Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Brought to You by the Letter Y

Join the fun at ABC Wednesday!

Y is for Yawn.
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What is a yawn?  
  1. 1.
    involuntarily open one's mouth wide and inhale deeply due to tiredness or boredom.
    "he began yawning and looking at his watch"
  1. 1.
    a reflex act of opening one's mouth wide and inhaling deeply due to tiredness or boredom.

So a yawn is involuntary.  We yawn even before we're born.  Research has shown an 11-week-old fetus yawns.

Is it true that yawns are contagious?
Research shows that at least 50% of people will catch a yawn when seeing someone else yawn or when reading or talking about yawns.  Researchers also show a link between those that can "catch" a yawn and the ability to have empathy for others.  Read about it here.  And there are other "experts" who believe that it has nothing to do with empathy.  So, basically, yes, the experts believe it's contagious!

Exactly what is involved in a yawn?
Obviously, it involves your mouth and jaw.   When air goes into the lungs, the abdominal muscles flex, and the diaphragm is pushed down.  When the lungs are at or near capacity, air is let out.  Did you know it can actually increase your heart rate up to 30%?

Does yawning mean you're tired?
Not necessarily.  Certain people yawn at odd times such as an Olympic athlete who yawns just prior to his or her event.  In this case, it is stress relief or anxiety creating the yawn.  Instead of being tired, it could also be your body's method of keeping the brain at the right temperature.

What is the one thing that is clear about yawns?
That scientists don't agree about the real reason WHY we yawn.  This much is clear.

And one last tidbit...
People tend to yawn less when they are in a cold room.
 I bet you yawned at least once while reading this!  I did!

Monday, December 28, 2015

It's Just My Opinion

Cross Justice (Alex Cross, #23)Cross Justice by James Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read all of Patterson's Alex Cross books, I knew I couldn't skip this one, but this one is different. There are secrets in Starksville, North Carolina, and they involve Alex's past and his family. Alex's nephew is on trial for the rape and murder of one of his students, and all signs indicate he is guilty. He claims he is being framed, but by whom? Will Alex and Bree get to the bottom of it without getting themselves killed? In the midst of this trial, another mystery is revealed from Alex's past that takes him to Florida where a psychopathic cross-dresser has been at work. Paths collide in new and interesting ways. Way to go Patterson!

View all my reviews

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thursday Thirteen Christmas Eve

Happy Christmas Eve!  Come on over to Thursday 13 and join us for some fun.

What a wonderful day and a wonderful time of year, but boy, has it been busy for the last week!

1.  I had to give and grade semester exams.
2.  We had a pretty major family emergency exactly a week ago, and we still feel the aftershocks.
3.  Christmas shopping!
4.  My poor cat accidentally spent Sunday night outside.  She's an indoor cat who likes to go in the back yard sometimes, and she was quite sneaky.  We didn't know she was outside, and none of us heard her meowing until the morning.  It rained that night. She was filthy.
5.  The cat had her semi-annual vet visit.  All clear!
6.  I had to give the cat a bath.  I think I hurt her arm in the process because she limped for a day or so.
7.  I had my yearly mammogram.  Very important, ladies!  My mom had breast cancer, and I don't want to take any chances. The place I go has a new machine that takes x-rays in 3D.
8.  I made the best chocolate chip cookies ever!  I researched recipes and tips and tricks to make the cookies soft and chewy rather than crispy.  It worked!
9.  I took a friend and my daughters to a movie.  My friend recently had surgery, so she needed some fun.  We saw Sisters. Pretty funny!
10.  More shopping and lots of present-wrapping!
11.  I went to the eye doctor.  My close vision changed a little, but my far vision is still pretty good.  I'm debating getting progressive lenses so I don't have to constantly put my reading glasses on and take them off.
12.  Saw the orthopedic surgeon for another follow-up from my summer surgery.  It's just not healing well.  Still have more pain that I probably should be having at 6 months out.
13.  And today, I get to have lunch with Tamy, (of Three Sides of Crazy and Savory Kitchen Table)whom I haven't seen in a couple of years.  She just moved back to Texas, and I'm excited to see her.
BONUS!  Christmas Eve service at church this evening.  And... finish wrapping presents!  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Brought to You by the Letter W

This post is hosted at ABC Wednesday.

W is for Wildcat!
My high school mascot and my daughter's college mascot is the Wildcat, so I thought it would be interesting to find out a little more about REAL wildcats.
Peter Trimming - Yawning 'Kendra' 
Felis silvestris is the technical name of the species, and there is a broad range of Wildcats. Different types of wildcats are found in Africa, Europe, Asia, India, and Mongolia.
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The markings, color, and fur of a Wildcat vary depending on the specific type of wildcat it is.  Some have stripes; others have spots.  Some are gray; some are orange and/or brown.  For a wild feline, the Wildcat is small, but they are larger than most housecats.  Their legs are longer.  They have a rounder face than most cats who live in the wild.  They have very long tails, often marked with black rings.
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Wildcats are basically solitary animals who prefer to be alone except during mating time. They are carnivores.  Their favorite meals are things such as rats and birds.  They often live in areas with rocks and fallen trees that they use for refuge.
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Wildcats make noises similar to housecats such as mews, hisses, and rumbles.  They also make a high-pitched whistling noise that housecats don't make.  At times in history, wildcats were domesticated, but not so much anymore.  A wildcat is not the same thing as a feral cat.
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The Wildcat is one of the top 5 most common mascot names in the U. S.  I hope you enjoyed this post!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Random Tuesday and Coffee Chat

It's once again time for Random Tuesday.  Link up with Stacy if you'd like to join.
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So, there's a Star Wars craze going on again.  Coffee mate, Cheez-its, Campbell's soup... lots of products with Star Wars on it.  I was around when it all started in the 70's.  But, for the life of me, I can't figure out if the one I saw first is Episode One or Episode Four. I've seen them all, except for the new one, of course.  It really confuses me.  I guess confusing me is not exactly that hard to do.  Hahaha!

So... I spent my Friday and Saturday last weekend on the road.  My daughter had to completely move out of her dorm since she is going to study abroad next semester.  Her twin brother and I drove up Friday, got her all moved out, then had a fun night together.  Saturday, they went to their dad's while I drove my car home... alone.  But the bright side of that is I got to listen to Christmas music without anyone fussing about it.  Second bright spot is they made it home safely from their dad's Sunday.  I was getting used to having the kids all moved out, but they are ALL home now, if only for a short time.
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Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?  I haven't.  I used to be the kind of person who was finished the first week in December or sooner.  As we all grow older, it's harder to know what to get anyone.  Everyone has everything they need and most of what they want.  We finally have presents under the tree now that my daughter is home to help me wrap gifts.  She enjoys it.  I used to. Guess I'm just getting old.  Bags are easier!  I still love Christmas, though!

And now, it's time for Coffee Chat.  You can link up with Ink Interrupted.
 The question this week is...
Well, I believe I've been quite nice; however, our hostess included this naughty-or-nice link on her post, and this is what it told me:

Forgetfulone, you REALLY put ex-lax in Santa's cookies?! Don't expect to see your name on the Nice List anytime soon.

Me?  No way!  I would never do that!  I love Santa.  I have been VERY nice this year, and I'm expecting the best that Santa has to offer for Christmas.  So, I checked this other naughty-or-nice source.  Here's what it had to say:

It was a pretty good year, so we'll go for a "Nice" rating. A few naughty marks for excessive junk food, not going to bed on time and nearly forgetting someone's birthday. Really tried to keep up with household chores, though. Extra credit for smiling a lot. Is kind to senior citizens. Keep improving!

I like that result much better!

How about you? 
Have you been naughty or nice?

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Christmas Thursday Thirteen

 I love the Christmas season! Have you ever wondered how some of our holiday traditions came about?

1. Santa Claus - This holiday hero had his beginning in the 3rd century with a man named St. Nicholas who lived in Patara (present day Turkey). He made his debut in America in the 18th century. The name Santa Claus came from the Dutch nickname for St. Nicholas, Sinter Klass. There is actually a whole lot to the story of Santa Claus if you'd like to read it at the St. Nicholas Center website.

2. Twas the Night Before Christmas - This poem was written in 1822 by Clement Clarke Moore as a gift to his three daughters. It was called "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas." You can listen to "Twas the Night Before Christmas" on YouTube.
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3. Rudolph - The most famous reindeer of them all! Robert L. May, a copywriter for Montgomery Ward (I remember that department store) wrote the story of Rudolph in 1939. The store sold over 2 1/2 million copies of the story. Years later, the story was written as a song recorded by Gene Autry and sold over 2 million copies. It has been translated into 25 languages.

4. Christmas Trees - The Germans get the credit for the modern-day tradition of a decorated Christmas tree. It first became a popular thing to do in the 16th century among Christians.

5. Wreaths - We have an evergreen wreath on our door right now. It provides a festive atmosphere at Christmas time. Long ago, people worshiped evergreen holly as a sign of eternal life.

6. Stockings - In the days of the real St. Nicholas, it was said that he threw three coins down the chimney of three poor sisters. Each coin landed in a separate stocking that was hanging by the hearth to dry. Good fortune for everybody!

7. Candy Canes - The first candy canes were actually sugar sticks that were bent to resemble the shape of a shepherd's crook. In 1670. the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral gave his young charges these sticks to keep them quiet during long ceremonies. What was he thinking? The red stripes and peppermint flavor weren't added until the early 1900's.

8. Christmas Cards - The first Christmas greetings were written by boys who had to practice their writing skills, but Sir Henry Cole, director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, is credited with the first actual Christmas card in 1843.

9. The 12 Days of Christmas song - Apparently, Roman Catholics in England were forbidden from openly practicing their religion during the years 1558 to 1829, so the song was created with hidden meanings in order to teach their faith without being discovered. Go to the Catholic News Agency website for the hidden meanings.
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10. Gift-Giving - This custom most likely originated in ancient Rome and Northern Europe when people gave gifts during year-end celebrations. The exchanging of elaborate gifts began in the late 1800's.

11. Red and Green Christmas Colors - Green symbolizes the hope for eternal life that Jesus brings. Red symbolizes the blood of Jesus and the sacrifice He made for mankind.

12. Christmas Carols - Victorian England is credited with the revival of caroling which, for a long time, was repressed since Christmas was not a widely accepted holiday in England until Victoria came to the throne.

13. The Nativity Scene - The story of Jesus' birth is recounted in the Bible in Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-20. But when did people begin creating the visual Nativity Scenes you see during the Christmas holidays? St.Francis of Assisi is credited with creating this scene as a way to share the Christian faith with those who could not read.
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Link up below and/or at Thursday Thirteen.  Merry Christmas!
This post was originally published on December 9, 2014

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Brought to you by the Letter V

V is for Virtue and Virtuous.

Dictionary Definition:
  1. 1.
    behavior showing high moral standards.
    "paragons of virtue"
    synonyms:goodness, virtuousness, righteousnessmoralityintegrity,
    worthiness, purity;
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I strive to be a virtuous person.  I don't always succeed, though.  I believe there is less virtue in the world in general than there was 30, 40, 50 years ago.  I'm not sure it's even a word that the typical school student would know, and that's a sad thing.
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Years ago, I read The Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett.  The book contains stories demonstrating these virtues:
Responsibility. Courage. Compassion. Honesty. Friendship. Persistence. Faith.
I think I received this book as a gift.  It is for sale on Amazon, and is a great family anthology, in case you're interested. And no, I'm not getting paid to advertise it!  

I believe my strongest virtue is responsibility.  I don't think I learned it, though.  I think I was born with a natural disposition to be a responsible person.  I'm the dependable one.  The one who keeps her word.  And I admire those traits in others.

I believe courage is the most difficult virtue for me.  I sometimes exhibit courage that I don't feel.  Having to demonstrate courage can be intimidating!  Or maybe it's patience. I get impatient easily, but I am working on ways to improve this.
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Being virtuous... it seems a lofty goal, but I'm not striving for sainthood.  It's not as though I never do anything wrong.  Of course I do! I just want to be the best person that I can be, and that includes being a good role model for my children and students.  Most of all, I hope that they see virtue in me.

Come and visit ABC Wednesday!

Monday, December 07, 2015

Random Tuesday and Coffee Chat

Here we are again for random Tuesday.  It's the only post I was able to do last week because it is SUPER-BUSY around here!  Link up with Stacy and play along.

So, I finally finished decorating my tree last night.  I like to put it up at thanksgiving, but I was sick this year, and I had NO energy.  So, we got the tree up and lights on Sunday, and the garland and decorations on Monday.  I love Christmas trees!  They make me all happy and bubbly and warm inside.

Since I had surgery last summer, I had a lot of time to watch TV.  I think I've mentioned before that I started watching Criminal Minds.  Well... can I say, "Obsessed much?"  I'm already almost to the end of season 8 (yes, from beginning at season 1, episode 1, cuz that's how I roll.).  However, it is getting a little freaky lately.  On one recent episodes, the villain was using humans to make live marionette puppets that he could actually manipulate.  Can you say, "Creepy?" In another one, a woman was using humans to fertilize her herbs and vegetables.  Gross!  But, I just love the actors and characters!  I can't stop watching!

So... I got another massage this weekend, and I got to thinking about the last time I got a massage and all the crazy things I was thinking about, like, "What if the face thingy falls off?"  I had to go back and check and made sure I wrote all that stuff down that I was thinking because it was pretty funny stuff.

My youngest will come home from her third semester at college this weekend.  She is so far away that I don't get to see her very often during the school year.  Next semester, I won't see her at all because she is going to study abroad!  She is going to Oxford, England.  We wanted to go visit her while she's there, except our spring break is also when they take field trips to other countries such as France and Italy.  I want to go so badly, but there's no point in going if I won't see her.  I'm going to miss her so much!

And now, it's time for Coffee Chat.  Link up at Ink Interrupted.

This week she asks...
                                       How do you spread Christmas cheer?
Oh!  This reminds me of my favorite Christmas movie, Elf!
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Gosh, I love that movie! And unlike Buddy, I think there are other ways to spread Christmas cheer.  At work, we are doing Random Acts of Kindness, a different one each day.  I admit, I haven't done all of them, but I am doing some of them.  I spread Christmas cheer to my family by decorating the house with the tree, snowmen, Santas, garland, snow globes, and more.

There is something new I plan to do this year.  Since I'm head of the department at work now, I want to make cookies for everyone in the department.  From scratch.  I just need to find some festive cellophane bags to put them in.  That's my upcoming weekend project.  Who doesn't like cookies?  Especially when you don't expect them!  I'm also donating new books to a drive we are having at school.  I really wish there was more that I could do.  I love Christmas!

Have a great week!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Random Tuesday and Coffee Chat

Time to link up with Stacy for some randomness!

How was Thanksgiving?  Mine was quiet, just the way I like it.  I went to visit my mom.  We had Thanksgiving lunch at the community center in her town then went to see Love the Coopers.  I enjoyed spending time with Mom.

We also did a little bit of online shopping.  No more black Friday shopping for us.  We haven't gone in years.  It gets too crazy, and unless you need a big ticket item like a computer, game system, or large flat screen HDTV, the deals really aren't worth the hassle.  It seems like everyone is having sales now too, and I've gotten quite a few coupons in the mail to use in addition to the sales at Penneys, Kohls, Michaels, and Amazon.  I've still got plenty of shopping to do!
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I haven't put my tree up yet.  I always want to have it up on the weekend after Thanskgiving, but this year... I got sick.  You know I'm sick if I'm not in the mood to put Christmas decorations out.  Haha!  I finally went to the doctor yesterday - got a shot and several prescriptions.  I'll be good as new soon!

And now, Coffee Chat with Rory.

She asks, "Will you be participating in Giving Tuesday?"

What is GivingTuesday?

GivingTuesday is a global day of giving. After the sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, GivingTuesday is a time to celebrate and encourage activities that support charities and non profits. Whether it’s making a donation, volunteering time, helping a neighbour or spreading the word, GivingTuesday is a movement for everyone who wants to give something back.

This is the first time I've heard of Giving Tuesday, but it makes perfect sense!  I don't plan to limit myself just to today, though.

Last night, I took a meal to a friend whose husband just had surgery and can't walk.  Yes, she can cook, but it gave her more time to be with her family instead of in the kitchen.

My school is doing a collection of new books and blankets for a local homeless shelter.

I have plans to purchase items for the Angel Tree at church.  The gifts go to children of prisoners.

There are many ways I can give, but it's not for my glory; it is for God's.

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As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 2 Corinthians 9:9

Giving to the poor, needy, widows, is a constant theme from Old Testament to New Testament of the Bible.  This verse puts it in a nutshell.  My translation is, "Give all that you can to the poor because it is the right thing to do."
Have a great week!


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