March Secret Subject Swap Friday, Mar 15 2013 

This post was supposed to post at 10:00 a.m. this morning…I am not sure what bizarre computer glitch kept it from doing so, but I’m elated because I had a chance to add a thing or two.

So — Welcome back to Take Two of March’s Secret Subject Swap. This week, 13 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

www.BakingInATornado.com

http://www.justalittlenutty.com/

http://suburbiainterrupted.com

http://mooreorganizedmayhem.blogspot.com/

http://www.bigaandlittlea.com

www.theblacksheepmom.blogspot.com

http://www.themommyref.blogspot.com/

http://www.100lbCountdown.com

http://www.findingfelicity.com

www.eviljoyspeaks.wordpress.com

http://caramelliving.blogspot.com/

adventuresinhickeyland.blogspot.com

My subject is “: When did you realize that you were an adult?” and it was submitted by: http://www.100lbCountdown.com

Oh geez!!! An adult? Me?!?!?!?

This is where it gets tricky. Sometimes I’m amazed that I am at that age where my kids look at me and think “old”. Sometimes I am amazed when people look at me and say “You can’t possibly be that old!” Sometimes I’m amazed when I realize I’m not even close to acting my age — or, on the other hand, I’m amazed when I do…Age is, after all, relative. I love the expression “You’re only as old as you feel”…

If you were to ask me when I did or do NOT feel like an adult — or at least not quite my age, well — that’s just easy! I’d say when I’m out on a “date” with my husband, playing trivia or singing karaoke. Or feeling like I still have time to accomplish my dreams. Or dancing in the living room with my children and their friends. Or driving down the road in the summertime all alone, windows down and radio blasting or while I’m singing in the shower at the top of my lungs. Or when I’m chatting with an old friend and the years evaporate into “it can’t possibly have been that long ago!” Or maybe even when I’m writing about my most secret thoughts and feelings and re-read what I wrote and realize I am still such a child in so many ways. Or when I have a childlike faith and optimism that something good has to happen, because God is good and life can’t — just can’t — be all that bad, even when things are seemingly crumbling around me. Or when I can’t figure “it” all out…That overwhelming melancholy may set in, and then I certainly do not feel adult.

But adult??

Well, here’s a story some of you might find amusing…Once upon a time, believe it or not, I was younger than ten with a very (VERY!) over-protective mother. Who let me walk alone (gasp!) to the corner store. For something trivial like bread or something. I felt so very adult. Until later in life when I learned she had walked through the neighbor’s yard and kinda sorta followed me the whole way there and back…Don’t get me wrong, I love her for it. It instilled in me that feeling that I was responsible. At least at the time. And that I was old enough to do something important. But did that mean “adult”? At less than age ten I wonder. But then…Many children have been forced to grow up beyond their years due to circumstances beyond their control. I think, for instance, of some of my own children, who were put into foster care and saw some pretty bad stuff before they were even close to the tender age of ten…

I remember when I first got my driver’s license. In New Jersey, that meant age 17. And though my birthday was in October, we were taking driver’s ed my junior year. Most of the class consisted of simulated driving, but there was also a written test. If you passed the written test with a decent enough grade, you could use that at the Department of Motor Vehicles to get your permit. So I had to wait. Til March. I was, of course, anxious to get my license and gain some independence. But when I finally passed my test, my mom was a “little” (noted understatement) paranoid about letting me drive. Anywhere. Well, growing up in South Jersey across from Delaware, one of the things we did was shop across the bridge to avoid paying extra taxes. The price tag you saw was the price you paid. So most of my friends and I frequented the mall in Christiana, Delaware – no sales tax. I mean, we did that when we could find a ride. One day I asked my father how much longer he thought it might be before I could venture across the Delaware Memorial Bridge by myself (well, rather with friends). And he gave me permission. I really felt “adult” then…expanding my horizons and traveling further distances independent of parents than ever before. I appreciated his trust in me.

Then there was the time I moved out to college for a short while, before illness got the best of me. I felt so grown-up as I walked to and from classes, implemented my own schedule and decided everything from when and what my meals would be to when I would work on my assignments.

It could have been when I was working for a law firm and moved in with my grandparents, and my Gram gave me a house key because they didn’t really impose a curfew.

But maybe that wasn’t quite “it”. Maybe it was when I was working in Philadelphia. I worked for a law firm on Spruce Street, catching the Patco Speedline from New Jersey to Philly five days a week. I was learning to manage my own money and feeling very “adult” as I stepped onto the car every morning and night in my business attire. Well, that year my only sibling, a younger sister, was a senior in high school. She was in the choir and had the most amazing voice! She was practicing a solo from Les Miserables, which, coincidentally, was scheduled to run at the Forrest Theater that December. So I purchased tickets as a gift for her birthday. She came over on the Patco Speedline and met me after work. We went and viewed the light display at John Wanamaker’s, wandered around the city for a quick bit, and ended up at Moriarty’s for a lavish supper after the play, all my treat. I felt so adult being able to show my sister how special she was to me and to be able to afford to do something nice for her for that particular birthday.

Possibly it was the time I had a place all my own…A small crappy excuse for an apartment that didn’t even have a separate bedroom (I childishly called my living room the “living bedroom”)…I loved being on my own in so many ways, and I took meticulous care of — because I had pride in — the little house. It was amazing to be in charge of myself and my living quarters.

Still, maybe that wasn’t the defining moment of my adulthood. I could say school or marriage brought it about, but neither of those things really made me feel any more “grown up” or “adult”. I often lacked confidence and certainty, which made me feel that I had not quite “arrived” at adulthood. Even buying our first house didn’t quite push me forward – at least not in my own mind. And earning my college degree was done over long periods of time through internet classes and late study nights as I tried to balance my wife/mom schedule with being a student.

I think that what made me finally feel “adult” was not one defining moment, but a series of little moments, most of them dealing with trust in some way…

* Babysitting and even house-sitting for various people during my young adulthood — I felt trusted and that was a big step.

* When I was a young adult, I taught 4th grade CCD at the Catholic church my grandparents all attended (I’m no longer a practicing Catholic)…It was so fun to be with the children, so interesting to be influencing their lives…And my young cousin would pop in to see me before and after class, which I really enjoyed because she confided in me  – See? Again with the trust…

* Gaining trust from my aunts, so that I was able to take two of my younger cousins on a trek to the Jersey shore. We went to Wildwood, walked the boardwalk, rode some rides…It was nice to be old enough to take them anywhere!

* Not long after my husband and I bought our first house, we hosted a party for the 7th grade CCD class (which we taught) around Christmas time, making some kind of cookie or craft and then delivering them via caroling to the local sick and shut-ins in our parish.

* Helping with a program called Journey, where my husband and I gave the “sex talk” on weekend retreats (I still blush!).

* Applying to do foster care as a young couple…The children placed with us were between 11-15, and we were newly married…It was interesting to be trusted to mentor children and provide guidance to pre-teens and teens, though we’d never been parents ourselves.

* Adopting our first five children — first a son who was 3-going-on-4 and then a sibling group of four children ages 18 months through age 7…Wow!

* Influencing an excitable, interesting and fun group of young ladies as a Brownie Girl Scout Leader.

* Having our first baby, after fostering and parenting and mentoring so many children…

* Losing two babies and having to explain miscarriage to my six small children.

* Being asked to lead the nursery room in our current church – a huge responsibility – and help choose the preschool curriculum.

Those experiences probably propeled me into adulthood faster than anything, because with each successive step I was relating to young persons who needed me to act mature and be “the grown up” even when I didn’t feel all that grown-up. There were, of course, many other situations where I needed to relate to people in an adult kind of way, which made me feel that I was edging my way there, slowly but surely.

I am still a scared little girl in some ways, not always in charge, but I can see the adult me peeking out more and more as life goes on and I move along with it.

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No One Knows, But… Friday, Feb 8 2013 

Welcome to Take Two of February’s Secret Subject Swap. This week, 14 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

http://www.BakingInATornado.com

http://sadderbutwiser.wordpress.com/

http://suburbiainterrupted.com/

http://stacysewsandschools.wordpress.com/

xcartwright.blogspot.com

http://snarkfestblog.blogspot.com/

http://www.themommyref.blogspot.com/

http://www.comeplayinthekitchen.com/

http://macdonaldsplayland.blogspot.com

http://www.theadventuresofthefamilypants.com

http://adventuresinhickeyland.blogspot.com

http://dawnsdisaster.blogspot.com/

http://sorrykid.blogspot.com

www.theblacksheepmom.blogspot.com

My subject is “No one knows, but my favorite thing is ________ because __________” and it was submitted by: http://dawnsdisaster.blogspot.com/ Here goes:

Baking In A Tornado

Well, this is a tricky subject. I mean, I’m pretty much an open book. Ask anyone who knows me — I’m an opinionated, heart-on-her-sleeve, indoor kinda gal with a passion for cooking/baking, writing, crafts…I’m not terribly unpredictable. At all. Oh don’t think that doesn’t mean I don’t get hair-brained ideas or get a little wild and crazy at times. But it’s usually not an out-of-the-blue “where the heck did that come from?” kinda thing. Not usually. Most of my family and friends know my likes, dislikes, subjects I’m likely to embrace or rant about, favorite colors (purple, blue, black, white), favorite foods (pastas, fruits, chocolate and more chocolate!), favorite types of music, art, etc. or at least pieces if they can’t narrow it down and need to generalize. So. Is there a secret passion I have that no one has discovered yet?? Plus, in this house it’s hard to keep a secret…ask my kids. They hate that!

Well…Maybe there is something after all that might surprise a few people. I’ll start with something small that people may not know…

Though I’m not really an “outdoor gal”, I do enjoy letterboxing (www.letterboxing.org) and geocaching (www.geocaching.com). Both are like a treasure hunt, which is probably what intrigues me and why I actually am more inclined to participate. People go through a lot of trouble to hide the boxes, post the clues. I really am a huge fan. You can find letterboxes and caches just about anywhere and everywhere. They are very easy “sports” to engage in. And child-friendly. Which helps when you’re a mom of six who needs to find some way to engage her children in “outdoor” tihngs even if you’re not an “outdoor gal”…

Other than that, I seriously dislike a lot about the outdoors. If you were to meet me, you would see what I mean…I do not look the least bit athletic. I look like I — ahem! — bake. A lot. But as a woman of a more advanced age (no I am NOT old!!! just…”older” than I was, say five or ten or so years ago…), it may be slow going. And I don’t like to sweat. Not ever. It grosses me out. A LOT! However, if there is dancing involved I may be inclined to sweat just a bit. But that’s an indoor activity, which means air conditioning is a very real possibility!!! Finally…I can NOT abide things that crawl…such as bugs. You can have them! I don’t want to be walking through the woods and attract ticks, mosquitoes, spiders…And that isn’t even the half of it — there are other things in the woods or in nature that I’m not a huge fan of…like snakes, ew! I am afraid of even the little garter snakes my sons find. And mice. Oh-M-G I am paranoid of mice! When I was pregnant with my now 8 year old son, we had a few mice in the house (we live in a very rural area — not good for someone who is not a fan of creatures). I jumped up on top of the table — at 7 1/2 months pregnant, mind you — because I thought I saw a mouse. My children have to come to my rescue for anything that is alive and not a domestic, intentional pet — you know, like a dog. Or possibly a cat (though I’m allergic). Maybe even a goldfish — because if it’s swimming in its tank I know it can’t get me. Yeah, I’m not terribly brave…And that’s one issue that is not going to be resolved any time in the near future between me and the Great Outdoors, though I am working on it.

So I dislike a lot about the outdoors. Oddly enough, I’m drawn to pictures of landscapes, flowers, birds…I guess on canvas or print, there are no bugs or other creepy crawly things — and no chance of any jumping out. You know, to get me. I realize I’m way bigger, and that the thought of, say, an ant causing me major bodily damage is ridiculous. But. Yeah…not an “outdoor gal”…

So this may surprise most people (except probably the very few who know me extremely well). Ready???

Well — I love kayaking!! Yeah, it’s an outdoor kinda thing. You probably don’t even believe me after all the rants about my fear of the Great Outdoors! And oh yeah — though I live in Pennsylvania, not too far from the Susquehanna River and the Conestoga River and…well, a few more small bodies of water — I’ve only ever been kayaking in Maine. I mean maybe two vacations’ worth – maybe something like 14 days out of my entire life total. But I kayaked my heart out. Every day, weather permitting. And even a little when it wasn’t so permitting. Since I’m such an “indoor gal”, this would surprise most people.

What do I like about it? Hmmm — I really can’t even put it into words. Because secretly, between you and me — and now the internet — I’m terrified of sharks. I have no idea why. Never been in the water when one was sighted, have had no traumatic shark experiences at a zoo or aquarium or anything remotely close. Once I let my nephew pet one at an exhibit on the boardwalk…I didn’t go too near it of course. It was a small little thing (from afar). In a tank. Like a controlled exhibit. But I don’t like anything about them. I mean their teeth regenerate after they lose one! What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks?! Do any other creatures do that?? I confess I haven’t researched it — I am kinda scared to know! But yeah…I’m afraid to watch Jaws, let alone Soul Surfer (though I peeked at bits of that one from the dining room). So most oceans scare me to death. And again where was I kayaking on the two vacations I actually kayaked?? In the Atlantic Ocean!!! First of all, Maine is the backdrop for most of Stephen King’s gory stories, so why was I taking a chance in the ocean off the coast of Maine????! I don’t know — but I loved it!

I loved being on the water, feeling close to nature in a way I might not have ever been before…You can see a lot of things much more clearly – things you may otherwise have missed if you were, say, on land. For instance, I saw mussels clinging to a patch of rock that jutted out of the water only at low tide, which was too far away from the shoreline to see. Except in a kayak. I got to see lobster traps (um, “lobstah” for the Maine readers…) up close and personal. Boats, fish, seagulls, these cool ducks that dive under the water and resurface elsewhere. You can actually see some of those things from the shore, but it’s oh-so-friggin’-cool when you’re in a kayak. On another trek, at the last house we rented on the coast, kayaks were included in the rental. It was easier to kayak to my husband’s grandfather’s house than it was to drive from the rental house up the coast and down around the point to his house. Kayaking — 5 minutes. Driving — maybe 20…depending on traffic. But — Off in the not-terribly-far distance from the rental house was a small island. Where bald eagles were nesting. On the opposite side where we would not have seen them. I got in real close with the kayak and took pictures with my video camera, which had an awesome zoom lens too! The ability to glide across the water powered by my own body was — exhiliarating. Racing my husband across the small cove…exciting. Paddling in the busy ocean amid lobster boats at sunrise, seeing the men at work in the glistening light…incredible. Swishing back toward the shore while the dusk fell upon the land and the waters were smooth like glass, still and silent…breathtaking.

So yeah — love love love kayaking!!! Which I guess is not quite such a secret anymore!!!

February Secret Subject Swap! Friday, Feb 1 2013 

Well, it’s now February 1st (where did January go!?) That means that it’s almost time for the February Secret Subject Swap! The Secret Subject Swap was started by Karen at http://www.bakinginatornado.com/. This will be my first time participating, but I am so very excited! As I understand it, from Karen’s explanation, bloggers who agree to participate send in a prompt, and the host assigns a prompt to each blogger. Then the bloggers all post their pieces simultaneously on the same day at approximately the same hour. It sounds fun and challenging…I’ve already gotten my prompt and have been just waiting to hit the “publish” button…

I hope you’ll take some time to check out the swap — and even sign on to participate. And that you’ll stay tuned to catch my secret subject post, which is…Well, stay tuned and you’ll see!!!

By the way, February’s “take one” swap will be on Karen’s site today. My own post will be coming February 8th in the “take two” section…Don’t miss it!!!