Monday, December 27, 2010

A little bit o' Christmas.

If only I were a more talented photographer.

Each of my three daughters has taken classes in photography. Violet has a beautiful (read: expensive) camera. All of the photos taken with other cameras are nicer than these. But you'll have to put up with mine!

Blackeyed Susan and Alvin Fernald were invited to a "fancy" party Christmas week. Don't you love when your kids get gussied up?

Alvin and his girlfriend Hannah.

Susan and her boyfriend Devonte.

I had to make new Christmas-baking aprons for my four oldest grands, because they, well, they just outgrew their toddler ones. (imagine that.) Here are three of them, with their brother, who still fits in a little one:

Laura Carrot, Junior Asparagus, Cambridge, Sweet Pea.

Susan made Devonte a hat! She picked up crocheting again (first time in years), and finished very quickly. I love her comment: "it's so nice to have something to do with your hands while you're doing something else."

I made flannel jammy pants for the grands, as I always do. But the two older girls wanted matching pjs for their dolls, so I did the nightgown thing. I had forgotten how wonderful flannel nightgowns were. This won't be the last pair I make!

Charming found a present for our newest granddaughter that he just couldn't resist. Put on your Justin Timberlake voice and sing it with me: "I'm bringin' chubby back..."

Tiger Lily sportin' a 'tude.

One thing I don't understand. My thighs look exactly like Tiger Lily's, but nobody thinks they're cute.

Christmas Day was quieter. We had a slowish day, then dinner at night. Several of the family were at other commitments, so all of the grownups fit at the "grownup" table. We had music later, to finish the evening.

We are looking forward to a more normal schedule for Charming, who now works in retail. He was almost three weeks without a day off, and his store was open 7 am to midnight the last week. Incredibly, he has two days off this week! I'm going to have to remember what that is like.

My prayers for a blessed New Year go out to all of you!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Don't eat yellow snowflakes.

Alvin has an "ugly Christmas sweater" party at school today. I pulled out the sweater my Daddy wore for Christmases most of the way through the 60's. (not that it's ugly or anything...)

I kept the sweater in order to make a toss pillow out of it. Alvin, however, has claimed it for himself, for as long as the spirit lingers.

By the way, the sweater is "100% acrylic", which explains the lack of moth hole damage. It will probably look exactly the same a hundred years from now!

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm out of the Cottage today...

I'm over visiting at Fresh Starts today. The link is to my own blog entry. Be sure to also go the main blog and read all of the entries for Advent. And tune in every Monday for a great new devotional!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

In and out of the car eight times. Not a good thing.

Okay, if I never drive again it will be too soon. Yesterday went like this:

7:10 am drove Blackeyed Susan to school. Alvin's friend was picking him up.

8:00 am drove Joe Hardy across town to college. His battery is bad, and can't fix it till Friday.

Was supposed to drive 4-year-old Blueberry to pre-school, but his daddy was home.

9:30 am. Got a call from Lily. Could I drive Sweet Pea to ballet?

10:00-11:00 am. Sat at ballet, and met the greatest Catholic lady! Talked about lots of stuff--we are definitely going to be friends.

After driving Sweet Pea home, I actually was home for two hours! Took a nap.

2: 00 pm. Drove to the pickup line at high school. After sitting for 40 minutes, Alvin said, "didn't I tell you I didn't need a ride home?" (no.) Susan went to a friend's after school.

3;40 pm. Drove Alvin to work at the mall.

4:00 pm. Picked up Joe Hardy at college.

4:30 pm. Dropped off Joe at his house. Called Susan: are you ready? no.

6:15. Forget-me-not called. Could I go sit with the kids for a half-hour? She was getting off work late, and her hubby had to leave.

7:25 pm. Forget-me-not finally home. Called Susan--she was finally ready.

7:35 pm. Picked up Susan.

7:40 pm. Home again. Took Don Quixote and his laundry home.

7:50 pm. Home. Supper.

8:45 pm. Off to the mall to pick Alvin up.

9:20 pm. Home. Called Joe Hardy. Told him he could borrow my car tomorrow. Going to call all of my children and tell them that the only people I am driving/babysitting are the ones that live under my roof.

Alternately, going into hiding in a convent.

Friday, December 03, 2010

gotta love the English language.

I asked Don Quixote (fount of all useless and sometimes useful knowledge): Honey, you know how they used to hang a bell outside of caskets because sometimes they would bury someone alive by mistake? I know that we get one of our idioms from that, but I can't remember what it is.

Don to Mom:

They had people who worked the graveyard shift so that dead ringers could be saved by the bell.

Mom to Don:


(but don't you think it is funny that we get *three* of our idioms from one situation?)

Bono calls the Church on the carpet.

Food for thought:

"Stop asking God to bless your work. Find out what God is already doing, because it is already blessed."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday wrap-up.

I wasn't going to go out today.

I used to love (and I mean LOVE) going out on Black Friday. I'd plan my strategy, set the alarm, get a cup of coffee, and out the door. Park away-out-on-Pluto. Stand with the madding crowd waiting for the doors to open. Get my stuff (I was always fairly successful in getting what I wanted), and off to the next store. I usually went two places, and then home by 9 am or so. It was fun. It was an adventure. And I was in my thirties.

About ten years ago, the appeal just wasn't there anymore. I went a couple of years ago to the fabric store with Lily. And it was there that I developed my Fabulous Black Friday Strategy. (yep. I went all those years without it.)

[I will share my fabulous strategy in a minute.]

So, after waking Charming at Two A.M. (he now works retail, and his store opened at 3:30 this morning), I went back to sleep and woke up at 6:30. I got up to a quiet house. Kids asleep. I fixed coffee, wrote my sister a letter, picked up a few dishes that were laying around. Charming had to take my car to work, because the heat is out in his. I figured to have Joe Hardy take Blackeyed Susan to work at 5 pm. I would Stay Home All Day.

But Joe said he couldn't take her. He could, however, take me to get the car at Charming's store.
We went at 10:30.

Wow. Every parking space filled. Cars waiting while "done" shoppers made their way to their cars to steal their spaces. I figured that while I was there, I might as well go into the store.

The line to the registers went from the front of the store to the back, all the way across the back, and three-quarters of the way up to the front again. That's when I remembered my Fabulous Strategy, but I didn't have a partner. (darned teenaged sleeping people.) Here is how it goes:

When you walk into a store on *those* days, one of you gets a cart and immediately gets in line. (my line was 45 minutes long, but remember, I went late morning. Charming said the early lines were 2 hours.) Certainly you can shop in two hours, right? Well, one of you stays with the cart. The other shops for a few things, brings them back to the cart, and then the other person shops. Tag-team it all the way around the store. Your waiting time is almost down to nothing then!

The way it works in the fabric store is this: when you go in the store, you get a take-a-number from the cutting table immediately. When I got mine, there were fifty people ahead of me. Fifty. Five-oh. By the time I finished shopping, I had just a ten-minute wait for the cutting table.

I watch the morning news during the school year, for weather and other things. Every morning for the last two weeks they have featured a story on Black Friday shopping. How to plan your trip. How to get the best deals. How to whatever. Not one time did they give a strategy for reducing your wait-time in line. So I just did it for you.

There you have it. I got exactly what I went in for: gifts for the four grand-boys. I got just what I wanted, and Charming's 20% discount. Like I said, I didn't bring a partner, so I had to wait the full time. But I got to share my strategy with the two carts ahead of and behind me in line. And they took opportunity to do more shopping while we queued around the store, using my strategy. So I was able to increase sales for Charming's store while I was at it!

The only bad thing was that I Had To Go Out Today. But that's okay. I got four gifts with not a lot of grief. Got to share my Strategy with several women. (as I was leaving the store, a pair of ladies asked me for my cart. I told them about the Strategy, and one of them volunteered to stand in line while the other shopped!)

Yep. My good deed done for the day. *and* I got a nap!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wow. Thanksgiving.

That is, Thanksgiving already.

It is so exciting this year, because all eight of my children, three spouses, one boyfriend, and eight grands will be here. That's twenty-three for dinner, folks, and it is a good thing.

Since all good and perfect gifts come from the Father, it is easy to have a heart full of thanksgiving. I find myself saying "thank You, Father," all the time. Yesterday we had an incredible sunrise here. Many facebook friends mentioned it, or posted a cellphone pic. I thought, how wonderful! God can get everybody's attention, all at once! "The heavens declare the glory of God." I could never, ever list all of the things I'm thankful for (so I won't try), but will name just one or two, if it's okay with you?

Thankful, of course, that we will all be together this day. Informal family photos planned. Gift exchange names...exchanged, for Christmas. Delegated the food this year, so all I'm making is turkey (carved by Charming, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy (made by Charming.) I did throw together two pumpkin pies yesterday, because Blackeyed Susan said I had to (even tho' two other desserts are coming). You know, even with all of the Food Network shows "steppin' it up" with the Thanksgiving menus, that. never. works. Don't mess with the basics.

One of those desserts is a Birthday Cake (made by Forget-me-not). My baby boy (Alvin Fernald) turns sixteen today. I'm not dealing well with it. Just like two weeks ago when we ordered graduation announcements and cap-and-gown for Susan.

Alvin was born the day after Thanksgiving, on his due date. The doctor didn't want me to go over, because he was so honkin' big. (ten pounds, five-and-a-half ounces. Charming asked me once, "why do you add that half-ounce? It doesn't matter!") Any of you who have had a baby, especially if you had him naturally, and pushed for an hour and ten minutes, knows it-certainly-does-make-a-difference. So there. It's my WarStory, and I'm stickin' to it.

Alvin (my "sweet Baby James") is a lovin' boy. There are so many things I could tell you about him. He is talented (and coming along amazingly on the guitar), smart (wish he'd show it more often), a good worker (ditto the former comment), loyal. And, he is finally bigger than his brothers, who are eleven, fourteen, fifteen, and seventeen years older than he.

Happy birthday, my sweet boy. I thank God especially for you today.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Old House Hunting; or Re-living a Life in Three Hours or Less.

Note: This post is made mostly for my own children, so I won't be offended if you skip it!

Charming and I were able to get away for a three-day to celebrate our thirty-fifth anniversary. Our daughter Violet, who works at Notre Dame, was able to secure a guest apartment for us to use. What a blessing! A place to be alone when we wanted, to eat "in" if we desired. Because we met at Notre Dame, we planned to stroll the campus on Saturday. When we woke, Charming had a different idea. He thought it would be fun to go find all of the houses we lived in when we lived in South Bend (which happened in three different spans of time).

Here is our first crummy little apartment, upstairs at 2428 West Monroe. It was partially furnished, and we paid $95 a month. The Polish landlady lived downstairs:
And yes, this house has been torn down. But you can see the entrance to the driveway!

A year or so later, Charming was promoted at his job, making a big $230 a week, which meant that I could quit my job and be a homemaker. We found this little house, 214 Riley Place, for $135 a month. It is the first of three little houses-in-a-row. Riley "Place" is really an alley with four houses on it:
This house is a really important house. Here the Enemy tried to steal our marriage, and Here the Lord prevailed, healing it to a better-than-before state (the only way He does things, don't you know?). One of the big Ebenezers in our life.

Just a bit of fun trivia. During the Blizzard of '78, Charming braved the chest-high snow to walk to this neighborhood market to buy milk and Pepsi.

Now we have a little break in the action. We moved to Lebanon, Indiana, then to Decatur, Indiana, Fort Wayne, and two houses in Noblesville, Indiana. Five houses, five moves in the next eighteen months. At the end of that time, Charming once again got a job in South Bend.

He went ahead of me, in order to secure a place to live for us. He found a house that was actually less than ten years old, that was for sale, but empty. The owner was in Texas, and told Charming he wanted six hundred a month. Charming told him he could pay $325. The owner declined, but called him back four hours later to accept. Thus, we lived in a really-cool-newish house for the first time in our lives. It is at 1215 Priscilla Drive:
Eventually the owner sold the house. A lady knocked on the door one Sunday night and told us we had to be out by Wednesday at midnight. (now we know that this is not legal, but back then we didn't know so much...) Charming had the next two days off, so we thought we would be Just Fine.

Those two days went by, and Nothing happened. So here we find ourselves at Wednesday morning, Charming heading off to work, no telephone (another story), and we (us, three kids and one-on-the-way) had till midnight to get-out-of-Dodge. No home, no husband to help pack, and not enough boxes, either.

This was going to be a walk of faith, of trust that, not only "could" God do it, but that He "would!"

I walked to the Seven-Eleven to make a phone call, and on the way home, I passed the home of somebody who drove a potato-chip truck. He was throwing a number of boxes out of his truck, so I walked up and asked him for them. That little thing helped me carry on with my "you can do it, God!" thing.

I worked all day, still trying to trust, and, sure enough, at seven p.m. Charming drove into the driveway with a U-haul, followed by two or three guys to help. The Lord had provided a little house at 1134 Rose Street:
We unloaded the last box, Charming drove the truck back, and we shut the front door at 11:45 pm.

I loved this little house. It had asphalt linoleum that you had to wet-mop every day or it got really dusty. It had a lot of built-in dressers and other cool things. AND a big-honkin' air conditioner that cooled the whole house.

Then we have another break again. We left South Bend for Louisville, and lived there for three years (and two more babies).

When we came again to South Bend, we found a little house at 626 East Fairview:
I don't know how we got eight of us into this little house, but I liken it to birth: when we moved out, we never could go back in!

In this house, Violet turned twelve, so she was finally old enough to leave our other kids with. Charming and I developed a habit of long walks in the morning. We had never owned a home, and decided on one of our walks to just start the process. We found a really lovely home in an older neighborhood, at 1037 North Brookfield:

We lived here for almost four years, and then moved to our present home in Fort Wayne.

We lived in twelve houses in sixteen years, and next month, we will have lived in our present home for nineteen years.

Maybe we've finally settled down?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I saw that commercial for chocolate. You know the one--or maybe I'm morphing all the chocolate commercials into one. Rippling brown satin in the background. Beautiful women with brownish lipstick. Or the one with the Everywoman getting a piece of chocolate "just because she deserves it."

Then they use the word: Decadence.

Or maybe the commercial is for a luxury car, hidden in the driveway at Christmastime with a big red bow. Or that fabulous four-course dinner, with the decades-old wine. Or the show on the Discovery Channel--World's Largest Mansions. Did you see the one with the World's Biggest Yachts?

We can use the word Decadence again. Or maybe Ultimate. Or Over the Top. Or Extreme. Whatever it is, we deserve it. Maybe we can't afford it, but We Deserve It.

When did the word "decadent" become something desirable? Looking it up in my dictionary, I find it means

perverse, deteriorating, decaying.

Yep. The root word for decadence is DECAY.

Now you remember, don't you? They used that word when describing the Fall of Rome. Or Henry the VIII. Or Marie Antoinette: "So there's no bread? Let them eat cake." Decadence indicated a deterioration of moral standards.

Oops. Does that phrase remind you of...America? We complain that our children have no work ethic, and in extreme cases, no conscience. "what's in it for me?" is the new creed. We deny ourselves nothing.


And of course that description is not just for our children. We are getting too far away from the time when the actual value of anything matters. I don't even use ten dollar bills. I use ones and fives and twenties. I complain that "once I break a twenty it just disappears," and I really don't do anything about that. That's just one example. Let's get into something that really matters.

Charming and I were talking about this a few days ago, and he said something I've been trying to process: Are we living in the full integrity of the Holy Spirit? First of all, what does that mean? And what does it say, that I don't have an answer for that? I have heard people say (and if I am truly honest, I'm sure I've said this, as well), "Oh, well, I know that is a sin (or whatever euphemism they might use, like "mistake" or "poor judgment") but God will understand. What is that?

We talk the talk really well. When are we going to walk the walk? We use excuses: we're too busy, too distracted, not enough money, not enough time. Yeah, I'm right there with you. And if you have a quick and easy answer, let me know.

Or maybe not. Because I don't think this one is going to be either quick or easy.

Yet another update.

This is really pathetic. I have been blogging so sporadically in the past months. And most of them are "updates." I used to "think" once in awhile, and really enjoyed putting those thoughts down here in Blogville. And, Jen, I did get your message about another Fresh Starts. Workin' on it, girl.

Yesterday, Charming and I celebrated our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. That is a really long time, folks. Until I think of my parents' sixty-four years. Then I realize that we have "not yet achieved", but it is a beautiful road on which to travel. At once it seems like we have been together a long time, and that it has just flown by. What? Six children grown, and the last two in high school? Impossible!

Charming has a rare three-day weekend, and we are traveling to the Beginning Place. Violet, who works at Notre Dame (where Charming and I met), will get us a "guest apartment" on campus. The weekend looks perfect for strolling the campus and remembering--70 degrees and sunny. We will also see family for pizza, and best-friends for a steak-dinner-for-four. Alone time *and* Family time--perfect.

I returned last Wednesday from a trip to Phoenix to see my sister. It is the first time I have been in her [very gracious and lovely] home, and the trip was more special as she has recently lost her husband. In fact, he was the one who suggested the trip, and "upgraded" my plane tix to first-class! The trip is not the same one we planned in July, but we spent precious time together, which is better than anything else, you know? Lots of time in her backyard swing, and lots of Scrabble!

[First-class is the BOMB. I will probably never be satisfied with Coach again.]

This week I am making not one, but two bridesmaid dresses. For a wedding THIS SATURDAY. The fabric did not arrive before my trip. So I'm scramblin'.

I probably have much more to say, but no time now! I am chained to the sewing machine!!

by the way, remember the pumpkin shortage I talked about a couple of posts ago? Walmart has pumpkin again, and it's not in the grocery section. It is on an endcap, right by the registers. PUMPKIN! it shouts. 'way cool.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2010

Every year I process two pumpkins, mostly for use in pumpkin bread. I do have three or four ziplocs of frozen pumpkin left in the freezer, which I planned to use up in the next couple of weeks, before putting this year's "harvest" up.

I was reading A Simple Quilter, and she was talking about the canned pumpkin shortage. I would not have noticed until November: although I could use my frozen pumpkin for Thanksgiving pies, my husband prefers canned for that purpose.


Go ahead and read her blog post, and learn how to process fresh pumpkin. She has pretty pictures that you can follow. I will add one more instruction: I put pumpkin in ziplocs in two-cup measures, because all of my Pumpkin Recipes call for two cups--pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies.

And don't forget to click on the "what canned pumpkin is going for on ebay" link. (in case the link expires, here are a few offerings:

4 cans $23.99
1 can $6.00
5 cans $24.99
3 small cans $17.99
1 can $5.00

no comment...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Well, usually at the end of August, I post a lot. My birthday is the 29th, and I wax eloquent with some bit of wisdom that you are just waiting to hear, I know.

(I am now 55, and I was born in 1955, so it is sort of my "golden" birthday.)

However, plans for my weekend changed, as my dear sister's husband passed away suddenly on the 28th. She lives 2500 miles away, so I have been on the telephone a lot. Plans are already in place for me to make a trip to see her in October, so we are leaving them in place, and she will have a military ceremony for Joe one day while I am there. I feel so privileged, that she is waiting.

And now I'm doing what I do best under stress: get sick. My tonsils are swollen, and have a few white spots on them. I'm going to try my vitamin C-every-two-hours, and napping whenever possible, to try to stave off a full-blown attack. I must have a little fever though--it has been 92 all week [thus my a/c is not "frosty cold"], and this morning I am shivering in a sweater. Not like me at all.

The other thing I do on September 1st is to break out the Christmas music. This has been going on since I was in high school, making Christmas gifts for all my friends. It is now a family joke, of course. Today's offering is Jackie Gleason's "Merry Christmas" album, ca. 1955 or so.

Well, I am really shivering, so I am going to go to bed. With my wool blankets and a good book. I covet your prayers for my sister and her children...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Just Wonderin'...

Have you ever wondered about cooking sprays, such as Pam? Zero calories per serving. Zero fat as well, as advertised on the label, right? Yet, you look at the ingredients. Besides the propellant to get it out of the can, it is: Vegetable Oil.

Look at your bottle of vegetable oil. 120 calories per tablespoon. Along with 14 g of fat. Love the little note: 120 calories per serving. Calories from fat: 120. (duh)

I found out the little trick. One serving of Pam is a 1/4 second spray. I don't know about you, but I can't even depress the sprayer in 1/4 second. I remember when this product came out, the commercials said, "a two-second spray is all you need." Well, that is eight servings of this product! The problem is, you can't just multiply the one-serving numbers by eight, because you would still get zero. (we learned that in homeschool!)

Now, I use cooking spray. Isn't it a sad commentary that I have to spray my skillet before cooking bacon for heaven's sake? But I won't say it adds no fat to my food. I wish I had a way to measure that 2-second spray in volume. Would it be a tablespoon? I don't think so, much closer to a teaspoon. But that would be 40 calories and 2.67 g of fat, going with the numbers from the oil bottle.

And speaking of bacon, here's a little thing I learned several years ago. The article was about how fat we are still getting, even though we are low-fatted and low-carbed out of our minds, almost. The author's premise was that we have lean-meated ourselves out of hunger-satisfaction. She made my mouth water with her tales of marbling in beef roasts and fat-borders on pork chops. Back in the day (30? 40? years ago?) the average hog rendered sixteen gallons of lard. Today's hog? One ONE. gallon of lard. Back-in-the-day our portion sizes were smaller, as well. We didn't have to eat between meals (tho' if you were like Almanzo Wilder in Farmer Boy, you 'bout died waiting for dinner...) because we were filled up. Our calories weren't empty.

But I digress. I think my point is that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Beware of advertiser's promises. Know the price of what you're buying, but then, if it's worth it, enjoy it, right? If we didn't have fat, we would have yucky skin and lousy hair. If I'm remembering correctly, some hormones need fat, too, to work. Fat is a great storage system. But my storage facility needs some major de-cluttering!

My children are back to school today. I wonder what my days will be like. Last year, Baby Nettie was born in September in great distress. My father was still alive and needed my time, as well. Both of those things are not on the agenda this year.

Do you think I might find a closet or two?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Just Busy. and a Book Review.

I haven't been around the Cottage much lately. My two latest posts were "grabs" from elsewhere. I've been wondering whether I'm even "thinking" about anything anymore.

I finished The Gift of a Year by Mira Kirshenbaum. Let me tell you a little about the concept. I won't be "quoting" from the book, but these ideas are taken from it:

Imagine your life as a wood-burning cookstove. We don't even know how to cook on these anymore. The things you need to cook more slowly go in the back. Got the picture in your mind?

The stuff in the front of the stove is the Urgent Stuff. Your water heater goes out. Your child breaks his arm. A funeral. This is the stuff that takes precedence, no matter what time of day or night--it's going to get done. Right away.

In the middle of your stove is the Important Stuff. Paying bills. Balancing the checkbook. Groceries. Taking kids to lessons. This is stuff that needs to be done on a timely basis, in order for your life to go smoothly. Add to that, your job outside the home, or homeschooling, which take hours and hours every day.

So what's on the back of the stove? All the stuff you've shoved back there "until a later time." All the stuff that you dreamed about when you were young. Piano lessons. Travel. Reading for enrichment. Those things that were so important early in your life, that you've been putting off and putting off, because of the Important and the Urgent stuff.

So eventually, there are more and more pieces of "you" back there. All the stuff that makes you, You. Because, as we know, there will always be more and more Important stuff crowding You out.

But that stuff on the back of the stove is Still Cookin'. Still there, asking for attention. You're still there, behind all those other things. And what happens if you ignore You for too long?

Best case scenario? Fatigue. Desperation (where did that girl go who was going to do [fill in the blank]?" Worst case scenario: It gets so bad that we completely lose sight of ourself and try to get it back by doing something,
anything, just to "feel" something. We maybe start drinking. Or get involved with someone else. We can throw away the most precious things in our life (marriage) just because we haven't taken care of ourselves for too long.

So. The idea of the book is, for a year, to pull one of those pans off the back of the stove and move it to the front. Well, at least to the middle. The book shows you that you *can* find time to do something for yourself. You may have to say "no" to one or two of the other pans in the middle. Or you may take time by going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. You get the picture.

Wouldn't it be so, so cool to be able to do something for yourself for an entire year? Dust off that longing to take art lessons that you've wanted since you were little. Prepare for a trip-of-a-lifetime to Paris. (spend most of your year researching the geography of France, and learning to speak French.) Read an "important" book every month. Learn to sew. Fall in love with your husband all over again by re-courting one another.

The really interesting thing (the author puts in loads and loads of testimonies) is that, for many of us, at the end of the year, not only have we "found" ourselves again, but sometimes we find new directions, new purpose.

Remember that when we are happy and whole, we have a lot more to give to our husband, children, church, and community. "love your neighbor as yourself," but remember to Love Yourself. If we take care of our bodies, we need to take care of our souls as well.

I have my own list of things. How to choose? Well, I decided that I could give myself the gift of a year more than one time. If I have already carved out so many minutes or hours a week for myself, I could just keep going after the year was up, right?

So, get the book from the library. See if it resonates with you. And maybe I'll see you on the journey!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

for Pinky Marie.

(thinking about listening to this on the radio in our bedroom with my sweet sister...)

[and, hey, you still need to teach me the Mashed Potato.]

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Beautiful Thoughts (borrowed)

I'm going to take a hint from Auntie Leila and link to Little Jenny Wren for a beautiful post about enjoying and really noticing the small things in our daily life that are productive, but also creative.


Little Jenny Wren: Truth, Beauty, and Goodness

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hectic Weekend

Things were turned upside down pretty quickly on Saturday morning when Tiger Lily (not quite four weeks old) fell out of her stroller and landed on her head. On concrete.

Forget-me-not and her hubby had just arrived at a day-long Christian music fest. Prayers were going throughout the stadium (there were lots of people who belong to our very-large church there, so word spread very quickly) throughout the day. The first CT scan showed slight bleeding in the brain, so she was transferred from the downtown hospital to another with a pediatric ICU. Good signs were that Tiger Lily never lost consciousness, and as soon as they allowed her, guzzled four ounces of milk. Three doctors saw her during the next hours, and concurred that the swelling was not between the brain and the skull, but between the skull and the scalp. (think of a giant bump-on-the-head). She did sustain a small skull fracture. I was amazed at how many of my friends have children that sustained a skull fracture in early childhood, but they all assured me that Tiger Lily would be okay.

Sunday morning, another CT scan was done, and pronounced "stable." They removed all of the monitors, and transferred her to a regular peds room. She will stay another day or two, just to watch her, before she comes home.

Prayers are of course, appreciated. And we praise God for watching over our baby:

"For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash your foot agains a stone." --Psalm 91:11-12

edited to add: Tiger Lily will be coming home at lunchtime, a full day early. Her swelling is greatly reduced. Praise the Lord!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lainey Lou

Finally got a couple of good photos of Tiger Lily, though she was sleeping here:
(channeling her Auntie Janet with her red hair and purple outfit.)
Her first middle name is Laine, which is Charming's middle name. Lainey Lou is one of many nicknames she has fallen heir to. Eventually, I'm sure, one will "stick."

I took a few more photos, but couldn't seem to get one with "eyes open," so you'll have to wait to see their gorgeousness. At four-weeks-old-next-Monday, she is learning new things everyday.

Which is something we should all aspire to, eh?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Time Enough at Last

[title credit to the Twilight Zone episode of the same name.]

I'm reading the book The Gift of a Year by Mira Kirshenbaum. She says something early in the book that seemed quite profound to me:

"Time isn't our enemy. It's our home."

God has seen fit to set our lives in Time. It looked pretty simple at the beginning:

"And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years." Genesis 1:14

In our twenty-first century world, Time can seem like an enemy. We scramble through our days, trying to get our tasks done before they bury us. We think it's bad when our children are little--too little sleep, too many "drudge-y" tasks. Every day looks the same: wake-up (change diapers), breakfast, lunch, naptime, supper, bedtime. Whew, made it through another day.

When my children were little, my dear mother and mother-in-love both told me something that, though I "believed" true (because they said so), but could not possibly apprehend. "This is the easiest time you'll have while raising children."

Those of you out of the infant/toddler/preschool age know what that means. Besides the unending running here and there of school-age children, there is the Worry Factor. We can expend a lot of time worrying, right? My mother-in-love Queen Darl says, "raising children is easier when they are all at home, tucked in bed at night."

Add to the problem Technology. When I was growing up in the '60's, they spoke of the 21st century as a time when technology would make life so easy, people would be working 20-hour weeks, and our biggest problem would be figuring out what to do with all our free time.

Still waiting for that one.

The more technology, the more time taken up. (and more $$$, too!) Cellphones are wonderful. We can reach and be reached if needed. Queen Darl thinks I'm nuts to have one: "I used to love to get in the car and do the weekly shopping. No one could reach me for two hours!" Not so today, right?

Well, I have good news for you. This is something I truly, truly believe, but if you think I live Here, not so much, yet:

God has given you enough time to do everything He wants you to do.

Including, getting enough sleep. Enough time for you and your husband. Even some time for you.

Think about that for awhile. We'll talk again later.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Oh, Happy Day...

I realize that I haven't posted for way, way too long. Our sweet granddaughter was born the day after Father's Day. Eight pounds, two ounces. They measured her at 22 inches, but at her one-week checkup, she measured 19 inches. The office nurse explained that they sometimes don't take an accurate measure, and "estimate." Three inches???

She has a headful of dark red hair. Here on the blog, I'm going to call her Tiger Lily.

As is my custom, I made her a baby quilt:
The feature fabric was Cicely Mary Barker's "Flower Fairies:"
Tiger Lily is doing very well, getting accustomed to the world. So, so cuddly and sweet. It is such a blessing that she lives just five minutes from her grandma.

Here is a quickie, big-squared, tied quilt that I made in time for the Fourth:
I call it my Happy Day quilt, because the colors make me happy to look at them. A lot of light blues and bright reds, with a few darker blues to make it interesting.

[here is the fabric that was the inspiration for the quilt. Doesn't it make *you* happy?]

Notice the binding. I made it from teeny gingham checks, cut on the bias. I have used this binding four or five times in the past. I think it's my favorite ;)
Per my resolution made a couple of years ago, I'm trying to use up my Enormous Stash. I was able to use up three large pieces of fabric for the backing.

I have lots of things to say, marinatin' around in my head. So expect to hear more from me in the days to come.

Here's hoping you have a Happy Day!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day

I have some great fathers in my life.

My own father passed away in March, and I greatly miss him. He was an incredible father, and if asked to described him in just a few words, it would be "a man who showed me the Father's love by the way he lived his life." He was the Model when I was ready to marry. He always said that he wanted to live to see all of his children married, and he lived to see the last one married almost 28 years. I thank the Lord for the many, many years we shared.

Then there is Charming. The finest husband, the finest father, my best friend. Perfect for me, and willing to fulfill my dream of lots of children! I love you, honey, so, so much.

Charming's daddy, Free, is a wonderful man as well. We have a great relationship, and he is a superb Grandpa for our kids. Love, love, love you, Free!

My two brothers. My dear son Johnny Tremain, and son-in-love Rocky Balboa. The many great Dads at church whom we "do life" with. I am surrounded with men who love the Lord and love their families.

We had a wonderful day at church. Charming sang a special, a song about a father's heart. Later he grilled steaks, and we watched "Alice in Wonderland." As a person who never liked the book or any film version I'd seen, I really-really-really liked this one. As the movie was ending, I got a call from Forget-me-not, saying she'd been having contractions off and on all day, and wanted to come over for a little visit. After about a half-hour, she asked me to drive her to the hospital, while Rocky showered. Now it is about 1:25 am, and she is being admitted. Looks like we're having a baby today!

[Forget-me-not has two boys already, so we're hopin' for a girl....]

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Birthday presents.

Sweet Pea's fourth birthday found her asking Grandma for a "ballet fairy outfit" for her Shirley Temple doll. "I want it pink on top and purple on bottom!"
I made a pink leotard and a purple tutu, then a belt of ivy leaves (because we are a Woodland Fairy), wings made of larger leaves, and purple ballet shoes.

Joe Hardy's birthday gift was way, way late:
(but beautiful.)

I call it Long Time Comin' for two three reasons: a) though I have been hand-quilting quilts for ten years, I've never made one for Joe. b) Joe will earn his bachelor's degree in December at age 31--his degree is a "long time comin'." c)And, unintentionally, his birthday was eight weeks ago and found the quilt unfinished--his gift is a "long time comin'."
(here is a close-up of the quilting--in GREEN thread. Joe shares my love of green...)

(the back of the quilt is cute covered wagons. I bought this fabric years and years ago on the dollar table at Wal-Mart.)

This is the last day of school for Alvin Fernald and Blackeyed Susan. Now I have a sophomore and a senior. And, they are MINE for the summer.

I miss homeschooling...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

She's...ALIVE. (Stay away from the villages!)

Well. Now it's day seven of being sick. I took the last dose of antibiotic today, and this is the first day I've felt "I'm getting better." (or, as I sometimes put it, "I'm going to live.")

I still have significant swelling in my glands, but they will shrink down, day by day. I would say that I'm now about 60% of normal strength. This was a bad bug, or I was really stressed out. Yeah, we know which one it was...

Memorial Day weekend coming up! Charming will be with us "on the day" for the first time in five years. Love the not-restaurant job. He got a surprise that had been lurking on his schedule. He just got off of a three-day weekend, during which he nursed me and not much else. He knew he got a holiday next week (meaning, one manager has to work, the others get Memorial Day off, and that manager gets a three-day the next weekend.) As he checked to see if he worked, he noticed that, not only does he have Monday off, but Sunday. and Tuesday.

What? Three days off two weeks in a row?

Blessed, folks. We are blessed. And we can have a cookout either Sunday or Monday, whatever is more convenient. Because the weather's gonna cooperate, too!

I bought a new badminton set, because our old net was crummy. You know how tangled they get. This one says "no tangle." I picked up four rackets at the thrift store, so with our old ones and the new ones, we'll have plenty for the grandkids to give it a try, as well.

I'll make my famous/fabulous potato salad. Charming will do bbq chicken, and hot dogs for the littles who don't seem to appreciate chicken yet. (that's okay, more for me.)

Well, I need to get off here. I'm doing the opening lesson next Wednesday for our Ladies Summer Bible study called Conversations. My topic: The Lost Art of Conversation. I'm supposed to find a YouTube to go with. I think I've found it:

I'm using the end part, about 3:50 into the video.

So, I'd better get to my studying! and the laundry...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Today's Fun.

I found this over at Little Jenny Wren:

It is a photo by Robert Doisneau. He wrote:

"The marvels of daily life are exciting; no movie director can arrange the
unexpected that you find in the street."

[yep. I've already put a book of his photographs on reserve at the library.]

Monday, May 24, 2010

Climbing out of a very deep hole.

This was day 5 of being sick. My estimate was that I'm back to about 40% normal strength.

Thursday I had a stomach-bug. You will remember that I had diarrhea meds in the house already. (I'm a good Girl Scout!) Didn't have any action at my northern end, but I was pretty miserable.

Friday, I noticed that the glands in my neck were swelling, tho' not my tonsils, which are usually first on the list when I get sick. Now, tonsils and glands collect dead germ-guys *and* the white cells that give their little lives to kill them. They are then routed out through the lymphatic system and out of the body. When they are overworked, you get tonsillitis or swollen glands.

Saturday morning I was feeling better, and thought I was really "on the mend." I took a nap like a good little sick-girl, and woke up feeling really, really awful. My tonsils had blown up like balloons, and were covered stem-to-stern with yellow, waxy (well, let's be gross) pus pockets. I had no energy to even get up to the bathroom.

Great. Saturday late afternoon. My preferred treatment would be chiropractic (explained later), but my chiro wasn't open either Saturday or Sunday. Was not going to wait until Monday, folks.

Now, let me explain about me and tonsillitis.

From the time I was a little girl, I spent two weeks a year (one fall and one spring) with tonsillitis/swollen glands. The actually-fairly-new drug penicillin worked wonders, and was used often. Later, amoxicillin and ampicillin and other antibiotics were also used.

Once I grew up and entered my childbearing years, these bouts would come three times a year (young mom/tired thing, I think) and often turn to bronchitis or pneumonia. Still loaded up on antibiotics. Only sometimes the meds wouldn't work, and I'd have to try another kind. Twice, I did three rounds of different meds, and still was sick. Not. Fun.

When I worked for the chiropractor, he adjusted my neck (which had been in *horrible* shape (his word). If I felt sick, he'd just adjust it at work, and I'd be back at my desk. He did call me "a stubborn case," though, because sometimes he'd adjust me four times a day, and each time it was like he hadn't done it before.

I worked for him for two years. Having my neck adjusted worked so well, that for the next six years, if I felt sick, I just went to bed as well as I could with kids, and get better with no meds. The effect eventually wore off, and I began to get sick again.

At times, our insurance didn't cover chiro well, but did the urgent care center at 100%, so, sorry, it won out. A new drug, Zithromax, was a wonder for me. You know how they say it takes 36-48 hours for the effect of an antibiotic to be felt? 12 hours after Zithromax, I was improving. Verra, verra cool.

I started getting sick only about once a year, I figure because I have had so many infections, I've prolly got antibodies for most of them, right? I've had these symptoms *maybe* 75 times or more. Is that as scary to you as it sounds to me? I'm thinkin' I might be antibiotic-resistant.

Fast forward to Saturday night.

I hate going to the urgent care center, because I get a doctor I've never seen before, and they always think that the world is ending when they stick that tongue depressor in my mouth. "OH MY GOSH!!" (it really does look horrible...) This doctor wanted to do a test for mono. (really, Doctor, it's not going to be mono, it's going to be tonsillitis.) *just to be sure.* I waited, and he came back in the room, really disappointed. "It's not mono. It's acute tonsillitis. Hasn't anyone ever suggested to you to get your tonsils removed?" Actually, the only doctors that have ever suggested that have been the urgent care doctors. My own doctors have told me that if all that cuh-rap doesn't have tonsils to go to, it will just be shoved into the neck glands, which, honey, are like little rocks, they're so hard and full. My tonsils are part of my not-very-well-functioning lymph system, and I'll keep them, thank you.

I told the doctor that I have had good luck with Zithromax, and so he wrote a prescription, as well as giving me a shot of something. Now, shots are something I've tried before, as well. Supposed to work faster than pills. Haven't had too much success with them, tho'. But, okay, let's go. Honey, that was the biggest shot I have ever seen (volume wise.) Nurse said that it was a whole gram. So I went home and waited to be amazed.

At twenty-four hours (early Sunday evening)...nothing. Felt just as bad, looked just as bad. So much for Miracle Zithromax and Fast-Acting Shot. This morning (Monday) I noticed a Change. I could actually do something for about ten minutes before crashing on the couch. Before school I folded two baskets of laundry. I was exhausted. Took the kids to school. Had to rest when I got back. So I paced myself all day, made sure I did no more than ten minutes' effort, with at least 20 minutes' rest before doing something else. It wasn't much better this evening. I went to the atm to deposit a check, then to the gas station for $15 worth. Gone between ten and fifteen minutes. Didn't even get out of the car at the bank. Could hardly walk up to the house and throw myself on the couch when I was done.

So after five days of being sick, I'm still at about 40% of my normal strength. This one's a bad'n. But tomorrow is another day, and Rest is a good thing. (and I can make an appt. at the chiro!)

Nettie (Myra) came home tonight! You can read about her "adventure" here.

I. am. off. to. bed.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rules for Life no. 16:

...Two things you should have in your house before you ever need them:

a toilet plunger


Diarrhea meds.

I did have the second on hand. Goin' to bed (again).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Update, and Other Stuff.

Things are looking up for Baby Nettie (Myra). She responded quickly after they finally got an IV in (naturally)--Lily noticed that her eyes were no longer sunken, and her little jowls puffed back up (only in a baby are jowls considered "cute!"). They will check electrolytes this morning, and hopefully, she will be coming home sometime today. Thank you all so much for your prayers.

Still working on Joe Hardy's birthday quilt (now almost 30 days past birthday). The good news is that I *think* I'll be finished by Memorial Day! I am anxious to take the "finished" photo on that one, to share with you. He will be able to use it all summer, because he sleeps in the basement next to the a/c. Since we live in an old house with leaky ductwork...let's just say it's the Coolest room in the house!

But before I can continue on Joe's quilt, I need to make birthday gifts for Sweet Pea, who is turning four this week. She wants a ballet outfit for her doll. I got the incredible reuse/recycle idea to use an old pink t-shirt for the fabric for the leotard. The tutu will be easy-schmeasy: remember the fifteen yards of purple tulle from Blackeyed Susan's prom dress? Yeah. Lots of leftovers. And Sweet Pea requested a "pink and purple" outfit.


I finished my "monster trilogy" that I began last summer. (I was going to link to the blog entry, but it is over on Homeschoolblogger, and they are re-doing their entire site, and I can't access the archives.) In my ongoing effort to read some of the classics I missed the first time around (you know, high school...) I read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Frankenstein. In my blog entry of last year, I noted that I was surprised that in both of the books, the "hero" did what he did in order to honor the Lord. Dr. Jekyll was looking for a formula that separated the good and bad parts of our personalities so that people would be able to live in their "good" part all of the time. Unfortunately, it so happened that the "bad" part prevailed. Dr. Frankenstein was trying to find a way to generate life from the dead in order to restore children to life who had died from disease. He sorta forgot, however, Who is the Author of life.

So, on to Dracula. The book is long (417 pages) and it took me several weeks to read. It is set up as a series of journal entries by several of the characters. The story was predictable, tho', as in the case of the other two books, much, much better than any of the movie versions. For most of the book, the only references to God were the use of the crucifix and the communion wafer as deterrents to the "undead" characters. Finally, about page 365, Van Helsing makes a speech about why they are doing what they are doing, referencing God's saving work through the death of His Son.

So, I can cross another "classic" off of my list.

Next I picked one off of another list: Newbery Award winners. This time it is Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. It reads much faster (of course, it *is* a children's book!) and is a good picture of life in the last part of the eighteenth century. Charming had a long period of fascination with "ship" books as a youngster, but I never indulged. My next classic will probably be Two Years Before the Mast, since I'll be in the "life at sea" mode...

I just picked up from the library This Momentary Marriage by John Piper. I hope to read a chapter a day along with my devotions.

Finally...horrors! Susan called me from upstairs this morning--she saw a mouse! I have several questions:

a) Mice come in houses in the fall, not the spring. There is plenty to eat outside.

b) Mice that have dared to enter our home come in through a hole near the back door, and either go to the kitchen or down the basement stairs. How did one little guy get all the way upstairs?

c) Where was my cat? The fact is (and why we never fixed the hole by the back door...) when we don't have a cat, we get mice. When we have a cat, we don't have mice. Joe Hardy grabbed Sherman and took him upstairs, but he didn't seem interested. I think we give him too many kitty-treats....

d) I need to buy a trap, b/c I obviously cannot trust my attack-cat any longer.

We have not had to deal with this for eleven years. I feel betrayed.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Please pray for baby Myra...

Update: They were finally able to get an IV in, so the dehydration will very soon be taken care of. Myra is taking a paci for the first time since Saturday, and wants to nurse (appetite?). Lily's last facebook post said they were delaying her nursing. (WHY?) So thanks for your prayers, things are looking up!

My grandbaby Myra (Nettie) has been in the hospital since Saturday night. She started choking at home. The ambulance came, but she had stopped by that time. They left, and just a few minutes later, she began again. After three days, they still do not know why she is gagging and choking off and on, but it keeps her from being able to eat. She still has a feeding tube in her tummy from her first month of life, so she can get nourishment. However, a big problem is that they have not been able to get an IV established.

She also developed a double ear infection, as well as "explosive" diarrhea. (they've given up diapers in lieu of a baby blanket wrapped around her to "catch" everything.) All day yesterday, Lily asked the nurses whether she should be concerned about dehydration--baby's mouth seemed so dry, and skin a funny texture. They did blood tests, and the results this morning show...dehydration. Nettie was transferred to pediatric ICU, and they again failed to get an IV going. They injected some fluid under the skin, hoping to get an IV in, after it is absorbed.

Nettie has lost a pound since she has been in the hospital. Since she was only "almost" eleven pounds when she went in, that is almost 10% of her weight. (she is almost eight months old.)

Please pray for her recovery, and also for wisdom for the doctors, so that they can find out what is wrong with the baby. I thank you in advance!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 which we feature my gorgeous daughter...

Prom night!

Blackeyed Susan and one-of-her bff's Mads did not have dates for the prom, so they decided to go with two other girlfriends.

[Susan, Mads, and Sam]

[Susan and Mads]

Dinner was at our house: bbq chicken breasts, baked potato, nice salad, and strawberry shortcake. Afterwards, they crowded into our teeny-tiny powder room to freshen up:

[of course, it's a known fact that girls visit the powder room in herds.]
[little photo, but I wanted to show the four girls: Susan, Megan, Sam, and Mads]
Changing subjects now.
One of Susan's friends asked her to participate in her photography project for school. Here are two that I grabbed off of facebook:

this one looks super-creepy to me, especially as I am reading
and the description of the "undead" is eerily similar to this photo.

this one is not so creepy, more "artistic"-looking to me.
The art show at the high school is tonight. Susan may go, but I have a date with Alvin Fernald for his baseball game. The spring has been so cold/rainy/hail-y/windy that he has had more rained-out games than he has played. So I will be sitting in my hoodie/blanket, with umbrella at my side.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

National Apron Day

National Apron Day is Monday!

National Apron Day is the day after Mother's Day, and a day to wear your apron proudly! I would even encourage you to wear it "out" on your daily tasks, as my friend Kaybeautiful and I did last year.

And what could be more fun than a giveaway on this national holiday? Calamity Kim has a darling apron that she is giving away--go on over here to learn more about it.

Kim has some gorgeous, gorgeous things for sale in her etsy shop as well. If you haven't visited before, get yourself a cuppa and plan to stay for awhile. I'm completely envious...

Be sure to spread the word, and don't forget to wear your apron!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Awww, yeah.

Veni, vidi, vici.

I came. I saw. I conquered. (for those of you who were not fortunate enough to take Latin...)

The Deep Purple Prom Nightmare is over!

(now, promise not to look at Blackeyed Susan's face. I told her I would take the photo from the neck down. See how well I succeeded...)

[the dress is much more *Purple* in real life.
Here it looks royal blue-ish.]
back view.
[but I'll bet you guessed that already.]

Taffeta. Gathering miles of tulle. BONING.


Actually, I'm not quite finished. I have to sew ribbons inside that will slip over a hanger to hang the dress up. But that's all. And, somewhere in all this process, I got "encouraged" to hem one friend's dress, and re-place a hook and eye on another. But today should see all that done. Then tonight I'll watch four of my boys play their first church-softball game of the season.

Then tomorrow maybe I'll do dishes. Yesterday we had to use the "good china." This morning we ate cereal out of Cool-whip containers. [just to show you I'm not Wonder-Woman...]

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This 'n' That

Busy, busy, busy.

I remember this, from back-in-the-day when my older children were in public school. The end-of-the-year crush. Alvin Fernald is playing j.v. baseball, and doing well. Yesterday he pitched (not his normal position) and got two strike-outs. Last week, Blackeyed Susan was inducted into the National Honor Society. You may know that Susan is my seventh-of-eight children. We sat at the banquet with a couple whose tenth-of-eleven was being honored. Large families--a cool *club.*

I'm working on Susan's prom dress. I used to work with a woman who made wedding dresses on the side. She also outfitted the entire bridal party. Not. Me. Sewing with slippery fabrics makes me crazy, anyway, besides the fact that you are cutting into expensive fabric. This dress (Simplicity 3878) [I'm making the pink one on the live model, in deep purple taffeta] has lots of gathering, fifteen yards of tulle, and BONING.

Ahh, boning. All I remember about boning is that when I made Violet's prom dress in 1993, I swore I would never, ever do Boning again. And, here I am. Well, in my defense, the boning I bought looks much more user-friendly. You can even sew through it. Since I'm not that far into the construction of the dress, you will have to Tune In Tomorrow to find out if I have torn out all my hair...

In-between times, I'm (still) quilting a birthday quilt for Joe Hardy (whose birthday was last week...) I'm *almost* halfway done. Don't have any idea why it is taking so long.

Well, I am going to get back to the sewing machine. The Dress is becoming a monster that, until I slay it, will be taking over everything in the house. I will post tomorrow with an Update...

Monday, April 19, 2010

I touched history this weekend.

Charming and I took off (alone!) Friday evening for a short visit upstate. We spent Friday night with Charming's best buddy Mike and his wife, my dear-dear-dear friend Kaybeautiful.

Saturday morning, over coffee (and tea for Kaybeautiful), we looked over a bag of "stuff" that she had of her grandmother's. This bag of "stuff," she has had for all of her 31-year marriage, and it has come through moves from place to place, basement to attic, here to there, and Kay had never examined it. What surprising treasures it held!

We found a number of pamphlets called The Story of The Old Rugged Cross, referring to the song written in 1913 by Rev. George Bennard. A pastor of a little church in Pokagon, Michigan, invited him to preach a revival in January 1913. Rev. Bennard had written the first verse to his song earlier, but finished it at this time, and the church choir performed the song publicly for the first time there. Kay's grandmother was scheduled to sing that Sunday, but was home with a sick wee one. However, Grandma's two sisters and one of the sisters' husbands were among the five-member choir.

Kaybeautiful knew the story--she also grew up in this church. But to see the little pamphlet with photos of her aunts was so, so exciting. There were also a number of leaflets, year-by-year, of Old Rugged Cross Sunday, an annual commemoration. We also found a carbon-copy of a letter written by the pastor of the little church, telling how he and his wife paid for the first printing of the music.

This little incident reminded me of the concept of the human web, or six degrees of separation, the idea that any two people on earth can be connected by no more than five other people. I am three degrees from the writer of The Old Rugged Cross: me to Kaybeautiful, to her grandmother, to Rev. Bennard, who taught her to sing his song. And, if you know me (and I know you do!) you become four degrees.

Do you wonder how the song became popular? Evangelist Billy Sunday used it extensively in his crusades in the 1920's. Later, Billy Graham found the Lord under Sunday's ministry. Billy Sunday's home is a museum 35 miles from my home, at Winona Lake in Warsaw, Indiana. Winona Lake is home to Grace College, formerly Winona Lake College, where my grandfather graduated--another "human web."

A few years ago, my neighbor who lived in the teeny-tiny upstairs apartment next door, came to ask if she could serve dinner to an English missionary couple who were coming to visit, in our dining room. I told her I would be glad to make dinner. Even though it was out-of-season, I made a full Thanksgiving menu, complete with pumpkin pie. As we enjoyed our meal, the wife mentioned that her favorite books when she was a child were the Gene Stratton-Porter books. I told her that Mrs. Porter had owned a house just three doors down from us. So, after dinner, we knocked on our neighbor's door, and our missionary friends got the Grand Tour, complete with Random Historical Facts.

Think about it. You are a missionary to Africa, born in England, come to America for the very first time, and land by serendipity at a house for dinner that is three doors down from one your favorite author used to own? Bizarre.

As Charming says, "God is so bizarre." But, he also says, would you want to serve a God who wasn't? He fills our lives with ever-new, ever-connected things that show us He is in control. Nothing is by accident with Him. And He makes living fun.

Saturday we went to Charming's Mom's house, and visited with two of his sisters, a nephew, Kaybeautiful, and Violet. We looked at more of Kay's stuff, including letters to her grandmother dated 1907, and a packet of my father's WWII letters to my mother, that I had brought along to show Violet. Stepped back into mid-century, and further back to early-century, through real-life people with whom we are connected. No better way to spend a weekend!

To read a little more about The Old Rugged Cross, go here.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


If you don't know Kellie over at Enjoying the Small Things, you are missin' something good. For one thing, she is an amazing photographer, and heavily peppers her posts with lovely photos. A few weeks ago, the Lord surprised her with a baby daughter, Nella, who has Down's Syndrome. Her journey of discovery with her daughter is really worth reading.

In the post I linked to above, Kellie talks about Perfection. When her pediatrician gave her the news about Nella's being special, she said to her, "She's beautiful...and perfect."

Here is what Kellie says:

" ....and I wonder what it is about different that makes us think that it's not perfect? Why is it that we set the bar higher and higher and expect ourselves, our children to be flawless? What is it we strive for and once we achieve it--this perfection--what have we achieved? It's never enough. Even the razor I used in the shower this morning tries to outdo itself with now six
blades layered to give a more perfect shave because apparently the five-bladed prior model didn't quite master the hairless perfection we're attempting to achieve."

I think about my son, Don Quixote, who has Asperger's Syndrome. He has been wired differently in his brain from us normal NT (neurologically typical) people.
(I do like the term "neurologically typical" instead of "normal.")

For awhile, I thought that maybe Don's Asperger's came from being immunized, a popular theory. But, one day I read an article in a homeschooling magazine that featured special needs children. For each "special need," there was an article, and a sidebar from the editor listing symptoms, so that you could get your child screened if need be. Looking at the list of symptoms of Asperger's, I saw that Don fit them perfectly, all the way down the list. What is more important to me, however, is that I could divide the list in two, and put my name at the top of one, and Charming's at the top of the other. In God's amazing creativity, he made a DNA combo, a "perfect storm" if you will, that became Don.

Don, who, when he reads something about a "cure" for Asperger's, says, "I don't need a cure, I'm not broken!" and, upon further discussion, says, I wouldn't want a "cure," anyway. Take away the Asperger's, and I wouldn't know who I was."

Wow. Wowowowowowowow.

I think about my brother Scotty, who was born with an incurable blood disease. Throughout his 8 1/2 years, he was poked and prodded, tested and guinea-pigged more that most of us will ever be. My mother told him one time, "I am so sorry that you have to go through this." He replied, "that's okay, Mom, this is my life. This is all I know."

And now our little granddaughter Nettie. She has challenges that we don't even know about yet. God has done a mighty work in that little one, but, for right now, she's not completely healed.

But, that doesn't mean that she's not perfect.

Of course, we live in a fallen world, and "things" happen. Nettie was oxygen-deprived near birth. Myriad other things can happen that can make us not-normal. But if I'm reading my Bible correctly, God doesn't make anything that is not perfect. Everything He made, "He saw that it was good." We have all seen a tree that has grown around something foreign and is twisted in a funny way. Or a kitten with an extra leg. Or [on and on and on...] Whether the circumstances happen before birth or after, just because we aren't flawless doesn't mean we're not perfect.

We need to look at ourselves and those around us like God looks at us. Seeing through God-eyes would be so enlightening, wouldn't it? How much less would we fuss about things that aren't of any importance at all, in the grand scheme of things?

Thank you, Don, and thank you, Nettie, for teaching us about God.

Finally, another quote from Kellie:

"The concept of "perfect" is not flawless or four-point-oh. It's happiness. Happiness with all of its messiness and not-quite-there-ness. It's knowing that time is short, and the moments we choose to fill our cup with should be purposeful and colorful. And that's perfection."

Edited to add: After discussing these thoughts with Charming, he said something: God's plan is perfect. It is not perfection.

Food for thought.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thinking today...

...over at Homeschool in the Wildwood.

Also, you *must* check out Lily's latest entry over at her blog. Besides giving an update on Baby Nettie, she talks about the journey that she is on, with a disabled child. Such wonderful, wonderful things the Lord is doing in her life.

Now, off to do my work!

Monday, March 22, 2010

My New Friend.

I haven't cried yet.

Actually, I've only teared up once, during the funeral Mass.

I don't need to have a meltdown; I spent hours and hours with Daddy during the last week of his life. All the things I wanted to say and wanted to hear, I did. But I can feel a few tears right behind my eyes. I just need to get them out somehow. (I have been a little short with my family; that's one reason I know.)

My dear sister, Pinky Marie, whom you may know from her comments here, knew just what to do. She sent me a New Friend:

(here she is, by some beautiful flowers from my neighbors.)

She is a Vermont Teddy Bear. Maybe you know about them. I personally think they are a giant step above build-a-bears. My new friend is purple because my sister loves purple. Her eyes are green because that is my favorite color! I'm going to call her Nettie, my Victorian-bosom-friend name, which is a nickname for my middle name, Annette.

Look at those eyes. Nettie is a Thinker, and she is not letting all of her Deep Thoughts sit on her face. She will keep all my secrets.

She is wearing a wonderful t-shirt that says, "Sew Happy to be Quilting." Nettie already knows what will make me smile!

I get to spend the day alone today. I'm looking forward to it. The death certificates have not arrived, so I can't do any of Daddy's final business. I will just be working on everyday duties and some de-cluttering. I'll put on some music, and See What Happens.

And Nettie will be ready with her hugs when the time comes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Daddy's Victory Lap

My Daddy passed away quietly in his sleep early on Sunday morning. He had been off his medications for six days. This meant clarity of mind, *and* renewed taste buds! I spent hours and hours with him, holding his hand. Friday morning he told me he had shared another beer with my brother. "I finished that one!"

Sunday morning about 1 am, the nurse checked on him. He asked her to change the movie in his dvd player, and he wanted a couple of pieces of candy. When she went back an hour later (which was then 3 am because of the time change), he was gone. After she called, my two brothers and our spouses gathered for a couple of hours at his bedside. Every once in awhile one of us would get up to kiss his forehead. I knew he was gone, but, after all, his body is how his "real self" interfaced with us. I will miss his kisses and hand-holding very much.

Daddy loved bow-ties. Mother did not care for them. Dad used to say, "Mama, if I go first, bury me in a bow-tie." Mother would say, "no, I won't!" Shortly before she died, she pulled me aside and said, "if Daddy dies, you can put him in a bow-tie."

What is really cool is that I have seven of his bow-ties! Five of them are 40's-50's style, and two of them are the 70's variety. So I have one for him, and six for his grandson-pallbearers.

The girls are not going to be left out. Daddy joked with me all my life about my gum-chewing: "Just like Mama, cracking her gum." Forget-me-not is her generation's champion gum-chewer. She shared many a joke with her grandpa. And not far behind is three-year old Sweet Pea--I never see her anymore without a piece of gum in her mouth. Now, it may look funny, with all the girls chewing gum at the graveside, but Daddy will get the joke!

The funeral is Thursday, but since Wednesday is St. Paddy's Day, we're going to have an old-fashioned Irish wake. The men are going to pass around Daddy's pipe and have a proper send-off to a special man.

I may have told you before, that, waiting for him in heaven were his wife of 64 years, and nine of his children. What a reunion that must have been! My father lived an exceptional life, burying seven of his children (two children were miscarried). Through all that my parents went through, Daddy never turned to drink. Never became a workaholic. Turned with his wife to the Lord. When the doctors told them not to have any more children, he said, "We will trust the Lord." This is the example he gave for us, all the years of his life.

For Daddy's 50th high school reunion, he wrote about himself, "I am a simple man, who has lived a simple life, raising a family with a wonderful woman." For his obituary, I changed that a little. I wrote, "he was an extraordinary man who lived an extraordinary life."

He fought the good fight; he ran the good race. This past week was his "victory lap."

I love you, Daddy. It was so easy to realize how much my heavenly Father loves me, because of the way you loved me. We thank the Lord for your life, and that He chose to share you with us.

If you'd like to read Daddy's obituary, go here.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Well, they took my Daddy off of all his meds on Monday. The nurses and doctors expected a quick passing.


Tuesday afternoon Daddy was transferred back to his nursing home. He was so very excited because he can open his windows there and get the fresh air. It has been close to 60 degrees all week, and wonderful for him.

Tuesday night he wanted a beer.

My brother brought one. Now, I hear from beer connoiseurs that drinking beer with a straw from a plastic cup isn't the preferred way, but Dad did it justice, getting about half the bottle down. His comment after two sips: Hmmm. doesn't taste like I remember. After two more sips: Yeah. That hits the spot!

(Thursday night he had another beer, only this time he finished it!)

I've been bringing Pepsi everyday. This morning he finished the 24 oz. gas-station cup almost in one sitting, meaning he didn't put the cup down between sips. "Oh, that's good!" I need to bring a 12-pack...

I'm sure being off meds for five days has restored his taste buds. They have sure restored clarity to his mind. We are having so much fun!

Now, I'm not sure how long this "honeymoon" will last. He takes took insulin for diabetes, bp meds for high blood pressure, as well as about a dozen other meds. Will one of these conditions be the one to finally end his life? He also had a heart attack last week; will his heart finally "give out," old-school style?

My sister-in-law, a nurse, heard of a person who went off their meds and lived for seven more years. Sure gives credence to the theory of being over-medicated as we age. Whether we have my Daddy for one more day or seven more days or seven more years, we have been given a gift. And I thank the Lord for it.

Right now I'm doing a lot of traveling for visiting. This puts a crimp in my computer time, but I will post as I am able. Charming is back from training and in his store here in town. And he is loving it! Working for money. Such a good thing.

Thank you for all of your prayers. Your thoughts for me are so much appreciated.