Author: Michael

Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life

Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life

The Harvest Moon series is unique in a sense that it doesn’t involve guns, violence, and racing cars. It’s a race to save a farm in a small yet charming villiage with interesting neighbors. Each has a distinct story to share, and it’s your choice whether to engage in friendship or ignore them and carry on with farm chores! This game is great for everyone, especially for the whole family!

What makes the Harvest Moon series so addicting? Is it the cute little farm animals such as cows, sheep, and horses? Or the tedious planting and watering in order to produce cash for house upgrades and farm equipment? Maybe it’s the option of whooing a girl and raising a family? With all of the options available, it’s very hard to become bored with life on the farm.

A Wonderful Life is the newest addition to the series with many new surprises!

A few of the features:

  1. Over 40 character to become socially active with
  2.  New farm animals such as ducks and a goat
  3. A new marriage system where you can check on the girl’s feelings in her diary
  4.  Storyline involved in 6 chapters expanding over 30 years
  5.  New plants and the ability to grow hybrid crops
  6.  New way to cook and more recipes
  7.  Realistic weather patterns ex: rain, snow, sunset
  8. Ability to raise a child with the option of 6 career choices for him

With so many new features, it should keep everyone from running out of things to do! Unlike the previous games, this one is more focused on building a successful life instead of saving the farm. You do this by marrying one of the three potential girls, and raising a son. Family is the key to this game. The downside is that there are only three where there was 5 girls to choose from in the past games.

You have the sweet farm girl that everyone loves (Celia), the shy traveling girl (Nami), or the happy girl (Muffy) that works at the bar. The blue feather is still a must in order to propose. Failure to propose will end the game at the end of the year. So marriage isn’t really an option.

The graphics are exceptional! The best out of all the Harvest Moon series. They did away with sprites and went to polygons, full 3D. It is much more realistic. Now the characters in the game age as the chapters flow by.

Your physical features change such as growing gray hair. People will pass away, and new people will move in. Much better than staying the same age forever and always looking tha same. The scenery is breathtaking. From cascading waterfalls, to the glowing sunset , everything adds a touch of sparkle to the game.

The sound is the same as in the past games: Overly repetitive. The same two songs are looped in the background, but thankfully you can stop the music from record player located in your house. The animal sounds are more realistic instead of the cute sounds they had in the 64 and Gameboy.

The gameplay can get a little repetitive after awhile. That is why it’s important to maintain activness in farming and in your social life with villiagers. The replay value is very high. It is similar to Animal Crossing: Strangely addicting.

Overall, I would give this game an 8 because it is a different style of gameplay that is great for everyone, and because it’s so darn addicting!…

A Vacation Of A Lifetime To Williamsburg, Virginia

A Vacation Of A Lifetime To Williamsburg, Virginia

When I was a teenager, my parents recommended that my family take a spring vacation to Williamsburg, Virginia. Not knowing much about it, (I didn’t even know where Williamsburg was if they hadn’t told me it was in Virginia) i protested against such a trip. However, once i began to do some research on it and my parents showed me the brochures they had picked up, the trip looked better and better.

The brochures listed activities for the entire family to do such as visiting colonial Williamsburg where the writers of the constitution stayed at and a giant revolutionary battle was held there. There would be a water park, a roller coaster theme park and other historical sites to visit.

At the time i wasn’t much of a history fan but the water park and roller coaster theme park sure sounded interesting to me and my brother. We got directions by using map quest and other direction sites online for all of the attractions that we wanted to see. So we got in the car and drove to Virginia.

We stayed at a hotel in Williamsburg that had a Continental Breakfast included. The hotel rooms were fully furnished and the service at the hotel was exceptional. The first day there was spent driving to Virginia which took a couple of hours and then unpacking, followed by an exploration of the pool. We went to dinner, a quiet little Italian place for tourists and later we went swimming at the hotel’s pool.

The second day of the trip I thought was going to be really boring because we were going to visit the historical sites. However, the colonial part of Williamsburg turned out to be amazing. I never thought i would learn so much about Revolutionary times in the United States. We went on a horse and carriage ride that took us through a town that was set up to look exactly like how the people lived in the revolutionary days.

The people and buildings were all modeled after it and the people spoke Old English. There was also a lot of interactive exhibits set up. There was a broom making sewing mill we entered in which a woman used an old sewing machine and was able to spin straw and tie enough of them together with a piece of wood and make a broom.

She showed everyone who attended her exhibit how to make their very own brooms from scratch that we got to keep. Another exciting exhibit was a saw mill in which huge bits of lumber from trees were put on a moving belt that led to a giant saw and would cut the wood into tiny pieces.

There was also an exhibit dedicated to seeing how the people interacted socially for fun by dancing, singing, and clapping and the kind of instruments they used back then. The entire colonial Williamsburg was set up like an interactive museum and it was so much fun.

There is an old convenience store that sells old items like papyrus paper that they used to write on. An animal pen is set up containing cows and horses and all kinds of animals. The tour guide for the entire tour of the town was extremely friendly and nice and explained every interesting fact about the town like when it was built and its importance.

Williamsburg stood as a place where famous men like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington stayed and wrote parts of the constitution. Most of our first presidents like Madison and Adams also came from the Virginia area and stayed at the town.

After we were done exploring the town aspect of Williamsburg, it was on to the battle area where a battle at Williamsburg took place between the British troops and George Washington’s men took place. As tourists we were shown how Washington’s men were able to hide in the woods and disguise themselves so that they could take on the British troops with better weapons and more men and defeat them. We got to see the cannons and banyan rifles that were used by the militia men.

We were shown the clothes they worn in battle. The best part was the two interactive exhibits set up. One was watching a group of men dressed in militia gear and twirl their rifles and fire into the air and march in single file line.

They also fought in a mock battle against men dressed in British clothes to show how combat was really fought. The other exhibit was a demonstration on how to fire a cannon. It took many people to operate a cannon and after the tour guide explained its operation many times over, we were able to successfully fire it which was so much fun.

Both the town and military aspect of the town were so much more exciting than I had originally participated and I was glad I came. The next couple of days we spent at the Water Park which contained many fun water slides and tube rides, a giant wave pool, and body slides.

The place was really filled with people. The last day we spent at a Roller Coaster Theme Park which if you like roller coasters, you’ll love the one in Virginia. In addition to Roller Coasters it had swinging ships, a haunted house, and other cool rides.

The dinner meals we ate in Williamsburg were all fantastic and the food was delicious. They treat tourists graciously and the service in every place we attended was exceptional. The hotel was all you could want in a place to stay out. At the end of the trip as I look back, it was one of the best vacations i have ever taken. I would gladly go back if i have time for a vacation again.

If you have a family with children or are an adult, i highly recommend going to Williamsburg, Virginia and seeing everything that the place has to offer. You will get a rich history lesson and a vacation filled with enjoyment.…

Finding Goals In Life

Finding Goals In Life

Everyone has a goal in their life that they wish they could achieve. It’s important to have dreams and hopes, it makes life worth living. It doesn’t matter how small or big your dreams are or even if you make them come true. I think sometimes people forget about what their dreams were when they were kids. What did you want to be when you grew up? What kinds of things did you wish you could do?
I can remember wishing that someday I would become a veterinarian, a journalist, archaeologist or a marine biologist.

It was fun to think what was in outer space, what creatures were undiscovered in the ocean and jungle, or what it would have been like to have lived a hundred or thousand years ago. I always loved to help all the stray animals I could find, or write silly stories and poems, and I have always loved the ocean. Unfortunately, I have not become any of those things.

However, I have become something far more important, a mother to two happy boys, who I love more than anything in the world. I knew I always wanted to have a family and be a mother, but until you actually become one, you have no idea that you can love someone so much.

You may have goals that are related to your family, financial success, career, traveling, or doing something exotic. I for one don’t dream of going skydiving or climbing some huge mountain, I am too afraid of heights. My dreams are far simpler, I would like to own a house someday, be a “soccer mom”, and maybe retire on some gorgeous beach somewhere. Although, I will probably change my mind on that one once I have grandchildren.

But, if I only knew I had 3 months to live, I would probably forgo seeing all the exotic beaches and probably just spend the time I have left with my family, making sure they knew how much I love them and trying to create as many good memories as possible. What would you do if you knew the exact moment you would die?

The world has gotten far too complicated and people are in such a rush they forget to stop and enjoy the small things in life. Just stop for a minute and look around at what you have that other people don’t, not everyone was blessed with children, money, or a place to live. You should appreciate the little things that life has to offer. Try to make your dreams come true because there may not always be a tomorrow.

I don’t want my life to be measured by my possessions or the amount of money that I have made. You certainly can’t take any of that stuff with you when you go, but I would like to think that you can take your memories with you. I once read a book call “The Giver”, it was about a boy who was being trained to be the new giver, and they lived in a world with no color and no seasons.

The families were assigned and babies were created in a facility then assigned to a family. The giver was the one who held all the memories of the world from the feeling of snowflakes melting on your skin to seeing the color red. It was a very interesting book that makes you think back to when you younger and you first discovered things for yourself. I can remember past Christmases, family gatherings, playing with my friends, and playing make believe games.

I wish I could always have that feeling when I didn’t have a care in world or having all the responsibility that you have when you grow up. I think I forget too often what I enjoyed so much about being a carefree child; things look and seem so much different.

Maybe I have been watching too many sappy girly movies on television, but when I look at my grandmother or see an old couple holding hands walking down the street, I hope that my life will be a long happy one. I may not be able to afford the finest things in life but dreams are free and so is love.

Just think about what you used to want in life before you got older and life got more complicated. If everyone could go back to having the imaginations of children then the world would be a far better place.…

Family Camping Tips

Family Camping Tips

There are few experiences that are better at bringing a family together than camping. Spending time together in nature, away from the stresses and distractions of everyday life, can strengthen the bonds between family members. Family camping is an adventure which creates shared memories that last a lifetime.

Camping with children is an enriching experience for the child and the adult. When we introduce nature to children, we see it anew through their eyes. Providing children with positive outdoor adventures will plant the seeds for a lifetime appreciation of nature.

Older children can enjoy freedom on a camping trip that is not always possible at home. With that freedom comes the responsibility to learn about the environment and any possible dangers. All of this contributes to a child’s maturity.

One way to insure that your first family camping excursions are positive is to adequately plan and prepare. Involving children in the planning and preparation will foster their enthusiasm for the trip. If you’re entirely new to camping, or if you haven’t done much camping since your own childhood, invite a more experienced family or friend to come along.

There are two basic types of camping: tailgate (or car camping) and backpacking. With tailgate camping, you drive to a campground and park your car in your campsite. Backpacking involves packing your camping gear into a wilderness area. For novice campers, tailgate camping is the best way to start out.

When deciding on a destination for your camping trip, consider the activities available. Hiking, swimming, biking, boating, sight seeing – these are just some of the things you can do on a camping trip. Before leaving, make a campsite reservation and get all the details about your destination.

Camping equipment is available in all price ranges. Deciding what kind of equipment to buy can be intimidating for a beginner. Try to borrow equipment for your first trip, or get advice from a friend if you are purchasing equipment.

Whether you buy or borrow a tent, make sure you know how to set it up and take it down before your trip. You can even have a “practice campout” in the backyard for the kids. This will help them get used to sleeping in the great outdoors.

These are some of the basic items that you will need for your first camping trip:

  •  Tent – A must have for family camping. Besides being your bedroom, it’s a place to store your clothing and gear. It should be big enough to comfortably fit everyone. If you have older children, you may one more than one tent.
  •  Sleeping bag, pad or air mattress, pillow – A pad or air mattress under your sleeping bag will help keep you warm and dry. Most children sleep well with a thin pad, but many adults prefer an air mattress. When purchasing sleeping bags, make sure the bag is warm enough for night time temperatures where you will be camping. Small camping pillows are available at most sporting goods stores. These pillows take less space and will easily fit into a duffel bag, which will keep them clean while traveling.
  •  Duffel bag or pack for each family member – Packing clothing and hygiene items in a single bag per family member helps keep things organized in the car and at the campsite.
  •  Warm clothing and extra shoes.
  •  First Aid kit with insect repellant, sunscreen and chap stick.
  •  Lantern and flashlights.
  •  Rain ponchos and tarps – Placing a tarp under your tent will keep it dry and warm inside when the ground is damp.
  •  Camp stove and cooking gear (including dishwashing soap) – You may want to use the campsite grill for some cooking, but a camp stove is very handy. Your cooking gear can be basic or fancy, depending on your menu and on how much time you want to spend cooking.
  •  Ice chest – Necessary for food which needs to be refrigerated.
  •  Ax, matches, fire starters – If you are allowed to have a campfire, bring the tools to help build it.
  •  Books, familiar toys, outdoor sports equipment – Reading material is great for the drive and for quiet times in camp. Allow your children to bring any familiar toys which will help them sleep. Leave electronics at home to help everyone really get away from modern life.

Involve children in setting up camp and in chores around the campsite. Teaching them camping skills will increase their self-confidence and provide them with valuable survival skills.

Children should learn about outdoor ethics and Leave No Trace principles. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has information about these subjects on their website. You can also talk to rangers at your campground about outdoor ethics.…

Georgia On My Mind

Georgia On My Mind

When we told friends and family of our plans to leave the Boston area to retire in Georgia, reactions ranged from congratulatory slaps on the back to heartfelt condolences. One skeptical friend went so far as to predict that “after six months in the land of Honey Boo Boo, you will be back.”

I must confess that even as we traded corn chowder for cornbread and the flat A’s and dropped R’s of New England for the slow drawl of the South, I was afraid he might be right.

After five months in our new home, I am happy to report my fears have been put to rest.

To our great pleasure, southern hospitality is real, alive and well in Georgia. Our new neighbors welcomed us warmly – even though we are Yankees – and were eager to help us get settled in the area. They dropped by with goodies the first week we arrived, invited us into their homes, directed us to the best places to shop and eat, and made sure we are included in community activities.

People we do not know wave at us on the street or make eye contact and wish us a good day. Store clerks are unfailingly polite and eager to help, walking us across an entire store to make sure we find what we are looking for.

The young people we’ve met have impeccable manners and address us as sir and ma’am. When we urge them to call us by our first names, Ms. and Mr. become instant prefixes because anything else is considered disrespectful.

I would be less than truthful, however, if I didn’t admit to moments of culture shock and some doubt as we adjusted to our new surroundings.

We quickly learned the preferred reference to the War Between the States is “that Northern Aggression.” As University of Florida alumni, my husband and I also recognized early on that wearing any Gator gear in Georgia Bull Dog territory was considered an act of civil disobedience. Red Sox and Patriot memorabilia have been met with similar disdain.

Southern cuisine has introduced our palates to a whole range of wonderful new foods. But while we have developed a real appreciation for barbeque and the country music that is played in almost all the restaurants serving it, we have yet to acquire a taste for grits.

We have also discovered that in addition to chicken and shrimp, you can fry just about anything, including turkey, steak, green tomatoes, okra, pickles, catfish, pumpkin chips, and pecan pie.

Perhaps the hardest adjustment for us has been to the well-regarded and highly touted slower pace of the South. As two epic Type-A personalities, we have had to learn to take deep breaths and remain calm as bank tellers, store clerks, waitpersons, check-out people and hairdressers inquire about our day or our family because they are genuinely interested, and then proceed to tell us all about theirs. We now add an extra 20 minutes to the time it takes to run any errand.

Do we regret our move? Absolutely not. We have made wonderful new friends. We are proud to be a part of such an open and friendly community. But most of all, we love the temperate weather that means a winter without extreme cold and snow.

As for our nay-saying friend, we waited until a December day when temperatures were in the 60s and he was enduring a snowstorm that dumped nearly a foot of the white stuff on his driveway to give him a call. I’m not so sure he appreciated our smug “y’all-come-on-down” invitation at the time.…

Why The Key Ring Is So Indispensable – Bigger Is Better In This Case

Why The Key Ring Is So Indispensable – Bigger Is Better In This Case

It’s time we put the debate to rest: size does matter. I say the bigger the better. When they’re big, we can find them easily. Key rings, that is. We all carry them; in our pockets, handbags, clipped to our jeans. Keys: we’ve all lost them occasionally. That’s why the key ring is so indispensable.

With so many nifty designs available, there’s no excuse not to have your keys organized. And take a look at all the freebies out there. Complimentary key rings from restaurants, gas stations, banks, real estate and insurance offices. New companies give them out as free advertising, shouting out their logos.

I love my gas station gizmo, my Exxon tiger key ring. Sighting a shady character approaching, I’d reach for my tiger. He’d help me into my car expediently and I’d breathe a sigh of relief, locking my car doors hastily.

We have “reward” key rings, like my Weight Watchers lifetime member key ring. With a 55-pound weight loss under my belt I’m proud to pull out this one. For kids, we have so many sports-themed key rings for their athletic milestones, all very validating.

So you see, key rings can boost self-esteem. They make us feel special. They make a personal statement, symbolize a favorite thing or hobby: skating, biking, hairdressing, computing or art. Whatever floats your boat (sure, boating too!) there’s a key ring for you.

How about a macho key ring? My brother, a New York City cop, carries a ‘persuader baton’ key ring. This spiffy little token was given out at academy graduation.

The persuader baton is a mini-night stick that can be used to inflict all kinds of persuasive pain upon your victim. My brother likes to harass anyone on the train who is picking their teeth, hoarding too much seat space, or generally making his commute miserable. Definitely a handy dual-purpose key ring.

For the egomaniac, or hot singles, there are name key rings. That adorable hunk won’t even have to ask your name, just leave your key ring at the bar. Anyone experiencing memory lapses? Highly stressed? Menopausal? A name key ring might be a good idea for you. You won’t lose your keys and you won’t forget who you are either.

My most beloved key ring is the one I found while rummaging through my kitchen junk drawer. Lovingly handmade by my daughter at age seven, this one proclaims me “#1 Mom”. This is a priceless key ring. It will never be discarded.

I bet you never realized how necessary, meaningful and sentimental key rings could be. They’ve been around forever and always will be, even in our high-tech society. Maybe someone will invent a talking key ring. “I’m over here, stupid!” Never mind, we’re already in a frenetic state of beeping and buzzing with our cell phones, beepers and palm pockets. I’d prefer to keep good old-fashioned key rings just the way they are: colorful, conspicuous and there when we need them.…

How To Choose The Right Dog Breeder

How To Choose The Right Dog Breeder

You have decided to bring a puppy into your family. After extensive research, thought, and discussion, you have chosen a specific breed. Now you need to know how to choose the right dog breeder.

The most imperative traits to look for out in a breeder are care and familiarity with the specific dog that they are breeding. Practically anyone can mate a male and female dog, bring forth a litter of puppies, and make a pretty penny. The following tips will give you discernment when choosing a breeder from which to adopt.

Purebred dogs are, by nature, prone to countless ailments due to limited genetic diversity. A conscientious breeder will be knowledgeable about health issues specific to the breed and aware of all possible health issues with both parents. Good breeders know not to pair dogs with certain genetic disorders.

A reputable breeder will be able to offer you a list of families who have adopted pups from them. They should also be willing to refer you to other dog breeders for references. Respectable breeders are concerned that only the best conditions are in place when breeding puppies, and will hear “through the grapevine” if that is not the case.

A breeder with a heart for their animals will have dogs that live alongside the breeder’s family. If there are several kennels and dog runs on the property, be cautious. Also, note whether the dogs’ sleeping, eating, and outdoor areas appear clean and well kept, as well as whether the breeder’s pets have toys or treats on hand.

Another item to check out is what the dogs are eating. A trustworthy breeder will feed their pets a high-end dog chow, recommending to you that you do the same. If a breeder tells you that they provide a raw food diet for their animals, that person is indeed dedicated to the dogs. Raw food diets are time consuming to prepare and can be expensive, but help combat common food allergies and skin disorders.

Quality breeders often stay involved with clubs in their region specific to the breed. Some are active with competitive trials where judging is based on traits such as appearance or agility. Dogs active in such contests must be fit, well groomed, and meet breed standards, which means the animals are receiving excellent care.

Inquire whether the breeder is or has ever been affiliated with a pet store and what their thoughts are on this. A choice breeder would never sell or consign their puppies to a pet shop or broker. They care enough about the pups to be selective when it comes to placing them in homes.

Try to get a feel as to what the litter’s parents are like. It is best if they are both on site. If not, ask about their characteristics. You want a pup whose parents have good personalities. Be concerned if either parent is nervous, hostile, or hyperactive.

Do not start too young. A good breeder will never separate pups from their mother until they are at least eight weeks old. They should provide a written guarantee of health and advise you that they will gladly accept the dog should you ever become unable to care for it.

In addition, all animals in the home should be current on licensing, check-ups, shots and worming, and a respectable breeder will gladly provide proof of this. They will also refer you to a reputable veterinarian, should you need one.

Finally, a compassionate breeder will have questions for you. They will want to know why you desire this particular breed of puppy. They will ask whether you have other pets or small children in the home.

They will question whether you have an established relationship with a veterinarian, a yard, and how often the dog will be alone. They will wonder where the pup will be kept, whether you are aware of the grooming required, and whether you will spay or neuter, or plan to breed the dog. If a breeder’s biggest concern is “Cash or check?” go elsewhere.

When you have found the right breeder for your family, do not hesitate to ask for their assistance in finding the right puppy. A good breeder will be acquainted with the puppies’ individual personalities and will gladly play matchmaker.…

Illusion Of Safety

Illusion Of Safety

Full individual protection is an illusion. Currently we have rules for war, weapons and mass destruction, we have laws for behavior, and traffic, etc. we have protected ourselves so well that we’ve nearly forgotten what it was like before all of our protection.

We fail to realize that laws and rules are simply guidelines with consequences. They are not guarantees. We have become too paranoid to take risks, not because we are afraid of the outcome, but because we are afraid of being unprotected.

The cost of a risk is relative depending on the person taking it and risk can result in backlash, anything from ridicule to loss of life, but they are necessary. Our fear of being unprotected is undermining our ability to stand up for our individual values and our protections are allowing not only the abdication of responsibility for our actions but also the disintegration of our children’s education.

When a person makes a move to defend their values, that person is not “protected” from the public; they may be called names, their property or person may be harmed they may even be ostracized by friends, family and community. To be protected from these potential effects, people elect not to stand up and defend their values.

In essence we allow others to decide what values our community, state or country will espouse and if our community chooses to embrace values that an individual does not agree with, there are two courses of action: risk the above unpleasant experiences by voicing disapproval, in this one may open themselves up to questions as to why they did not speak up sooner or we can just “go with the flow” thereby weakening not only our individual values system, but that of our family, community and country.

We have come to rely far too heavily on perceived protections. Since we have parental controls and firewalls to protect our children from the internet and television, many parents no longer feel it is necessary to take responsibility for or closely monitor what their children do. What happened to snooping in your child’s room while they are at school?

What happened to asking about a child’s day and insisting on meeting their friends and boyfriends/girlfriends? What happened to asking questions and demanding answers? Simply because children have gotten smarter does not mean that they have become more trustworthy, in fact because of this children should be monitored more closely because now many of them possess the ability to cover their tracks.

The No Child Left Behind Act requires that schools meet certain standards in the areas of reading/language arts and math. While this appears to be beneficial, many schools are finding it necessary to cut funding for programs such as art and music that encourage expression, in order to use these funds to bring English and math programs up to the newly required standards.

Classes that were required 20+ years ago are now becoming distant memories. In raising the standards for these areas only we have put children at a disadvantage in regards to the ability to further their education once they graduate from high school. Since universities and many scholarships also require that students have other interests, hobbies, skills or talents.

We are slowly removing their ability to discover whether they have talent in areas aside from English and math and taking the enjoyment and culture out of our schools.

There is no doubt that the world is a dangerous place, whether it is more dangerous now with gangs than it was fifty years ago with the Ku Klux Klan is in the eye of the beholder. In the end we are more afraid of the world now then our parents and grandparents were because we have abdicated our responsibility to our families, communities and country and protected ourselves out of values.

We have implemented educational programs that have the effect of slowly eliminating art, music, social studies, geography, etc. leaving our children few places in school in which to excel and no places to have fun. John Steinbeck wrote “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”, he’s right; we have protected ourselves out of life and into a world of boredom, cowardice and paranoia.…

How To Volunteer Your Time

How To Volunteer Your Time

As a single mom who is disabled, I often get bored sitting around wishing I could work again. When I can, I get out of the house and, because I love to help, I often give my time doing for others. Here are some ideas of how you can help make a difference in your community.

I believe that when we are blessed, we should bless back. More often that not, I don’t have a dollar in my pocket. However, I’m still rich and blessed. Why? Because I help others, and for me, there’s no feeling in the world that can truly compare to the joy of giving.

When I was working, I belonged to an online writing community. I had a great job and had money left over, so I often gave out gifts at the site. Sometimes, those gifts would be upgrades, enabling members there to store more of their work.

Sometimes, it would be a gift from their store, like a shirt or site monogramed writing implements, or a mug. While it did feel good to be able to gift these members, I didn’t always feel comfortable because I had money and they didn’t. So I began thinking of other ways to help which didn’t involve any money.

Shortly after I became disabled the first time, I began to volunteer at a local animal shelter. I simply showed up one day and told them to put me to work. And they sure did. I washed bowls, scooped poop, scrubbed kennels, cleaned litter boxes, did laundry and was able to play with some animals to boot.

The shelter was horribly understaffed as it was, so my help to them enabled them to attend to some other duties they had been putting off for some time. While I often could go just once a week, for a few hours, my being there was a big help.

All animal shelters appreciate any help at all they can get. If you cannot volunteer your time, they are always appreciative of cleaning supplies, paper towels, old blankets, towels, clothes, bowls, food, litter and toys. If you can help in any way, contact a local shelter and ask what specific help they need. They will appreciate you!

After I became disabled this second time, a friend told me her elderly ex-husband needed someone to clean for him once a week. Since I used to clean houses for a living, and I love our elderly, I jumped at the chance.

What was supposed to be a once a week deal turned into a daily visit. He’s unable to get around without a walker, and has limited use of his limbs, so I help him with meals, clean for him, do his laundry; anything he needs done, I’ll do it for him while I’m there.

If you want to help the elderly, some good places to call are hospice, a senior center or even your local police and/or fire department. Excellent ways to help the elderly are cleaning for them, running errands, fixing a meal, doing some laundry and even some things we deem simple such as rubbing them down with lotion, helping them change their clothes, even sitting and visiting with them for awhile. Each person is different, and all you need do is ask and they will let you know what they might need or want.

I live in a motel for now, and there is a wide variety of people here. Some are like me; a family in transition while others have been here for a few years and just work. I help them too, when I can. I babysit, do laundry for a couple of older men, do their dishes, clean, walk their pets.

Some of it, yes, I get paid for, and sometimes, I’m just bored and want to be able to do something. I’m sure in virtually every neighborhood there is a family or a person who would appreciate a favor from time to time.

Again, it just takes asking around. Maybe someone needs their grass cut, or their car cleaned, or their pet bathed. Perhaps they would love a “gift certificate” for a good housecleaning or a garage cleaning or even a massage, if that’s what you do, or a haircut. Each of us has talents and everyone wins when we can use those talents to help others.

If being around people or animals is not your thing, there are plenty of things you can do to help. Walk around any street with a bag and collect stray trash. Ask at your local police and/or fire department what you can do to help. Donate items to a shelter, consignment store, your local Red Cross or similiar organization, if you have anything you don’t need or want.

No matter how you choose to give of yourself to someone else, you are guaranteed to bring a smile to both your face and someone else’s, and the feeling you will get from giving of yourself is like no other. Good luck and give on!…

How Technology Has Changed My Life

How Technology Has Changed My Life

Although I like technology, I have to say that it hasn’t completely changed my life for the better. It definitely has its pros and cons so in my world here they are:

Pros of Technology

As my son started driving, I am grateful he quietly texts me about his safe arrival and his friends need never know.
Thanks to the invention of a facsimile, I can receive a duplicate image of virtually any document in a flash. I can still remember the day my father came home excited about the invention. Who would have guessed we’d actually own one?

I can find information with a lot less effort and it is usually more thorough than what I would find at my local library.

I am able to work from the comfort of my home without a commute. I can also shop as well, but I am not sure my husband finds that a benefit.

I can socialize without seeing anyone. This is great for those bad hair day mornings. It allows me to keep in touch with friends who live faraway too.

Cons in My Life

Technology seems to make people stupid and shifts the blame. Try standing in line at a store when the computers are down. Worse yet ,have you ever disputed something that is listed in a company’s computer? People think if it is in the computer, it is correct. Unfortunately, computers are only as accurate as the people who enter information and humans make mistakes.

Now let’s talk about phone calls and voice messaging hold systems. Isn’t it refreshing when someone actually picks up the phone? My finger gets tired punching in a million numbers so that I finally get connected to the correct department of a company only to have to leave a message anyway.

Technology has made me lazier. I do not get up to turn on the television or virtually anything in my entertainment center.

Technology has made everyone multi-task even more. I find it scary that people use computers and cell phones while they drive. Our cars have become portable offices and I know it has adversely affected everyone’s driving.

Then there is the issue of trying to find a table at popular restaurants during lunch time when they offer free WiFi. Perhaps, some of you are even among the sitters who hog the one table with an outlet between eleven and three while nursing a cup of coffee.

Look for me. I’m the one balancing a tray of lunch and wandering aimlessly trying to find a seat. I’ve got nothing against using WiFi for extended periods of time at local establishments, but I still think restaurants should limit it during peak hours.

Then there are my children; two adorable boys who spend countless hours socializing through their electronic games.

On the whole, despite all those cons, I have to admit I feel lost on those days I misplace my cell phone or just can’t get the Internet to work.…