12.30.2016

Rambling Over Coffee: Viewings and Funeral Services are For the Living That Need that Closure - Not the Dead

I don't often read Dear Abby or other 'dear' anyone in the morning news but if I happen to see a link to it while I'm reading other news, I'll click.  This one is my "rambling over morning coffee" post for today.  First, I'll let you read it.


DEAR ABBY: I recently went to a funeral viewing for a friend’s adult child whom I had never met. After entering the funeral home, I saw a computer-generated sign stating, “Please understand that we (mom, dad, brother and daughter) just couldn’t be here.”

Abby, I wasn’t there to see the deceased; I was there to express my sympathy to the family. Why bother to have a viewing? All I wanted to say was how sorry I am for their loss. — KAREN IN PENNSYLVANIA


DEAR KAREN: Please have a little less judgment and a little more compassion. Remember that not everyone deals with death in the same way.

The viewing was for family members, friends and acquaintances of the deceased who COULD bear to be there. You can still express your sympathy to the grieving family by writing them a condolence letter. 


We had a little different but somewhat similar issue just come up 2 weeks ago in our family.

Background:
My Godmother/Aunt just passed away this month, after a lengthy battle with cancer.  Everyone has known the time was near; and has known and has been somewhat expecting it, as she was very, very near death last October ( a year ago) and had a very odd but wonderful 'bounce back' that gave her another year with family before she passed this month.

She lives 2000 miles from all her extended family (brothers, sisters, cousins, etc.) and although her family (husband & adult children) made phone calls to everyone letting them know a day or two ahead of time that she would be passing (no longer eating or drinking, not waking from sleep) they opted for text messages when she finally passed away quietly, in her sleep, in her home.

They (the immediate family; husband, adult children) followed my Aunt's directive and wishes that immediately after being declared dead, she was to be transported to the funeral home where she would be cremated.  She wished no viewing, no memorials and no services.

___________________________

And apparently, this upset her siblings.  (All aged 60 - 80).

My Dad called to let me know my Aunt had passed and he was rather upset.  He and his sisters are all upset that there is no viewing, service or funeral to attend.  I told Dad I thought that was fine.... that's how me and my husband want it as well!  He was very upset and said the sibling consensus (gossip among themselves) is that it's fine if the family didn't want to hold it for them, but what about everyone else?  They wanted there to be a service.

And so, this morning over morning coffee, I ponder.

I can see both sides.

Funeral services are not for the dead.
They are for the living.

Some people need that closure in order to come to terms with the death of a family member or friend.
I understand my Aunts siblings would have wanted a viewing, memorial service and full church funeral.
Not only because it's what they wanted, but it's what they have come to expect as 'normal'.  A cultural thing. A part of their religion as well.  As a matter of fact, the entire process has become very 'cookie cutter'.  I suspect part of the anger and hurt feelings they are having is because they expected the same steps to be taken they all have come to expect.  You do 1. 2. 3. and 4. in that order.  Really, the entire schedule is fairly cookie-cutter except the name of the deceased changes and perhaps the color of the flowers and casket. 

My Aunt and her husband and her adult children spoke at length about what she wanted.  They followed her wishes.

My father and his siblings side of it is that if they didn't need a funeral service for themselves, that's fine, but what about all her siblings and other relatives.  They should have had one for them.

Uhhh.  Hmmm.
See?  Gray area.

So the Dear Abby column that day made me think of my own family's situation.

HAD THEY OPTED TO HAVE A SERVICE, my Uncle and my cousins would not have been there.  Heck, my Aunts body wouldn't have been there either.  It would have been some sort of memorial service for everyone else.  And I'm sure that like the person who wrote Dear Abby, there would be people upset and complaining and gossiping that her own family wasn't even there!

But they weren't there because the service wasn't for THEM.  It was for those who needed it.  Needed that closure. That goodbye.

My last thought to ponder about this topic over my morning coffee is that my Aunt and her family in part, probably opted for these decisions because it's been a year long "goodbye" process already.  She literally was at deaths door last October 2015. The calls were made.  Hospice was at the home.  When she made a recovery of sorts, it gave everyone an entire year to come to terms with her eventual passing that was inevitable.  Had she passed quickly, without warning, I suspect there might have been a large gathering and services of some sort maybe. 

In the end, this is what she and her family wanted.
And extended family and friends need to respect their wishes.

And so... Dear Abby reader, I don't often agree with Abby but I do on this one.

The viewing was for family members, friends and acquaintances of the deceased who wished to, or 'needed' to be there in their own.  And judgement upon the deceased family is unwarranted.  This goodbye viewing wasn't for them... it wasn't for the deceased... it was for those who wanted to be there, or needed to be there.







 
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12.29.2016

How to store coffee - Bags, Beans, Ground...

CC0 Public Domain Free for commercial use No attribution required





Heat Sealed Valve Bags

When coffee is fresh roasted it needs to de-gas. Coffee roasters commonly use heat sealed valve bags that have a one-way valve to allow the gases to escape without allowing any air or odors to get in. As long as the valve bag remains sealed it is "vacuum" packed and will remain as fresh as the day it was roasted until the heat sealed valve bag is opened. Purchasing your coffee in heat-sealed valve bags and keeping them sealed until needed is the best way to store both whole bean coffee and ground coffee for the long term.

Store Coffee in a Cool Dry Place

Once the heat sealed valve bag is opened, the proper way to store all coffee according to the coffee experts is to keep your coffee in a cool dry place. Heat, cold, moisture, oxygen and generally any kind of outside odors are all enemies of fresh coffee so caution should be taken to reduce or eliminate these. Keep in mind that fresh roasted gourmet coffee is porous so it will absorb outside influences. Whole bean coffee is a lot more dense than ground coffee so ground coffee is more susceptible to outside influences that destroy coffee freshness. Storing your coffee in a cool dry place preferably in an air tight sealed container is the best way to keep your coffee fresh for as long as possible.

Avoid Storing Coffee in a Fridge or Freezer

Many coffee drinkers are surprised to learn that freezing coffee or storing coffee in the refrigerator is actually detrimental to keeping your coffee fresh and should be avoided. Freezing coffee affects the chemical characteristics of the coffee bean or ground coffee. Storing coffee in the refrigerator is not recommended because as mentioned, coffee is very porous and will absorb other food odors that are present.

Green Bean and Roasted Whole Bean Verses Ground Coffee

The taste of coffee will vary depending on the type of coffee, the coarseness of the grind, the type of coffee brewing equipment used and of course, the age of the stored coffee.

Green Coffee Beans have the longest shelf life over roasted whole bean or ground coffee. If stored in a cool, dry place green coffee beans can last more than a year and still retain much of its flavor and aroma. The primary drawback with storing green coffee beans is that they still have to undergo a lengthier process from roasting to brewing. Very few people have their own coffee roasting equipment and green coffee beans are not as readily available on the market.

Roasted Whole Bean Coffee has a longer shelf life than ground coffee and is readily available on the market. When stored in a cool, dry place fresh roasted whole bean coffee will last for a number of weeks without losing too much flavor and aroma. It is preferable to store whole bean coffee in air sealed containers. Ceramic storage containers are recommended since plastic or metal containers can sometimes affect the flavor of the coffee over time. Glass containers are acceptable provided these are stored in cool dark cabinets. Whole bean gourmet coffee is recommended for home use for a number of reasons. As stated, whole bean coffee has a longer shelf life and provides a better, more flavorful cup of coffee, especially if brewed immediately after being ground.

Ground Coffee has the shortest shelf life of all and is best brewed right after being ground. Ground coffee is the most porous form of coffee and can loose its flavor and aroma in a matter of days. It's best to try and keep ground coffee stored for as short a time as possible prior to brewing.










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12.28.2016

A California man is in the midst of a lengthy legal battle following a driving under the influence charge for operating a car while under the influence of caffeine

Source:   https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/24/california-dui-caffeine-lawsuit-solano-county

 Heeelllllooooo?  As a (obviously) big time coffee drinker, THIS little news article caught my eye... so a guy is getting a DUI for driving under the influence of.. COFFEE?

OMG.

 So here is the deal....

A California man is in the midst of a lengthy legal battle following a driving under the influence charge that was issued almost 18 months ago for operating a car while under the influence of caffeine, reports said. I'm sorry, did we miss something? When did it become illegal to drive after consuming some espresso?

Joseph Schwab, 36, was pulled over on August 5, 2015, by a California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agent in an unmarked car who claimed the 36-year-old had cut her off and was driving erratically, The Guardian reported. The agent administered a breathalyzer test which displayed a 0.00% blood alcohol level, according to Schwab's lawyer. After that test, Schwab was put into county jail and had his blood taken for an addition toxicology test. The following report concluded that he had no illegal drugs in his system.

It wasn't until samples were sent to an outside testing facility in Pennsylvania that caffeine showed up as the only drug in Schwab's system when he was arrested, The Guardian reported. Now, just about 18 months later, Schwab and his attorney are gearing up for trial.

Schwab's lawyer, defense attorney Stacey Barrett, has filed a motion for the case to be dropped because no charges were actually filed until almost 10 months following the arrest. If that doesn't go through, the case will be brought in front of a jury in January.

The chief deputy district attorney in the county where Schwab was held, Sharon Henry said her office was “conducting further investigation in this matter," The Guardian reported. “The charge of driving under the influence is not based upon the presence of caffeine in his system."

According to California law, a drug is any substance that isn't alcohol that might “impair, to an appreciable degree” a driver's capability behind the wheel. How the state might attempt to argue caffeine did that to Schwab, we are not sure.

“No one believed me that I only had caffeine in my system until I showed them the lab results,” said Schwab, according to The Guardian. “I want the charges to be dismissed and my name to be cleared.”

____________________________

THIS is the part that jumped out at me:   California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agent in an unmarked car who claimed the 36-year-old had cut her off and was driving erratically

Hmmm.  He 'cut her off' ...  which makes me start to think "Was this just a case of a pissed off woman because he cut her off in traffic and she just happened to have the 'power' behind her career to get back at him for it?  We ALL KNOW THIS HAPPENS so it's completely understandable to wonder....

So I looked up the whole story and I am just shaking my head at this.  So wrong.. and on so many levels.

 ____________________________

Caffeine may be the “nootropic” brain drug of choice in Silicon Valley, but an hour’s drive north in Solano County, California, the stimulant could get you charged with driving under the influence.

That is according to defense attorney Stacey Barrett, speaking on behalf of her client, Joseph Schwab.

After being pulled over on 5 August 2015, Schwab was charged by the Solano County district attorney with misdemeanor driving under the influence of a drug.

Almost 18 months later, Schwab is preparing to go to trial. The only evidence the DA has provided of his intoxication is a blood test showing the presence of caffeine.

Shcwab was driving home from work when he was pulled over by an agent from the California department of alcoholic beverage control, who was driving an unmarked vehicle. The agent said Schwab had cut her off and was driving erratically.
The 36-year-old union glazier was given a breathalyzer test which showed a 0.00% blood alcohol level, his attorney said. He was booked into county jail and had his blood drawn, but the resulting toxicology report came back negative for benzodiazepines, cocaine, opiates, THC, carisoprodol (a muscle relaxant), methamphetamine/MDMA, oxycodone, and zolpidem.

The sample was screened a second time by a laboratory in Pennsylvania, according to documents provided to the Guardian, where the sole positive result was for caffeine – a substance likely coursing through the veins of many drivers on the road at any given time.

“I’ve never seen this before,” said Barrett. “I’ve never even heard of it.”

Barrett has filed a motion for the case to be dismissed because the charges were not brought until June 2016 – nearly 10 months after incident. If that motion is denied, Schwab will take his case to a jury on 11 January.

Sharon Henry, chief deputy district attorney for Solano County, said in a statement that her office was “conducting further investigation in this matter”.

“The charge of driving under the influence is not based upon the presence of caffeine in his system,” she added.
Barrett counters that if the prosecution has evidence of a different drug in her client’s system, it should have to provided that to her, based on the rules governing criminal procedings.

“I have not been provided with any evidence to support a theory of prosecution for a substance other than caffeine at this time,” she said. “Nor I have received any statements, reports, etc documenting any ongoing investigation since the [toxicology report] dated 18 November 2015.”

Henry declined to comment further, citing the right to a fair trial.

“It’s really stupid,” said Jeffrey Zehnder, a forensic toxicologist who frequently testifies in court cases. Over 41 years, Zehnder said, he had never seen a prosecution for driving under the influence of caffeine. 

“If that’s the case, then they better come and arrest me,” he joked.

Zehnder was informed about the case by Barrett, but has not been contracted to testify on either side.

California vehicle code defines a “drug” as any substance besides alcohol that could affect a person in a manner that would “impair, to an appreciable degree” his ability to drive normally.

Making that case with caffeine would be difficult, Zehnder said, because the prosecutor would have to show that impaired driving was specifically caused by the caffeine and not any other circumstances.

“There are no studies that demonstrate that driving is impaired by caffeine, and they don’t do the studies, because no one cares about caffeine,” he said.

As for Schwab, he just wants this ordeal to be over. In a statement provided to the Guardian by his attorney, he said his reputation had been damaged.

“No one believed me that I only had caffeine in my system until I showed them the lab results,” he said. “I want the charges to be dismissed and my name to be cleared.”












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Sears and Kmart closing MORE stores in early 2017... See the List

 Source:  http://www.businessinsider.com/list-of-sears-and-kmart-stores-closing-2016-12


Yesterday Sears/Kmart announced the list of store closures set for early 2017.  Most of the stores will start liquidation sales on January 6 and go out of business between late March and mid-April.  This caught my attention because although I've not regularly shopped Sears or Kmart in years, I felt bad for them this holiday season (2016) and gave them a chance by ordering some of my Christmas gifts through them online.  Although Kmart performed just fine, Sears pretty much did a sh*t job and screwed me over; not letting me know an order that showed "IN STOCK" was in fact NOT in stock until December 20th.  So, 5 days before Christmas I had to scramble to find a replacement gift - and it was being shipped to an elderly relative - not to my home.  (I found the same/similar item through JCPenney, ordered it, and the relative received it this morning, the 28th) which is why this particular news article caught my idea.

Sears failed me...  and ironically the item STILL SHOWED AVAILABLE ON THEIR WEBSITE even after they emailed me to say they were canceling my order as the item was unavailable.  (UPDATE YOUR SITE THEN!!!!).  So as much as I wanted to help them out by giving them business because I felt bad they were going out of business and had to close so many stores in 2016... they blew it and I'm not feeling much sympathy for them after leaving me scrambling just a few days before Christmas with a 'gee, sucks to be you but we are canceling your order' email.

Sears announced the closures internally on Tuesday but did not publicly release a comprehensive list of the stores that would close.

"Business Insider confirmed most of the closures with store employees at each location. We will add to this list as we confirm additional closures."

Kmart stores closing:

Jasper Mall, Jasper, Alabama
2003 US-280, Phenix City, Alabama
3001 Iowa Ave., Riverside, California
501 N. Beneva Road, Sarasota, Florida
19400 Cochran Blvd., Port Charlotte, Florida
2111 S. Federal Highway, Ft. Pierce, Florida
1501 Normandy Village Parkway, Jacksonville, Florida
2211 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, Florida
4955 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples, Florida
111 Town and Country Dr., Palatka, Florida
2815 West Parrish Ave., Owensboro, Kentucky
1501 Paris Pike, Georgetown, Kentucky
14662 N. US Highway 25 E, Corbin, Kentucky
1710 W. Highway 192, London, Kentucky
3010 Fort Campbell Blvd., Hopkinsville, Kentucky
2945 Scottsville Road, Bowling Green, Kentucky
9 Plaza Way, Fairhaven, Massachusetts
4645 Commercial Dr., New Hartford, New York
250 Three Springs Dr., Weirton, West Virginia
731 Beverly Pike, Elkins, West Virginia
5132 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, Washington
1050 Division St., Parkersburg, West Virginia

Sears stores closing:

Kentucky Oaks Mall, Paducah, Kentucky
1901 S. Yale Ave., Tulsa, Oklahoma
Town Center Mall, Charleston, West Virginia
Meadowbrook Mall, Bridgeport, West Virginia
Walden Galleria, Cheektowaga, New York
Boulevard Mall, Amherst, New York

"This latest round of closures will bring the total number of stores that Sears has closed this fiscal year to more than 200.

That means the retailer will have fewer than 1,500 stores left by early 2017. That's down nearly 60% from 2011, when Sears had more than 3,500 stores."

12.27.2016

Paqui chips has made a chip so spicy, they're selling it as an individual chip

 Sources listed below

I was reading random news articles this weekend and came across an interesting little 'foodie' tidbit.   Tortilla chip maker Paqui chips has made a chip so spicy, they're selling it as an individual chip.



It's called the Carolina Reaper Madness chip because it's made with the Carolina Reaper pepper, often listed as the hottest variety on Earth. 

Since it's made with the hottest chili in the world, it's sold as a single chip.  Yes, a single, solitary chip.  The solo chip comes in its own wrapper, placed inside a coffin-shaped box featuring a drawing of the Grim Reaper on the package, and across the top, it reads, "Inside: One deadly chip."




In an interview with Mashable the brand manager for Paqui, Jeff Day, said, "The reason that we're selling this as one chip is because quite honestly, that's all that you need. That's all that anyone needs.""It's the hottest chip you'll ever have, I can guarantee you that," "After you eat that one chip, trust me, you're not looking to dig back into the bag and have a second one. So, one chip is what we created to have the experience."

Priced at $4.99 a chip, you can check out their website to see if they sell at a location near you:  http://paqui.com/





You might also be interested in these related products available through Amazon;

Carolina Reapers Dry Whole Pepper Pods Hottest Peppers in the World | Free First Class Shipping in USA |
Carolina Reaper Powder
Ghost chili pepper - The hottest pepper in the world!!! 1,000,000 Heat Laval
Paqui Tortilla Chips Haunted Ghost Pepper, 5.5 Oz (Pack of 12)

     




Sources:
http://paqui.com/
http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/ad-day-tortilla-chip-so-hellishly-spicy-you-get-only-one-pack-173619

12.26.2016

Rambling over Coffee: The Christmas that Stopped a War (literally)

As a child I used to read everything I could get my hands on.  I always had a book with me and I was far happier reading than doing anything else. 'Voracious reader' would have described me perfectly.  Almost never without my nose in a book, magazine... anything and everything I could read, I would.

As a teen my reading did not slow down.  Even dating my now-husband, we would spend hours together at his home out in the country, miles from town; where he would do homework, play guitar or mow the lawn... and I would happily immerse myself into the piles of Christian magazines and Reader's Digest's his Dad had.  It was there I first read a true account recollection written by a man who had been in WWI and reminisced about how the fighting and shooting came to cease one Christmas as out of the darkness, a Christmas carol was heard being sung.  And how slowly, other soldiers had joined in.  The silence of the night was filled with Silent Night sung by German soldiers.  How the young men who were engaged in battle all stopped and spend the night singing Christmas carols and later, traded cigarettes and other goods.... 

I had hear or read about this off and on a few times over the next twenty years or so but hadn't thought about it in ages, when I remembered it again yesterday (Christmas Day) after seeing a short blurb about it online from the History Channel;


Just after midnight on Christmas morning, the majority of German troops engaged in World War I cease firing their guns and artillery and commence to sing Christmas carols. At certain points along the eastern and western fronts, the soldiers of Russia, France, and Britain even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

At the first light of dawn, many of the German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.

The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. In 1915, the bloody conflict of World War I erupted in all its technological fury, and the concept of another Christmas Truce became unthinkable.

_________________________________

If you are interested in knowing a little more of the story, Time Magazine did a special article on it 2 years ago, in 2014, to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Christmas that stopped the war - if only for a day.

http://time.com/3643889/christmas-truce-1914/


Exactly a century ago, the men in the trenches heard something unusual: singing

On a crisp, clear morning 100 years ago, thousands of British, Belgian and French soldiers put down their rifles, stepped out of their trenches and spent Christmas mingling with their German enemies along the Western front. In the hundred years since, the event has been seen as a kind of miracle, a rare moment of peace just a few months into a war that would eventually claim over 15 million lives. But what actually happened on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of 1914 — and did they really play soccer on the battlefield?

Pope Benedict XV, who took office that September, had originally called for a Christmas truce, an idea that was officially rejected. Yet it seems the sheer misery of daily life in the cold, wet, dull trenches was enough to motivate troops to initiate the truce on their own — which means that it’s hard to pin down exactly what happened. A huge range of differing oral accounts, diary entries and letters home from those who took part make it virtually impossible to speak of a “typical” Christmas truce as it took place across the Western front. To this day historians continue to disagree over the specifics: no one knows where it began or how it spread, or if, by some curious festive magic, it broke out simultaneously across the trenches. Nevertheless, some two-thirds of troops — about 100,000 people — are believed to have participated in the legendary truce.

Most accounts suggest the truce began with carol singing from the trenches on Christmas Eve, “a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere”, as Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled, in a document later rounded up by the New York Times. Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade described it in even greater detail:

“First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing ­– two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”

The next morning, in some places, German soldiers emerged from their trenches, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English. Allied soldiers came out warily to greet them. In others, Germans held up signs reading “You no shoot, we no shoot.” Over the course of the day, troops exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons and hats. The Christmas truce also allowed both sides to finally bury their dead comrades, whose bodies had lain for weeks on “no man’s land,” the ground between opposing trenches.

The phenomenon took different forms across the Western front. One account mentions a British soldier having his hair cut by his pre-war German barber; another talks of a pig-roast. Several mention impromptu kick-abouts with makeshift soccer balls, although, contrary to popular legend, it seems unlikely that there were any organized matches.

The truce was widespread but not universal. Evidence suggests that in many places firing continued — and in at least two a truce was attempted but soldiers attempting to fraternize were shot by opposing forces.

And of course, it was only ever a truce, not peace. Hostilities returned, in some places later that day and in others not until after New Year’s Day. “I remember the silence, the eerie sound of silence,” one veteran from the Fifth Batallion the Black Watch, Alfred Anderson, later recalled to The Observer. “It was a short peace in a terrible war.” As the Great War resumed, it wreaked such destruction and devastation that soldiers became hardened to the brutality of the war. While there were occasional moments of peace throughout the rest of World War I, they never again came on the scale of the Christmas truce in 1914.

Yet for many at the time, the story of the Christmas truce was not an example of chivalry in the depths of war, but rather a tale of subversion: when the men on the ground decided they were not fighting the same war as their superiors. With no man’s land sometimes spanning just 100 feet, enemy troops were so close that they could hear each other and even smell their cooking. The commander of the British Second Corps, General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, believed this proximity posed “the greatest danger” to the morale of soldiers and told Divisional Commanders to explicitly prohibit any “friendly intercourse with the enemy.” In a memo issued on Dec. 5, he warned that: “troops in trenches in close proximity to the enemy slide very easily, if permitted to do so, into a ‘live and let live’ theory of life.”

Indeed, one British soldier, Murdoch M. Wood, speaking in 1930, said: “I then came to the conclusion that I have held very firmly ever since, that if we had been left to ourselves there would never have been another shot fired.” Adolf Hitler, then a Corporal of the 16th Bavarians, saw it differently: “Such a thing should not happen in wartime,” he is said to have remarked. “Have you no German sense of honor?”

Still, a century later, the truce has been remembered as a testament to the power of hope and humanity in a truly dark hour of history.It has been immortalized and fictionalized in children’s novels like Michael Foreman’s War Game, in films such as Joyeux Noel and Oh, What a Lovely War! and even in a controversial Christmas ad this year from Sainsbury’s, a British supermarket chain. To mark the centenary this year, Prince William unveiled a memorial on Dec. 12: a metal frame representing a soccer ball, with two hands clasped inside it, and a week later, inspired by the events of the truce, the British and German army soccer teams played a friendly match. And though the Christmas Truce may have been a one-off in the conflict, the fact that it remains so widely commemorated speaks to the fact that at its heart it symbolizes a very human desire for peace, no matter how fleeting.













12.25.2016

Rambling (maybe a little venting) over coffee: " ....that woman can't properly love and care for so many children."


" ....that woman can't properly love and care for so many children."


What I'd like to say...  "You mean YOU couldn't properly love and care for so many children."  But I can't because this is a comment made by someone online, not in real life. 

The woman she was talking about had 5 children but realized her heart was called to adopt two more children and later, decided to open their home to foster care and were currently providing love, food, clothing, attention and all the kisses and hugs and snuggles a little 5-month old could want for.

And yet that woman was judged by people online because that woman can't properly love and care for so many children.

Perhaps it's ironic I ran across this little online argument tonight.  You see, over the last week I've found myself thinking about some of the friends I grew up with or kids I went to school with that had large families.

My very best, oldest and dearest friend is the youngest of ten children.  A classmate of mine from 2nd grade through high school graduation is smack dab in the middle of 12 kids.  Another friend was one of 8, another one of 7.  Almost all my friends and classmates came from families of at least five children.  Our family was small; we only had four kids. 

As an adult one of my friends is Mom to eight.  Another, Mom to seven.

These women absolutely properly love and care for so many children. Because they like mothering, love children and truly enjoy what they do.

I know of a family in my Dad's childhood hometown who had 21 children.  18, 19 or 20 children wasn't unheard of, although most only had seven or eight.

The woman that made the rude and arrogant comment was a mother of  'only' two kids.  By her own admission, she finds parenting exhausting and difficult and from her own personal stories, posts and comments; makes mountains out of molehills.  Everything has to be dramatic with her.  And with just two kids, still considers herself an expert of sorts.

Yes, some people have just one child; find it exhausting and realize they could never be a good parent to more.
Others have two kids and exclaim "That's enough!  Oh my gosh how do people do this?"
Three puts some people over the edge.  Four?  They can't even imagine.  Five?  They declare no one can ever raise five children with enough time and love to go around!

Speak for yourself!  Just because you aren't good at something, why would assume everyone else is like you? Feels like you?  Thinks like you?  Has your level of parenting skills or interest in children or raising children?

I can't play guitar. I can't do ballet gracefully.  I am awful at making decisions on things like paint colors or decorating a house.  I think learning the rules to football or other sports is confusing and difficult! I can sing though. And I can draw fairly well.  I don't mind public speaking at all and I find babies, toddlers and parenting in general to be pretty intuitive and easy.  Exhausting, yes.  Frustrating?  Sometimes.  But yeah... it comes naturally and easily to me. 

After the birth of my first child, I stopped in the office to for a visit and to show my co-workers our new little daughter.  My boss knew my and my husbands family all lived 2000 miles away and my mother was not staying with us during my maternity leave.  I'll never forget her asking me (in complete seriousness) how I knew how to take care of the baby if my Mom wasn't there?

Blink.
Blink.
Blink.

What the heck?

Well, I am the oldest of four kids.  I've babysat for other people since I was 10 years old.  I went to school for early childhood education because I loved kids and well, to me, caring for an infant was as easy, instinctive, intuitive and used simple common sense.  In my mind:  How could you not know how to care for a baby?

Just because SHE hadn't known how to care for her first born all those years ago.
Because SHE found parenting confusing and stressful.
Because SHE went on to only have the one daughter and never had more children.

(Then again, she was completely flabbergasted when I showed up to work one day with my hair in a French Braid down my back.  "How did you do that without anyone helping you!?"   Her daughter was 21 years old at the time and would come to her mothers house or stop into our office every morning she wanted to wear her hair in a French Braid because her Mom had to do it for her.)


When I was a Mom of three, my neighborhood Mom friends all had just one or two children.  And struggled!  One went crazy during her maternity leave with her 2nd child and couldn't wait to return to work.  Staying home with 2 kids (even though one went to preschool 5 days a week) was too much.  Another was frantic and stressed to find something to do and some place to go with her kids every single day.  Seriously.  Every day they had to 'go' somewhere, 'do' something.  Every second of the day had to be filled with someone, something... she was always fretting, rushed and things were chaotic.  And that was just two kids.

Yes, for those women, 5, 6 or 7 children must seem like an impossible feat!

But for those who have different interests? Different skills, talents, callings in life...  those women who feel instantly comfortable, blessed and 'right where they are meant to be' with 5, 7, 9 or 12 kids?  WHY is this any of your business?
It's not.

For the rude commenter with just 2 kids:  I'm sorry you don't have enough love in your heart for your second child.  She must be woefully neglected!  You don't have enough time or energy for her and not enough love to spare.  Apparently humans can only love 1 child... right?

What?  You do have enough love for your second child?  Because people can love two kids?  Not just one?

Well, why is two your magic number for capacity of love?  Why not 3 or 4 or 7?

A Mother loves her fifth baby just as much as her first.

A human mother does not 'run out' of love.

My friends with 10 and 12 kids in their families have the most amazing, talented, loving, awesome families!  My friend with seven children has so much love to give that she also works as a pediatric nurse.  Their home is clean and organized (and beautiful! I'm jealous of her skill in Scandinavian decor), meals are made, children fed, school, sports, band, choir and dance schedules are balanced.  And guess what?  She has so much love and talent to give that she also works as a pediatric nurse.

Ah yes.
Some women can raise large families and run their homes quite well while other women struggle with just two kids.

Everyone is different.

So don't judge someone else based on your own feelings of inadequacies or your own inability to parent more than one or two kids.  Some women just have a natural love and ability to be a mother to more.  Some (like another very good friend of mine) are called to not be Moms at all.  No interest, no want and no urge to ever have a child of her own although she's a great Aunt to her nieces and nephews.  She knew back in high school she never wanted to have kids.  She and her husband love not having kids - although she is a teacher and great at it!

My Grandmother did a kick-ass job of raising 7 children.  Every one of those adult children were gathered round her bedside when she passed away a few years ago at age 94.  She raised my Dad and his siblings in a 3 bedroom farm house and never had extra money (they were farmers in the heartland of America).  But the kids grew loved, cared for and cherished!  Because Grandma was of those women who found raising up children to be second nature and certainly not rocket science! 

But apparently rude commenters with only 2 kids feel the need to judge any women with more than four or five little ones.  That woman you shamed and judged probably finds raising her eight children easier than you do with just your two. 












12.19.2016

"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, ...perhaps... means a little bit more"


Merry Christmas
from 
It's Just the Coffee Talking
coffeetalking.com











Experts warn against falling for scam emails — disguised as delivery notices

This has been warned for years but it's getting worse, and the emails are getting better.  Some look fairly legit - especially if you ordered online and are expecting a package.

This is a blurb from a random article - just a quick "REMINDER" to be aware and be safe online:  (good to pass on to young people and elderly who often are taken in easier)


As the holidays approach and many people turn to online shopping to buy gifts, experts warn against falling for scam emails — disguised as delivery notices — that often spike in popularity at this time of year.

These scam emails generally appear to be a message from an identifiable shipping service such as FedEx, DHL Express, UPS or the U.S. Postal Service. The contents of the scam emails may vary slightly, but many will say that there was a failed delivery and ask you to follow a link or download an attachment for more information. Tech experts say that these links or attachments could contain a virus or other malware.

“These emails ask the receiver to open an attachment in order to obtain the airbill or invoice needed to pick up their package,” the shipping giant FedEx wrote on its website. “The attachment in the email may contain a virus. Please do not open the attachment and delete the email immediately.

“The frequency of this email tends to increase close to the holiday season, presumably to exploit the growth in shipping volumes,” FedEx added.

While this email scamming tactic has been around for years, it often is particularly popular during Christmastime.







If you enjoy visiting Just the Coffee Talking, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. - Amazon by Coffee Talking


12.12.2016

From the news: A heart wrenchingly sad, yet sweet story. Santa holds a dying little boy in his arms; granting his last wish to meet Santa.


I had a few minutes break so I jumped online to read the news.
Bypassing the regular 'crap' I had no interest in muddying my happy brain with, I saw a Santa story that piqued my interest.
Oh my goodness!  Heartbreaking yet sweet at the same time.

I cried.

There are many sources for the story - I actually read it in 4 places (because all media outlets spoon-feed the story to you differently and include different details).

This 'Santa' is actually named  Eric Schmitt Matzen (who looks every bit the Santa Claus)  normally dons a red suit and makes appearances during the holidays playing the jolly old elf.  He’s professionally trained and wears a custom-tailored Santa suit - but his white beard and hair is all his.  He was born on Dec. 6 which is pretty cool considering that’s Saint Nicholas Day.

Although he regularly visits up to 80 different events as Santa Claus every year, he had to play a different role this year. A heart wrenching role when he was called to the hospital to visit a dying little boy.

 “I told her, ‘OK, just let me change into my outfit.’ 
She said, ‘There isn’t time for that. 
Your Santa suspenders are good enough. 
Come right now.’ ”



“I’d just gotten home from work that day.”

“The telephone rang. It was a nurse I know who works at the hospital. She said there was a very sick 5-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa Claus.

“I told her, ‘OK, just let me change into my outfit.’ She said, ‘There isn’t time for that. Your Santa suspenders are good enough. Come right now.’ ”

Schmitt-Matzen got to the hospital in 15 minutes. He met the lad’s mother and several family members.

“She’d bought a toy from (the TV show) PAW Patrol and wanted me to give it to him,” he said, voice growing husky. “I sized up the situation and told everyone, ‘If you think you’re going to lose it, please leave the room. If I see you crying, I’ll break down and can’t do my job.’ ”

Nobody entered with him. They watched, sobbing, from a hallway window in the Intensive Care Unit.

“When I walked in, he was laying there, so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep. I sat down on his bed and asked, ‘Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas! Why, you’re my Number One elf!

“He looked up and said, ‘I am?’

“I said, ‘Sure!’

“I gave him the present. He was so weak he could barely open the wrapping paper. When he saw what was inside, he flashed a big smile and laid his head back down.

‘“They say I’m gonna die,’ he told me. ‘How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?’

“I said, ‘Can you do me a big favor?’

“He said, ‘Sure!’

“When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.


“I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him.

“Everyone outside the room realized what happened. His mother ran in. She was screaming, ‘No, no, not yet!’ I handed her son back and left as fast as I could.

“I spent four years in the Army with the 75th Rangers, and I’ve seen my share of (stuff). But I ran by the nurses’ station bawling my head off. I know nurses and doctors see things like that every day, but I don’t know how they can take it.’”

In despair, Schmitt-Matzen was ready to hang up his suit. “I’m just not cut out for this,” he reasoned.

But he mustered the strength to work one more show.

“When I saw all those children laughing, it brought me back into the fold. It made me realize the role I have to play.

“For them and for me.”


Many sources:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/12/11/cried-all-way-home-santa-claus-grants-final-wish-dying-child/95315536/
http://www.walb.com/story/34030055/santa-grants-terminally-ill-boys-last-wish-child-dies-in-his-arms
http://kdvr.com/2016/12/12/tennessee-santa-grants-final-wish-to-child-who-died-in-his-arms/
http://myfox8.com/2016/12/12/i-cried-all-the-way-home-santa-claus-grants-final-wish-to-child-who-died-in-his-arms/



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12.09.2016

Rambling over coffee.... 3 random news articles from today: Difficult Co-workers, AL botching a death on death row and a 20 year old who leaves her two babies home alone for 9 days and one dies....



Coffee break!

So, I'm reading the news and although there are probably 10 different stories I initially wanted to comment on, I grabbed 3 of them at random as I have a serious lack of time here.  It's a QUICK coffee break.

First off - I skimmed through this one quickly.  (Source: https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/e61d62b2-d07e-3910-9de5-33dd20874a3a/4-types-of-difficult.html)  It's about the 4 most difficult types of personalities of co-workers and how to deal with them....


"Everyone wants to work in a friendly and productive environment, 
but sometimes even one bad co-worker can make getting your job done 
seem near impossible."

Ahhh. Coworkers.
Since I'm now in my 40's and no longer a know-it-all 20-something with like, 5 years experience to build on; boy have I seen a plethora of personalities.  And another facet of that thought is that with age, came maturity and wisdom - and I can see now that the personalities that drove me crazy as a working 16 year old, a 20 year old, or a 35 year old are different.  To put it simply:  What I considered a difficult co-worker at 16, isn't necessarily as awful as I would have found them at 25.

One of the co-workers I've always considered awful to work with are the lazy ones.  The ones that try to 'look' busy but accomplish nothing. Sometimes our jobs haven't overlapped so it didn't directly reflect on me or effect me but other jobs I've had to take on their tasks to pull off the final project or the project would fail, I would have looked bad, or the company would have lost face in one way or another.  The frustrating thing about those people is when you don't really have recourse to TELL anyone that person is a complete fake, phony and loser.  Luckily they often dig themselves into a hole, the truth comes out and they are fired... but this is real life.  We all know that sometimes they manage to kiss butt, skate by or you have a blind boss who doesn't see it and promotes them.  Ah life... it can suck sometimes.

One of the co-workers that stands out in my mind that dug her own 'hole' and got fired wasn't actually fired for being lazy, shirking her duties or anything remotely related to the piss-poor job she did.  Instead, she was stealing from the company and got caught.  I guess that's karma for you in a weird way.

_____________________________________

Another story from today was this one:  (Source: https://www.yahoo.com/news/alabama-inmate-coughs-heaves-during-execution-injection-122007733.html) - An Alabama inmate coughed repeatedly and his upper body heaved for at least 13 minutes during an execution using a drug that has previously been used in problematic lethal injections in at least three other states.


"Robert Dunham is executive director of the Death Penalty 
Information Center, a nonprofit that does not take an official stance
on capital punishment  but is critical of its application. 
He said Smith's execution reinforces the argument that 
midazolam shouldn't be used in executions.

"What occurred during the execution itself is exactly 
what the medical experts have been saying is likely to occur 
when midazolam is asked to do something 
that drug is not designed to do," he said. 
"It is not designed to render somebody unconscious and insensate."


Seriously people?  YOU HAD ONE JOB.........
I'm not going to take 15 minutes or so to google this topic, but the first thing that came to mind was this...  why not overdose them with morphine?  Wouldn't that work?
When my Mother was hospitalized for a minor surgery, the inept nursing staff overdosed her with morphine and another pain medication given at the same time.  She slowly went 'out of it' although her eyes remained open.  Her breathing slowed. As she was dying (an alarm was raised by my father, nursing and then doctors rushed to her room and quickly worked to bring her back from the brink - and yes, later they actually admitted they screwed up but that's a whole other story)... where was I?  OH.  So when she was overdosed with pain meds and was dying, she said later it was perfectly simple.  She said she just "went to sleep".  No pain, no knowledge of what was happening to her or even when her body was shutting down.
So every time I see news articles of inmates on death row dying horrible deaths because people are using a bunch of different drugs that aren't working... I can't help but think;  "Why aren't you just overdosing them with pain meds?"

There might be a good reason - but like I said, I am not going to look it up or study it.  Just not that interested.

___________________________________

Another piss poor parent: (Source:  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38248836) -Ukrainian prosecutors are questioning a 20-year-old mother after she allegedly left two toddlers in her flat for nine days, and one starved to death.

"The mother, Vladislava Podchapko, had gone to her partner's flat, 
without leaving food at home, reports say.
Her son Daniil, aged one year and 11 months, died  
and his sister Anya, nearly three, remained in the Kiev flat 
with the dead body for three more days, until the mother returned."

Ok so... I actually don't have words for this one.
How
Can
Anyone
Do
That
To 
Two 
Poor
Little
Toddlers?
 


 __________________


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12.08.2016

Busy Nights and Barber Foods

I am a BzzAgent and I received a sample of this product in exchange for my honest opinions.




Just a quick 2 minute break from the hectic schedules we all seem to have this month, to let you know about a grocery product I got to try to review from Barber Foods.  Their stuffed raw chicken breasts are a quick (35 minutes) dinner option for when you don't want to invest a lot of time in cooking but you want a healthy, yummy and hot meal on the table.


We actually used this product before they contacted me - it's something I often have in the freezer as our whole family loves them.  With 13 different varieties, it's easy to find one even your picky eaters will like.

Cordon Bleu
Broccoli & Cheese
Crème Brie & Apple
Kiev
Scallop & Lobster Stuffing
Chicken Parmesan
Seasoned Homestyle Stuffing
Seasoned Mushroom & Swiss
Seasoned Broccoli & Cheese
Seasoned Cordon Bleu
Asparagus & Cheese
Seasoned Spinach Florentine
Loaded Baked Potato






Just unwrap, pop them into the oven and the aroma that fills the house while they cook will remind you of meals of your childhood when Grandma or Mom would painstakingly pound chicken breasts, fill them with a favorite filling and then bread them before baking.  You get the same aroma and flavor but a lot less work.

Paired with a vegetable or pasta, it's a quick and easy dinner that tastes like you worked harder than you did.  Got guests coming for the holidays?  Busy Christmas shopping and need something hot and filling but easy to make?  These are available at most grocery stores and are easy to keep a handful in your freezer for busy nights.



















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12.03.2016

Rambling over coffee: Doctors and nurses only 'get' it when they or someone they love get cancer

Source:  https://herecomesthesun927.com/2016/11/14/dear-every-cancer-patient-i-ever-took-care-of-im-sorry-i-didnt-get-it/
Source:  https://www.yahoo.com/celebrity/oncology-nurse-diagnosed-cancer-writes-203228585.html


I've never had a mother-in-law.
She died of breast cancer when my husband was 12 years old.
He was 10 years old when she 'got sick' and although she went through a radical surgery and treatment plan; and the doctors told the family they were 99% sure they got it all... that 1% they didn't get, killed her.  Left three children without a mother.

My mother was diagnosed with cancer unexpectedly at age 51.
We didn't have cancer on either side of our family and it was a shock of course.
She also went through surgery, 6 rounds of chemo and 33 rounds of radiation.
She is currently 'cancer free' but anyone with cancer knows you never really are.
Emotionally you are always under the umbrella of fear, you live with tests and medications and in my mothers case, a permanent bracelet to warn emergency workers 'NO NEEDLES' in one arm and a hundred other small ways the cancer never really leaves your life.

And in all this...  the doctors and nurses give lip service.
Some are half way decent at empathy.
Some suck.
Some doctors and nurses are so burnt out and hardened the words 'cancer' may as well be 'ear infection' or 'common cold' and they seem heartless and cold and uncaring.
Others are warm and have a great bed side manner and seem to truly care and listen... try to understand.

But the only doctors and nurses who understand the power of the words...
The horrible, awful feeling of 'waiting' for results that takes days, and weeks...
The excruciating pain...
The fear...

are those who have had it.

About a year or two ago I read an editorial piece by someone on a very important medical research board who admitted how 'wrong' they were about those with cancer and what they went through only after their spouse got cancer.  Their entire understanding of the treatment of cancer changed after watching their spouse go through it.

I was angry.
Because that's how it is with everything.
People with power to make decisions go through life making decisions without personal experience and blow off the fear, hurt, worry, pain, suffering and frustration of others because those 'others' are strangers.  If it's your 'job' but not your 'life' you still get to go home at the end of the day... and you are not living it.

Until you do.

And once again, a professional gets cancer... and writes an editorial piece (in this case a personal blog) and she 'gets it' and not only gets it, but apologizes to all those with cancer she has worked with through the years... because she cared, but she didn't get it.

I first stumbled upon this through a news story (sourced at the top of this post) and then read the original on her blog (also sourced at the top).   For those of us with families directly touched by cancer...  I'm thankful for those professionals who finally 'get it' and understand.  And can spread the word to their co-workers and others about how it's not what they think... it's worse.


_______________________________


Excerpts from the news with my morning coffee that inspired my comments and thoughts on this post.....


I prided myself in connecting with my patients and helping them manage their cancer and everything that comes with it. I really thought I got it- I really thought I knew what it felt like to go through this journey. I didn’t.

Oncology nurse Lindsay Norris never imagined she’d be told the three words she had said to dozens of patients before: You have cancer.

In a blog post published on Nov. 14, titled ‘Dear every cancer patient I ever took care of, I’m sorry. I didn’t get it,’ Norris, 33, who was diagnosed with stage III colorectal adenocarcinoma in September, apologized to every patient she’s treated since she went into nursing.

“I didn’t get what it felt like to actually hear the words,” Norris, from Olathe, Kansas, wrote in the post. “That day was the worst. I’m sorry. I didn’t get it…I didn’t get how hard the waiting is…I didn’t get how awkward it was to tell other people the news…I didn’t get how much you hung on to every word I said to you.”

 "I didn’t get how hard the waiting is. It’s literally the worst part. 
The diagnosis process takes forever. The different consults, 
the biopsies, the exams and procedures… and the scans. Ugh, the scans. 
You were going through the motions trying to stay positive- but at that point, 
you had no idea what you were dealing with and the unknown was terrifying."

"Knowing the cancer is there and knowing you’re not doing anything to treat it yet is an awful, helpless feeling."

Since her diagnosis, the mother of a 3-year-old son and 7-month-old daughter has continued to work. And every night, without fail, she and her husband Camden try to keep things “as normal as possible” with their children and have dinner followed by bath time, story time and bed.

Norris is currently receiving radiation and chemotherapy tablets daily and will get a scan after Christmas to see how it’s affected the cancer. She’ll then undergo a permanent colostomy followed by four to six months of additional chemotherapy.

“I used to tell you that cancer will be just a phase in your life. Just like high school or something — it seems like it drags on and on when you’re in it, but soon it’ll all be a memory. I’m sorry if this made you feel marginalized – it is not a phase,” part of the letter reads.

“Yes, there are phases — the treatment won’t last forever, but you are changed now,” she continues. “The worrying won’t stop, the uncertainty won’t stop, the fear of recurrence or an awful end won’t stop. I hear that gets better- time will tell. And time is precious. I’m sorry. I didn’t get it.”












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11.30.2016

Eleanor Roosevelt - first lady - carried a gun for protection

Source:  http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/2015/07/12/eleanor-roosevelt-gun-owner/29953377/
 July 12, 2015

(Photo: FDR Presidential Library)





First lady. Icon of liberalism. Gun owner?

Yes, Eleanor Roosevelt, known for traveling the country to highlight the plight of the poor and marginalized, also was packing heat.

The mother of five had a .22 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol with a 6-inch barrel, front sight and a round top frame with an adjustable rear sight.

With debate raging in New York and around the nation about gun control and Second Amendment rights, the fact is, one of the greats of the Democratic Party not only owned a gun, but carried it for protection!

"Eleanor Roosevelt is considered a 20th century icon of the Democratic Party and someone whose liberal politics established an enduring benchmark that continues to shape politics today. The fact that she owned a gun offers yet another dimension to the historic legacy of a president and first lady...."

 Read more here.








11.29.2016

Rambling over coffee: A random and dumb memory of when I was a little kid and found 'secret' tunnels in the gym of our school



The night before last I was in the kitchen doing dishes and thinking of a few childhood memories that took place in my school.  As I sit here now, sipping my peppermint coffee and trying to remember just why I was reliving memories from a few decades ago... I can't. Something must have triggered them but I'm not sure what.

When I was 7 years old we moved from a large city to a very small town in the heart of America. I attended the parochial elementary/jr. high school just down the block from my home.  I think at the time, in 2nd grade, we had about 24 kids in our class.  As the years went by many schoolmates moved away from our little town on the prairie and when I graduated from that school in 8th grade we had 13 kids in our class.

One of the memories that jumped into my brain was how excited we would get when it was time for parent teacher conferences to roll around.  I don't recall the cut off age, but I know once you were one of the 'older' kids you got to sign up for certain jobs or tasks during conferences.

Excitement was in the air when we found out the sign-up form was going to be posted or passed around the classes.  The coveted slot of gold was the 'bell ringer'.   This student would set up shop in the schools administration office and their sole job was to watch the clock and push the button that would ring the buzzer/bell every 15 minutes to let teachers and parents know their time was up; as well as the 3 minute short 'warning' bell prior to the longer buzzer signaling the end of the conference.

The bell ringer not only got to hang out in the school office but it's where the real treasure was... the food.  Sitting there  for an hour time slot (or two if you could sneak your name into both slots without a teacher calling you out for it and making you give up one of the coveted positions) chatting with friends that stop in the office, watching the little TV that was kept in the office and eating scads of delicious foods of all types that had brought in for the teachers during conference evenings.

That was also a sign up slot.  Food donations.

Conferences started right after school at 3:30 on the first day, and there was no school the 2nd day of conferences so teachers were spending all day at the school and didn't go home for meals.  Families would sign up to bring in hot dishes, main meals, side dishes, desserts, snacks and drinks for the teachers to eat.  The foods provided were always amazing as a lot of church and school pot luck style meals are.  That, my friends, was the real gold.  It's also why most of the guys tried to sign up as bell ringers!

I did bell ringing some of the time but what I truly loved was the babysitting slots.  I loved children, loved babies and loved babysitting.  For me and my friends we would sign up and then hope and pray some of our 'favorite' families would be slated for conference times during our shifts.  It was a big disappointment to find out your favorite babies or toddlers went to their conference during someone elses shift or even worse, the family had other childcare set up and didn't bring them!

With wrestling mats set up in the corner of the gym, random toys we all would bring from home 'for the cause' and children's records and cassette tapes playing in the background; we would spend our 2 hour slots feeding babies, running after toddlers and playing games with the little kids.

Sometimes there were no kids at all during our time slots.  And that is another random memory that popped into my head as I did dishes that evening.

Two friends and I signed up for childcare on a very slow conference day.  No kids. No parents. No teachers. No visitors.  As we sat on the wrestling mats and chatted about nothing in particular, one of my friends that had numerous older brothers and sisters who had gone to the school before us pointed out there were tunnels under the gym floor.  Tunnels!?  Really?  Noooo.  Yes?

Yes!

And so we set out to find them.  And we did.

The entrance was actually under the wrestling mat we were on.  A large square cut out of the floor of the gym but not marked or noticeable in any way.  We carefully pried it up and sure enough, about a 4 foot drop below us was a tunnel.  A dark tunnel.  Without lights of course.  We ventured down into the tunnel a few feet, feeling ever so rebellious and naughty.  (Hey, we were 12.  And it was a Catholic school.  Believe me, this was rebellious for us!)  Being too dark to see farther than a few feet, a plan was made.  The next babysitting shift we could get on together, we'd come armed with flashlights.

And we did.  Although it was busier at the time and we really did have to time it just right and hope no one came into the gym while we were exploring!  We went down, put the floor back in place behind us and, hunched over to fit in the shallow tunnels, we proceeded to explore.

After going straight for quite a while we came to a corner and took it.  As we were now in the heart of the tunnel, in pitch black, we whispered about where we might be under the gym and how far the tunnels go, and whether or not there were spiders or if someone had come into the gym while we were down there!

Our nerves got the best of us and we found our way back to the opening where we had left the flooring just 'off' enough to allow some light to filter down so we could find the opening again.  As we came out of the tunnel we saw the janitor entering the gym from the far door! My two friends had scrambled out, but I had only made it out as far as my eyes.  My head was quickly shoved back down and the floor put in place above my head as my friends pretended they weren't doing something they shouldn't be.

Over the next two years we went to school there we managed to slip down into the tunnels a couple times more.  Word spread to a few of the guys in our class and they too found ways to sneak down.  We did our part of continuing the rumor of 'hidden tunnels' for the kids who came after us to whisper of the tales and try to find them themselves.  I had younger brothers and while the first two also took part in the secretive whispers of tunnels, by the time our youngest brother went through the school it was 'old news'.  As a matter of fact, by then everyone knew about the tunnels and most had gone down into them at one time or another and the whole topic was no longer strange and mysterious.

They took the fun out of it.

The school is no longer functioning as a place of learning as the population of our little town dwindled and the class sizes fell so low it was not feasible to keep it open.  It was shuttered and the bells no longer ring.  The gym is silent and the halls will probably never be filled children again.  Sad really... but I guess time marches on.

The end of my 'tunnel' memory (which by-the-way went though my brain in like, 10 seconds even though it's taken me about 10 minutes to type it all out!) is that for 3 girls who didn't want to be caught in the tunnels we were pretty stupid.  We were so proud of ourselves that we pilfered a piece of paper from the crayon pile in our little childcare area and we wrote on the paper:

September 8, 1982*
Mary, Kristin and Meritt were here and we didn't get caught!

And we left it on the floor of the tunnel just below the opening.

What?!
Ok. Because you know, when you don't want to get caught, you try to leave exact, precise evidence of what you did for the janitor and other adults to find.  Ha.  Ah... the innocence and stupidity of youth.



*randomly made up date; I don't recall the precise date we went down

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11.28.2016

14 mint coffee's this holiday season! My FAVORITE - Donut Shop Peppermint Bark - My "MUST HAVE" Coffee



I can tell it's the 'holiday' season.
The only time in the entire year my body wants 'flavored' coffee.



For the past two weeks, if you were to peek into my coffee cup, there is about an 80% chance you'll find this minty, black gold staring back at you;  Peppermint Bark coffee.  Even though I love my coffee strong, hot and black most of the year; there is something about the chill in the air and the holidays that makes me crave this peppermint coffee... and I love love love love it.  





that link is often sold out but here is another link Amazon for a single box that is currently in stock as of todays post:


I have also been buying this coffee at Walmart - although my Walmart doesn't have it in the grocery aisle; they have it in the large k-cup display in housewares; where the Keurig and iCoffee single cup brewers are sold.  It's $12 a box at Walmart.

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SOOO many mint coffee versions and so little time!  You might be interested in some of these mint coffee varieties available through Amazon (and yes I painstakingly searched for each image and link to post here!):

Coffee Beanery Chocolate Mint Kiss -1.75oz Try-Me-Sampler

Friendly's Single-Cup Coffee for Keurig K-Cup Brewers, Mint Chocolate Chip, 40 Count

Junior Mint Hot Cocoa for Keurig K-Cup Brewers, 40 Count

Teeccino Chocolate Mint Herbal Coffee Alternative, Caffeine Free, Acid Free, 11oz (Pack of 3)

Eight O'Clock Flavored Ground Coffee 11oz Bag (Pack of 3) Select Flavor Below (Chocolate Mint)

Hills Bros Cappuccino Mocha Mint, 15 Ounce (Pack of 6)

Mint Ground Coffee By LifeBoost - Single Origin Organic Fair Trade 12 oz Ground Java Mint Roast Coffee

David's Cookies, Chocolate Mint Brownie Coffee, 24 Count  (Compatible with 2.0 Brewers)

Guy Fieri Flavortown Roasts Coffee, Chocolate Mint, 24 Count

Door County Coffee Single Serve Cups for Keurig Brewers (Mocha Mint, 12 Count)

Martinson Joe's Coffee, Mint N Mocha, 24 Single Serve RealCups

Andes Chocolate Mint Single Keurig K-Cup Coffee, 40 Count

San Marco Coffee Flavored Ground Coffee, Merry Mocha Mint, 1 Pound




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