Spring

I am going to try something new, and as is par for the course, I am TWO days late. It is however the FIRST DAY off SPRING, which is one of the prompts I have been trying to write about!

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
I found a great new blog Two Shoes in Texas.

A quick glance at her blog and I can tell Josie is an awesome person. She has cats and I LOVE her blog button!

Two Shoes Tuesday provides us with 2 prompt words each week, which we can use to write and essay, short story, poem, etc using one or the other or both words. I am going to give it a try.  

The prompt words for this week are SPRING and BREATHE.

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Spring is FINALLY here.

The whole world comes back to life around us in the spring, and it gives hope for better times after the darkness of winter.

Spring officially arrives today (3/20) with the vernal equinox at 12:57 EDT. I might have to go outside and do a happy dance! I think the Robins and other birds are singing a little louder this morning.

I love watching the world around me come back to life. The brown grass and seemingly lifeless trees, slowly return to green. The trees blossom and flowers bloom. Our daffodils are just starting to peek through the ground now that the almost constant blanket of snow has melted. I can’t wait until the first morning I walk out and see their bright yellow blooms.  

While winter makes me want to hibernate and stay inside, spring with it’s warmer temperatures and extra daylight hours invites me to spend more time outside. Grabbing my camera, rolling down the care windows and headed out to a park for a walk is a favorite evening activity.

Spring makes me smile!

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Birthday, Babies and other Babbling!

Stacy

Yes, Stacy is back….. I needed somewhere to blog that random stuff that clogs my brain cells. I have been having trouble coming up with blog topics, so this is great!

I am so happy for Stacy and her family in their new state and home. Pennsylvania will miss you. I am glad we had the opportunity to met in person!

So what have I been up too?

Working, parenting, repeat, working parenting, repeat! I feel like I rarely do anything else.

In November I was promoted at work from the Senior Beauty advisor to a Shift Lead. I am one of three “key holders” in addition to the store manager. That just means that I have a key, and am responsible for the money handling and all lots of other management duties on my shift. On weekday day shifts 90% of the time the store manager is there as well. Evening shifts, I am the “boss” once the manager leaves.

I loved my beauty advisor job, and I was fortunate to not have to work evening shifts. With this position, I generally work two and sometimes three 2:30-10:30 shifts. I don’t much mind working evenings, but it is not a big hit at home…. even at 17 Tara likes having me at home with her.  When offered the promotion I felt I could not turn it down. It did mean a raise and for the most part the learning curve has not been too big.

Speaking  of 17, I am the mother of a SEVENTEEN year old. Her birthday was last Tuesday. This birthday more than her 16th has me realizing how much fast she is growing up. We are working on getting her driver’s permit, she originally had not showed an interest in driving so we are a year behind in the process. Isn’t she gorgeous? (Photo credit… Tara Kasper selfie!)

tara_selfie_3914                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So who has had enough of winter? We have had enough of the white stuff. It is strange this week to be able to see the ground! While not a lot for some places but I believe we are at the third snowiest winter with 15 storms. The Robin’s this year seemed to be very confused or decided to winter up north. I don’t ever recall seeing so may Robin’s when there was snow!

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Have you see any good movies lately? We don’t go to the movies as often as we used to. It is just so darned expensive. Tara and I went to see Non-Stop on Friday. My work schedule was really crazy, and I worked three evenings in a row, so we had a movie “date”. Even at a matinee, sharing one drink and pretzels. it cost $33. That is just crazy!  It was a good “edge of your seat” movie. While the ending was predictable, the story line to the reveal of the antagonist kept me guessing!

Oh, did I tell you, we have BABIES, TWINS. My nephew and his wife become the proud parents of Spencer Thomas and Avery Elizabeth 2 months ago today!  Avery is the first girl in our immediate family since Tara was born.

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Today (Tuesday) begins my weekend. I don’t need to be back at work until 2:30 on Thursday. Not sure what I will do with my time off. Tara has school work to do part of the day before we can go out and have fun.

Well, that’s it for this week!

Love Luck and Latte,

Martha

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Happy Birthday Tara

I am the mother of a 17 year old. I don’t know why but 17 seems so much more “grown up” than 16.

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4 MARCH 1997

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She has grown in so many ways this past year. In fact this time last year I wasn’t sure if we would survive. But we made it through and and hopefully 17 will go as well as the 2nd half of 16.

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ONE – 1998

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TWO – 1999

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FOUR – 2001

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FIVE – 2002

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SIX – 2003

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SEVEN – 2004

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EIGHT – 2005

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NINE – 2006

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TEN – 2007

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ELEVEN – 2008
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TWELVE – 2009

 

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FOURTEEN – 2011

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FIFTEEN – 2012

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SIXTEEN – 2013

So many changes. …I am excited to see where the future takes her. She will be doing it her way in her time!

I love you Tara!

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Remembering My Dad

28 years ago today, my dad passed away.
This post is a tribute to a great man and father.
He was the one from whom I learned to love photography.
The collage is various pics of my dad throughout his life.
The other two photos, two of my favorites that he took during his life.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial. – My dad and mom. 12 lines from the bottom on the right side is my brother Robin Miller
Nova Scotia – possibly Peggy’s Cover 1973
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Looking back at 2013

Looking back at 2013, I have not been a very good blogger. Really this blog is more for me, than anyone else. I am not able to come up with enough interesting blog fodder to earn a big following. I contemplate from time to time shutting it down, but in the end, I like having a blog and for now I will keep it up and running!

Twenty Thirteen was not my favorite year.

In January I lost my best friend and faithful companion Princess. Eleven months later and I still miss her being close being close by my side when I am home. She was the best dog we could have ever hoped for! Miss you sweet girl!

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In February, for my birthday we added Jack to our family, In no way did he replace Princess, but he did fill a void. He is a silly, curious and sometimes naughty kitty!

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Tara turned 16 in March.  The first few months of 2013, were not the best for Tara.  Panic attacks and anxiety made it very difficult for her to attend school. There was little cooperation with the school trying to work through these issues. In the end, a little too late, Tara was able to finish up the school year on home bound instruction.

She also went from purple hair to being a blonde. I can honestly say I never minded the pink or purple hair, but the blond fits her well.  She really wasn’t meant to be a brunette! Darn my dominant brown hair genes!

A happier day!

A happier day!

April, May and June are quite a blur for me dealing with above mentioned issues! In mid June, Tara’s friend (boy friend at the time) was hit by a car while riding his long board home from our house to his dad’s. He was hurt quite badly. This was the first time for Tara having someone close to her seriously ill or hurt. She spent time with his family in NJ two different times over the summer. He is doing okay at this point in time, and they as a couple have had their ups and downs. That’s teenagers for you!

The closest I got to the NJ shore all summer was on the two occasions I picked Tara up from Justin’s house! I think the only other time I left the state was to take Tara and her friends to Warped Tour in Camden!

Mom turned 89 on July 4th.

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Most of 2013, centered around Tara as you can see!  I worked and did things with Tara!

We started the new school year off back in Commonwealth Connections Academy for Tara. This was the virtual school she attended for 7th grade when we returned to PA from FL. Virtual school is a much better fit for Tara. She still has trouble sleeping at night from time to time, so getting up to be at school by 7:15 was difficult. So far so good. She was also able to get a part time job as a hostess at a local pub.  A job would have been pretty much out of the question if she were having to deal with a full day in school. She works two evenings a week. She would like to be able to work more.

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November brought a promotion for me at work. I am still in the same store, but I am now a “Shift Lead” and a key holder. This means that during most of the shifts that I work I am the manager on duty. I am responsible for the safe, receiving, and customer issues. It all happened at the busiest time of the year, so I have been learning things on the fly. The one down side is I am back to working 2-3 evening shifts a week. I don’t mind so much, but Tara likes having me home in the evenings. At least with her doing virtual school we see each other during the day before I go to work!  I guess it’s a good thing that she likes having me around. Many teens don’t really want anything to do with their parents!

 

I am so GLAD Christmas is over. Retail just sucks the joy out of it for me. I closed the night before Thanksgiving and opened Thanksgiving Day, so by the time I got to my sister’s for Thanksgiving dinner I was so tired I did not want to sit down to eat. I was afraid I would not get back up!  We celebrated Christmas as a family on Christmas Eve afternoon as well, and it was much the same, very tired after a full and busy day at work! I was glad to have Christmas Day off this year.

We had a very quiet Christmas at home, with just Tara, Mom and myself. We got sad news in the morning that my Uncle Doug had passed away the evening before.

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This was not a year of big presents and that was just fine with me. Tara was to have a shopping trip with me after Christmas, but now I think we might start saving for a trip to Disney! It will be FIVE years in June since we left, and we are both itching to go back and revisit things we loved and experience all that has changed! (Watching the Disney Christmas Parade was what put the bug back in Tara I think!)

We continued an almost annual tradition went to the movies. Tara wanted to see The Hobbit” The Desolation of Smaug. I did not set the other Hobbit movie, nor have I ever read any of the J.R.R. Tolkien books.  We rented The Hobbit, but I was not able to stay awake on Christmas Eve to watch it. I might try and watch it before I return it today! We saw the movie at The Movie Tavern which is the best theater. They serve food and drinks to you right at your seat, and because of this, there is lots of leg and seat room. A very comfortable movie viewing experience!

I am ending 2013 with two days off. Time to catch my breath. While Christmas season is busy, so is January at work.. making it all disappear! We spent a very quiet night at home on NYE… just waiting for the clock to strike 12:00 so we could go to bed.

I wish every one a healthy and happy 2014.

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Hello Old Friends

You know you have been away from your blog for too long when you have to take a moment – a long moment – to remember how to log in!

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I would like to the move back to standard time for this opportunity to blog. Neither the cats nor I have adjusted to the change yet. It has only been one day really!

Getting accustomed to your new normal around the house with Tara attending cyber school this year has taken some time as well. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, not having to stress each morning as to getting her out of the house to school and having her stay in school. I no longer HAVE to be up at 5:30 to get myself prepared to get Tara up. Those stressful morning I do not miss. Morning time is mine again, and well, I have been using it to SLEEP, or at least stay in bed a little longer most days. Coffee is still morning requirement though (I am loving Bitstrip!)

bitstripMy work schedule has been a little crazy of late as well. It seems like for whatever the reason is each week, I wind up putting in a few extra hours on a day that was previously scheduled off. We have been REALLY short handed at work so I’ve pretty much been running the my side of the store by myself. We are going through another customer service transformation, going back to the way some things were done a year ago; adding new things in. Retail is a tough business these days, stores have to do everything they can to bring in new business and keep the current customer base happy and coming back, and of course, spending money!

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Tara has also started a part time job, something I don’t think she could have pulled off while going to school 7 hours a day. School took so much out of her. She still has sleep issues which I hope eventually work themselves out. It is a good thing she is no longer required to get up at 6:00, some days that is the time she is finally getting the best sleep.

All this is not to say that we still don’t have the occasional mother daughter argument or teen age meltdown. Usually over something that in the end is not really melt down worthy. They are fewer and further between. Most of the stress now comes from Tara and my mother being home alone all day. My mother is über tough on Tara for whatever reason. Some days it seems like she just has to find something to pick on Tara about, because she was not “pro cyber school” for Tara.

Maybe I don’t get the whole story because I am not here. Tara keeps her room my neater, picks up her clothes, at least gets her laundry to the washer and starts it (she doesn’t always execute getting it to the dryer, but I have trouble with that some days myself! She also prepares at least one meal for herself. My mother however seems to have an issue if a bowl or dish is left in the sink? Bottom line, Tara has come a LONG way in the past few months, and I am very proud of her. Gone is the wardrobe of band t-shirts… she is becoming quite the fashionista and thrifter!

We are going to have BABIES in our family again soon. Yes BABIES. My nephew Chad and his wife Tasha are having TWINS, a boy and a girl. The due date is January 9th, but maybe we will have Christmas babies? It is very exciting. It’s been 12 1/2 years since we had a baby in the immediate family!

Well, I best get myself moving this morning. It’s been nice visiting with you again! Hopefully I can start making this part of my routine again!

 

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Stop by Stacy Uncorked for some other randomness!
Stacy

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New Month, New Outlook

I woke this morning to the sound of thunder and rain! I love a good storm and a rainy day when I have no place to be but right where I am.

What are your plans for the rest of this Labor Day weekend? I am going to be laboring, but  at least it will be labor at home, and not at work!

I sit here on my bed surrounded by boxes and piles of stuff that need to be sorted. Things that need to be tossed or donated, and hopefully very little of it needs to find a home here in my room! I guess instead of spring cleaning which never really happened, I am commencing with FALL cleaning.

The are so many of Tara’s things from days gone by that she has outgrown. Polly Pockets, My Littlest Pet Shops, SILLY BANDS, and clothes.  Most will be packed up for a rummage sale at my Mom’s church next month! So many memories, but time marches on!

I am so looking forward to fall weather. There is nothing I like better than cool crisp fall mornings, fog hanging low, and the changing colors of the leaves. For today, I’ve turned on the A/C though. It is really muggy out!

I am feeling hopeful for this next school year. Tara feels that she can learn better without the distractions that traditional school brings. She has some credits to make up from this past year, but I am confident she will step up and do what needs to be done! She will not be isolated, as she has friends that she will continue to spend time with, and who knows she may make connections with new “classmates”. She is still in contact with one of the girls she met in 7th grade, who still “attends” the CCA (Commonwealth Connections Academy).

Whoa, I went to get a link to add here, and an hour later, I am back. I can get so distracted by the internet. I did six things on my “mental” to do list while I was gone! It is crazy how one thought can lead you so off track.

I felt so “paralyzed” all summer by so many things. Some still loom overhead, but my outlook is now, I can only do what I can do!

With that being said, I better get off the computer and get some things accomplished. The clutter is getting on my nerves!

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The End of Summer

It is really hard to believe that today is the last day of August. We are in the midst of the last weekend of the summer. Where oh where did it go?

I’ve had some stressors this summer, that have kept me from being very open to sharing on my blog. I get a mental block when I have too much on my mind, and sitting in front of the computer with my blog open forces me to THINK!

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I have barely left PA this summer, only time I even got remotely near the ocean was two trips “down the shore” to pick Tara up from Justin’s house.

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Tara had a busy summer, renewing some friendships here at home, as well as 14 days  in NJ keeping Justin company as he continues to heal. 

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One of those stressors really was unnecessary. I was projecting how I felt someone else would react to something, and that paralyzed me a bit. I would go to bed thinking about it and wake up with it on my mind. In the end all is well, and I am glad I can go into September a little less stressed. 

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As I watch all the families shop at Walgreens for their school supplies it feels odd that we are preparing for school in a different way. Tara will once again be attending Commonwealth Connections Academy, a PA public cyber school.

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Last  year, particularly the 2nd half of the school year was very rough for her (and me as well). I am hoping that she can get down to the business of learning once again without the distractions and anxiety that being in the physical school environment causes her.

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She has some catching up to do to get back on track, but in the end I know things will work out.  I am looking forward to not having to dread getting up every morning wondering if there would or would not be a fight getting out the door to school. Here’s to a more RESTED Martha this school year.

I head into work a little later this morning, but as of 4pm, my Labor Day weekend begins. It is not a three day weekend for me, but I am looking forward to two days off together. It will be a busy day at work, the last Saturday of the month is always the worst with tasks that need to be completed, so the day should fly by!

I was not feeling well last week. Maybe all of the stress getting the best of me? I spent from Thursday – Tuesday feeling like I had just gotten off of a boat. I am guessing some type of inner ear issue? I made it into work every day, but wound up having to leave early on two of those days.

Well, I best get off of here, and start getting ready for work.  I just wanted to take this opportunity to close out August with at least ONE blog post. I am hoping to get myself back to blogging on a regular basis!

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ECOATM

Have you gotten a new smart phone recently, and still have the old one laying around collecting dust? We all know they really should not be thrown away. Improper disposal of electronics and batteries is very bad for the environment.

We recently traded in two IPhones and upgraded to Samsung Galaxy S4s. Yes, if in perfect condition, some retailers/carriers will allow you to trade your old phone in for credit toward a new phone.  Unfortunately, my phone had a very cracked screen and a home button that was wearing out and Tara’s phone had a very slight, almost unnoticeable crack. This made neither of our phones eligible for trade in.

In the past I have very successfully used a mail in company (IPhones To Cash) to trade in our outdated IPhones, but this time around I needed the cash in my pocket PRONTO. IPhones to Cash sends you a postage paid envelope that you then send your phones back to them in, they in turn send you a check. I’ve had this process take an average of two weeks. This time around my envelope was not coming quickly enough, and I had heard of ECOATM through a co-worker.

I googled ECOATM and found that there was a kiosk location at our local mall. I also looked for reviews and watched a video on YouTube. The process looked very simple and the reviews were favorable.

Tuesday morning, I headed to the mall with two IPhones in hand. Tara’s in 1 year old IPhone 4s and my over two year old, very damaged, IPhone 4. I made sure that I had erased all our data from the phones before hand.

20130723_121237I arrived at the ATM, and proceeded to touch the screen to start the process. I got no response from the machine. No problem, I had my cell phone with me, and there was a number to contact clearly displayed.

I called the number and was promptly connected to the agent. He asked for the kiosk number which was also easy to locate, and started to remotely diagnose the problem. I was asked to help in the process. He had to restart the machine, and at one point we got disconnected (I think it was my user error on my new phone!), but I quickly called back, gave the next agent the kiosk number and we quickly picked up where we left off and got the machine recalibrated and ready to use!

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The machine speaks to you, and takes you through the process. I really had hoped to document the process with photo and videos, but I was not coordinated enough to do it all with just two hands!

First the door opens up and you place your cell phone on the tray. It then takes a few moments to determine the model of your phone.

Once that happens, a little sticker is dispensed, the door opens, and the proper charger for your phone has been made available.

I was instructed to place the sticker on the back of my phone, and plug the phone in. The machine again closes and begins to diagnose the condition of the phone.

Once this is completed you are shown the amount that you will be paid for your phone if you choose to continue. You have the option to stop at this point if you choose.

In my case for Tara’s phone, Best Buy would have given us a trade in of $150 if the phone was in perfect condition. The ECOATM quoted me a price of $163! Hell, yes, I will take that! This is a bad photo, but it shows $163 up in the right hand corner.

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If you choose to accept the offer, you are then required to insert your drivers license into the machine, as well as providing a thumb print.

Once this is done, you are asked if you have another device, and you go through the process again. My broken IPhone netted me another $53!

In total I walked away from ECOATM with $216 in my pocket. Even with the troubleshooting time, I was at the kiosk for only about 1/2 hour.

They accept all types of cell phones, and tablets, and if you have all cords/chargers you can put them in a receptacle on the side of the kiosk as well. You don’t get money for them, but they recycle them accordingly. For older phones you might get a small amount of money, but at least they are being recycled and not collecting dust. You even have the opportunity to donate a portion of your earnings to charity via the machine.

Next time you have a cell phone you want to dispose of, check out ECOATM. The process was kind of fun! I wish I had more phones to dispose of! LOL!

I would give this experience TWO THUMBS UP and on a scale of 1-10 – I would give it a 10 for ease of use and a great over all experience.

 

(This is not a sponsored review, just information I wanted to share!)

 

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