Connecting with Family

We have all kinds of cool ways to connect with our friends and family, but nothing beats being able to get together in person, real hugs, not just virtual ones. So when I attended August’s SendOutCards Convention, it became a road trip. My son and his family traveling with us, visiting relatives along the way.

By popular demand, here are a few of the photos I took:

Kids horsing aroung
Kids horsing around
Eating shoelaces
Eating shoelaces
Rock Stars
Rock Stars
sisters love
having fun
having fun

Back to School — LifeStyle Networking

school supplies
Photo by Laffy4K

Nothing like the start of a new school year. Chaos at my place. Of course getting back home right before school started didn’t help. First day of school and my kids do not have their schedules, passed out while we were out of town. My youngest is entering middle school for the first time, another one entering high school (at least she has her older brother to show her the ropes.) Few school supplies bought ahead of time.

It is never a small list. My youngest claims there is a giant storage room where her klennex boxes, paper towels, ziplock bags are sitting along with those of her much older siblings, and one day they will need to build a new building just to hold all that stuff. She said she has never once used nor seen many of those supplies.

We go to school early, pick up schedules, thankfully my high schoolers can handle that by themselves. It is much cooler to have your senior brother show you the way around campus than your mom.
My youngest doesn’t care, unlike her older brothers who once they hit that age will only hug mom in public if they are dripping sweat. She wants my hand and I show her how to find her classes. She still tells me she will never get married unless the guy agrees to move in with us, and she won’t go to college unless I come too.

So I’m catching up on stuff that accumulates when away for 2 weeks. Kids hit the house starved, grab snacks, then crash. Getting up at 5:30 to be at the pool by 6 AM then swimming a few miles had something to do with that. I wake them up about 9 so they can go to bed and it is panic city.

They said they were good on supplies, but now suddenly they forgot that they needed all kinds of stuff, and need it for tomorrow, can’t find their lock for swim locker, need a new one, etc. Fortunately Walmart is open all hours. Sadly their shelves look quite empty. I get what I can, the rest will have to wait.

My youngest has to have deodorant for her athletics class (her electives are swim, soccer, and athletics –the more time she can spend not sitting at a desk the happier she will be). Now she hasn’t quite reached that stage, but I’ve had enough whiffs from those sweaty boy hugs that I don’t mind.

There is a guy looking through the different brands, scents, so I naturally made some kind of comment about finding a smell my youngest would like. He says he likes trying new things and to smell this tropical one. So I do. It reminded me of the smell of the candles passed out in our bags at the SendOutCards convention. And the conversation went something like this:

“That smells just like this cool candle I got, sort of a pina colada smell. It was a different kind of candle.”

“What do you mean?”

“When you light the candle, it melts into a pool of massage oil”

“Cool, where can I find such a candle? I’ve never heard of such.”

“I got mine at a convention I just attended for my business. You can buy one at my website.”

“An online store?”

“Sort of, we have an easy way to send cards and gifts from your computer, saves trips to the store. I can give you a couple of cards for free to send out, give me a call and I’ll show you where to find the cool candles”

And so I give him a business card, he thanks me, introduces himself by name, blesses my business, and promises to send a card.

Take any time out of my day? Not really. But I’d have never meet him if I wasn’t out and about.

Then I look in the hardware section for new locks. I hear my name, and there is the guy who’d left a message in my absence, that I hadn’t had a chance to return his call. He wanted to pick up a big 50 gallon drum for water storage. Another friend left it with me when she moved and he was wanting one. I give him my cell number.

So much that got accomplished while shopping for school supplies. The water barrel just got picked up this morning. Not heard from the guy in the deodorant row. I need to remember to collect names and phone numbers. If I’d said “I can show you were to find those candles, give me you name and phone number, email address” it may have been better.

With all the school activities going on, there are plenty of excuses to be out and about. Start conversations. 🙂

A White House Garden?

Why not? I’ve always believed that if everyone grow some kind of food, even if only a tomato plant in a container, the healthier we would be, along with saving resources. A White House garden would be a great idea.

Still catching up from my trip, lots to share both photos and ideas, but first to unbury my house, mow down the jungle of my yard, etc. One of the things I like about twitter is the ease with with information is passed. I saw I had a new follower @EatTheView so I checked out their page. Loved the idea, made a quick blog post to share with others. As with any good thing, feel free to pass it on.

Pack a Care Package to Iraq

Iraq sand storm
Photo by James Gordon

Both military troops and civilians love getting packages from home. A surprise package from friends/

  • acquaintances is a special treat.

    When we sent a group of care packages out, we knew when they hit. Happy phone calls to the folks back home. Any many will write back if they get the chance. Here is how one described the weather in Iraq:

    “It has gotten up to 125 F, so if you want to know how it feels get yourself soaking wet (sweat) rub sand all over your body and have someone hold a hairdrier over you all day”

    One of the best ways to send a package is to pick up one of the smaller sized flat rate priority mail boxes from your post office and pack it full. Boxes themselves are free and ship for under $10. Some suggestions of what to pack in a box to Iraq:

    • Pictures, pictures, pictures. Our church group got together to send packages to members of our congregation in Iraq, dressed up in red, white and blue, added anything Texas related, took snapshots, added to the care packages. Those photos were priceless.
    • Jerky, Slim Jim’s and other dried meat snacks.

    • Nuts of any kind
      . If you know their favorites, be sure to include.
    • Candy, we chose to send hard candy and sealed in zip lock bags. No chocolate, I’m sure they’d love it, but considering the summer heat, it could arrive as a chocolate puddle.
    • Zip lock bags. I would not have thought of this one, but they are quite useful over there. Keep bugs and sand out.
    • Snack items such as gum, cookies, popcorn, chips stacked in those little containers. . . Too many to list just make sure they are not perishable, meltable.
    • Lip Balm. You can even get ones with sun protection. Think about it, they are in a desert, cuts down on dry chappy lips. Throw in several.
    • Dental floss, baby powder, sunscreen, lotion, baby wipes, I’ve even seen wipes with both sunscreen and bug repellent.
    • Phone cards, check with your friend overseas. How are they calling home? Do they have their own satellite phone, or do they use pre-paid calling cards. If purchasing minutes, then calling cards are always welcome.
    • Reminders of home. We sent patriotic (near 4th of July) wrist bands, stickers, flags. Any thing that reminds them of home. The kids had fun when one of the guys was back home visiting, thanked our children’s group, and was still wearing the wrist band from home.
    • Save and send the Sunday funnies, click good newspaper articles.
    • Pictures, drawings, letters. Get a group together, write letters, draw pictures, we had pre-schoolers drawing pictures which we included in our packages. On guy shared drawings with his friends in Iraq. Can you believe there are some over there that never get any mail and a drawing from an unknown child to post in their area is a welcome treat. Means more than the store bought items.
    • Record yourself and save to a cd. Tell about your day, read a story, read the good things in your local paper.
    • Most important, make sure you let them know they are much appreciated. Not forgotten.

      For an easy way to send personalized photo greeting cards, visit CardsConnectSimply.

  • I Almost Didn’t Tweet

    I’ve been hearing much about Twitter, but kept it on a back burner. Not one more thing to join. One more profile page to fill in. Not one more password to make up.

    But the more I heard about twitter, the more I knew I’d have to check this one out.

    Finally I decided I might as well save my name. So I grabbed a twitter account, was delighted there was no lengthy profile to fill out. I have some of those already, I can just point to one, better yet, my business page.

    Funny thing happened, while I was checking it out how it worked, I just started using it, finding friends, communicating back and forth. No long posts, no more than 140 characters.

    • If you have Facebook, click on the twitter application on the left, add your twitter info, then your tweets update facebook too.
    • If you have a blog you will want your posts to auto-tweet. See Auto Tweet Your Posts</li>
    • Looking for something?Search Twitter
    • Many twitter tools make your life easier. I’m using Digsby. Thanks to Blake!
    • I believe what is even more valuable on twitter is the connections you make, read Felicia Slattery’s Ryze post
    • Learning how to Twitter. Tweet! Tweet!

    Great to Be Eight 08 08 08

    Celebrating Rain
    Celebrating Rain

    August 8, 2008 Also known as 08/08/08.

    This Great to be Eight Day is a busy one for me. Packing, making sure bills paid in advance, instructions written down for son who is house sitting, making sure our church’s children organization is covered in my absence, food for the house, food packed for road trip, several phone calls to make, endless little things which not all will get done.

    But it is a great day. I’m heading out to attend SendOutCards convention in Salt Lake City. My oldest daughter lives out that way with her family, my parents, 2 brothers, 2 sisters and their families. My mother-in-law, sister-in-law families along the way. First traveling to my son’s place and they will head out with us the next morning. Start of a great trip visiting family, friends along the way.

    Another great thing about today is rain! Real rain! My trees were melting and my grass goes crunch, tired of needing oven gloves to drive my car.

    Next couple weeks, you won’t be seeing me online much. Now I’ve not kicked the bucket, been held hostage by aliens, or sucked into a black hole. I’m enjoying time visiting family, and attending the Send Out Cards convention.

    Meanwhile, feel free to comment, browse around, send a greeting card, and download Laura Wheeler’s Essential Strategies for Earning with Affiliate Links book.

    Auto-Tweet Your Posts

    Feed Your Blog to Twitter
    Feed Your Blog to Twitter

    Anything that saves me time and helps me keep up (somewhat) with all these social media trends is a good thing.

    One thing I like about twitter is that I can feed my tweets to Facebook, and feed my blog’s feed to twitter. Anytime I create a new post it goes straight to twitter then Facebook. More links to my blog, and those friends and followers who hang out there are informed of my new posts. Auto-tweets.

    There are several wordpress plugins that work with twitter. I don’t know which work best, but feel free to share you favorite twitter tools and plugins. If you want your tweets to show up on your blog, check out the twittertools plugin and other twitter tools.

    I am using, a very simply way to feed your rss feeds to twitter. I signed up for twitter and facebook same day. Two places I kept putting off investigating. To my surprise there was a twitter ap in the left side of facebook, so I filled it in and happy days, my tweets were now on face book.

    Twitterfeed, “. . .feed your blog to twitter.”

    Teachers Who Relate to Students

    bird teaching baby to eat
    Photo by foxypar4

    When I was in college, after my freshman year, I decided I was going to pick my teachers. First day of class I was deciding “is it worth my time to listen to this dude (or “dudette”) for the next semester?” And if they didn’t pass, I was dropping their class and signing up for another.

    I had a very dry chemistry teacher the year before, brilliant guy, wrote his own book, but couldn’t teach, didn’t relate well to others. I fell asleep in class, skipped class, had a couple friends in class and we tried not to miss the same days and hopefully not miss the tests.

    Amazingly I passed. But I vowed never again would I waste my time and money in a class I didn’t want to be in. I know you have to take certain classes to get your degree, but in a large university it is about choices.

    And it wasn’t about the subject as it was the teacher. I had an human biology class that I dreaded taking, afraid it would be full of terms to memorize. But from day one I was hooked. The professor got us thinking about how things worked, why, engaged us in fun discussions. I learned more chemistry in his biology class than my chemistry class.

    Now this may not be the traditional way to go to college, but being somewhat of a rebel, I decided to learn the things I wanted to learn, from those whom I wanted to learn from. It would be sad to spend time and money at an institution that offered cool stuff and not to participate because it wasn’t on your recommended schedule.

    Guilt was gone. Freedom! Take whatever I pleased but still work towards graduation. Contrary to popular belief, I did not take underwater basket weaving. I did take a rock climbing class, a hiking class, a how to put on a campfire program class. More than one ceramic class, I had no idea it would be so much fun to squeeze that mud between my fingers and make stuff. My roommates got a kick out of the funky looking toilet I made and stuffed an air fern in the bowl. Creative writing. Learned I had talent there. Was kind to myself, one creative class and one active class each semester. One summer I took off with my sister and we took classes while hiking, canoing, horseback riding in the Tetons and Yellowstone. Now the class that taught me how to load a pack horse I’ve not used since, and forgotten. Yet the experience taught me much, and I passed off more general ed requirements.

    As Teddy Towncrier was saying how cool it would be to spend a week with Randy Pausch, I was thinking of Randy’s students, how they were blessed. One of my self-imposed rules was if you find a great teacher, take their classes, who cares if they count towards you major. Maybe you are in the wrong major? Stephen Covey was teaching at the university, someone had giving me one of his books when I graduated from high school. I liked the book, so I took his class. Worth every minute.

    I’d had many great teachers, not all as well known, but great talent just the same. I remember one of my favorite high school teachers that had a student teacher for a 6 weeks. (Tough spot for the student teacher, pretty big shoes to fill, who would have thought a social studies teacher could be so popular). The student teacher was very bright, but did not have the attention of the class. He’d switch from one technique to the next. Didn’t matter. He’d lost us. Asleep, visiting with each other, whatever, but he did not have our undivided attention. We had a discussion with the teacher later, learned that he flunked the dude. Harsh? Maybe, but as he explained, nice guy, knows his stuff, but unless he learns to relate to his students he will never make it as a teacher.

    And I think that is the key, relating to students. He treated us as equals, shared knowledge, had discussions not lectures. True he lead discussions, but they were discussions, sometimes off track, but the material was covered, ideas planted, and we were encouraged to have our own thoughts, learn new things, think outside the box.

    Thanks to all the teachers who relate to their students, care about each and everyone, adding their own personal touch to the class.