Back to Being Mom

The last time I posted on Mom’s Monday Memo was February 29th when I announced this blog was coming to an end as I moved on to something new. I’d designed a new website, Empty Nest Full Suitcase, and I planned to write about the travels of two recently retired empty nesters taking on new adventures.

Bags are still packed waiting for adventures.

However, I’ve come to realize that while I love this idea, and I love the title and set up of the new blog, and while there’s been no shortage of travel to write about, I do not love writing only about travel.

Planning for the next road trip.

In fact, it’s been torture. I don’t write to earn money or to promote products, I just write for fun. And since I’ve haven’t written for 21 days, not once in the month of September and only four times in August, it’s obvious this hasn’t been fun.

So I’m going back home. Back to where I started. In November 2012, I attended the Sanibel Writer’s Conference, learned blogging basics and started writing. Writing and posting EVERY day for over three years. My daughter’s haven’t been able to escape the Monday memos from Mom so I guess that’s where my writing heart belongs…jotting down messages to share with my girls.

Meghan at infant and child CPR class…a family affair.


I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up with the daily posts of the past since we’ll be welcoming two new family members in the coming months. Grace will be here any day now and Baby Patty’s birth will usher in the new year so I expect to be distracted by things pink and blue. Distractions that may interfere with a daily writing routine.

Emily…10 days and counting!



Our bags are still packed. We’ll still be traveling. But I’ll be doing what I enjoy. Writing about this and that…family, travel, food, bicycling and whatever else strikes my fancy. And of course, I’ll be dishing out advice from Mom.

Sarah…ready to ring in the new year with Baby Patty.


Pencils, Paper and Pocketknives

How could wanting to write with a pencil be so difficult? I simply wanted a pencil so I could make notes in a book I’m reading.

I felt certain I’d find one in the pouch I keep in my purse. Instead, I found seven pens, one highlighter and a pair of earbuds. That just wouldn’t do. I wanted a pencil.

No problem. When we prepared for our move last Spring, I organized the desk drawer with dividers and boxes making it easy to find office supplies in the limited space available; and I’m proud to say that the drawer remains a picture of organization.


The drawer didn’t fail, seven pencils, but none of them sharpened. Then I found a box of pencils, all sharpened but colored pencils. Not acceptable. I wanted a regular No. 2 lead pencil.

I suddenly had a flashback to when we first moved in this house in 1979. Today we live in the same house in which we resided in 1979 as newlyweds, and in those days it wasn’t pencils but paper that was the problem. My father-in-law, an English professor, was not content talking to us on the phone. He loved the written word and regularly wrote letters. When we didn’t respond with a card, note or letter, he asked when he could expect to get something from us in the mail. Our pitiful answer…pitiful, but true…we didn’t have any paper. I remember his response. No paper? And you’re both teachers?


That’s right. Teachers with no paper. Sure we had plenty of paper at work, just not at home. But we came up with a creative way to solve the problem. We used the backs of envelopes to answer his letters. So maybe it was lazy instead of creative. I guess he decided we were hopeless and just started communicating exclusively by phone.

I think he’d be pleased to know we have plenty of paper, envelopes, notecards, pens and even stamps today. And finally I resorted to my grandmother’s solution to sharpening pencils. I used a knife to whittle away the wood until I’d scratched away enough to expose the lead so I could write.


With the other writing basics covered, I’ve added a pencil sharpener to my shopping list so I don’t lose a finger sharpening a pencil.

One life. Six words. What’s yours?

This phrase is from the cover of a book that I came across in the bookstore that changed my writing. The book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: And Other Six-Word Memoirs by Authors, contains a collection of personal stories written in just six words. Ever since opening this book, I’ve been addicted to writing in just six word phrases. In fact, I’ve kept a six-word diary for months now.

I thought I’d share some favorites.

This one speaks to me:


This is how life should be:


I frequently pray a similar prayer:


Maybe it should say Mommy Dee:


Can’t help but wonder what happened:


Couldn’t have said it better myself:

Must remember: people, gadgets.

That order.

   ~Brian Lam


Writing in six words: fun exercise!

Maybe something you’d like to try?

Updated post originally published December 2012.

Dumping the Diaper Bag

The downside of blogging is carrying my computer everywhere I go. I need my computer so I can write and publish daily.


Going to the lake for the night…pack the computer.
Going away for the weekend…pack the computer.
Even going camping…pack the computer.
It’s like having a baby and carrying that stupid diaper bag everywhere you go, but instead of bottles, diapers, and wipes; I’m carrying a laptop, power cords, and hot spot at all times.
I’ve tried to write and publish on an iPad or phone on a couple of occasions but not with much success.
However, I’m determined this time will be different. I’m practicing my keyboarding skills using only my thumbs. I’m learning to add pictures from my phone. I’m determined to figure out how to add links and edit and preview without dragging around lots of extra “stuff”.

I’ll probably make more than my share of mistakes but that’s a price I’m willing to pay to dump the technology version of the diaper bag.

(Written and published from my iPad and phone! Yay!)

Sing On!

This morning when I started working and signed on to my computer, I received a message that’s been making me crazy for over two years. I decided it’s time to repost a message I published my first month of blogging. I just need to vent!

From December 9, 2012

We’re in the midst of a singing on epidemic! I’m all for singing, and what better time of the year to sing than Christmas. Christmas carols, holiday songs, popular songs…sing! However, the sing on message has nothing to do with music or song.

Yesterday, a headline in the local paper read: Sings of Life at Rainbow Springs Visitor Center, an article about the rebuilding of the visitor center after a fire. The headline made three such references to sing instead of sign in a single day. Earlier, while reading information about adding the Evernote clipper function to my computer, the directions instructed readers to first sing on to the Evernote application, and the final example of the incorrect use of sing is the most embarrassing. Every day when working in my classes with Florida Virtual, the following message appears: Your session has timed out due to inactivy. Please sing in again.


What makes this one the worst is the fact that not only teachers, but our students receive this message when their session “times out”. And did you notice the word inactivity is also misspelled? It’s been that way since August (2012!). Wouldn’t you think someone at a virtual school would notice and change these glaring errors? What a bad impression it leaves! I hope my students don’t think I send that message.

So by all means, sing on! But if you’re writing, please check your spelling. Spell check can’t catch the use of the wrong word. Do you mean sing or sign? Sign on!


You are a Winner!

Those are words I’d love to hear!

The Submission Grand Prize: a trip for 4 to Yosemite National Park


The Voter Grand Prize: A Yellowstone & Grand Teton Adventure for 2

I could be happy with either prize!
I don’t know how I missed this earlier, but beginning June 20th, the National Park Foundation kicked off its Summer Scrapbook contest which runs until September 5th. Park enthusiasts are encouraged to submit entries in one of eight categories relating a personal experience from any of America’s National Parks. Along with the short essay, each entry must include a photo or video taken at the park with a trip to Yosemite being the Grand Prize.

Not a park visitor or not a writer? You can still win! Simply vote from September 9 – September 26th for your favorite Essay Finalist. In fact, you can actually vote one time per day in each category for a total of eight votes per day or eight chances to win that trip to Yellowstone.

It’s time to submit an entry for each category!

  • Fun with Family & Friends:
    Share your national park moments and memories of relaxing, having picnics, hiking, or simply enjoying some quality time with your friends and family in your national parks.
  • IMG_7569
    Redwood National Park
  • Celebrations & Achievements:
    Share your national park moments and memories of engagements, weddings, birthdays, holidays, or completing a goal.
  • DSCN0328
    Smoky Mountain National Park
  • Inspirational Moments:
    Share your national park moments and memories of star-studded night skies, picture-perfect sunsets, breathtaking vistas, and moments of inspiration.
  • photo
    Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Action & Adventure:
    Share your national park moments and memories of sports, activities, and adventure.
  • IMG_2796
    Everglades National Park
  • Hidden Gems and Surprises:
    Share your national park moments and memories of finding a little-known trail, an unexpected wildlife visit, and other surprises.
  • photo
    Bandelier National Monument
  • Making a Difference:
    Share your national park moments and memories of volunteer work or other ways you’ve helped.
  • Throwback:
    Share your national park moments and memories from 10 or more years ago.
  • IMG_7575
    Yellowstone National Park
  • Learning & Discovery
    Share your national park moments and memories of exploring American history, celebrating cultures, finding a fossil, taking a class trip, or other educational experiences.
  • IMG_0152
    Fort Matanzas National Monument

    Looks like I’ve got some work to do this week if I plan to enter an essay in the contest, and I’ve marked my calendar to start voting on September 9th. I want to be a winner!

In the Words of E.B. White

IMG_6369Friday, July 11th marks the birthday of one of my favorite authors, E.B. White. Born in 1899, his words both in the children’s books Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan as well as his writing for adults provide words of wisdom.

I wake every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.

Write about it by day. Dream about it by night.

Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.

We should all do, what in the long run, gives us joy.

Dissecting humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies from it.

Genius is more often found in a cracked pot than a whole one.

Life is like writing with a pen. You can cross out your past, but you can’t erase it.

One of the most time consuming things is to have an enemy.

Writing is both mask and unveiling.

Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.

I admire anyone who has the guts to write anything at all.

From Charlotte’s Web:

  • “Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.” “You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
  • By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.
  • It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.

From The Trumpet of the Swan:

  • Safety is all well and good: I prefer freedom.

Perhaps you’d like to join me as I reread E.B. White’s children’s books or peruse a few of his essays.






MMM New Look

I need your help! After 18 months of writing Mom’s Monday Memo, I changed the appearance last weekend, and I need your feedback.

When I began writing I chose a design with color in an effort to give readers something more visually appealing than just words on a page, but over the past year and a half I started added more images to my posts and felt the green background, yellow titles with red emphasis and brown border was becoming a distraction.

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 8.50.15 AMIn addition, I wondered if the white font on a colored background should be changed to give the blog a more professional look. Do readers prefer dark print on a white or light background?

Screen Shot 2014-06-21 at 8.54.00 AMSo I’m asking for your input. What do you think? Which background to you prefer? How do you feel about the color of the font? This is your chance to offer suggestions, and I’m listening!

Please leave a comment below in the box “Leave a Reply” so I can determine if I should go back to the original look, keep the new one, or look for another alternative. I’m anxious to read your suggestions.

Wavy Hair or Trees

Wavy Hair

~Shel Silverstein

I thought I had wavy hair

Until I shaved. Instead,

I find that I have straight hair.

And a very wavy head.

I attended the Sanibel Writer’s Conference in 2012, not so much because I see myself as a writer, but because I wanted to learn about blogging. Workshops on topics such as character development, memoir, and writing for children filled my days at the conference. Tim O’Brien, the author of The Things They Carried and Susan Orlean, a journalist and author of the Orchid Thief entertained us during evening presentations. And the sessions on blogging provided just what I needed to get Mom’s Monday Memo up and running the week I returned from the conference.

However, the poetry session I attended remains the most memorable. Shortly after entering the room, I realized this was going to be embarrassing. As a way to introduce ourselves, the leader of the session suggested that each of us tell our name, where we’re from, and then share a poem we’ve written or recite a poem we love.

I was in trouble. I do not write poetry. In fact, as my mind raced trying to think of a poem I could recite, the only thing that came to mind was the poem Wavy Hair by Shel Silverstein.

Should I leave? Should I recite Wavy Hair? I did neither. Instead, I told the truth and explained that not only am I not a poet, I couldn’t even recite a poem, and in fact, found myself in a poetry session because I just felt like this was where I was supposed to be. Maybe to enjoy the poetry of others, maybe to be more open to a type of writing I find intimidating, maybe to challenge myself to try something new. The facilitator seemed a little surprised by my response, but welcomed me.

I haven’t memorized another poem, but think it’s time I did so. I’m leaning toward Trees, by Joyce Kilmer, a good, short classic poem and one that I memorized and recited in my seventh grade English class.



~Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose lovely mouth is prest

Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

So, if asked to recite a poem, which would you choose?


On Sunday’s I’ve been posting poetry written by my mother-in-law, Bettie Lou, for the past nine months. Writing poetry was a form of therapy after losing her husband and then her youngest son in 1985.

Since I’ve posted all of the poetry she’s written, I decided to share a site where poetry lovers can subscribe to receive a Poem-A-Day. Subscribers receive a poem by email daily. Unpublished works by contemporary poets, as well as classical and historic poems are included in the Poem-A-Day emails.

Rondeau, by Jessie Redmon Fauset, was the Poem-A-Day for April 19th, 2014.


by Jessie Redmon Fauset

When April’s here and meadows wide

Once more with spring’s sweet growths are pied

I close each book, drop each pursuit,

And past the brook, no longer mute,

I joyous roam the countryside.

Look, here the violets shy abide

And there the mating robins hide—

How keen my sense, how acute,

When April’s here!

And list! down where the shimmering tide

Hard by that farthest hill doth glide,

Rise faint strains from shepherd’s flute,

Pan’s pipes and Berecyntian lute.

Each sight, each sound fresh joys provide

When April’s here.

– Source:; Poem-A-Day; April 19, 2014.


by Jessie Redmon Fauset

When April's here and meadows wide 
Once more with spring's sweet growths are pied 
    I close each book, drop each pursuit, 
    And past the brook, no longer mute, 
I joyous roam the countryside.

Look, here the violets shy abide 
And there the mating robins hide—
    How keen my sense, how acute, 
      When April's here!

And list! down where the shimmering tide 
Hard by that farthest hill doth glide, 
    Rise faint strains from shepherd's flute, 
    Pan's pipes and Berecyntian lute. 
Each sight, each sound fresh joys provide 
      When April's here.

– See more at: