Is Bad Grammar Putting a Damper on Your Love Life?

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, a lot of people have love and romance on their minds, and are probably finalizing plans and solidifying the final details of romantic gestures.

Valentine’s Day has a long history, from its origins as an attempt by the Roman Catholic church to Christianize a pagan feast day, to its connections to love and romance starting in medieval times. The exchange of valentines and love letters rose in popularity through the Victorian Era, though beyond greeting cards and kids valentine kits, we’ve sort of lost the beautiful art of expressing love in writing.

The huge rise in the popularity of online dating points to some interesting trends when it comes to romance. According to a joint study done by Grammarly and eHarmony, the way we communicate in writing, be it through text or email, has an effect on our prospects in love. Check out the statistics:
Valentine's Day Grammar 2016 Infographic

Funny this study should pop up right now. I actually met my own Romantic Hero of a husband through eHarmony back in 2006 – but that’s a story for another time.

And I always advocate for good grammar.

This Thanksgiving, I’m Counting My Blessings

Let’s face it. Our entire world seems to be heading to hell in a handbasket.

That’s an unusually pessimistic statement from me, someone who is generally a perpetual optimist. But given the events in recent weeks and months, both in the US and abroad, it seems true.

Humanity is in trouble.

And it’s not just the terror attacks overseas. It’s violence right here in America against our fellow citizens. It’s individuals and groups who are calling for increasingly intolerant measures to label, track, and not-quite-but-almost persecute people who should be protected under the laws of this nation. (I would argue that most of them don’t actually understand the Constitution and Bill of Rights, based on comments they’ve made. But that’s another post.)

It’s easy for us, as we go into the holiday season, to obsess, worry, and otherwise feel like there is nothing good left in our world for which to be thankful.

But even as those terrible, nightmarish things are happening across the world and even just across my city, I actually have an easier time being thankful.

My family has had more than our share of tragedy and struggle over the past five years. I’d like to think we’ve managed to triumph over all of it – but again, I’m the perpetual optimist. Even if I’m leaning to the “rose-colored” side of things, I can still find so much to be thankful for today.

I can count my blessings, and they are the simple things.

Seeing the joy in my daughter’s eyes as she toddles to meet me at the front door each afternoon, arms outstretched for “Mama.”

Falling asleep each night next to my own Romantic Hero of a husband, even if he does sometimes steal the covers.

A solid roof over our heads, good food on our table, warm clothes on our backs.

Good jobs with good pay.

Knowing family and good friends are only a phone call away, even if it takes a plane ticket to see many of them.

It’s the little things. The simple blessings. In a world seemingly gone mad, it’s important to keep things in perspective. We can’t control what happens outside the circle of our lives. We can only be grateful for what blessings we have.

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How Much Do You Know About Illiteracy?

 

 

I’m a little late on sharing this particular infographic from Grammarly.com, as September 8 was International Literacy Day. But better late than never, right?

As a teacher, I know how important it is to foster good literacy skills early on in a child’s educational journey, and as a writer and reader, it worries me now many people still struggle with literacy as adults.

We can do a lot to make a difference in the lives of those struggling to read. Being aware of the problem is the first step.

Literacy Day

An Open Letter to DestinyUSA

(For those not in the know, DestinyUSA is a very large mall in Syracuse, NY, with a ton of great stores, restaurants, and attractions.)

Dear DestinyUSA,

You are, in general, a very awesome mall with lots of things to do, places to eat, and stores to shop in. The “green” expansion is pretty great too, even if we did have to wait a long time for it to be finished and opened.

However, I have a smallish bone to pick with you.

The hubs and I took Babycakes, who is about five months old, to DestinyUSA for the first time. She had a great time. So did we, except when it came time to see to her needs.

You see, Babycakes is a breastfed baby. We’ve started her on a select few solids, but breastfeeding makes up 99.9% of her nutritional intake. Now, I’m not really squeamish about breastfeeding in public spaces. I do try to find a quiet, somewhat secluded corner to feed her, but it’s not about me, or the rest of the public. It’s about her.

When she’s eating, Babycakes needs it pretty quiet and free of distractions. Otherwise she really can’t eat well. We use a cover when necessary, but it makes feeding more of a circus than anything else. So I really do try to find a private space to nurse her if she’s hungry when we’re out and about.

Many people would likely say, “Why don’t you just give her a bottle?” Believe me, DestinyUSA, I would if she’d accept one. But she won’t accept any type of container that even remotely hints at being a baby bottle. Sippy cup, yes. Straw cup, yes. But she’s just learning to use those and isn’t good enough with them to get a full feeding. And besides that, she really doesn’t eat well in general if she’s distracted, be it breast, cup, or spoon.

Here’s the issue I had today. There are no nursing rooms anywhere in DestinyUSA. This surprised me, especially since a competing mall (which shall remain nameless), had very nice, new nursing rooms by the food court. I mean, private, quiet, slightly softer lighting, with a changing station (though no sink, and that was a small complaint I made to them), with an actual cushy chair and cushy love seat. It was surprising and wonderful to find.

At DestinyUSA, however, my only option was a family restroom. It was clean, I’ll give you that. But the only non-toilet seating option was a hard plastic chair, the type you’d put on your back porch. It took some serious finagling with my coat to make it remotely comfortable for Babycakes and me. The lights were super bright. Plus, the changing station was broken. Lastly, because it’s a restroom placed between the men’s and women’s facilities, every time someone used the hand dryers, she unlatched and stared at me like it was the scariest sound she’d ever heard in her life. And (okay, this is lastly) the music piped into the mall was so loud, it was another distraction.

She didn’t eat well, and then I had to change her on the station out in the corridor, where it was cold.

Now, this was in the old section of the mall, so I thought the family restroom in the new section would be a little nicer. We shopped, ate lunch, and then went to find the family restroom.

Sadly, it was out of order. So not wanting to traipse all over the mall searching for another family restroom, we returned to the one we used upon our arrival. At this point in the day, it wasn’t that clean anymore. It was till bright, loud, and distracting. I still had to change Babycakes in the hallway. And she still didn’t eat well. I foresee a wakeful night for her, because she didn’t get enough calories today despite my best efforts.

You are a great mall, DestinyUSA. But you dropped the ball on this one. Perhaps you should consider allocating some of the available space (and there is some because you’re constantly adding new stores and restaurants) for the purpose of nice, clean, quiet, softly lit, well appointed nursing rooms. The breastfeeding moms (and probably some bottle-feeding moms) of Central New York will thank you.

Time to Bite the (Microsoft) Bullet?

I’m a long-time user of Microsoft products. I’ll admit it. And to be honest, the main reason is because of necessity. The computers in my high school had Windows 95. All the campus-owned computers at my college ran Windows 98 or XP. The computers at work run Windows XP (though we’re now slowly upgrading to Windows 7). All of our personal computers have run a Windows operating system of one generation or another.

And with that came the productivity software. When I purchased my first computer for college in 1999, we dropped the dollars to have it come with whatever version of Office was current at the time. I purchased MS Office 2003 when I upgraded my computer for grad school. And the hubs and I gladly reused that Office 2003 license on our home computer when my grad school machine finally gave in to The Blue Screen of Death.

In the past couple years, however, we’ve avoided anything related to MS Office on our home computers. Our desktop needed a major reinstall of Windows about a year ago, due to some freak registry error I couldn’t comprehend, and we just barely managed to save the contents of our hard drive (including thousands of vacation photos, the value of which cannot be priced). We decided not to bother reinstalling Office 2003 and went with OpenOffice instead.

I had made the decision to do the same for my Acer netbook. Yes, the one that nearly died six months after purchasing it, and which the hubs resuscitated.

For a really long time, this seemed to be a good decision regarding our productivity software. I mean, free is always the best price, and I don’t do a lot of fancy stuff with Word or Excel or anything like that. Plus, since I use WriteWayPro as my writing software, all I really needed a word processing program for was to format drafts in their entirety and work on stuff from, well, work.

We’ve batted around the idea of biting the bullet and purchasing MS Office again for quite a while. For one thing, just about every file I transfer to and from work requires some fixing on either end, because we upgraded to Office 2010. And despite OpenOffice being “compatible”, it really isn’t. The formatting is off 99% of the time.

And as for writing – well, OpenOffice has decided it no longer knows how to recognize American English, despite the US dictionary extension being installed. I can’t do a true spell check if the program thinks every word is spelled wrong. And the formatting issues irritate me too. It’s just really getting to a point where OpenOffice has outlived its usefulness.

Microsoft has its ups and downs. I think we’d be hard pressed to find a productivity suite anywhere that does everything just as its supposed to, with no bugs. The bigger headache now is that you can’t even buy a multi-machine license anymore, unless you want to “subscribe” to Office 365 – for $99 a pop every year. I get that the point is so you can get the latest updates every time you renew. But really, Microsoft? You’re that short on funds that you have to make your productivity software a subscription? I can’t even just buy Word?

Greedy bastards.

You do not play fair.

A Bit O’ Irish Mini Blog Hop

Join us for some Blarney and bits and pieces of the Emerald Isle.

Sign up now through March 17, 2014

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Welcome to the Bit O’ Irish mini blog hop.

Rules: bloggers must post something Irish, even if it is vacation pics taken while on the Isle. Participants may join in any day before St. Patrick’s Day. Please make sure to visit fellow hoppers. If you would like to add something to the  main giveaway, please notify me with a comment. All participants are welcome to add their own giveaways on their site. Erin Go Bragh!

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I never knew I had any Irish heritage until 11th grade, when I was assigned a family tree project for my AP U.S. History class. Low and behold, my paternal grandmother’s branch of the tree had more than a little bit of Irish! Granted, the family lines that heralded from Ireland settled in Canada before coming here, but it was still a delightful revelation to know I didn’t have to pretend to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day – I really am part Irish!

Celebrating this holiday – one which really originated in the United States as more than a religious observance – isn’t something I’ve ever done to any great extent. I wear green. I listen to some Irish reels and may sometimes be heard singing things like “Danny Boy.” A chocolate Irish stout cake may have made an appearance in my kitchen last year. It’s interesting to note that since the 1970s, a celebration, which began to recognize Irish-American culture during the 19th and early 20th centuries, has taken its place in Ireland itself.

Hopefully, somebody’s still giving St. Patrick his due…

Interested in more St. Patrick’s Day history? Check out:

Georgia Public Broadcasting – The Origins of St. Patrick’s Day

National Geographic – Saint Patrick’s Day 2014: Facts, Myths, & Traditions

History.com – History of St. Patrick’s Day

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 StPatricks

We will be spotlighting Jill Bisker’s inspirational story Within Reach and giving away a variety of ebooks and two $5 Amazon gift card.

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Within Reach is the story of Emma, a woman coming to terms with her mother’s increasing dementia and the everyday challenges associated with it.  Inexplicably, she finds herself ‘re-living’ specific events from her past.  She soon wonders if her own sanity is slipping, and only her mother can help find the key.

About The Author

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 Jill Bisker lives in Stillwater, MN with her husband and a calico cat named Senora, and a grown son who is in college. She believes in empowering women to be strong enough to protect themselves, while still soft enough to be loving and compassionate. Her work includes paranormal mystery, traditional high fantasy, as well as contemporary and humorous fantasy and an everyday living blog. Once a dedicated stay at home Mom, Jill now writes full-time.

Connect with Jill:

Facebook Page:     https://www.facebook.com/authorjillbisker

Pinterest Page:  http://www.pinterest.com/jillbisker/

Website/Blog: www.jillbisker.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JillBisker

Google +:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/102225571446174386202

Email: jkatbisker@gmail.com

 

Join in the Blarney. Click on the Pot of Gold below for a chance to win cash prizes great reads.

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Choose from the following ebooks:

      Within Reach

      By Jill Bisker

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Merry Christmas, Henry

By Aubrey Wynne

Contemporary Romance

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Craving Vengeance and Covert Exposure

By Valerie Clarizio

Romantic Suspense

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Morna

By Mary Kate Brogan 
(Romance set in 1950′s Ireland)

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Symphony of Light and Winter      Imposter’s Kiss

By Renea Mason

Paranormal Romance

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Muir Bhreatan

by K.E. Shade

Historical Romance

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Click below to add your link. Remember to stop by these blogs for more luck o’ the Irish:

    http://new.inlinkz.com//luwpview.php?id=381178

 
Note: When you add your link, you can copy and paste the thumbnails to your page and the links will be all done for you. Less work and more time for green beer and corned beef with cabbage.

Things I’m Thankful For

Since it’s Thanksgiving week, I thought it might be a worthwhile endeavor to reflect a bit on the things I’m thankful for this year. A lot of people are doing the “30-days of thanks” thing, which I have done in the past, and it reminded me that I need to stop more often and consider my blessings.

So here they are, in no particular order.

Things I’m Thankful For

  1. My overall health. I know I’ve been reeeeeally bad about working out and eating right lately, but I just had a physical on Friday, and turns out I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been, maybe more so. So I must be doing something right. I know it’s weird to worry about health when you’re only in your 30s, but since I made the decision to cultivate a healthier lifestyle a couple years ago, it really gives me validation for that decision when I see how healthy I am.
  2. My job. And not just having one, which in this economy is still a pretty big deal. No, it’s really the job itself. Being a teacher is often a thankless job, and I often don’t see the fruits of my labor. But I love it, and I’m lucky to work in a district and a school with such awesome people and a culture of family. Speaking of….
  3. My coworkers. I’m speaking of the awesome people I worked with for the past 7 years (actually, 9) at the elementary school where I taught kindergarten and second grade, because they supported me as a professional and as an individual. They’re my family as well as my friends. And I’m also speaking of the amazing teachers I’ve been blessed to work with since the start of this school year. They’ve made my move to sixth grade and the middle school far easier than I ever expected. We laugh a dozen times a day, support each other, and they’ve filled the past three months with so much awesomesauce, I can’t even explain.
  4. My students. They are awesome. They are the reason I haul myself out of my nice warm bed while it’s still dark. They are truly, above and beyond everything else, what has made my transition to teaching sixth grade not only worthwhile, but possible. They’re friendly and polite to each other, they work harder than many adults I know, they make me laugh, they make me proud, and I can’t wait to see what amazing things they do from here out. I will say it right here for everybody in the world to read. I HAVE THE BEST SIXTH GRADE CLASS ON THE PLANET!
  5. My family. Without my family, I would be so lost. They’ve seen me at my best, my worst, and my weirdest, and I’ve never had a day in my life when I didn’t feel their love and support in everything I’ve done.
  6. My best friends. I don’t have a huge group of friends, but we are tight. We’re the sort of friends who can go weeks, sometimes months, without seeing each other, and as soon as we get together, it’s like we’re picking up right where we left off. And the awesome thing is that, as adults, we’re often more like family than friends.
  7. The CNY Romance Writers. Such an amazing group of authors, and I can’t believe I went so long without knowing they were there! I’ve learned so much from these people over the last year, and I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for us.
  8. Last, and never least, my husband. I truly did marry my best friend. Without his support and encouragement, I would have given up on so many things over the past few years. From family stuff to writing stuff, he’s my biggest cheerleader, my coach, my confidante, my partner in crime, and when I really need him to be, the world’s biggest teddy bear.

So there you go.

I’m also very thankful for pie. It’s a wonderful thing.

Have a great Thanksgiving!