversation, I found her to be comfortable to talk to and I immediately  developed an admiration for her that had a really familiar feel. It didn’t take long to remember, and so, in honor of those precious memories, I often call this very dear friend of mine, Ladybug!