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31 Days of Parenting Teens & Tweens
(aka Have I bitten off more than I can chew?!)



Posted by on Sep 30, 2011 | 16 comments

Please click here for today's post.  And THANK YOU for visiting!


Teenagers & Mary Poppins??? 

For the first 3½ years of my illustrious blogging {coughcough} career, I posted daily.  NaBloPoMo was nothing to me; if I remember correctly, I m i g h t have even suffered from an ever-so-slight superiority complex, what, with those poor souls having to work to publish every day.

Those were the writerly-proficient days, weren't they?

More recently I've found it problematic to post even three days a week.  This is due in part to writing for other sites and projects, coupled with a part time job; it leaves me longing for and craving creativity and expression. 

One day, lovies…one day.  At least that's what I tell myself.

When Nester mentioned she was going to be hosting "31 Days" again (along with Emily FreemanJessica, Jen, Sandy, Melissa, Darcy & Emily), I was drawn to the challenge of writing daily.  Nester explained the genesis of the 31 Days Challenge, and eventually invited others–and the entire frackin' internet!–to join her.  

How could I say no?  

brother & sister

So…for the month of October I plan to post daily about a subject I might not be an expert on, but one for which I can speak to from experience and from the heart. 




I have three teenagers, two in high school, one now (gulp) in college (tears happy, tears sad), so I think that qualifies me.  I remember being scared to death when these years were ahead of me…but I want you to know you don't have to fear them.  In fact, the teenage years can be a wonderful season!  

teenage siblings

While I plan to post daily on a topic related to parenting teens and tweens, I'll also continue writing typical PENSIEVE fare for those of you who have no interest in this theme.  I've drafted a series of topics, but if there's something you'd like to see me address, I'll do my best if you leave a note in comments or drop me an email at pensieve dot me at gmail dot com.  

If you have friends with elementary aged children or older, I'd be honored if you'd let them know about the series.  Also, if you haven't subscribed to PENSIEVE already, might you do so in a reader or by email?  

I can't wait for this month to get underway!  I'm sure this will be a learning process for all of us!


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One MORE reason Chattanooga is “the best mid-size city in the world”



Posted by on Sep 29, 2011 | 3 comments

Nissan Leaf, Murphy USA Ribbon Cutting for EV Level 3 Charger Chattanooga is sweet cream rising; the days it reigned as Most Polluted City in the Nation are (thankfully) but a vapor.  Capturing national and global attention, Chattanooga ~

Last week I received an email from the team at Collective Bias asking me if I would be interested in attending the September 24th ribbon cutting for Murphy USA's EV Level III Charging Station, serving as their eyes and ears.  I jumped at the chance, thrilled to be a part of this important event to learn first-hand what this would mean for Chattanooga and the entire country!

Ribbon Cutting 2 ~ Murphy Oil USA EV Level 3 Charger
{l-r Carol Berz – Councilwoman District 6/Chattanooga City Council; Congressman Chuck Fleischmann – 3rd District Tennessee; Tom McKinlay, President, Murphy USA Inc.; Jeff Goodwin, Vice President Retail Operations, Murphy USA Inc.; Alex Alexandrou, Senior Manager Retail Programs & Business Development, Murphy USA Inc.; John Wirtz, Head Electric Transportation Infrastructure, Eaton Corporation; Angelos Lambis, Vice President Operations & Support Services, Murphy USA Inc.}

The Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce delivered a picture-perfect Fall morning–clear and crisp and barely a cloud in sight.  It was under blue skies and sunshine that Murphy USA president Tom McKinlay offered warm opening remarks–

Murphy USA selected Chattanooga as the site for its first Level 3 Charger because of its close proximity to Smyrna, TN, Nissan's site for 2012 production of their all-electric vehicle, the Leaf.  Interestingly, Murphy USA opened its first retail store back in December 1996, just a few miles down the road near the Sam’s Club parking lot.  In 15 years, Murphy USA has grown to 1,100 stores in 23 states across the country.

Initially, I was confused because 2 North Shore downtown announced just two days earlier it had installed five charging stations with its solar photovoltaic parking structure system.  The difference–and it's substantial–is the length of time it takes to complete a charge.   The Ecotality unit downtown will charge an electric vehicle in four-six hours; the Eaton Corporation's Level 3 Charger can accomplish full charge in 20-30 minutes! 

Murphy Oil USA President Tom McKinlay "We want to be our customers' complete energy provider," declared Murphy USA president Tom McKinlay.  "This is the first step in truly understanding just how influential this equipment might be and how likely it is for us to take it to scale across our network.

Congressman Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga, 3rd District of TN I agree with Congressman Chuck Fleischmann who repeatedly proclaimed Chattanooga "the best mid-size city in the world."  Sure, some would say that's just political speak, but when you hear him say it, you know he means it.  "Chattanooga is leading the nation in innovation," he asserts, "This is the place to be!"  Living here I'd say there's plenty of evidence to support such bold statements.

Chattanooga City Councilwoman Carol Berz

Councilwoman Carol Berz, District 6, just as enthusiastic, lauded Murphy USA's investment in Chattanooga and admitted she was "very impressed with [Murphy USA's] research methods…that is, to go to the people, don't tell them what they want, ask them what they want and let them try it out."

It's an understatement to say I was impressed with all in attendance.  The intimate gathering allowed for real conversation, and every one of my countless questions was answered, respectfully and thoroughly.  Officials joining Murphy USA included Eaton Corporation's John Wirtz (Head Electric Transportation Infrastructure), Congressman Chuck Fleischmann and his wife, Brenda, John Wayne (President and CEO of The Enterprise Center), Jim Hill (East Coast Director Trivalle Communications for Mitsubishi Motors North America) and Kevin Pierce (our local Nissan dealer's internet sales manager); Tom McKinlay brought key personnel from Murphy USA:  Angelos Lambis~Vice President Operations & Support Services, Jeff Goodwin~Vice President Retail Operations and Sam Sharma~Division Manager. 

210867_2436621001250_1423472386_2730930_1849404244_o My favorite part might have been test-driving Mitsubishi's i MIEV, my first time driving a vehicle with the steering wheel on the right.  It's surprisingly quiet (I didn't even realize when the engine was running) and roomy for its compact size.  

My only complaint (and shortcoming) is that because I was taking photographs with my Nikon and cell phone, and videoing with my Flip–and then spending time talking with everyone–I wasn't able to upload pics to Facebook and Twitter during the event!  Hopefully, having everything here in one place will make up for it.

Thanks to Collective Bias for hiring me and trusting me with this job!  I'm much more informed as a result. 

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Want free coffee?



Posted by on Sep 29, 2011 |

100-Colombian-Coffee For the javarazzi, today isn't just an ordinary Thursday, it's National Coffee Day!  How are Chattanooga restaurants celebrating?

Chick-fil-A ~ At Gunbarrel Pointe and Hamilton Place Mall, receive a free cup with the purchase of any entree. 

Krispy Kreme ~ Free coffee on September 29, 2011 Krispy Kreme ~ Receive a free 12-ounce serving of their blend, no additional purchase required.

Elsewhere ~

7-Eleven stores will be giving away free medium cups of coffee (They'r calling it CofFree Day).

Caribou Coffee will be giving buy-one/get-one-free coffeehouse drinks all day at participating locations.

Dunkin Donuts isn't giving anything away but today launches their ULTIMATE DUNKIN’ DONUTS COFFEE FAN CONTEST.

And Bah! Humbug!–coffee giant Starbucks is either Scrooge or just forgetful; they aren't offering anything free in conjunction with National Coffee Day this year. 

If you know of any other local or national venues offering free coffee or other incentives, be sure to let me know in comments! 

Also, my sweet friend Nicole wrote about National Coffee Day today and she has some of the funniest pictures/signs to commemorate.  My favorite is the kitty… :).

Caribou Coffee ~ B1G1 free for National Coffee Day 2011

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Death’s consolation:
“Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality.”*



Posted by on Sep 25, 2011 | 11 comments

Precious in the sight of the LORD
   is the death of his faithful servants.
~ Psalm 116:15 NIV


After sharing Sara's nearing-end-of-life-story with you, it seemed right to let you know I received word early this morning she died peacefully last night, her mother and brother by her side.  Anguish and relief inhabit my heart, such paradox on the surface.  It is only in deep places they coexist. 

I wonder if it is because of my own mother's death when I was a little girl that I see death's mercy.  Mama battled cancer in the early 70s when treatments were much more barbaric and pain managment was in its infancy; my father suffered a 14-month end-of-life 4 1/2 years ago, excruciating to witness.  Dementia tangled his mind and feebled his body, and my siblings and I learned to care for him in a way I wish no child ever again would have to experience. 

Death was a mercy to my parents.

Under the weight of great loss I tenderly offer: 
death is mercy for Sara. 

At the funeral of a friend's father years ago, my pastor offered beautiful words of encouragment, kind companion when I've since walked through the valley of death's shadow

"Even if [he] had the choice to come back fully healthy,
to be with the people he loved more than anyone in the world,
he'd choose not to leave the presence of God."

At another funeral, more balm for the grieving–

"Love doesn't die, people do
When everything else is gone,
you still have that to give.”

* * * * * *

Sara's legacy is a gift of eternal love and life well lived until the end.  For her, home wasn't a place bound by geography or construction, it was in the hearts of those she loves and who love her…her family, her friends and her King. 

Left to my own construction, Sara's life would've been much different; God would have healed her body.  She would still tell His story of glory and grace, but from the perspective of miracle, not suffering.

But then I can't help but think about how in dying she taught others how to live, truly live!  She planted seeds of joy in thousands of hearts–thousands!–and by example demonstrated what that looks like when life is hard, when it hurts. 

Confined to her apartment for years, and more recently from her bed, Sara mined the precious and priceless from Ancient Words.  She testified to God's goodness in spite of her illness, she praised His faithfulness as He allowed her to see how His best was better than her best. 

Her life became a vessel of God's truth, resulting in the transformation of others; not because of her but because of Christ–His power–in her, working through her! 
Talk about joy…!

* * * * * * *

It is an odd thing to explain, this grieving a friend I've never met.  I admitted that to Jessica recently–on the inside the tears flow freely but on the outside I don't know how to share.  When I've begun to try, my family and friends don't know quite what to say, so I say little and let the storm run its course on the inside.

But I've got this space and it's often where I process "out loud." 

Mainly I just wanted to share how others have encouraged me at these saddest of times…and to offer you the Great Hope that enabled Sara to choose joy in life and in death.

Sara, whose name means princess….

Sara, who lived the truth of "… to live is Christ and to die is gain"…

Sara, who was faithful with what she had been given…

Well done.

Title quote by Emily Dickinson.

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…the daring young man…



Posted by on Sep 23, 2011 | 1 comment

I'm convinced it's his Super Power…or at a minimum, an exquisite gifting.


The kid knows how to play. 

"But wait," you protest, incredulous I'd make such a ridiculous assertion. "Don't all kids instinctively know how to play?What's so special about your kid? I hear you thinking…tsking, like I'm one of those, the mother who thinks her kid is advanced for walking and talking by the time he's in grade school. 

But this his art and he does it well.  For goodness sakes, a simple neighborhood walk entertains him!

He's been doing his best to defy gravity for as long as I can remember.


It used to be a concern of mine that he'd lose his playfulness as he got older; now a teenager three years strong, a high schooler even, I needn't have worried–though he loves electronics, his summer goal was to learn how to juggle.  On a RipStik.  Mission Impossible? accomplished Thankfully, he hasn't yet practiced with machetes or chainsaws, but he mentioned how neat it'd be to juggle knives. 

And you thought child safety locks on drawers were just for toddlers…!


Anyways…I couldn't help but write about my son at play after learning about this wonderful initiative by Story Bleed and GoGo Squeeze, manufacturer of squeezable apple sauce–

A celebration of the World Wide Day of Play; they're asking that we commemorate it with picture uploads to GoGo Squeeze's Facebook GoGo Gang page.  For every 100,000 "play" photos uploaded, they'll build a playground for a neighborhood in need!  (new or old photos of you/your children at play)

Details are here, but please take a few minutes to make a difference:

  1. Like GoGo SqueeZ on Facebook.
  2. Then, click the GoGo Gang tab in the left sidebar.
  3. Upload a picture that captures "play."  (You can upload as many as you want new or old!!)
  4. Be sure to tag picture(s) with #GoGoDayofPlay.
  5. If you're a blogger, post your favorite "play" camera capture (twitpic, instagram, picplz, etc.) in a post and link it back to Story Bleed's CarnivalTwo submissions will be featured on Story Bleed's main page!
  6. Be sure to tweet that picture with the hashtag #GoGoDayofPlay, too.

When I began looking through pictures to post (I wanna do my part to get a playground built!), I was genuinely surprised to see how many were of my youngest airborne. I'm rethinking "play" as his super power…because maybe it really is flying!



Do tell:  What are your children's "play" Super Powers?  Sculpting Play-doh?  Lego masterpieces?  Fashion design for Barbie/American Girls/Bratz/etc.?  Jump roping?  Or death-defying acts like my 14 year old? 


This post is sponsored by Story Bleed on behalf of GoGo squeeZ as part of the #GoGoDayOfPlay photo carnival.

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