Stinkin’ Bugs!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

We’re under attack. The infinite numbers of aliens are breeding rapidly, and they’re infiltrating our homes, our businesses and our very lives.  There is no simple solution, as they are resistant to chemical warfare  - and seem too plentiful for physical combat.

I speak, of course, of the dreaded Stink Bugs – the 2011 equivalent to biblical swarms of locusts.  They’re eating crops, damaging the economy – and in general, annoying the stink out of us!

The question, of course, is what to do about them.  Apparently the FIRST thing to do is make sure there are NO cracks or crevices which allow stinkbugs to enter your home.  Great, just great.  Let me take the next 10 years off and try to find all the leaky spots in my drafty home.   Ok, assuming the stinky creature WILL find a way into my abode – what can I do about them???

My first line of defense to any problem – ignoring it – does NOT work. Trust me.  And, although exterminators are advertising a chemical solution (including one poor slob dressed in a stink bug costume on a busy (sunny) Elkton intersection in 95 degree heat), it seems that their solutions are only temporary – and primarily based on keeping the bugs from entering your home for a few weeks. I’m a bit past that – they’re already inside! (at least I’ve never eaten a stink bug – I’m told that’s a bit beyond nasty!)

Five Steps to take this Summer that will Transform Your Life!

There's no more putting it off - Summer is upon us. Tis the season for surf, sand and family time - and we've earned every minute of it! But this summer, let's also concentrate on US - and our dreams! Here are five things to do this summer that will change our lives!

1. DREAM - What are your dreams and lifetime goals? Do you even know? NOW is the time to dream big. What do you need to accomplish so, when you look back over your life, you see a life well-lived? Write down as many as you can; things to do, to see, to become, to learn. Then go back and circle the top five that you start working on NOW!

Now that you know what you want, visualize your world as if these things were already accomplished. See the details of your day, and feel the joy and satisfaction of knowing you have accomplished these things. Do this EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

2. BIG ROCKS - Remember the story of putting rocks, pebbles, sand and water into jar? You have to put the big rocks in first, or the smaller stuff will fill up your days and you'll never accomplish the really important things. We all have a million little things that we need to do each day - but we need to make sure the important, dream building stuff gets done, too. 

Look over you dreams list. For each goal write down the steps you need to take to make your dream a reality. These are the "Big Rocks". Every day list 3-5 action steps (in different categories) - and make them the priority for your day. Break down large, involved steps into more managable actions. You'll still have the daily stuff to do - but just knowing that THESE are your priorities will super-charge your journey toward your dreams!

Beware of Allstate Motor Club - and their salespeople!

Things that annoy me:

  1.  telemarketers
  2.  liars
  3.  manipulators
  4.  shady business practices

Put them all together and you get my recent experience with Allstate Motor Club. I usually don't even answer the phone when I know it's a solicitor. But we have Allstate Insurance, and I really didn't pay attention to the words following Allstate on the Caller ID. They're counting on that. 

So I made the mistake of answering my phone, and immediately realized this was NOT my insurance agent calling with a question. Instead the salesperson immediately began reading from the script, talking fast and apparently not pausing for extraneous things - like air. Sometimes I let them finish their spiel, but I was busy with sick children and doctors and after a couple of minutes I interrupted to say, "No, thank you."  They immediately talked more, going into Spiel #2 without hesitation. Again, I interrupted. "No, thank you." Then I hung up.

That was my second mistake.

The Estrogen Army is on patrol and the Holiday Blessings are accumulating!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Move over, Marines – you’ve been outflanked, outnumbered and outsourced! I’m not putting you down, and have nothing but love for you – but your highly synchronized moves have nothing, NOTHING on a group I like to call “The Estrogen Army”.

They blend into the landscape without need of camouflage, in fact – they ARE the landscape.  Silently they wait for the call to action, then spring into maneuvers that would make the Blue Angels green with envy.  They analyze the situation, take inventory, assess needs then assign (d implement) tasks with speed that should make the White House blush with shame.

They are everywhere. They go about their daily lives with the finesse of a double agent, making light of their burdens while laughing at themselves until that critical moment – the moment they are needed.  They are simply, women – tenders of the hearth, nurturers, healers and givers.  In times of need they rally together with strength, love and dedication.

I am proud to be a member of their ranks – and yet I am humbled and amazed by their stories.  Facebook is their new battleground – where they reach out, connect and organize.  When one of their ranks is touched by betrayal, illness, tragedy or misfortune they are there, arranging meals, childcare, transportation and meeting daily needs, from toilet paper to new stoves.  They give out of love, support and the understanding that women share much more than words could ever explain.  

The Estrogen Army’s greeting is simply, “What can I do to help?” .  Unfortunately, people rarely answer that question, perhaps from fear of appearing weak.   It’s difficult for the EA to mobilize when they fear offending those they would most like to help.  Oh, if only those we love would simply tell us what they need, so we feel useful.

This week, someone did.

Juggle People and Events with Google Calendar

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

It's spring - and my calendar - along with everyone else's - is exploding. Juggling work, meetings, errands and medical appointments is challenging enough, but when we add kids schedules, spouse schedules and horrific tasks like "Clean out gutters" - things really explode.  I've spent decades looking for the PERFECT calendar/day book - and spent years toting around a hefty (and expensive) Franklin Planner - and coordinating dates with my husband's planner. (then he left his on top of the truck one day and I discovered the drawback to having everything in one place)

These days my family lives by the Google Calendar. It's free, you can show more than one person's calendar (each kid gets their own color-coded entries) and there are apps to use it on i-phones, androids and the Kindle Fire. My calendar links to my husbands so we always know what's going on - and can both see the various impending kid commitments. You can get the month view - helpful when scheduling appointments, a week view (my favorite) and a daily agenda view. There are also various other calendars you can import (holidays, moon & tide, etc.) as well as task lists. I've put weekly tasks like "Take out trash" on the calendar so one of us might actually remember these important events.  

"I am beautiful; a project against bullying" begins in Cecil County, but touches everyone!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Heroes turn up in unlikely places - but by standing up and speaking out they become the voice of thousands. If you haven't seen the Facebook event "I am beautiful; a project against bullying" you need to check it out as soon as you finish reading this article. Bohemia Manor High School student Emilie Hancharick began this Facebook event to gather photos and information to make a video about the effects of bullying - but it's taken on a life of its own. She has become the champion of thousands, and that number will only continue to grow. 

What strikes me is the creativity and strength of the pictures teens are posting - I am in awe of their voice, their power, their love. They inspire me - and they are inspiring each other. And throughout all of the posts is the clear championing of Emilie for having the courage to begin such a heart wrenching project.  

Bohemia Manor Jr/Sr High School is a small school in Chesapeake City, MD - and my alma mater. My children go there now. So it hits close to home for me. Bullying, teasing, and cyber-stabbing are topics that cause every parent pain - but our words and support can only do so much. Emilie is getting the masses to bond and stand up to the predators. And she's doing it by simply saying - "You are beautiful - and you matter."

Please Don't Eat the Daisies - and other Adventures in Parenting

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Many years ago I read a wonderful memior book by Jean Kerr (another Erma Bombeck), titled "Please Don't Eat the Daisies". It was later made into an equally hysterical movie starring Doris Day.  Kerr (and Day) is flabbergasted to realize her young son needs every rule spelled out, including - don't eat the centerpiece. I loved the book (and movie) and laughed at the concrete lunacy of her son. 

Then, years later, I had a son of my own. Now it all makes sense. And it's less funny ha-ha and more, "I need to sit down and have a stiff drink - now!" I began blogging when he was about five. Because others needed to know when he took off running in a crowded mall - at Thanksgiving. Or when he drew signs on Grandma's perfect closet doors. I knew five-year old boys do these things - and I simply needed to survive until he aged a few more years. 

So now he's ten. And I'm beginning to understand why so many mothers laughed at my preceding statement. He doesn't run away anymore, write on wooden surfaces, or even throw a hissy fit when asked to do some actual work. He seems like an intelligent, helpful boy with a love of Star Wars and video games. 

Except that he's trying to kill me.

The Great Parental Dilemma - When to seek emergency medical care!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Life was much simpler when my children were nursing infants. They screamed with fear, pain, anger, boredom, illness, etc. - and my response was the same. Let them nurse. Bingo. Problem solved. 

These days when they cry I stand there like an idiot, wondering what I'm supposed to do. Nursing no longer seems to be an option - and could possibly get me arrested. But I have this deep rooted aversion to hearing my offspring cry with pain  - and I want a magic wand to make all the bad stuff go away, instantly. 

It doesn't help that most of my children have a pain threshold of negative seven.  And dubious judgement. 

Case in point: my son is known for comedic exaggeration of injuries. A neighbor has forbidden him from using their trampoline because he's always (and immediately) getting hurt on it. No bruises ever form, mind you. The day he tore up his knee in three places he calmly informed me he'd fallen and hurt his knee. I said something brilliant like "Ok" and totally ignored it. He still has the scars - and they're wide, nasty ones.

Bad Mommy.

Amazon has taken over my brain cells and my life - but refuses to take my cellulite!

Dear Amazon,

First of all, hats off to you all. You really do excellent work – and your products are top-notch.  As a long-standing bibliophile (aka – Book Slut),  I rank Amazon right up there with chocolate, coffee – and chocolate covered coffee beans.  The whole Kindle/e-book craze has caused me to load up on more books than I could read in several lifetimes – and that makes me all happy and tingly. (book slut, remember?)

The problem, my dear Amazon, is that you’ve added tempting graphics and interesting apps to my fingertips – and it’s cutting into my reading time.  I did manage to read Silent Tears: A Journey Of Hope In A Chinese Orphanage (AmazonEncore Edition) by Kay Bratt (borrowed for free with my Amazon Prime membership) before I discovered the dreaded Kindle Fire apps (or applications, for the uninitiated).  Now I spend my time playing Monopoly, Life, solitaire and Sudoku – while searching frantically for a Clue app that will work on the Kindle Fire, because I really like that game. Oh, and did you know my old time sucking favorite, Plants vs Zombies, will work on my Fire, too? I don’t mind waiting rooms at all anymore. Well, I never did – I always packed a book or two and was perfectly happy. But now my eyes glaze over and my finger moves across my delightful touch screen and the world disappears – along with quite a few of my working brain cells. I'm not as troubled by the awol brain cells as you would think - but I believe it's only fair if you ALSO take the accompanying saddle bags that have become firmly attached to my backside. Also, if you see my brain anywhere, I'd appreciate its swift return.

I have a plethora of business and self-development books literally at my fingertips – but instead I’m dedicating my time to winning just one more solitaire game. I can’t stop – so I’m forced to take drastic measures. I’ve signed up for a Pinterest account – which I’m told is the new hot social media craze – and more addicting than Facebook. A new addiction is just what I need to break my reliance on you – my dear Amazon. Nothing personal, of course.

I wish you continued success in your journey.

Cyndi Paxton Johnson

(ok, I wrote my article – NOW can I play Monopoly?????) 

Sandy’s Real Revelation

by Dwayne Eutsey

       Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they    do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand. Mark Twain

I first became aware of the Bible’s “end times” prophecies through Hal Lindsey’s bestseller The Late, Great Planet Earth back in the ‘70s.

In the book (which went on to become a movie narrated by Orson Wells), Lindsey laid out how he believed current events at the time were fulfilling predictions about the end of the world in the Book of Revelation, the Bible’s mysterious and controversial grand finale.

As a 12-year-old with an overactive imagination, I remember reading and re-reading Revelation once I finished Lindsey’s book, poring over the strange and obscure text and searching for hidden clues that would reveal what the future had in store for us.

The clues I found were as scary and titillating as they were baffling. The Four Horsemen…Gog and Magog…the ominous figure of the Antichrist…the final battle between Good and Evil at Armageddon. What did it all mean for us? Are these events unfolding now in our lifetime?

I suppose a lot of people are still intrigued by such questions and are still searching for whatever glimpse into the future that may lurk in Revelation’s murky depths.

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