Turn It Off


Turn off the television, radio and disconnect from social media. There’s so many better ways to spend your time.

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Time spent outdoors is always well spent.
  • Read a book or magazine. 
  • Exercise.
  • Take a walk or hike.
  • Bake a cake.
  • Be crafty.
  • Play a game.
  • Take a nap.
  • Write a letter or note and actually mail it.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Organize your photos…both physical and digital photos.
  • Listen to music.
  • Watch a movie.
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The best thing about baking a cake…eating it!

It’s hard to believe there was a time when news was relegated to a couple of hours a day. The morning started with the local newspaper retrieved from the front porch and twelve hours later we were watching Walter Cronkite deliver the evening news in thirty minutes. It was a nightly ritual. Then in 1980 everything changed. Walter Cronkite announced his impending retirement and CNN started broadcasting news 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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It’s game time!

In order to attract viewers, news had to be sensationalized. After all, the goal was no longer to fill one thirty minute newscast, but 48 of these thirty minutes time slots. Breaking news. Breathless reporters. Interviews by telephone from eye witnesses. And in the quest to be the first to report, anything goes.

My first experience with this around the clock reporting was with the attempted assassination of President Reagan with the same footage cycled for hours, speculation about who was responsible and why, talking heads explaining the succession to the presidency, and worst of all, the erroneous reporting of the death of James Brady, White House Press Secretary. Other big stories like the Oklahoma City bombing and the World Trade Center attack warranted significant coverage, but most days stories that are barely newsworthy are magnified into major events…car chases, the O.J. Simpson trial, missing persons and celebrity gossip.

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So many books. So little time.

Worst of all, political campaigns and legislative shenanigans have become unbearable due to this emphasis on non-news, and we don’t just have to deal with CNN, but HLN, Fox News, MSNBC, and dozens of other 24/7 news outlets.

And it’s not just television, but talk radio full of one made up crisis after another. Everything’s overblown and scary requiring outrage. We now live in a country filled with angry, anxious, enraged people who feel they are under attack.

Unfortunately, we as individuals have created this paranoia as much as has the media. Facebook, Twitter and other social media which were once seen as ways for people to stay connected with one another have instead served as personal outlets of rage. Social media can be a friendly place for baby animal cams, but it’s more often a platform for bullying.

Is it even possible to get a closet full of photos organized?
Is it even possible to get a closet full of photos organized?

With this said, I’ve reverted to pre 1980…a morning paper, a 30 minute nightly newscast, no Facebook, no Twitter. It’s time to turn it off.

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If you decide to join me and take a break from Facebook and Twitter, don’t forget to sign up for email notifications from Mom’s Monday Memo (on the right hand side of this page or scroll to the bottom of the page if viewing on a mobile device). You’ll receive an email when new blog posts are published. 

 

Bathing Beauty


In May of 1984, the fourth grade teachers at South Ocala Elementary presented us with a yellow striped bathing suit as a shower gift for a future “Yellowjacket”. A move across town and a change to another school meant none of our daughters attended South Ocala, but they did all wear the yellowjacket bathing suit. After looking for a picture of one of our girls in the suit I finally admitted it wasn’t going to happen.

img_0662I’d hoped to compare our new bathing beauty to either her mother or one of her aunts.

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Oh well, while there’s no photographic evidence, I can assure you that each of girls looked just a cute as the 2016 Yellowjacket.

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A day at the Magic Kingdom to celebrate her first month of life and then a little relaxation poolside. Our newest yellowjacket is quite a bathing beauty.

Grace…she’s amazing.

I’ve seen several people begging for pictures of puppies, kittens and other baby animals as relief to all the nastiness of political posts on social media.

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While I don’t have any pictures that fit those categories, I thought pictures of sweet baby Grace would serve the same purpose.

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Born on October 5th, just days before Hurricane Matthew, there’s nothing more peaceful than a sleeping baby.

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But Grace isn’t always so quiet. She has quite a personality.

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I didn’t know it was possible for a three week old to have so many bows!

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So far she’s been a good luck charm for the Lightning, but not so much for the Hurricanes.

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Gracie Lou, she’s amazing!

It’s Moving Day

This is my kind of moving day. No boxes required, no clothes to pack, no furniture to lift and no back strain. From the comfort of our porch and our neighbors’ dock, we observed the moving of the Ma Barker house across Lake Weir this morning.

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Before 8:00 boats began zipping across the lake to get an up close view of the house famous for being the location of the 1935 FBI shootout that killed gangsters, Ma Barker and her son. Other than the occasional reenactments, the house has remained in relative obscurity until it was announced that the house would be relocated across the lake at the county park at Carney Island.

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Floating a nearly one hundred year old house across the lake on a barge has been big news the past couple of weeks. We’ve watched as the land has been cleared both at the house’s historical location as well as at the park. Large pontoons and heavy equipment have been new residents of Ocklawaha.

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And then this morning, shortly after 9:00, right on schedule, the house began its journey to its new location. Along with a couple of helicopters and at least one drone, a fleet of about 50 boats, including a seaplane, provided a send off parade.

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In less than an hour the famous house reached the shore of Carney Island ready for the next phase of the move on land to its final resting place where it will soon open to the public as a museum. Some question whether the move was worth nearly a quarter million dollars of tax payer money. I’m not sure, but on this beautiful fall day, it was a great distraction from all the political nonsense…a house with a story moving across the water bringing people together.

VOTE NO ON 1

Early voting started this morning, and in just a few hours I’m going to mark my ballot and put this election behind me. While the Presidential election has consumed social media as well as radio and television, there are plenty of other races and issues that need our attention.

When I accessed a sample ballot on the website of the Marion County Supervisor of Elections, I admit that I found a couple of surprises. I was prepared to vote for U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative. I’ve researched the candidates for State Representative and Senator as well as Sheriff, Clerk of the Court and County Commissioner, but I’m in the dark when it comes to Soil and Water Conservation Seat…and this is important. Even Google failed to provide much information on the individuals seeking these positions. So much for an informed voter.

Did you know there are four Constitutional Amendments on the Florida ballot this year?

Amendment 1: Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice – This sounds like something every Floridian should support, BUT DON’T BE FOOLED. You may have seen the ads on TV touting this as a way to protect consumers’ energy choices, but Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente described this best as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” The first clue that this is not in the best interest of consumers is the fact that it is financed by Florida Power and Light, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric Co., Gulf Power, Exxon Mobile and the Koch Brothers. Their interest in solar power…money. They don’t want to lose consumers to solar and they certainly don’t want consumers to be able to sell the extra power they generate to neighbors or to the power companies. Instead, they’d want to just take any surplus and then profit from it. I can’t say this enough, don’t get fooled and VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 1.

Amendments 2, 3 and 5 should also be researched prior to going to the polls. There is a lot of information on Amendment 2 regarding medical marijuana with plenty of pros and cons, but this isn’t really a tricky one, just something you need to decide which position you wish to support.

The big surprise for me was that there are two additional amendments on the ballot. Both of these relate to the reduction of property taxes for special groups of taxpayers. They both sound good, but remember, the more property owners eliminated from the tax rolls, the more tax required by the rest of us.

Meghan reminded me of the advice given by Scott Maxwell, columnist for the Orlando Sentinel: If an amendment is confusing or if you are just unsure: VOTE NO! If it’s really an important, the issue can appear of a future ballot. There’s no reason to add amendments to our state constitution just because it might be okay. This is good advice…be skeptical of all constitutional amendments. Vote No unless you are absolutely sure and as for Amendment 1 – Vote No!

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Keep an eye on Matthew

I hoped this year would be the one year I wouldn’t write a post about hurricane preparation, but as the path of Hurricane Matthew moves the storm closer to Florida and the southeast United States, it’s time for another reminder to watch the news and make some preparations. So here’s a quick list:

1) Fill your cars with gas.
2) Make sure you have plenty of water. You might want to freeze some bottles in case you lose power.
3) Charge your electronics.
4) Check propane tanks for your grill and/or camp stove.
5) Check the batteries in flashlights and radio.
6) Go to the ATM and get some cash.
7) Stock your shelves with enough food requiring little preparation. (Enough for about three days.)
8) Watch the weather forecast daily to determine if additional preparation is needed, especially in securing your home and planning for pets.

The effects of Hurricane Matthew are only a couple of days away so it’s time to plan (see It’s Hurricane Season…It’s Time to Prepare from 2013 or the website of American Red Cross for more tips).

Stay safe and keep an eye on Matthew!

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The Other Hurricane Season

For the second time this season we’ve raised the hurricane flag with a tropical storm swirling off the coast of Florida.

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However, our flag flies not to signal weather warnings but as a sign of the other Hurricanes, the ones that will take the field in Atlanta today to take on the Yellowjackets of Georgia Tech.

Chain saw work needed after Hurricane Hermine.
Chain saw work needed after Hurricane Hermine.

So far this season the flag has brought good luck on the field so we’ll keep flying it on game day, even while keeping an eye on the dreaded hurricanes lurking offshore.

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Let’s hope for continued blue skies and more wins on the gridiron by the other Hurricanes. Go ‘Canes!

TBT: Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall

Last year the Disabled American Veterans sponsored the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall in Lady Lake for three days. The purpose of the traveling exhibit is to allow people to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives during the Vietnam War in locations near their home. With over 20,000 veterans living nearby in The Villages, Lady Lake is a popular location for this exhibit.

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The Traveling Wall is a 3/5 scale of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., standing six feet tall at the midpoint and stretching almost 300 feet from end to end. We were among the thousands of people who took time to visit during its stay in Lady Lake last November. Just as in D.C., volunteers assisted visitors in locating the names of family and friends listed on the panels of the wall so they could pay their respects.

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Flags, flowers, pictures, letters, and other mementos lined the base of the wall by the third day when we visited, many providing stories of those lost so many years ago.

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The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall is making another stop in north central Florida this weekend, this time in Dunnellon. It will be located at Ernie Mills Park, 11899 Bostick Street, arriving today and on display until October 2nd. Don’t miss it!

Weeki Wachee: Minus the Mermaids

In the summer of 2014, we set out to visit as many of Florida’s springs as possible. So of course, we took a trip to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. We planned to canoe down the river starting at the park, but we found that even on a weekday, it wasn’t possible to rent a boat for a paddle without a very early start.

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Since all canoes and kayaks were rented when we arrived (at about 10:00), we decided to do the next best thing and go in the park to see what the mermaid show was all about. Our verdict: not much! The bubbles between performances were more entertaining than the mermaids, not only for us, but for the children in the audience as well.

We walked around the park, watched the peacocks wandering, and took a few pictures. We decided to pass on the water park…too crowded and not really our idea of a good time anyhow. However, we decided we would definitely return so we could paddle down the river.

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So last month, a couple of weeks after school started, we got up at sunrise and drove to the park. We were certainly there early enough renting one of the first canoes of the day, and I’m so glad we were turned away on our first trip.

Without a doubt, this paddle qualifies as my favorite of all time. The water was absolutely beautiful. The color, the clarity, the fish, the quiet…perfect. There’s no way we would have had the same experience on that July day two years ago paddling and dodging other boats.

Upon our return to the rental facility, we were asked if we saw any manatee in the run. Apparently, they had been making regular appearances. No, manatee. Only otters. This brought oohs and aahs from the staff since it’s unusual to spot otters on the river. We not only spotted them, but watched them dart in and out of the brush along the bank between their sliding through the crystal clear water.

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My first impression of Weeki Wachi Springs State Park: This isn’t anything. My impression this time: We’ll return so we can spend more time paddling on the river. I much prefer the otters to the mermaids!

Choose a Name Carefully

A couple of weeks ago I listened to a story on the radio about the number of parents who regret the name they’ve given their child. Sources cited indicate that between 11% and 18% of parents are unhappy with their choice of a name and that 4% of parents actually change the name of their child.

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At first I thought four percent seemed too high, but what’s considered a name change isn’t exactly what I was thinking…lawyers, legal documents, court decrees. Instead, using a nickname, a middle name, or initials was considered a name change as well. That still seems like a lot of name regret.

So what causes name regret? Names that are difficult to pronounce, very unusual, too common, or just don’t fit the personality of the child. Mothers that were interviewed expressed doubts about the names they’d bestowed on their offspring: a boy named Harper (in the top 20 names for girls), Zoey (a top 10 name for dogs), Evelia (a name hated by the child as she tries to teach others to pronounce it), Andrew (didn’t fit the child that looked like his dad Vinny), Danielle (too popular), Tennessee (too different).

I know I gave my brother and sister-in-law a hard time about not naming their youngest son immediately. After all, they’d had nine months to figure this out, but they were looking for the name that fit. They wanted to meet him before assigning a name, and it was a smart move…no regrets.

So after all this discussion about names, it’s not baby names that I’m really concerned about. It’s grandparent names. For seven months I’ve been tasked with coming up with a new name for myself. I know Grandma was the first choice, but as far as I’m concerned that name has already been taken. My Mom IS Grandma, and as a child, I had a Grandma and two Great-Grandmas. That name doesn’t fit. Granny doesn’t fit either. John’s Mom WAS Granny, and I had a Granny and two great grandmothers I called Granny, so that name has been taken as well. I needed to come up with a name that’s me.

Others have given advice:

Make sure you think about how the name will sound when your grandchildren are teenagers or adults. The cute name a baby calls you may not sound as cute when uttered from a six foot, two inch man.

Make sure your grandchildren call you GG. It stands for Gorgeous Grandmother. It’s perfect, and don’t answer to any other name.

Don’t worry about choosing a name. Let your grandchildren call you whatever they choose. It’s more meaningful.

Have fun! Be creative!

Well after all these months and trying out Nana, Mimi, Oma, and many others from the lists of grandparent names available online. I’ve decided on DeeDee…it’s a name on the grandparent name lists. It’s not that creative, but it’s me. I’ll recognize my name right away. And when I hear children calling Grandma or Granny I won’t be looking around for someone else like a fool.

DeeDee, Emily and Grace, Grandma
DeeDee, Emily and Grace, Grandma

Yes, I’ve heard DeeDee is a crazy character on Modern Family, and I’ve been told it may sound too much like I’m just being called by my name. But, that’s ok. DeeDee is who I am, and best of all, if I have naming regrets in a month or year…I can just change it!

Names are important so choose a name carefully.

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