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Showing posts with label Tina Downey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tina Downey. Show all posts

Monday, August 24, 2015

In Memory of the Beloved Tina Downey...

Raise a glass for Tina,
the super organized co-host from our A-to-Z Team.
Known for lending a helping hand to newbie and veteran bloggers in need.

Ever the straightforward woman, unafraid to have hard conversations, she also had a knack for fine-tuning details, simplifying complex tasks and making sure we got things done.
Tina showed us what it’s like to juggle a full load as a mother, wife, friend, daughter and writer while still finding ways to stop and smell the roses, and have fun.

The witty sign-offs in her messages were like additional reminders that kept everyone in high spirits and often made us laugh.
So it's easy to see how, without her, we've come to feel very understaffed.

It’s been one year since Tina, the kindhearted Swedish woman who many of us had the honor of getting to know, was laid to rest.
Still her memory lives on through those she loved, those she helped and the examples she set for taking on challenges in stride while still putting forth our very best.

Though Tina battled chronic health conditions, she still enjoyed campfires, quoting the movies, hiking, and a glass of Chardonnay when she could.
So today, let’s give a big toast to Tina Downey, the Sunflower-loving powerhouse who taught us that if you just keep swimming, you will find something to smile about because life is good.

Tina with her husband Neal. Photo courtesy of the Downey Family via AJ Lauer.
Katrina Mai Downey passed away August 23, 2014 at Longmont United Hospital, surrounded by her loving family. She was 49 years old. She was born August 4, 1965 in Mölndal, Sweden to Leif and Bonnie (Schnebly) Bilen. Tina spent her early childhood in Sweden, moving to Silver Spring, MD in 1974 where she competed in gymnastics and cross country. The family moved to Englewood, CO in 1983. Tina graduated from Denver Christian High School in 1984, where she played clarinet in the band and met her future husband. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, and a teaching certificate from Colorado State University in 1988. Her complete obituary can be viewed at Ahlberg Funeral Chapel and Crematory.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Special A to Z Tribute: Tina Downey



         On this day when many of you celebrate Easter I wish to greet you in your celebration of that important event in our history.   Spring is well underway as is the 6th yearly Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  We are off to a wonderful start and I want to thank all of you for keeping your posts active during this time.   I've been finding some outstanding posts on an array of topics as I'm sure you have been reading as well.  

       There is a beloved member of the A to Z community that I want to acknowledge and she is one that I'm sure that more than a few of us miss greatly.  I also have a story to tell that has inspired this special Sunday post.   I'll let you decide the significance of this story.

Dedicated to Tina Downey



      I've received a number of inquiries as to why the 2015 A to Z badge says "For Tina" on it.  Some thought that they had received the wrong badge that was intended for someone else.   In order to answer this question for any others who might be wondering why Tina's name is on the badge it's because this year's challenge has been dedicated to Tina Downey who passed away last August 23rd.  For several years of the A to Z Challenge Tina had been a strong motivator and the backbone of the April event, working on A to Z throughout the years as her labor of love for A to Z to make each April more successful that the previous one.

      If you'd like to read more about Tina and her A to Z legacy you can read my tribute or the A to Z Team tribute to her.  On September 8th, 2014 there was also a A to Z community wide tribute to Tina on many blogs of those who loved and appreciated her.   My Sunflowers for Tina tribute tells the story of what I did in her honor and that leads up to my story of what happened recently.

A Message from Tina?

     

      A couple days prior to the Sunflowers for Tina tribute I planted 20 to 30 sunflower seeds in a area behind my house.  About half of these were planted in the area shown above.   Sometime in late January--about the time the A to Z list opened-- I noticed a plant sprouting that I initially took to be a weed of some sort, but in hopes that it was one of the sunflowers actually growing I let it be.   Over the next month or so this plant began to grow rapidly until it was over 6 feet high.  I watched daily for a flower to bloom as April approached.  A few days prior to the first of April signs of a impending bloom became evident.


     On April 1st, the opening day of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, the blossom opened.  In the photo above you can see the complete sunflower plant.


   Here is a closer view of the bloom as it appeared on April 1st.


     On April 2nd the flower had opened a bit more.


      By April 3rd the sunflower bloom was becoming more robust.


       Here is how the flower looked on April 4th.   The plant appears to be doing well and I'll be keeping watch over the course of April to monitor its progress.

What Do You Think?

       Is this somewhat miraculous?   Or merely a well-timed coincidence?    I'll leave it to you to decide.  All I know is that out of the over 20 seeds that I planted in drought-stricken California in what is lousy and perhaps even toxic soil and receiving no care other than a few rains, in my backyard one sunflower bloomed for Tina Downey on April 1st as the first day of the A to Z Challenge was underway.

        Let us know in the comments what you think.  What I do know is that right outside my kitchen window is a daily reminder of Tina and A to Z.  Every time I walk into my kitchen and look out the window there is one sunflower standing tall.   When I go into my backyard I take a moment to walk over to that flower and marvel.  Few of the things that I plant in my yard actually grow or remain for long if they do grow.  But there is one sunflower there now.  And at just the right time to watch over the A to Z Challenge.

         If you planted any sunflowers for Tina last fall, did any of yours appear yet?   What do you think about the uniquely timed appearance of my sunflower?



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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The A to Z Team Honors Tina Downey

Today the A to Z Co-Host Team, past and present, would like to honor fellow co-host, Tina Downey from Life is Good. We lost Tina on August 23, 2014, and words cannot express how much we will miss her or how much she meant to us. But in this tribute, we give it our best…


Tina, like I used to say to you every so often, I was in awe of you, your will to smile in the face of all kinds of odds and pain and despair. You made light of your suffering. Always.

I was in awe of how much you gave of your spirit. Only you could talk to hundreds of strangers online in a day and make each of them feel special. You knew how to make our team work together. You made people feel like sending you a hug even as you told them what not to do. You had this gift for listening, just being there.
Thank you for being my SIS, for teaching me that life is good, no matter what. Above all, thank you for your words, your smiles, and the gazillion icons of sunflowers. They lit up my darkest hours.
Farewell, till I see you next. As someone has said-- meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.

-- Damyanti Biswas at Amlokiblogs


I met her on the A to Z this year, and loved her sense of humor right away. She bubbled and bossed all at the same time, and who can resist that combination? While I never talked to her or met her in person, I feel the loss of her. If she were here, I’d be getting emails telling me to stay on my toes because, if I didn’t follow the directions, she’d have to take some serious action, like send in one of her Flamingos to set me straight.

I’m sure she would be organizing this tribute, and perhaps she is. Certainly, her energy is still with this group and she’d love to know sunflowers remind us of her.

C. Lee McKenzie


I’ve never met Tina Downey.
But, I’m going to miss her very much.
We emailed frequently, as she did with so many people.
You could always count on a funny movie quote, or a funny Tina quote, at the end of her emails.
Here are some of my favorites.
-----------
~Tina, who’s ready for her chardonnay, but since I still have to write, will reluctantly wait...
The weirdness has begun…Tina
Happy dance!....Tina
Buckle up! It’s a bumpy ride. Fun, but it has it’s twists and turns, and unexpected surprises…Tina
~Tina, see I've already chatted with you twice in 10 minutes...
Tina, here all day ;-)
~Tina, off to write a post
~Tina, who is worried about Sonny. He's practically buried in weeds...poor fella.
~Tina, who usually signs off with something weird at the end of a comment. So here's one. "Something weird."
-----------
Who is Sonny? He’s Tina’s garden gnome. She sent me a picture.
I don’t know what else to say except that we will never be the same without her.
Our thoughts are with her family.
Rest in peace, Tina.
Heather


You have gone... you were a friend when I needed a laugh, you were a sister when I needed to cried and you were... just there. Now you are watching over all of us, may your flight to heaven be a peaceful journey. Now sweep those damn flying monkeys out, share your kindness and humor with the angels.... Please, please... please watch over your family, they love and miss you something dearly! Peace, Tina... you are a person I will miss, we all will miss... thank you for always being so strong!
-Jeremy


When I found out Tina had become an A-Z co-host and she introduced herself to everyone, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of wild ride we were in for. She was a blogosphere ball of fire with boundless amounts of energy, which frankly intimidated me a little. And outside of A-Z she was a tireless supporter, always willing to help champion a cause or help promote a project. She was so forthright, so real, it was a pleasure to interact with her – even if it was just digitally. I’m jealous of the people who knew her in the real world; because she seemed like a person who would be the life of whatever party you were throwing.
I’ll truly miss Tina. The blogosphere is a dimmer without her.
DL Hammons


Though I only met Tina Downey a short time before she passed, she made a lasting impression that will stay with me every time I open up my blog. I will never forget her kindness as I entered a strange, new community, nor her reassurance when I felt overwhelmed. From her first introduction, she exuded encouragement, support, and snarky fun. She made the overwhelming seem possible, and hard work feel like entertainment. But more importantly, she brought strangers spread across the globe together in an online community that far surpassed its digital bounds. Her legacy will live on in the people she inspired and the connections she forged. And everyone, from her oldest of friends to her newest acquaintance, will remember her.

-- Lauren Hennessy


I met Tina via the A-to-Z, so it's only right I say goodbye to her here. We challenged each other to visit all A-to-Z participants, and from that the Post A-to-Z Road Trip was born. Road Tripping together, we became friends. Tina was dynamic, a lady with a big, welcoming heart. She was always positive, no matter what was going on. Not only was she a pleasure to work with, but she was a friend, a confidante, and a great support. My heart goes out to her family. I'll miss you, Tina. The world lost a phenomenal person last week, but there are a lot of us who will think of you and be lifted up every time we see a sunflower.

~ Shannon


Whenever I’m faced with tragedy I always turn to a book for solace. Maybe you’re no different? Some turn to the Bible or other sacred texts. I, turn to poetry. During times of sadness or loss, poetry speaks to me and provides comfort.
I lost a friend last week, Tina Downey. She was my Cheese Girl. Whenever I mentioned needing a cupcake or other sweet, Tina countered with cheese. No matter what the situation was, Tina was quick to offer sarcasm, a virtual hug, a listening ear or whatever she could.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Tina IRL (in real life) but I feel the loss of her just the same. She was my friend. Tina brought people together. Tina was the sun and we are the sunflowers who have benefitted.
“Every friend is to the other a sun, and a sunflower also. He attracts and follows.” ~ Jean Paul Richter

Pam Margolis, An Unconventional Librarian


I didn't know Tina as well as some others, but we co-hosted several A to Z challenges together, and I was always struck and inspired by her. Not only by her enthusiasm for blogging and writing, but by her drive for working together, for getting to know people, and for being helpful, not only to those of us who "knew" each other, at least on the internet, but to any stranger who came along with a question, an idea, or a request for assistance. Tina was a wonderful person to work with, and she will be dearly missed.

Matt


I’ll make it no secret I loved and adored Tina. She was more than a friend. She was like a sister. She was the rock of stability. Within the A to Z Team, Tina was the one who held us together. Her wit and whimsy were amazing, and I treasured the long, snarky, no-holds-barred emails from Tina.She told me once that I was as real to her if not more so than any real-world friend, and I felt the same way about her.

I know you’re with the Lord now, Tina, but I am really, really going to miss you. I promise to keep giving my all to the A to Z Team, although I am certainly no super glue. Not like Super Tina. But I will do my best. Schedule Woman would expect no less.

Your online brother, Alex


Dearest Sister, friend and fellow rebel in our blogging world,

We sure had some good times, didn’t we? Both of us on bloggy steroids, only to pick up the phone one day and start exchanging live conversations and texts. Oh, the laughs we had, the tears we shed and the most wonderful friendship we nurtured. We were story tellers, support systems and A - Z gurus…you being the stable one, me hanging on by the seat of my pants, wondering what might (or might not) happen next.

We became so much more, “You are such a good friend. The kind where we just pick up where we were and it’s like we were never apart.” These are some of your last words to me, words every person should read or hear at least once in their life. I too treasure our friendship and know that even the distance between heaven and earth can only increase what we share, a friendship so special, one that I will treasure forever. God bless you, Tina. I too look forward to so much more.

Hugs with a sunflower and cactus.

Teresa


If I can give on word to help Tina Downey be remembered by, it is the word faithful. Over the past years that I knew Tina through the Blogging Community, she was always there to give support to others, regardless of who they were, where they lived, or the circumstances surrounding their lives.

Tina was a true source of inspiration. Her motto, “Life Is Good” was simple yet powerful. Often I would stop by per blog and be reminded even though there were circumstances in my life that were less than pleasant, Life Is Good. I could go forth with a thankful heart and my day had become brighter and filled with hope that life is indeed good and good things awaited me. Thank you Tina for all the positive things you brought to the world.

Stephen Tremp


I met Tina in 2012 when we both co-hosted the A to Z April Blogging Challenge in 2012. By the end of the challenge we weren’t just team mates but friends! She made me feel important. She made me work for my dreams. She also helped me to believe in myself.

Even while she struggled with her own problems, she selflessly helped me. The world didn’t just lose a friend, it lost one of the most beautiful people to have ever lived. And because we met through the A to Z challenge, I wanted to honor her with a list of all the things she was, A through Z.

She was . . . An Angel on Earth, Best friends to everyone she met, Caring, Determined, Encouraging. Funny, Gracious, Helpful, Imaginative, Jubilant, Kind, Loveable and loving, Mindful, Noteworthy, Original, Positive all the time, Quirky in the best way possible, Real, Supportive, Thoughtful, Unconditional, Vibrant, Wise, Xenodochial, Youthful, Zealous.

~ Konstanz Silverbow


Tina was one of those rare people who could ask blunt questions that might be too forward coming from anyone else. She had uncanny timing, almost like a sixth sense, for when people needed her, or needed to talk. She was funny, genuine, and most of all loving. Our friendship really started when she sent me an email with some of those blunt questions, at just the right time, before the Challenge in 2013. I needed support, and it turned out that she was just the right person to provide it. From there and through the craziness of the Challenge, our friendship grew. We discovered that we lived only about 30 minutes apart, and vowed to meet at some point. I am so sad now that we only succeeded at hanging out once, but so grateful that we managed that.

We often joked about me smuggling her some red wine at the hospital. I imagine her sitting up in heaven (which of course is fields of sunflowers) looking down at us all, with a glass of wine in her hand and endlessly quotable movies for her viewing pleasure. She's probably talking god's ear off. She's closer now, so he won't have much of a choice but to listen :)

My dear Tina -
Life is Good, and yours was a good life, my friend.
All my love,
~AJ


Dear Tina, it seems like just yesterday you and I were swapping funny Barbie doll stories while treating many of our daily grinds with a glass, or two, of wine. To know that you are gone has made for a heartbreaking Summer, to say the least. The news hit me like a ton of bricks, leaving days filled with denial, numbness and later, a bit of regret in its wake. Boy have I delayed that trip we talked about for too long, right?! If there is one thing for certain, it's that I will cherish the time we had, the lengthy conversations we engaged in and the experiences we shared with each other. I am also grateful for what you've taught me about honesty, kindness, healing and not being afraid to “let it all hang out.” It has been a pleasure to learn so much about you over the last few years and an honor to have worked with you on Arlee Bird's alphabetical adventure.

I miss the spontaneity of your comment sign-offs, which often made the day. I miss the movie lines you had us guessing from time to time. I miss your superpowers of holding it together through the joys and pains that any day delivered. You embodied great leadership in often being the (only) one who says what needs to be said and does what needs to be done. Just when it seems all things might fall apart without you here, I believe things will be ok because your legacy remains. Most importantly, I want you to know that you've left a positive impression on me and the blogging community at large. We are lucky to have had such a wonderful, compassionate and generous woman in our lives. Thank you for always being yourself and showing us that there are bright sides to life so long as we dare to seek them out. You are one fabulous lady, Tina Downey!
– Sincerely, Nicole Ayers


Tina Downey was like a supernova in my blogging universe. She appeared and shone brightly for a few years until her recent passing. In reading much about her since that sad day when we lost her physical presence, I realize that she was a special human being who has touched so many others throughout her life. I am but one of many who have been touched by her delightful presence in the world. Tina has made the world a better place in her being in it.

After the 2011 A to Z Challenge Tina Downey and Shannon Lawrence started a Post Challenge Challenge Road Trip to encourage others to visit all of the blogs that had been signed up for the A to Z Challenge. Their enthusiasm for A to Z caught my attention so I invited both of them to be a part of the 2012 Challenge. Tina stayed on after that first year and was active for the next two Challenges serving as one of our main motivators and organizers. She kept right at it until her illness prevented her from doing any more. I know A to Z was on her mind through many tough times up until the end.

If the world of bloggers were to be compared to a field of sunflowers, then Tina is the flower who stands taller and brighter than most of the rest. She planted seeds of kindness, caring, and diligence that will hopefully grow within many of us who knew her. She has been an example and an inspiration for us to follow.

The A to Z Challenge has always been special to me, but the good teammates like Tina and all of the others have made A to Z even more special. Tina knew that as well and she gave it her all. And I thank her for that.

Arlee Bird from Tossing it Out, founder of the A to Z Challenge



We are honoring Tina with sunflowers on Monday, September 8 – I hope everyone can join us and splash the Internet with yellow that day.
Sign up here - Sunflowers for Tina.

The family has also set up the Downey Education Fund, which will go toward a college fund for Tina’s two boys. You can donate via PayPal here -

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sunflowers for Tina - September 8, 2014 #LifeisGood #AtoZChallenge


In memory of Tina Downey, the A to Z Team is hosting a sunflower tribute on September 8, 2014 – Remembering Tina Downey.


Prior to that date, purchase or plant a sunflower in her honor. (If you have to resort to plastic, that’s cool.) Take a photo of your sunflower and post in in her memory on Monday, September 8. Tina loved her sunflowers, and we want to splash the blogging world with sunflowers that day and honor a truly amazing woman who was friend and family to so many.

You can sign up now or add your link when you post your sunflower.

Please help us spread the word! Add Tina's motto #LifeisGood as hashtag and share about this blogfest on all social media platforms.

Let’s brighten the Internet with sunflowers the way Tina brightened the lives of so many.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Great Loss to the Blogging Community: Tina Downey

       The sad announcement of the passing of Tina Downey appears on her blog Life Is Good today.

        Tina has been an integral part of the A to Z Team for many years and has been the motivator and scheduler on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge Blog.  

          We will post a tribute to Tina here later in the week.    For the time being we hope you will leave a message for her family at Life Is Good.

 
            We all love you Tina!   You will be missed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Getting to Know Your Co-Hosts for #atozchallenge: Tina @ Life is Good


Hi, I'm Tina, the super-shy one on the team.  Ahem.  SO not true.  If you've ever read my blog, Life is Good, you know I'm pretty much an open book.  I have no on-line persona.  I'll talk about anything (and have).  I write embarrassing stories about myself.  I talk about my family, my life, my struggles, fears, hopes and dreams.  

I know some think that doing so is dangerous, that I'm opening myself up for stalking, identity theft.  Kidnapped children.   Have at it people.  You can come take my medical bills, my asthma, my messy house, my struggles with contentment.  You can come finish all the still-in-progress projects at my house.  You won't find much of material value here, and my life is eternal, so if you take my earthly one, well then, it was my time.  I have a strong faith, and though I'm a very bossy, take charge, schedule oriented "let's get this done" type of person, I have no illusions that I have control of my life.  God's in charge.  

I do like the questions, so here you go:


How far in advance do you prepare your theme and complete your A-Z before the Challenge begins? (Yvonne)

Um, I usually don't.  I try to get the first three or so set up, and if I know I'll be out of town, then I'll write the posts for those days.  There are several reasons for this.  One: I'm so stinking busy from January to April with behind the scenes stuff of a co-host, that I don't have the time.  Two: I really like the spontaneity of daily writing, the pressure, the deadline. I know that sounds crazy, but it's totally doable if you have your theme and topics for each letter picked out. So yeah, none of mine are done yet...but I picked my theme in January and have been working on matching the letters and the topics since then.

At the end of a long day…wine? beer?? Walk?? Chocolate?? Pet your pet?? Sex?? (SammyD)

SammyD and I have been getting to know each other.  It started with the info@ email and went from there...so I will not shy away from a question with the word sex in it.  This does not make this question (AC) so feel free to keep reading.

I love wine and beer, I can't walk very far right now because of my severe asthma but it's getting better.  Can't eat chocolate because I'm hypoglycemic.  Can't have pets because of the asthma.  Sex is one of the best stress relievers I know, so at the end of the day, you'll find me with a glass of chardonnay in my hand, and a gleam in my eye ;-)

Do you believe in Sasquatch? (JoJo)

Absolutely.  I also believe we still have some aquatic dinosaurs.  My husband, The Engineer, and my dad, The Swede, and I were on a sailing trip on the Chesapeake Bay.  We each individually saw the head of a plesiosaurus come up and say hi, about a 100 yards away. The Engineer saw it first and asked my dad what it was.  We watched some more.  It came up again. We looked at each other in awe.  We thought maybe we'd had too much sun, but we kept watching and theorizing, and in the end, it was the only conclusion which made sense.  Then The Engineer and I watched a NOVA about dinosaurs and saw what they looked like and it was exactly what we saw.  NOVA said they're still out there.

****

I blog at Life is Good, and have had two short stories published.  I'm a columnist for a newsletter, and have been writing my first novel for too long. I'm also the mom of two teenage boys and the wife of a nutty-professor inventor-engineer so life is never dull, nor does it have much free time.  But life IS good.




Monday, February 3, 2014

Boldly Going Where no Swedish Immigrant Has Gone Before! #AtoZChallenge

Today I have the honor of interviewing a dear friend and fellow Challenge co-host, Tina from Life is Good. Trust me, she rocks, and Tina makes the behind-the-scenes stuff a lot of fun!

Her theme for the Challenge was Adventures in America, and she told personal stories about her first year as an immigrant.

As she stated on her blog – “These are the continuing adventures of a Swedish immigrant during her first year as an American. She boldly went where she'd never gone before...please come along on Adventures in America.”

1 – Your first year in America was quite the adventure! Did it hurt your head trying to remember everything from that first year?

Funny you should ask. It WAS hard to remember some of it, but I had several good sources. First, my mother, known on my blog, "Life is Good," as "The Nutritionist", could easily have been nicknamed "Momarazzi". Every, and I mean every, moment of our lives was documented in pictures. I didn't know that what irritated the living daylights out of me then, would be such a treasure today. "Honey, will you kids do that again? It will make such a cute picture!" was the refrain of our childhood. However, looking through those albums sparked a lot of memories.

Of course my little sister, nicknamed Swissie, has a fantastic memory and I relied on her to straighten out a lot of what I only sort-of remembered. Then of course there was The Swede to straighten us both out on misconceptions that kids get about adult matters. So the stories you got were the truth as the three of us were able to piece it together from 38 years before.

2 – What fun story DIDN’T make it into your Challenge posts?

There were several, but I'll keep this to two. I didn't write about the more intimate details about taking care of a person in a body cast. It was going to be called, “Sponge Baths and Bed Pans” but I decided even I didn't want to go there.

Also, we built these awesome hide-outs in our massive forsythia bushes, but it didn't make the cut either, just because I felt other stories told more of the differences I experienced. Building hide-outs was one of our favorite activities in Sweden, so it wasn't really something new.

3 – How many players from the Washington Capitals did you meet?

I'm going to need Smooshie for an accurate answer on this one, but conservatively, I'd say between 15 and 20. We were total groupies, but young, so we actually got more attention because the players knew we were harmless. We were only hoping for a picture, whereas some of the adult female fans were looking for...other perks.

4 – What’s your opinion on flame retardant pajamas?

They ought to be burned! Seriously. Have you touched that material? If you have the slightest snag of dry skin anywhere, it adheres to your pajamas and it might as well be fingernails on a chalkboard. I know the government means well, but what about all the kids who don't wear pajamas? My nephew for example, always wore tomorrow's clothes to bed to save time in the morning. Yes, he's eccentric, but brilliant and was just being logical. The PJ police would have gotten him for sure!

5 – Are you a Swede or an American?

I'm a proud Swedish immigrant who now calls America her home. I'm a Swedish-American.

6 – Do you still watch Scooby-Doo?

Yes, of course. Scooby is the best! I of course introduced my kids to Scooby-Doo! They wanted to watch some of the movies that came out when they were in elementary school, so I made them watch some original episodes first. I mean, how can you appreciate the movies fully if you've never seen Shaggy and Scooby run from room to room down a long hallway, being chased by The Ghost? Or have the authorities pull of the mask and find “old man Jenkins” complaining about “those meddlin' kids.” A true education is valued in our family. We still watch it together, when I can drag them away from their XBOX headsets...

7 – Your hit-by-a-car story was rough! What was something good that came out of that?

I believe something good always comes out of what we see as bad. We don't have the advantage of an eternal perspective. As a kid, I remember thinking that going through all this was going to make me more popular at school when I returned. That didn't happen, but a girl can dream.

Looking at it as an adult, I see the lessons as patience, the need to ask and accept help, and the realization that we are in God's hands no matter what happens. THAT lesson I apparently wasn't done learning then, because medical disasters have continued to follow me to this day.

8 – Any more stories this year for the Challenge or are you planning something different?

I'm still going Swedish, since I find it fun to make each year's theme part of this larger, ongoing theme. This year I plan to...have you come visit me and see what I've cooked up. I think you're going to like it. After all, “It's very Swedish to...”

Thanks Tina, and looking forward to your Challenge posts!

Co-host Ninja Captain Alex is the author of Amazon Best Sellers CassaStar, CassaFire, and CassaStorm. He is the founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and his blog can be found HERE

Monday, January 13, 2014

Road Trip Pit Stop Oil Check

Hi guys! It's time to cruise into the mechanic for an oil check to be sure we're moving forward in the best shape possible. Wouldn't want to stall out on the way along the A-to-Z Highway!

The holidays have been a busy time for all of us, whether because of gatherings with friends and family, time spent shopping and preparing feasts, children vacationing from school, finals, or even work deadlines before the end of the year. So if your visits to your A-to-Z friends slowed, there's no shame in it. Get that engine check, make sure your spark plugs are in working order, and continue along at whatever pace your speedometer is comfortable with.

If you need to take an extended pit stop, grab some eats at a greasy spoon, nab a night in a motel, that's okay, too. We hope to see you on the road when you're able! Above all, have fun and stop to enjoy the tourist traps.

In the meantime, I'll continue cruising along with my fantastic Road Trip partners, Tina, of Life is Good, and Nicole, of The Madlab Post. I couldn't ask for two better ladies to Road Trip with.

Honk if you're still taking part in the A-to-Z Road Trip!

~Shannon, The Warrior Muse

Monday, September 30, 2013

Road Trip Pit Stop - Time to Refuel Your A-to-Z Engine!

Beep, Beep! Who else is still awake on this alphabet route? 

Photo by Little Peppercorn
After running low on gas and making multiple pit stops, I nearly fell asleep at the wheel. Good thing I have two partners – Tina Downey at Life is Good and Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse to share in the driving duties as we move along through the A-to-Z Challenge list, stopping by the blogs we missed in April, to pay them a visit before the next challenge rolls around. Although I put the car on cruise control, I did manage to read more A-to-Z Reflections posts and visit some blogs located in the first half of the sign-up list.

During my visits, I found that some people either stopped blogging after the challenge or kept new blog posts coming sporadically until early-to-mid Summer. Still, the last posts that were published on these blogs were worth a looksee. I also came across some places on the list with blog posts that were cool to read, yet, difficult to leave a comment on. For those of you who are still on this Road Trip with Tina, Shannon and I, this is likely not a surprise, as you’ve probably encountered similar situations during your blog visits. 

When I started this road trip, I planned to visit at least five blogs per day, keeping in tune with the recommended visits of the April challenge. Now, I’ve reduced that number to one blog per day. I figure that way, it will be much easier to fit a visit to a new blog into my schedule – and – if I encounter non-active blogs or blog posts where leaving a comment feels like I’m participating in some type of three ring circus with no instructions, my Road Trip efforts are still time well spent.

Photo by Hayley Bouchard
As co-host, I want to try to also make sure that your time is also well spent, so in the name of efficient fun, here is some roadside assistance to stay on course if you find yourself running low on gas or hit something on the road that caused a flat in your tires at this stretch of our Post A-to-Z Adventure. 

Now, I’m no Allstate or AAA, but these blog visiting methods can be especially useful if you’re taking the one-and-done approach, or a similar one, that I’m using for the A-to-Z Road Trip.

Pick a Number – Think of a number…any number during your day and then visit the blog on the list that corresponds with this particular number.  You could also make this a theme and visit all of the blogs that fall under a specific area of the number table such as every hundredth or so (102, 202, 302, 402 and so on).

Heads or Tails? – Visit a blog that is among the low numbers (1-100) on the sign-up list and then visit another blog that is among the high numbers (101-500 and up) on the list. The number range doesn’t matter…you determine what is considered “low” and what is considered “high” just so long as two blogs on both ends of the list get a visitor today (or tomorrow or whenever you’re doing your A-to-Z Road Trip visits).

Hit the Reflections – If you haven’t read all of the 2013 A-to-Z Reflections posts, visit blogs on that list. That way, you’ll know that the blogs you’re visiting are run by people who finished the challenge – or at least attempted to complete it.

Funny Names – Scroll through the signup list and visit blogs with names that either make you laugh or fill you with curiosity. These are usually the types of blogs where, at first glance, you have no idea what the topic or theme of the blog is about such as Big Girl Panties (#264 on the list), Buttered Toast Rocks! (#365) or Cabin Goddess (#432).

Photo by Zach Dischner
It’s all about making it fun. If we make this road trip as simple and as fun as possible, we’ll have enough gas to keep our cars steady and well maintained…at least until the next Check-in. Now, the only thing left to do is call Allstate and tell them that you don’t need them because you’re in better hands. Ha!

Cheers to all!

~Nicole

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Post A-to-Z Road Trip Check-In

Well, hello there!  It's been awhile since we did a check-in on the Post A-to-Z Road Trip, but now that the holidays are past us (well, as much as holidays can be past us since we like to throw out holidays every month or so) this is as good a time as any to see how everyone's doing.



We're officially gearing up for the 2013 A-to-Z Challenge, so time is running out to catch up with all of last year's participants.  How far have you gotten?  Are you able to make any monthly progress?  Weekly?  Daily (you visiting fiend, you!)?

What's your plan of attack as you go through the list?  Do you find that you go in order, or do you randomly choose someone to visit?  Did you go through the Post A-to-Z Road Trip sign-up list first?

What I've found works best for me is to go down the list and open a series of blogs at once (usually ten at a time).  I visit those blogs, then if I find I have some more time I open ten more.  This helps me take little chunks at a time, and to feel like I've made progress.

Let us know how you're doing, whether you're still at it or have given up.  This isn't a competition, so don't feel pressured to have made progress.  Do you intend to keep going?  Were you able to visit everyone already?  If so, what was your secret, and what tips might you like to pass along?

Click here to access the 2012 A-to-Z sign-up list.

Cheers!

Shannon (The Warrior Muse) and Tina (Life is Good)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Alphabet Remix - Options for Oreos

These blogging prompts are brought to you by Nicole at The Madlab Post....
It’s time for The Alphabet Remix - A Writing Prompt Idea Engine Treating A to Z Blogging Avoidance Disorders

Today, Letter O is for one of the most popular snack items made by the Nabisco company -- Oreos! These classic chocolate cookies with a vanilla cream filling can be the focus of your Blogging from A to Z Challenge blog posts if you need a topic to write about. Here are some quick and easy ways to feature Oreo cookies for Letter O in April.

Odd Oreo Offerings
Review the oddest flavors of Oreos you’ve ever tasted or list varieties of these cookies that were only available for a limited amount of time -- such as Gingerbread Oreos.

Oreo Recipes
Share a recipe that uses Oreos as one of the main ingredients. You can also curate a listing of recipes that other people have created such as Cookies Stuffed with Oreos. If cooking isn’t your thing, you can also write a blog post that covers the history and/or significance of Deep Fried Oreos being served at Oktoberfest celebrations throughout the world.

Outrageously Outspoken on Oreos
Make a list of what you think is proper Oreo-eating etiquette. Go crazy and hold nothing back while writing your rules for eating Oreo cookies:

Is it best to open them and eat one side without the cream and then dunk the other side into milk? Do they taste better eaten dry or should they always be dipped in milk? What is the best flavor of milk to dip Oreos in before eating them -- regular, vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, almond or soy? Do they even need to be dipped in milk -- can they be dipped in other liquids such as Orange Juice? Should Oreos be dipped halfway or are they supposed to be completely covered in milk? What is the best time ratio between when an Oreo is dipped and when it is eaten that offers the less risk for it becoming soggy? Can Oreos be topped with condiments such as whipped cream? Should they be eaten for breakfast or remain as a dessert or snack?

Now onto other business, the winner of the Only One themed Alphabet Soup Game is...

Tina Downey at Life is Good. By correctly unscrambling all of the one-word movie titles that begin with Letter O, Tina reclaimed her title of Alphabet Wizard. Her prize package also includes the choice of a letter for the next Alphabet Soup game and the option to pick a theme for the Monday Movie Meme at my blog.

Congratulations Tina and, Have a Fun Friday, everybody!

NICOLE
Find Me @MadlabPost on Twitter

Sign up for the Monday Movie Meme, a weekly group blogging series that inspires discussion about entertainment in a whole new light and provides recommendations for your DVD, on-demand or theater fix. New topics are posted every Monday at The Madlab Post!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Alphabet Soup - Movie Monsters


This word puzzle is brought to you by Nicole at The Madlab Post...

It’s time for Alphabet Soup - The Word Scramble Puzzle of A to Z Wizards! 

Marta Szemik won the title of Alphabet Wizard during the Silver Screen themed Alphabet Soup puzzle and chose Letter M to launch today's new game. So in keeping with my movie themes, M is for Monsters -- in any of their forms, derivatives and/or affiliations. These characters either possess the physical characteristics of a monster or they behave in ways that make any normal, sane person deem them as inhumane individuals.

Unscramble the following Monsters that have appeared on the big screen. The first commenter who is able to correctly unscramble all or most of these monstrous movie characters, at best, wins this weeks’ Alphabet Soup game. Answers and the name of the winner will be posted here at the A to Z blog during next week’s “Friday Fun Time - Alphabet Remix.”

1. iaceyesMhlrM __________________
2. MesoWikkzwia _________________
3. rdMhBlaaamoinaca ___________________
4. huaurM ___________
5. aMsatuyh __________

HAPPY FRIDAY EVERYBODY! - PLUS: Make sure you read the special announcement from Tina at Life is Good at the bottom of this post.

Sign up for the Monday Movie Meme, a weekly group blogging series that inspires discussion about entertainment in a whole new light and provides recommendations for your DVD, on-demand or theater fix. New topics are posted every Monday at The Madlab Post!

NICOLE
Blog: The Madlab Post
Also @MadlabPost on Twitter

P.S.
Tina says thanks to all who answered the survey from Wednesday and is busy tallying results.  They will be posted on Saturday, 8/18.  Don't forget to check back to see what the trends are and whether you're normal or weird.  Um, that came out wrong.  If you're typical, or unique.  Um, Yeah.  Just come back, ya' hear?  Thanks.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Don't Leave Yet! There's One More Thing....

Badge artwork by Ada Z from collagepodge.com
You Mean It's Over? 

           There's a certain sadness as well as a relief when the party's over.  Yes, this April A to Z party is now finished, but the Challenges haven't ended yet.  We have a few more things that we'd like for you to do.  Don't worry--it will be fun and painless.   Certainly not the stress of the daily April postings.

             Most of you are probably aware of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Reflections Post that we have scheduled for next Monday May 7th.  Some may still not be aware of what this is all about.  Let me explain what's going to happen with this May 7th post and thereafter.

May 7th -- A to Z Reflections Post

             This is your time to tell us about your A to Z experience.   Share your pleasures, your pains, your setbacks, your gains.   Who did you meet along the way that you found to be especially helpful or inspiring?  Did you have a favorite blog post?   Or a favorite series?   Which blogs did you discover during April that you will be returning to in the future?

             Express your gratitude or vent your frustrations.  If you'd do this again, let us know why.  If you hated it. tell us why.  We want you to tell your A to Z story to the rest of us and tell it in the way that suits you best.  Like the Challenge itself, this Reflection post is your creative outpouring.  Be it prose, verse, song, video, or images, you can express yourself in anyway that you like.

              And guess what:   You don't have to have finished the Challenge or even entered the Challenge to be eligible to submit a Reflections post.  Didn't finish or never got started?   Let us know what happened and tell us how you feel about that.   If you were an observer who followed some of the A to Z blog posts and even commented on a regular basis, give us your thoughts about the Challenge.   I know of a few of you that I could name, but you know who you are.  Your thoughts are important as well.

               You can put up your Reflections post anytime between now and Saturday May 12th.  The Linky list will be made available on May 7th.  Please add the link that goes directly to your Reflections post and not your general blog link.  This list will be up for a while and since there could be a large number of links on the list it may take a while for readers to get  through it and we don't want visitors to have to be searching for your Reflections post.

Evaluations Posts

             On the last three Mondays of May, I will be putting up posts evaluating this year's Challenge.  I did this last year and it provided us tremendous insight.   Even though all ideas received last year were not implemented in this year's Challenge, some remain under consideration for future Challenges.

            This year I will once again be drawing upon what you have to say in your Reflections, what some have requested in direct emails, and observations made by the A to Z Team.   I will be looking at the good parts of the Challenge and the bad parts that might need to be changed.  Then on Monday May 28th I will wrap things up with some conclusions and final thoughts about the Challenge.

            We hope you can join us for these days to add your thoughts and help us out.

Post Challenge Challenge

            For those who would like to stay active in this A to Z community until the end of the year, A to Z Team members Shannon Lawrence and Tina Downey will be reviving last year's popular Post Challenge Challenge.   More details will soon be appearing on the A to Z Blog as will a sign up list.

We Want You!

           There's lot's of open space on the A to Z Blog in the coming months--after all we A to Z Team members can't do it all and you'd probably get sick of hearing from us if we did.   We are inviting you to come and post something in this space.  Anything that would be of interest to the A to Z community is welcomed.  If you are interested in submitting something please contact one of the A to Z Team members.  Contact information is in the tab at the top of the page.

           We look forward to your participation in all of these above mentioned events.  Thanks for Blogging from A to Z.
   
            The A to Z Blog will be taking a break for a few days.  Come back on Monday May 7th for the Reflections Post sign up list.
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

#atozchallenge: What's Next? Coming Soon!

Artwork by Ada Z from Collagepodge.com

The 2012 A to Z Challenge Reflections Post
      
          As we enter into the final week of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge some of you might be wondering What Next?  

         The frenzy of daily blogging and rushing around to visit as many of the other blogs as you can may have worn some of you to a frazzle.  You might be looking forward to a blogging break.  While others of you may be having such a great time with the Challenge that you might experience A to Z withdrawal come April 30th.

         Whichever the case may be, we hope that you will stick around in May for one more big event--the Blogging from A to Z Reflections Post 2012 Edition.   Those of you who have participated or followed the previous Challenges will probably remember what I'm talking about.  For those of you who don't know, I will explain.

          The A to Z Reflections Postings will begin on Monday May 7th.  These posts will be your personal thoughts about the A to Z Challenge and, like the A to Z posts, you can do them anyway you want--in prose, verse, images, or whatever suits you best.  We want you to tell us about your A to Z experience.

          You can tell us what you thought were the highlights of your April Challenge, what you learned, what changes you might make next time, or what surprised you most.   Let us know about special bloggers you met in your A to Z journey or about a post or posts that especially moved or impressed you.  There are no limits as to what your Challenge experience might have been so tell us in your best way how you felt about the April A to Z Challenge of 2012.

           We do ask that you keep your posts no more than a thousand words.  There will probably be a lot of blogs to read so we don't want to bog anyone down with exceedingly long posts.

            As I've said, the Blogging from A to Z Challenge Reflections Posts of 2012 will start on Monday May 7th.  The Linky list will go up on that day so you can enter the link for that post on the list.  For those who already have blogfests or something else planned for that day, don't worry--the list will be open for the entire week so you can publish your Reflections post anytime that week and still participate.  That list should also be accessible until the end of the year along with the A to Z Master List.

A to Z 2012 Evaluation Posts

           Last May on Tossing It Out I had a series of A to Z evaluation posts where we looked at the good and the bad in the Challenge of 2011.   This proved to be such a popular and helpful series of posts that we will be doing this again, this time on this A to Z Challenge Blog.

            Watch for these posts in May and be sure to let us know what changes you would like to see in the next Challenge.  Tell us what you would improve, keep the same, or get rid of in 2013.   Give us your thoughts on the A to Z Video contest and any other ideas that might add an extra special dimension to the A to Z Challenge.

             Since we will be having the evaluation posts, you might want to save any thoughts along those lines for those posts and not the reflections posts.  But by all means feel free to add your evaluations to the Reflections if you'd rather do it that way.   The evaluations will delve deeper into the specifics and offer more suggestions for your consideration.

Post Challenge Challenge


           I'm sure not many of you got through the entire list and I've heard many say that they will be continuing to go through the list after the April Challenge has ended.  It is a great way to discover new blogs so I'd encourage this.


            Last year our co-hosts Shannon Lawrence and Tina Downey hosted a Post Challenge Challenge.  Be watching for more details concerning this in the next week or so.


The A to Z Challenge Blog


           This blog will stay open for business!  This has proved to be a rather popular site and we want to keep it active.   No after Challenge schedule has been determined yet, but we're open to suggestions.  What we will be doing however is accepting guest posts for the upcoming months.  These posts will be about blogging and writing in general and whatever else you want to read here.  We will be featuring your blogs and providing the blogging news that seems most appropriate to appear on these pages.  Let us know your thoughts.


Let's Spike the Blog Numbers!

          I'd like to make one last request today.  In these final days of this Challenge, let's boost follower numbers on all the blogs that need it.   My goal is to see every blog leave this Challenge with at least 100 followers on their sidebar widget.

           This week, whenever you come to a blog that has less than 100 followers showing and you're not following them already, click that button and follow that blog.  I think most of you feel pretty good when you get a new follower so spread the love.  Become a follower and let that blogger know in the comments that you've done so.  You might even get a new follower by doing this.

            To start you off, go to the blog A Few Words and become a follower there and leave a note in the comments that you've done so.  Now I know this is a shameless plug since this is my blog, but I'd like to end up with 100 followers there at the end of the month.  And actually I'm making a point with my plug.

            If other bloggers don't know you're there you won't get followers very quickly.  In order for you to receive comments and followers you are going to have to get out there and leave some comments on other blogs and follow them as well.   It works and I know this from experience as do most of you.

          So, if you currently have less than 100 followers, note this in the comment section on today's post here.  And then get out and visit some blogs that you haven't been to before and encourage visitors to come to yours.  Increased visitors and followers will increase your odds of gaining readers and getting comments.  Try it and let us know if it works.

            Enjoy the upcoming week of blogging and make it the best one yet.   Some of the toughest letters are still to come and I'd say we are going to see some interesting posts full of creativity.



       
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