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Sandwich Generation

An annual holiday-time dinner with close friends had me cooking and catering this weekend. It’s a my turn , your turn, their turn kinda deal. And being pregnant had gotten me off the hook for a couple of years.

As we were all pouring our glasses of port or coffees, digesting the fabulous beef tenderloin, crab cakes, and twice baked potatoes I’d cooked up, I began to ask about how everyone’s Mothers and Fathers are. Because a few of our group have gotten AARP (American Assoc. for Retired Persons) cards in the mail and few of us haven’t. But we’re folks of a certain age. The age where some of us have parents who’ve begun to have health issues. And some of us have small children too. We’re called the Sandwich Generation .Unky John buying Eamon a sword on Shalavee.com

And then my dear friend, whom I love as a brother, says,”Let’s address the elephant in the room. Who’ll take care of us when we get old?” And my other friend says, “Be really nice to Eamon”. As of now, neither of these couples have had children and that choice, when applied to this discussion, suddenly seems a scary one.Mum Mum and Fiona on Shalavee.com

Eamon and I on Shalavee.com

First, I’d love to offer up my children to help these dear people out when he and they are older. And surely there will be relationships in place because we are all close. But blood’s blood and I realized that his first obligation is to us, his sister, his grandmothers, and his aunts and uncles.

Grammy and Fiona on Shalavee.com

I can’t say that I birthed them because I was thinking about having someone to take care of me. I have yet to think of myself as older and infirmed ever and in a situation where I’d need that care. I had the children for the love that I could give them. That’s the idea. Selflessness and stuff.Snowsuits Suck on Shalavee.com

I would hope that there would be no dreadful sense of obligation but more of deep respect and love and compassion that anyone I’d cared for in my life would want to care about me, at the least my kid. But life is quick and tricky and relationships can be slippery.

Sometimes people don’t want to be taken care of. Mark’s Grandmother wouldn’t budge from her house even though she prayed every time she went up and down the steps. I kept thinking how, if she loved all these people, why wouldn’t she cut them a break from worrying about her and move somewhere that meant less risks and fear of danger. Nope. She was doing it her way.

DSC07397Eventually older people do become frail and can not navigate stairs so well. It will inevitably happen to us too. So this house will only be good for us if we’re in good health. And I’ll do everything I can to make sure that our needs are taken care of outside of our children first. Then, we can just enjoy those last years or moments when we need each other most to just be and not worry about details. Provided my children still like me then. You never know. Your thoughts are always welcome here.

Paper Connections : Nearby

As I stated in my previous Paper Connection : Faraway post, connecting with people really has made a profound difference in how I feel about myself. Even the interactions I have with the local folks as I go through my daily routine in our small town of Denton, Maryland, make me feel good about being me. And so I thought why not create an event where I and some of my very favorite women here could craft, bond, eat, and drink over Christmas crafting and card making. Many of these gals I knew back when I had my shop, Bally Eden, and we often speak of missing it.

As I was doing my painting on the brown leaves, they felt like nature’s kraft paper, and my invitations were inspired.

brown leaf inspiration on sha;avee.com

 

brown leaf inspiration on sha;avee.com

From the leaves and the paper card crafting, I had my color palette and materials chosen.

craft party invitations on Shalavee.com

craft party invitations on Shalavee.com

The idea for the crafting play date was for guests to bring some supplies to plop in the middle of the table to share. We could then be inspired by many materials to make cards or gift cards or present toppers and get some craft on while we ate and drank and chattered on about whatever.

craft supplies on shalavee.com

And so I hauled out the crafting supplies

crafting party on shalavee.com

And my friends showed up and we got our craft on. Paper connections were made.

Caitlin's birds on shalavee.com

getting our craft on at shalavee.com

getting our craft on at shalavee.com

  I made turkey chili, buttermilk cornbread, red velvet cupcakes, and that McCormick’s veggie soup mix dip with spinach and chopped up water chestnuts. Box of white and a box of red and fun was had by all. Despite being distracted, I still managed to make my sister a card and a few gift tags with kraft paper and washi tape. Everyone was inspired and pleased with their craftiness. And yes, we all totally stole ideas from one another. Crafting, however and whomever you can share it with, is good for the soul.

Facebook Shennanigans : Address Change

As with all computer activities, Facebook has become annoying and necessary. A really good read was my piece called My Face about my initiation by fire into the realms of Facebook. I am more in touch with so many people and find many read my work there. My Shalavee FB address was a really long string of letters and numbers. Once you have 25 followers, you are allowed to change the address to actual words. Except Shalavee or Shalavee.com wasn’t available. Seems there’s someone else on Facebook with this name? Slalavee Oneofakind Smith lives in Florida. The only reason my blog is even called Shalavee is because a French restaurant in some vacation spot in Harrogate, England had grabbed Chez La Vie. So in the end, I chose my Facebook page address as Shalagh blogs at Shalavee or ShalaghblogsatShalavee. So anyway.

Flowers in the kitchen from Shalavee.com

While I don’t seem to have come face to face with as many of the problems as my friend Jane has using Facebook, I remained perplexed about how I could see my liked pages in my feed. I feel lame if I forget to check in on other bloggers’ pages. I recently read something that suggested making your own lists of the pages you like on the left column of your home page. Do unto others. But this technological stuff will be the death of me. I can see why you don’t want to even muddle your brain with this stuff dear reader. I know who you are.

Kitchen attack from Shalavee.com

If you haven’t liked me on the Shalavee Facebook page, would you please do so? I am publishing 3 times weekly, Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Guarantee you’ll not miss my posts by subscribing and have them sent to your mailbox. I adore watching the subscriber number go up.  When I first drafted this post in March, it was only 58. After a recent beg-athon, it rose to 79 ! Would that it would just go to 80.

Again, thanks to all y’all that made that number climb. And as always, I am eternally grateful for you being here.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thank you for your visit. My wee fairy friends that live in the hollow tree in my back yard told me to tell you they will move to your house and keep an eye on you.

Blog University Conference ’14

Back in January, a friend sent me a link to a blog university conference ’14 happening in Baltimore in June. There was really no way I could say no. It was in my hometown so I could drive there. And I have done a lot of talking about moving onwards, making the blog more of a career and professional endeavor and less of a personal whatever sort of blog. So this conference would be just the right choice to make towards that goal, right? Expectations will mess you up people.

Comfort Inn room for Blog U on Shalavee.com

I chose to sleep at a hotel instead of bunking in the dorms. I had expected to just enjoy the time away from my children and be alone. But the week of the conference consisted of the viewing and burial of my sweet father-in-law Terry Peach. And on Friday, I’m driving up to Baltimore with what ended up as a nasty head cold from my son. Needless to say, I was sick and not sleeping well either.

Alonso's in Baltimore on Blog U on Shalavee.com

I changed into my first dress and met a group of conference goers at Alonso’s/Loco Hombre’s on Cold Spring Lane. Ironically, I worked there in my 20’s. Looks different except maybe the package goods area in the front where we used to get our underage alcohol eons ago. Chatted with two other late coming gals for a while there and then off to what I used to know as a college but now has become the Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Notre Dame of Maryland University from Blog U on Shalavee.com

Notre Dame of Maryland University from Blog U on Shalavee.com

This all women institution is slam next to Loyola , what is probably a University by now too, on a really really beautiful patch of land. The concept of the event and the women who made the enormous effort to pull it off were just as lovely. Blog U ’14 was founded to support other women bloggers in finding their tribe and their community. And to help us garner knowledge about making our blogs better businesses, educating us on writing for money, or being better social media users. They stressed that there should be no knowledge that people hold onto and don’t share. The world of the internet is far too large and the concept is slightly silly.

Notre Dame of Maryland University from Blog U on Shalavee.com

I came to the conference telling myself the following things. I needed to move on. Don’t stay at job too long and when you’re overdue for a bail out, it’s sad for everyone. Being a stay at home baby’s Mama offers up all sorts of reasons to not risk change and just implode. The longer you’re out of circulation, the more you feel like maybe you can’t anymore. Great reasons for change. Need to progress and not regress my career.

On the "porch" of the sign-in building at the Maryland University of Notre Dame on Blog U from Shalavee.com

But there I was at the sign-in knowing no one and feeling so much like a fish out of her ocean. I couldn’t find my name tag at first. I would eventually end up leaving it at the hotel room for the conference day. Symbolic much?

While excited women chattered to each other, I grabbed a Berger cookie and killed time taking pictures.

Respite at the Notre Dame of Maryland University from Blog U on Shalavee.com

I was lucky enough to sit on a picnic table directly under a robin’s nest full of baby birdies whose mama was feeding them. I called home as this woman was doing. Her little one had been to camp and they were doing face-time together. So cute.

Instagram from the "porch" of the sign-in building at the Maryland University of Notre Dame on Blog U from Shalavee.com

So there I was, all dolled up in my very bestest clothing and shoes and my new card carrier to show everyone I meant business. Except I was ill prepared. (And apparently ill.) For many reasons, some being the funeral and some being silly me, I hadn’t really made any real people connections beforehand. And I felt wholly disconnected when I stepped into the registration building and then the gymnasium for the opening ceremony. Lucky me, I then got picked to read one of my blog posts out loud. And they posted me doing it on Twitter.

Me reading a piece to Blog U gymnasium via Twitter on Shalavee.com

I had total readers remorse that night. I’d picked the wrong reading. Mine was way too long and I was so nervous, I lost my mojo. I read Bras or Bust but I really should have read Gathering My Lessons : Lesson #153. What was done was done. The best part of the evening was getting acquainted with two women who sat down next to me. Emily and Lillian were so supportive and approachable and they would end up being my takeaway prize-winning tribal moment. Days later, Emily still insisted I read well, bless her heart.

Thanks for sticking with me. I’ll finish up my long-winded tale on Friday and do a brain purge on Monday.

Versatile Blog Awards

I am proud to say, I was nominated for the Versatile Blog Award. It’s a non-award from a good online friend and I am beyond flattered. Only two years ago, I longingly looked through the window of the online community and thought I would never make such lovely friendships as I saw people creating. And then my lone cowgirl self rode into town, hung around like a pooch waiting for food and a scratch. Eventually, I became a part of the scenery.
stairs to a house no longer there from Shalavee.com
I connected with several fellow new bloggers after the first Decor8 online Blogging Your Way workshop. Women who were new and feisty like me and funny and figuring it out. Among them, Jane Barry of The Curious Love of Green . She lives in Ireland and I share with her a love of food, writing, of creativity,  mothering, and maintaining the home fires. She is wry and driven and I was so flattered when she offered out to me a crowning and bestow-ment of the of Versatile Blog Award. Thanks so much for thinking of me Jane, even if it is maybe one of those non-award awards. The reverence from you means more than words.
After linking back to my bestower, Jane’s next instructions were to then share 7 random facts about myself.
1)  My pinkie toenail is more like a glob that I file down to a flat surface to paint.
2)  I never owned a car when I lived in the city. My first car was ‘Bessie’ the the 1980 Chevy brown truck we bought at a Delaware car auction to haul debris from our new house renovation 12 years ago when I was 35 maybe.
3)  I blew renewing my driver’s license in a timely fashion and had to retake both the written and driving tests in 2012 to get it back. A most  humbling experience detailed in a three part series.
4)  The first middle and last letters of my name Shalagh are my initials, SLH.
5)  I don’t know how to type. Surely there’s a computer tutorial I should be using to learn how to considering I do a lot of writing.
6)  At my wedding, I sang a song I wrote when I was a teen about a river to my husband a cappella for his present. In front of all our guests.
7)  I refuse to shop at Wal-mart. I do not appreciate or respect the way they treat their employees and so I practice conscious consumerism.

One way sign from Shalavee.com
And Lastly, I must complete the process by then passing on the award to 13 other versatile bloggers. So here are 13 blogging gals whom I have the highest regards for.
Amanda Warton at The Eastern Bay 
Kathy Bosin at The Chesapeake Journal
Marg Hogan at Destination Here and Now  
Sandra Harris at Raincoast Creative Salon  
Suzonne Stirling of Urban Comfort 
Lauren Keim of Still + Life 
Sheri Silver of Donuts, Dresses, and Dirt
Sabrina Wolfe of Wolves In London 
Jennifer Mullin at the Fiery Redhead
Heather Serody at Big Girl Life 
Marissa Harrington of Bourbon and Goose
tulip tree in the morning on Shalavee.com
And even if the award stops here, being that it is one of those kind of non-award admirational awards, I hope these women know that I am a devoted reader and lifetime supporter and friend to each of them. I love to write and I love to be read. Did I mention Jane is just finishing her draft of her book? Think I’m busy?

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