Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas 2007

I know, I know, what am I doing on the computer on Christmas day? This is one of very few days during the year that I refuse to be on a schedule. We used to spend our Christmas holidays like a lot of families, Christmas Eve was spent at my sister-in-laws where we stuffed ourselves and exchanged gifts, Santa came to visit the kids and hand out more presents, that is the gathering I do miss. Then, we would get up before the sun Christmas morning to open presents with the kids, eat breakfast, get dressed and it was off to the grandparents and friends houses to visit and exchange gifts. Although it is always good to spend the holidays with friends and family, the schedule could be stressful and exhausting. So, since my sister-in-law and her husband sold their house to purchase an RV and travel, we began to change the routine. Christmas dinner was moved to Christmas Eve, this left more time to just relax the next day and take a nap! Now that my husbands parents have passed, Christmas day is even quieter.
We are having Christmas dinner tonight, it's just the four of us and we'll eat when it's ready.
With working full time, 2 teenagers, one having a very busy schedule with school, work, church and her social life, life is stressful. So, we decided to not be on a schedule this year. Last night, after wrapping presents, we put on a movie, had nachos, homemade cookies and other munchies. It was very relaxing. Today, we can stay in our PJ's all day if we like, I can take this time to work on my blog, which I want to edit and add and change features to and link up with others out there. And of course, my daughter has a boyfriend and is splitting her time between here and there. I guess I always knew this day would come, but I didn't say I would have to like it. One other things is really different about this year. I think it's the first time since the birth of my children that I didn't have someone waking me up in the predawn hours giddy with excitement and ready to tear open Christmas presents. I thought my son would wake us bright and early, he was so excited. Matt was inspecting presents, picking up what was obviously a CD, "Gee mom, wonder what that is?" Then he inspected another package, "Let's see, it's kind of big, it gives a little, so it's not electronic." I pleaded with him as I do every year to leave the packages alone until morning.....why do we do that? Do we really think they aren't going to try to figure out what it is they are getting? Of course, in years past I have tricked them by putting bricks in boxes, marbles or other items that would make noise so that they wouldn't be able to figure out what was inside, putting items in boxes that aren't what the contents say. However, it was amusing when my son unwrapped a box with a picture of an Immersion Blender, (a hand held blender) and said to me, "I know this can't be a hand blender.....he opened the box to find a hand held blender and looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Mom, why did you buy me a hand held blender?" I told him it was because he loves to make milkshakes a lot and other frothy drinks. To which he smiled and said thanks and thought it was pretty cool. My 17 year old daughter Sara, who normally is not a morning person was so wired on cold medicine and caffeine this morning, that and giddy because her boyfriend had given her a Christmas morning wake up call. I have to say, she really scored some points with mom today. My present from her is a ticket to see Micheal Buble in concert this February, my friend Maggie got the other ticket, so it'll be a girls night out! Now there's something I haven't done in a while. Our dog Lula was very happy with her stocking full of new toys, one of which she is peacefully sleeping next to at my feet. My husband was happy with his new coffee pot, which he'd been saying for weeks he needed a new one. I wasn't quite sure how to respond to the gift card to the hair stylist. You see, we are coming off a very difficult year, especially the last few months and have been left in a bit of a financial bind, so I have put off getting a haircut, besides, Matt needed it more, he was beginning to look like cousin IT from The Munsters. But, I have to admit, I am excited about it now, having my hair done is high on the list of relaxing things I love to do. I always tell the girl that does my hair to just take her time so that I can savor these few moments spent on myself.
Well, time to think about putting that rib-roast in the oven. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Staying Connected

I sit here and stare at the empty box on my blog screen and can't even think of what to say.
This is all new to me. This blogging thing is pretty incredible when you think about it. It wasn't so long ago when I first heard the term "blog". I remember thinking, "what the heck is a blog?"
A local soldier was "blogging" about his experiences in Iraq to the people at home and his blogs were being published in the local newspaper. I remember thinking what a great idea that was. Blogging and e-mail are in my opinion 2 of the best things about the internet. What a great way for family and friends to stay connected. About 10 years ago, (wow, has it been that long?) e-mail became a vital part of my life and the life of my in-laws. When my kids were younger and my husband's parents were still with us, we e-mailed nearly every day. We wrote what we often referred to as "the dailies". These were letters back and forth about the daily grind. I would talk about what the kids and I had done each day, visits to the park, the beach, school events, and all the silly and not so silly things they were up to. Being able to send pictures over the internet was the best so that we could see how all the kids were growing. We could see how Cathy's garden was growing and Carol's place on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Butch could send us pictures of his progress with the airplane he was building. (Note: unfortunately the newly finished airplane was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina). I used to love getting my sister-in-law Cathy's gardening stories, even though she thought they were pretty boring. They were always dealing with critters getting into their gardens and some of the deterrents they would use were amusing, especially the ones of Alex fighting off snakes with a stick and pine-sol spray. Oma loved getting her e-mail every night so she could hear about what the kids were up to. If for some reason I didn't get around to writing for a couple of days she would call and want to know when her next story was coming. It didn't matter how insignificant it might seem to me, it meant a lot to her and Opa. They said it made them feel like they were more a part of our lives and that was very important to them. As the kids got a little older, they were able to e-mail their own notes to Oma and Opa. That wasn't always a good thing for me. I got a call from Oma one day that Sara had written her a note about me and that she was told what a mean momma I was because she had gotten in trouble. We giggled over that one for a while. Then as Oma and Opa grew older and their health failed, e-mail became a lifeline. Oma and Opa had a growing list of health problems which left them in need of a lot of assistance. As we were the only family that lived in the same city, it was up to us to take on a good bit of the responsibility for a while. We shopped for them, did housecleaning, repairs from time to time, took them to doctors appointments and sometimes just a social visit to let the kids spend time with their grandparents. As their health declined and more specialized care was needed, and more frequent visits to check on them, I e-mailed other family members almost daily with news of how their parents were really doing. I kept them informed about what doctors were saying, medicines they were taking, discontinuing, and changing. They called them often, but Oma and Opa weren't always forthcoming with information. So it was up to me to give the real scoop. Now Oma and Opa have passed, the kids are teenagers and our lives have gotten so much busier we we're not writing "the dailies" anymore and I miss that. I still have copies of a lot of those e-mails and from time to time I get them out and read them and wonder how I didn't lose my sanity. I think it was because through it all, we stayed connected by sharing with each other. Many years ago, the indians would sit around the campfire and share stories, there was a sense of family. Maybe we didn't sit around the campfire and share our stories, but we did sit around our PC's waiting for the next e-mail to come.

Thursday, August 2, 2007



I am 43 and I have entered into what experts call perimenopause. The premenopausal stages when you start to notice some troubling changes. I have to say the fatigue and weight gain came first. You know, when your body starts turning into that resembles that of a sharpea, you know, the little dog with all the wrinkles and rolls. Unfortunately for us, it's just not as cute. I have noticed over the last couple of years that I seem to be a little on the warm side, I sweat more than I ever have. I noticed last winter that on those really (rare) cold nights that I don't necessarily reach for the long flannel pants, fuzzy slippers and a robe and get underneath two blankets and a comforter the way I used to. No, thanks to my new internal heater, a light blanket will suffice, and chances are during the night, that will be tossed aside. My husband even noticed the change one freezing night as he sat next to his space heater and I got up and turned the thermostat down. He asked me if I was going through "the change".

A couple of nights ago I had what I think must have been my first official hot flash. I have occasions when I complain of being unusually hot and break out in a sweat and stick my head in the freezer. This however, was something different. I was getting ready for bed when I felt it coming on. It was like someone had flipped a switch, my face felt like it was on fire and the heat engulfed my entire body, I began to sweat and said to my husband, "It is so hot in here!" He of course was fine, it could be 80 degrees in our room and he'd be complaining it was too cold. I climbed into bed and pushed all the covers aside. After about 10 minutes, I felt a bit of a cool down pulled a sheet over me, only to toss it aside again a couple of times during the night when I woke up warm and a little sweaty. I was talking to my husband about this the next night as we were going to bed and he responded, "Oh, Goody!"

That's not the only problem I'm having. I was in the middle of making a pitcher of tea the other day, when I went to the pantry to get the sugar I forgot what it was I wanted. This sort of thing happens all the time now. I frequently go to another room in the house to retrieve something,
only to forget what it was I wanted when I get there. Heck, sometimes I forget to go to the bathroom, I get to the point where I can no longer hold it and think, "Oh, I meant to do that an hour ago." The issue of forgetting where I parked my car, especially in the Super Walmart parking lot, as been resolved. I park on the same aisle every time, straight out from the entrance. I had to resort to this after spending about 15 humiliating minutes roaming around the parking lot with a full cart of groceries searching for my car.

The big joke around our house is my lack of ability to keep track of my reading glasses. I walk around the house searching for them at least a dozen times a day. It is a running joke around here and my husband swears he's going to get me one of those chains you attach to your glasses and wear around your neck. I don't think so! I might as well hand a sign around my neck that says, "I'M OLD, BLIND AND FORGETFUL!"

Speaking of bad eyesight, yesterday I had to look up a phone number in the phone book. I grabbed my readers and stared at the page then pushed the book a little further across the table. I got very frustrated as this did no good at all. It has happened, I can no longer read the phone book! Do they make a large print edition of the phone book? I'd like to speak to whoever is in charge at the phone company and explain to them that I live in state that is heavily populated with aging baby boomers and senior citizens with bad eyesight. I am sure they would argue that this would not be cost effective, so I guess I'll have to get some stronger glasses or purchase a good magnifying glass.

There is a more serious side to this stage of life. It's the mood swings. I'm sure the people around me must have whip lash from my ups and downs. I'm sure they think I'm crazy. Sometimes I feel as if I am in a constant state of PMS, except now I think instead of pre-menstrual syndrome, I'll call it perimenopausal syndrome. I get very moody and depressed at times and feel like I'm losing my mind. I want to get in my car and drive as far away from here as I can. Then the feeling subsides and I start to feel like my old self again.....but for how long?

I have an older sister who has been complaining for the last few years about the weight gain, the mood swings, irritability, the heat. I told her last year while visiting her that she was probably in the early stages of menopause. She'd had a hysterectomy a few years earlier, but they did leave one of her ovaries. I never occured to her that she could be going through this at her age.
While at a doctors appointment recently for a physical, she told her doctor what she was experiencing. He did all the necessary tests and bloodwork and confirmed, as she said to me,
"I'm not crazy, I'm in menopause."

Monday, June 4, 2007

Simple Truths of Customer Service

This is wonderful piece from The Simple Truths Newsletter by Mac Anderson.

Get out a hanky!

Dear Gerri,

“Customer service is not a department . . . it is an attitude.” How true it is! A few months ago we published a gift book by best selling authors, Ken Blanchard and Barbara Glanz titled: The Simple Truths of Service; Inspired by Johnny the Bagger.
The book leads with an unforgettable true story about a young man with Downs Syndrome who changes the culture of a grocery store by giving the customers a little more than they expect. Here’s a warning: Once you read it, you’ll never forget it!
In the back of the book Ken and Barbara write ten short chapters about the Simple Truths of Great Service. I’d like to share with you the last one that was written by Barbara. I loved it and think you will too! Don’t forget to share with friends and co-workers.
To Life,

Mac Anderson
Founder, Simple Truths


The Simple Truths of Service

Great Service Comes from the Heart
By Barbara Glanz

Great customer service has to come from the inside out. You cannot mandate it. You can’t threaten, reward, or coerce people to care. You can only awaken the desire and then give them the permission and encouragement to make it come alive in their work.
Simply said, if people don’t have in their hearts the desire to serve and make a difference for others, they will not give great service. Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, often said that the secret of her success was hiring nice people and then allowing them to be as nice as they could be.
Johnny’s idea wasn’t nearly as innovative as it was loving. During my speech, I challenged him to go home and think of something he could do to make his customers feel special. He thought about that idea and framed it in a way he could understand. He didn’t bother reading management books or looking for the trend of the month; he searched inside himself for a solution. What he found – his thought of the day – was real. And it came from his heart and that’s the part you can’t pretend.
At the core of great customer service lies the heart of each employee. When I work with an organization, I often walk around and ask people, “What is your work?” What they almost always tell me is a job description or a job title. Yet we are all so much more than that. We can bring our hearts to work with us! When you think about the question – “What is your work?” – think about this:
How is what you do every day making someone’s life better?
That is your very important work!
Johnny brought his heart to his job. He focused on what he could do in his daily work to make his customers feel special and their lives a little better.
No matter what our job or position may be, we each possess a unique understanding of this world and have our own ideas and gifts to share. Our truest gift, like the one Johnny shared, can be found in our hearts if we look deeply enough and listen closely. When the heart is in the right place, the ego gets out of the way. That’s when great service comes shining through.
P.S. If you have an interest in finding out more about Johnny, you can click on the image below; or, if you haven’t seen our three minute movie on The Simple Truths of Service, you can click here.

Free DVD Movie - The Simple Truths of Service

Buy 2 or More of The Same Book and Save!

Only $19.95

The Simple Truths of Service
Hardcover, 64 pages, 6.75" square
By Ken Blanchard & Barbara Glanz
DVD Movie Included

An unforgettable true story about a young man with Down's Syndrome who changes the culture of a grocery store by being creative and giving the customers more than they expect.

Best-selling authors Ken Blanchard and Barbara Glanz have written a book that any company can use to reshape their culture around serving the customer.

Designed by Michael McMillan (The Race and Paper Airplane), this book will become a customer-service classic. This story will grab
your heart and get your creative juices flowing on
ways to create "customer enthusiasm" in your

For more information click here

The article above was excerpted from the book "The Simple Truths of Service" by Ken Blanchard and Barbara Glanz. It is reprinted here with permission. You may share this

story as long as you do not edit the content; leave the links and this resource box intact.


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Mac Anderson is the founder of Simple Truths, a company dedicated to publishing great gift books that reinforce

core values. Mac also founded Successories, Inc. the leader in designing and marketing products for motivation

and recognition.

Mac regularly speaks to corporate audiences on a variety of topics, including leadership, motivation, and team building. Mac has written three books and co-authored 5 more all available at www.simpletruths.com

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