Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Is It Over Yet

Will somebody please turn off the lights?

I'm talking about the Christmas lights, all of them, so the holidays can finally be OVER. I'm tired, I have a bad cold, dishpan hands and a huge headache. I've had enough. So I'm asking really, really nice to please, turn 'em off.

My neighbor's house across the street is still till ablaze with flashing, blinking, musical lights 24/7. There are so many lights in their yard that I can see their reindeer's reflection in my living room tv screen. My next door neighbor's house is still covered in all red lights so it resembles Santa's brothel. It's hard to miss. And the house on the other side of me is decorated with this....

No lights, but come on. It's time to take the nearly dead wreath off the Porta Potty. Come to think of it, the Potty's been there for seven months making it time to lose it all together don't you think!

The mall can remove their countless miles of decorations and lights too. Yes, the Santa photography booth has gone dark but the glowing, animated, singing angels gotta go. They've worked hard since October and deserve to have their plugs pulled. Same goes for the caroling snowmen and dancing gingerbread guys.

It's time. Can we just give it a rest?

Of course I realize the moment the Christmas plug is pulled, Hallmark will replace it with Valentine decorations and promotions but that's okay with me. Those decorations don't usually light up, sing or dance around. Valentine's Day is a kinder, quieter, trumped up holiday that I'm usually very successful at ignoring.

So what do you say? Can we lose the lights-- pretty please.

Have you had enough of the holidays?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna

Monday, December 28, 2009

This Time I Really Mean It

For the past 20 years I've fallen short on achieving my New Year's Resolutions-- very short. They've mostly included the same three "pledges"-- Stop cursing, lose 5 pounds, and practice more patience, along with a few random promises to exercise more, complain less and read better literature.

I start the year off with good intentions but before I know it, a person, place or thing grabs my attention and frankly, "golly gee" escapes me and a slew of expletives spill out of the same mouth I kiss my mother with before I realize I've busted my resolution all to hell.

Those five pounds-- Forgetaboutit! I'm a woman now with a woman's body and let's face it, menopause if a fickle freak. Five pounds is nothing. Despite the scale barely changing, I should have switched to losing five inches long ago, because looking in the fitting room mirror in not so skinny "skinny jeans" is another example of when "golly gee" just doesn't cut it.

Practicing more patience is not going to happen either. At 51 some things are simply not going to change and that includes anything starting with the word "practice". If I haven't figured it out by now, I'm pretty sure it simply is not going to happen for me. Ever.

So this year, at the start of a new decade, in the new millennium-- And with the encouragement of Nanny Goats in Panties-- I'm taking a fresh approach-- a practical approach-- to New Year's Resolutions. Since we are about to spend the grand children's inheritance on repairing our sinking pool and deck, I think it's a good idea to focus on money in 2010 and I know just how I can successfully resolve to save, save, save!

I will never buy another Band aide, nail file or package of dental floss again. There must have been a run on that stuff in 2009 because I have every cartoon character bandage, size and shape nail file, and at least 25 packs of flavored dental floss. Why? I have no idea, but I'm guessing closeout sales and/or multiple senior moments had something to do with the lifetime supplies now occupying my bathroom.

Silverware and glasses are on the "no shop" Resolution list as well. And I'm not talking about the paper and plastic kind. Oh no. After Beloved's birthday bash in November, I realized I literally have 125 place setting of flatware, in at least 6 different patterns, and more than 300 wine glasses in various shapes, sizes and colors-- All in glass or stainless-- And that doesn't include "the good stuff" in crystal and silver! I mentioned a while back that I like to set a nice table, but never realized how much loot I had accumulated in this area. So from now on, I'm calling a truce and stepping away from the housewares section of department and discount stores.

You can sell your stock in Barnes & Nobles and Borders too because I'm staying out of bookstores in 2010 which means their sales will plummet! My supply of cookbooks has reached astronomical proportions and I simply must stop buying them! Instead, I'll borrow from my BFF's impressive collection and make copies of favorite recipes-- You know, the recipes I will somehow never manage to get around to making but will feel so much better having a copy of "just in case".

I also resolve to never again buy paper dollies to go on a cake or cookie plate. Let's just say mine number in the thousands. Ahem-- Enough said about that teeny tiny obsession run amuck.

Which brings me to my final New Year's Resolution-- Underwear-- specifically panties. I resolve to have a far more realistic attitude about what size undies I actually wear and will stop buying them to fit a 16 year old girl. They always look sooooo big in the store but once I get them home, sadly, they'd actually fit a Barbie doll, not the body of the above mentioned menopausal woman. Seriously, I do not need gigantic Grannie panties yet, I just need a pair that won't cut the circulation off, turning my legs blue, in under 20 minutes. If I can find decent fitting panties, life would be good and loads and loads of bucks will be saved in 2010.

These are Resolutions I feel confident I can actually achieve this year even if I continue to curse like a drunken sailor. I face 2010 with all sincerity and good intentions and the promise that-- This Time I Really Mean It!

How about your New Year's Resolutions? Got any?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
Thanks to Margaret at Nanny Goats in Panties for presenting the This Time I Really Mean It New Year's Resolutions campaign. If you want to participate and link-up CLICK HERE.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Giveaway Shout-out: A Crazy Little Thing Called Blog

I'm not having one, but I am talking about them!

Part of the A Crazy Little Thing Called Blog "how-to" series.

Are you considering a Giveaway? What kind do you want to have? I thought that was an easy question until I had a few of my own this past year. Although I'm no expert, this is what I learned and have observed with other giveaways.

In a very small nutshell, there are basically two types of Giveaways-- One to build traffic, followers and comments. The other is to "reward" your existing loyal followers and readers.

My first Giveaway was to build readership traffic, followers and comments. A retailer gave me a gift to Giveaway (that included a link to their site) and I promoted it like crazy shouting the word GIVEAWAY in eight different posts over a two week period.

To enter, readers could leave a comment on every post with the word "Giveaway" in the title. Each comment earned one entry. Following my blog earned you two extra entries and if you posted the Giveaway on your blog you got three more entries. By allowing readers to enter in each new post I was hoping they would return repeatedly thus getting to know me better and building a readership "habit" with them.

People flocked to my blog. It was really cool. My Followers numbers increased by about 50 and my comments doubled and tripled some days. I had more than 800 entries in all. Not bad, right?

Well, in hindsight, not exactly. Although I did gain numerous new readers and some great "real" followers, I also attracted the "Giveaway Only Blogs" with my heavy promotion of the GIVEAWAY in my titles.

Are you familiar with "Giveaway Only Blogs"? They are blogs whose content is about promoting everyone else's Giveaways (which in turn earns them extra entries). These blogs are read by a lot of people who don't actually have blogs but who enter Giveaways by simply leaving their email address and clicking the Follow button. I'll call them "One-Stoppers". They visit, follow, leave their comment (email address) and are never seen or heard from again. That's perfectly fine and I have nothing against them but this type of Giveaway participation did not reap the readership I'd hoped for.

The other type of Giveaway is one that is either only mentioned in your post title once or not mentioned in the title at all but rather in the body of your post. They are also often Giveaways that don't encourage multiple entries. This way, the Giveaway is really targeting your "core readers" and is a way to thank them for their readership.

I did two of these Giveaways-- I only mentioned the Visa Gift card or the Snuggie Giveaway at the end of each post. They were tied to this blogging "how to" series and required the reader to comment on the blog of the person I'd interviewed in each post as well as leaving a comment on my blog. As a result, the Interviewee received new readers and I was able to "reward" my loyal readers. I received upwards of 50 entries for each Giveaway.

When doing a Giveaway, I learned there are certain "Rules" that will help manage the contest.

First and foremost-- Be specific!
--Clearly explain what you are giving away
--State contest timing, including end date, time and time zone
--How can readers enter?
--Can they enter on a specific post or multiple posts. Include the link (s).
--Can they enter once, multiple time, via commenting, Following, and/or posting Giveaway on reader's blog???
--Who is eligible (or rather who is not-- family, employees, etc.)
--I saw one smart blogger who insisted a reader MUST have a blog to participate, thus eliminating the "One Stoppers".
--How will winner be picked:
--Randomly or via
--Some bloggers say winner will be notified via email and have a certain number of days to claim their prize before another winner is selected.
--Specify where you are willing to ship the prize. (US and Canada, worldwide, etc.)
--Remember Bloggers live all over the world and shipping can be expensive.
--If you receive a gift from a retailer or manufacturer will they cover shipping costs and to where?

Keep in mind, you can expand your Giveaway requirements to include Subscribing to RSS, Email or Google Friend or via newsletter. You can include following on Twitter and/or Tweeting and on Facebook. And of course there is always Digg, Stumble, etc. Note: To make it easier on yourself, ask reader to leave separate comments for each.

You can also get creative and turn your Giveaway into an essay writing exercise with a link back to your blog, a question about your specific blog, require a link to another site then linking back to your blog to comment about it, or other slightly more "labor intensive" entry requirements to help weed out the "One Stoppers" and to entice your loyal readers to participate.

So that's what I've learned about Giveaways-- How about you?

What do you know about Giveaways and/or what would you like to know?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna

And while we're talking about Giveaways, I have a BIG THANK YOU for a few recent giveaways I scored in! Since I never win anything I am VERY excited with my new loot. Thanks to Lisa at Pearl Avenue Studios for the beautiful Christmas ornament, Hilary at The Smitten Image for a gorgeous casserole and Jane at Midlife Bloggers for the much-needed pair of reading glasses. All three have terrific blogs that I hope you will check out.
Photo Credit © Modella -

Info Page: A Crazy Little Thing Called Blog

Below are the links to all of the "how-to" posts in the A Crazy Little Thing Called Blog series to date. Feel free to check them out and leave comments. Or email me directly if you have specific questions or comments you'd like included in future posts.

Part One: What do you wish you'd known before you started blogging and what are your blogging pet peeves?

Part Two: Photos

Part Three: Eddie Bluelights of Clouds and Silvery Linings on waiting for that first comment

Part Four: "Comments" and Interview with Kristina P of Pulsipher Predilections

Part Five: Tips & Advice From Other Bloggers - Part One

Part Six: "Followers" and Interview with Debbie of Suburb Sanity

Part Seven: Tips & Advice From Other Bloggers - Part Two

Part Eight: Giveaways

Part Eight: The Next Level: Interview with Margaret Andrew at Nanny Goats In Panties

Part Nine: More Questions - How to remove followers

Stay tuned. More to follow.
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
Photo Credit © Mikael Damkier -

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Beary Christmas

To all of you who celebrate Christmas......

May your holiday be magical.

xo Joanna
PS Debbie at Suburb Sanity has a NEW Reviews and Giveaway Blog. CLICK HERE TO check her out!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Seeing Green

If the Grinch doesn't put you in the holiday spirit, I don't know what would! Godson and I love that famous Dr. Seuss story-- And apparently, so does Universal Studios Hollywood who turned a portion of the theme park into Whoville, complete with "real" snow-- Or at least as "real" as fake snow can be in Los Angeles. But to be honest, it was so cold here on Tuesday, that we thought it actually could snow! Burrrr! (And yes I know, I'm a wimp.)

Welcome to Grinchmas Hollywood style!

The park was decked out in it's finest Whoville decorations including this stunning Christmas tree.

Of course the Big Green Guy was there in person-- Mr. Grinch and his dog Max took pictures with anyone who wanted to wait in line for the opportunity.

The Grinch also put on a heck of a show with the people of Whoville.

His perfect shade of green looked great in a Santa suit.

But, the whole time I was watching the show and taking pictures, all I could think about was this....

My duster! No wonder I just had to have it. It remind me of the Grinch-- And Christmas-- And happy endings! Now, if I could just get the Grinch to stop by my house to do a little cleaning!

I'll be taking a few days off to read blogs and catch up on my jet-lag. I hope your holidays are happy and bright!

Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
Photo Credit - Joanna Jenkins

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sundays In My City #17 - Tel Aviv

Do you know Unknown Mami? She's awesome and she created a fun Sunday theme inviting you to get out and take pictures of your city to share with the rest of us. Click here for details and her logo and click here to see Unknown Mami's City today.

In my travels I've learned one thing-- No matter where you are in the world, an ice cold Coca-Cola from McDonald's always tastes the same-- Super cold, as the slow burn of caffeine and sugar chug down your throat for some high-octane energy. I enjoyed a Coke at the Tel Aviv Airport at midnight Saturday before a nearly 16 hour flight back to Los Angeles..... and it was goooood.

As soon as I dig myself out of jet-lag, I'll be stopping by to catch up with you. In the meantime, I hope your Sunday is a great one!

Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
Photo Credit - Joanna Jenkins

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Bag & Thanks

Before we headed out of town this week, I was given a fabulous gift by a loved one that I thought you might like too.

It's called a "Happy Bag" and this is what it included.

Attached to the small 2 1/2" X 3 1/2" mesh bag was this note-

Happy Bag

An eraser so you can make
Your mistakes disappear

A coin so you can never
Say you're broke

A marble in case someone
Says you've lost yours

A rubber band to stretch
Yourself beyond your limits

A piece of string to tie yourself
Together when things fall apart

A kiss to remind you
Someone cares!

I've never seen this before and it really touched my heart. If I could, I'd send a Happy Bag to all of you.

© All images copyright Jayne Le Mee 2009

This is a long over-due thank you to the wonderful Angel Cel at AC's Scrapbook for this gorgeous photo. It's of the White Mountains in Eastern USA. A million thanks to Angel Cel for sharing her talent with me. I'm going to have this framed to hang it in my office. You can check out more of her great photos HERE and HERE.


I'll be back in town on Sunday-- with an Internet connection again. Phew! After several days of being totally "disconnected", I'm anxious to catch up with all of you.

Hope you're having a great week.
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Crazy Little Thing Called Blog: YOUR Advice & Tips #2

As part of a continuing series of “how to” posts with responses and in-put from other bloggers, here’s the latest installment of blogging tips, advice and questions.

1) Normally I get about 150 emails a day. Of that, maybe 10% or 15 emails per day are “junk” or what I considered to be SPAM. So I tried using Word Verification for one week recently to see if my SPAM emails reduced. After the "test" I did not notice any reduction in my junk email while I had it “on” and my SPAM did not increase after I turned it “off”. I’m sure this won’t end the “word verification debate” but I’m leaving it "off". If you’d like to turn yours off too-- Go to Blogger Dashboard/Settings/Comments then scroll down to “Show word verification for comments?” and click NO, then Save settings at bottom of page. - Joanna

2) Here's a tip from Two Yorks And a Bean and Nonnie at Hysterical Raisins on how to enter a direct link into comments. Click HERE for the simple instructions and to see the comment link in action. Instructions are at the top of the page in blue type. This is a really great addition to comments and VERY easy to so. Feel free to give it a try in the comments below if you'd like. (Try it using your blog name and URL in Step 6.)

3) Don’t want your blog found via Google Search Engines-- “You can edit this as well. Just go into Blogger Dashboard/Settings/Basic and answer NO to the question "Let search engines find your blog". Don´t forget to Save settings and your done!” Betty at A Glimpse Into Midlife

4) “You can easily change your settings to show your email address so that those of us who email replies can reach you!” (Go to Blogger Dashboard/Settings/Basic and answer YES to the questions “Show Email Post links?”) "If you don't want to use your regular email, get a free one!!" (Blogger/My Account/gMail for set-up.) Raoulysgirl

5) What’s your preference on having comments acknowledged? “In other words, do you want to have a response to your comment? Does it bother you if you don't get one? And how do you prefer to get your acknowledgement....thru email or in the comments section of the original post or your most current post? Or would you rather have that person come to your blog and make a comment on one of your posts?” Matty at Matty's Thoughts

6) Like Fireblossom at Word Garden, my favorite Comment Box set-up is POP UP windows. That way the post I'm commenting on stays on the page so I can refer back to it while leaving a comment. Go to Blogger Dashboard/Settings/Comments then scroll to almost the bottom of the page to “Comment Form Placement”. Click on Pop-up window. Then Save setting at the bottom of the page. - Joanna

7) How do you send an email that includes your blog name automatically in the Subject line? I’ve received emails with it but I don’t know how to do it.

8) Does anyone know how to add a watermark on your photos-- A copyright symbol and name or URL on photos you’ve taken yourself? Click HERE for a post by Lilly at Lilly's Life giving a true example of why watermarks are important.

9) For Disqus Comment Users: What are the pros and cons of using this for your comments?

10) For Twitter and Facebook users? How has it enhanced your blog traffic and/or blog experience?

A million thanks to the bloggers who contributed above. If you asked the same question but weren't mentioned it just means someone else asked the question first. If you missed Part One of Tips & Advice Click HERE

Feel free to add your feedback to any or all of the above and by all means ASK MORE QUESTIONS and I'll post them at a future date.

Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna

Note: I'm out of town with no Internet access this week. I'll be back on Sunday!

Photo Credit © Mikael Damkier -

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sunday In My City #16 - Los Angeles

We had a big, cold, rain storm at the beginning of this week, then a day of clearing and then more rain again-- buckets of it! Yes I know, it's not the massive amounts of snow parts of American got slammed with, and I shouldn't be complaining-- But rain in Southern California is a very big deal, especially if the temps drop below 50 degrees, which they did. It was freezing and I didn't like it one bit.

When storm cleared and the sun came out on Wednesday, this is what I saw from my back yard!

We only see the snow covered mountains about ten days a year. The snow is there for a lot longer, but after it rains the smog moves back in and the mountains vanish from sight. If we ever decide to sell our home, the realtor's open house will be on a day like this!

Do you know Unknown Mami? She's awesome and she created a fun Sunday theme inviting you to get out and take pictures of your city to share with the rest of us. Click here for details and her logo and click here to see Unknown Mami's City today.

Here's a $300 giveaway that's easy to participate in-- Audrey at Barking Mad is asking-- "What brings you joy in your life?

I found this giveaway via If Only I Had Superpowers and it gave me pause-- I thought about the many joyous things I have to be thankful for, not the least of which are-- My beloved husband who has made me laugh every single day for the past 22 years-- my loving family, one and all-- my sweet Godson and his awesome mom-- some really wonderful friends-- my new found holiday spirit-- an upcoming trip to see loved ones this week-- and of course, all my blog friends that I've met this past year! Despite life's ups and down, I'm blessed and joyful on so many levels. Thanks for asking Audrey. It was nice to sit and reflect the joys of life for a moment or two.

Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
Photo Credit Joanna Jenkins

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Spirit: Yeah Or Neigh?

After circling the mall parking lot-- on a week day afternoon, for a miserable 45 minutes, then finally making my way out of the underground garage and back home without ever leaving the car, I wasn't feeling the holiday spirit. Not one bit!

The mall, and it's massive underground parking lot, was bumper-to-bumper and a total zoo leaving me to wonder "what economic crisis?". As for the crazy people fighting over the lone available parking space-- driving backwards, the wrong way, in the garage-- Well, they deserve a great, big lump of coal in my book.

Bah humbug was on my mind the entire drive home, empty handed, with nothing crossed off my shopping list. So I did what any addicted blogger would do, I parked myself at my computer-- where parking was easy-- and read blogs for the rest of the afternoon.

And what to my wondering eyes did appear?
Bountiful blogs full of holiday cheer! They immediately put
me in the spirit feeling energized and hopeful for the season again!

The first blog I read was by a newer blogger, Jane at Living In The Land of Nod, who shared her Christmas tree shopping experience that was so funny and so heartwarming that I've changed my mind and will decorate the house for the holidays. It's a great post and I hope you will CLICK HERE to stop by and show her some new blogger love.

Then I read Cindy LaFerle's blog who was apologizing for her "shameless plug" of her book Writing Home. But Cindy's plug is for a VERY good cause! Every year since 2005, Cindy has donated the profits from her book sales to a homeless shelter in metro Detroit where she lives. How awesome is that! Click HERE for details on Cindy's fabulous book-- which I've read and absolutely loved-- And help spread a little holiday cheer to the very hard hit Detroit area.

I've talked about Attila The Mom at Cheaper Than Therapy, and her son, Big Kid, in this space before. You might recall Big Kid's life-threatening bout with The Swine Flu. Well, prior to that, Attila, who has a heart of gold, organized and funded a collaborative craft studio to help market the creativity of adults who have disabilities and their family caregivers in an effort to help them become more financially independent. And what are they marketing??? Some AWE-SOME handmade Christmas decorations that's what! Seeing is believing so please CLICK HERE to check them out. (A little tease is shown here.) I hope you will keep these creative folks in mind when Christmas shopping this season.

So like I said, I'm finally in the holiday spirit and it feels gooooood. I think if you check out these three blogs you will be too. Jane, Cindy and Attila the Mom.

And for all our Hanukkah celebrators out there, here's a little Adam Sandler tune to hum as you light your menorah starting on the 11th.

What puts you in the holiday spirit?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna
Photo credit: Writing Home - Cindy LaFerle
Photo credit: Quilted Ornament - Attila The Mom

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

To Be 16 Again...

Dear Younger Self,

The good news is that it's the summer before your senior year of high school and you've finally reached that magical age-- 16! The bad news is you have to spend six weeks in Summer School taking Driver's Education classes which starts at 7:30am. Early mornings are not, nor will they ever be, your favorite time of day, especially during summer vacation.

But it's not the early morning memories that will linger with you for the next twenty years, it's the Driver's Ed class itself-- The class you were so excited to take but in the end gave you nightmares-- The class that scared you too much to drive until you were nearly 20 years old-- The class that caused you to miss so many incredible adventures.

Driver's Education, in 1975, consisted of a manual with the driving laws for the State of Ohio that you will study on your own in preparation for the written State exam. Time actually driving in a car will be very limited and scheduled a few afternoons per week. The four hours of daily classroom time for six weeks will not be spent reviewing the manual, rather it will be spent in the dark-- watching movies of horrific car crashes-- involving teenager drivers. And it will scar the daylights out of you!

You name it, you'll see it. All real accidents, all with teenagers, and many did not live to tell the story. Most of your classmates will simply nap through the filmed tragedies, but not you. You will sat straight up at your desk and, practically without blinking, watch every second in stunned silence. Sometimes tears will run down your face, other times your friends will pass you tissues. Never once will your teacher notice who's watching and who's sobbing silently.

As a very impressionable teenager, know the class and these movies are meant to scare you into being a better, more cautious driver. And they are meant to scare you into never drinking and driving. All are important lessons to learn, but not meant to scare you out of your curiosity and sense of adventure. Don't take these movies so literally that you spend years not venturing beyond your own backyard.

Not getting a driver's license until you were nearly 20 will be a real crimp in your social life and your maturity. Life experiences usually happen well beyond your safe home environment and you need to be prepared, otherwise when you are brave enough to step into the business world and start traveling in your early 20s, you will be pretty lost and seriously lacking "streets smarts".

Your fear of the unknown will cause you to miss out on so many marvelous opportunities to see other parts of the world. You'll actually pass on a trip to Hong Kong. You'll work in New York City but never see Harlem, Greenwich Village or the excitement of Time Square on New Year's Eve. You'll travel to Cannes, France many times but never take the train to Monte Carlo for the weekend. And you will definitely miss out on seeing Paris! You'll attended annual film festivals in Milan, Italy but never journey more than 2 miles from your hotel. In London-- Except for a few day tours in the city, you will completely miss seeing the glorious countryside. Why? Because you are too afraid of what "might happen" thanks to those Driver's Ed movies.

Life happens one day at a time. Be mindful and aware and do the best you can to be safe but stop being afraid of the "unknown". Don't let scary movies viewed as a teen keep you away from your adventurous streak. Don't wait until you are in your mid-30s before we wake up and start really living, and doing, and seeing life and all it has to offer. Far too many opportunities will be missed that you can never get back again.

So during the summer of your 16th year, study hard and learn much. Then, take a step off the high dive, hop onto a train, and leap into life with your eyes wide open. You know you want to and you know you will be smart about it. Get your Driver's License and point the car towards your dreams. Don't wait or life will pass you by.
Do you know Chocolate Covered Daydreams? She's a terrific blog friend with an interesting and fun blog about life that's easy to relate to and often leaves me laughing out loud. Right now, until December 14th, CCD is offering a fantastic giveaway for a Wii Fit Plus. The rules are simple and involve answering the question-- If you could write a letter to your younger self, giving advice for the future, what would you say?
I answered the question and entered the giveaway with the above post. You can too! Click HERE for the giveaway rules and start writing!

Are you adventurous?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Miss America

That's what we've called her since she was a baby-- Miss America.

My Middle Sister, aka Miss America, is celebrating her fiftieth birthday December 7th, and for the life of me, I simply cannot figure out how that happened! Well, of course I can, but it's hard for me to imagine 50 years has passed since Miss America arrived in our family-- Especially since I don't generally admit to being over 47 years old myself. Which, considering I'm 20 months older is, well, nothing short of "new math". Ha!

A family friend dubbed her Miss America the moment he saw her as a baby and sings the song every time he sees her even to this day. She was a stunningly beautiful child-- Beautiful blond hair with curls down her back. And today, fifty years later, she's still stunning on the outside AND the inside as well.

Middle Sister is the Mom to this guy who's nearly 21 years old now. He came home from hospital after he was born wrapped in this stocking a few days before Christmas. He's a sweetheart of a kid. Hard to imagine she has a son who's nearly "legal" now. Sheesh.

More kids than her son have been touched by her beauty and kindness. Middle Sis is an special education teacher with the patience of a saint. She's the teacher all the moms want their kids to have in school.

Middle Sis volunteers a tremendous amount in her community including training Service/Therapy Dogs at her home. This year, she made arrangements with the school to bring her current dog to work with her one week per month. The dog, named Vinny, is a labrador-poodle mix that has a huge, positive effect on the kids and makes classroom time far more productive and enjoyable for them. Middle Sister knew it would and went out of her way to make it happen. It's been life changing for some of the students.

Middle Sis also taught Vinny how to remove clothes from the dryer one piece at a time-- a little volunteer perk that will help his eventual owner enormously. If she can teach a dog how to fold and put the clothes away, her title will go from Miss America to Miss Universe in my book!

In the past fifty years, Middle Sister has been the very generous "go-to" person in our family for countless favors ranging from school car pooling to helping pack and move houses and apartments more times than any of us can remember. She's also the Auntie at ALL the after school concerts and activities driving near and far to attend.

And make no mistake, Middle Sister the Queen of Concert-going--

Especially if this guy is playing. It's country singer Keith Urban and she's totally crushing on him. I made this picture especially large as a little 50th birthday present for her.

Middle Sis is the voice of sibling reason who always offers a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear to vent to. But the things I love most about her are, her smile and grace that light up a room, her sense of humor that will have you falling on the floor with a perfectly timed roll of the eyes, and her heart-- It's bigger than you could ever imagine.

Yep, she's our family's very own Miss America and today she's fifty. But, she's not thrilled about turning fifty anymore than I was so I'm trying to ease her into it.

Hey Sis, repeat after me-- 50, 50, 50, 50, 50 and FABULOUS!

Happy Fifth Birthday Middle Sister. I love you!

Do you have nicknames for your siblings?
Welcome to The Fifty Factor - Joanna