Friday, March 23, 2007
In Search of Sunshine

We're finally heading out on our long awaited cruise. After a quiet evening in Miami, we'll climb aboard the ship, Don, me and 3,098 other people ready for fun in the sun.

We'll spend the first two days on The Caribbean Princess, exploring all 19 floors. Two formal nights, when Don will spiff up and I'll wear one of the pretty new sparkly things I bought for the trip. We'll celebrate our anniversary somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, with dinner, dancing and a movie under the stars. Day three we'll head ashore, spending the day on St. Maarten, Day four we check out St. Thomas. Day six will be at Princess Cays, Bahamas for snorkeling, sunbathing and a barbeque on the beach. Then we'll head home. We have high hopes of breakfast on our balcony every morning, lazy days reading books, quiet dinners for just the two of us (we chose the non-social dinner choice), enjoying their live entertainment, and Don would like a tour of the ship's engine room if they offer it. I'm taking one fiction book, no laptop, no calendar.

So I'll be back in a week or so, to tell you all about it, complete with pictures. Feel free, while I'm away to pray for me to not have monster motion sickness. I've got the patch, but prayer is more dependable. xooxxo
PS After speaking with Sarah this morning, she said she'll do an update on Addison when she gets a break at the hospital. All is relatively well, but I'll let her fill you in.


  posted at 4:14 PM

Thursday, March 22, 2007
Please Pray for Addison
Update - 3/22 - 11 pm Eastern time: I just talked to Sarah's little sister, who is at the hospital with her. Addison's temp is down somewhat, with medication. Her oxygen is better, on oxygen. She's nursing again, she's been awake more than asleep today so she's exhausted. They're checking her vitals so often, that every time Sarah gets her rocked to sleep they come in and wake her up again, so it's going to be a long night, with likely little sleep for Addison or her mommy. Chris is home with the boys. So please pray for Addison and Sarah to be able to get some sleep, for things to be well on the home-front, and for Addison's temp, fluids, and oxygen levels to improve over the next 24 hours. Sarah's Dad and I are grateful for family who is near (when we're so far away), for friends who are their extended family. And for each of you, for the covering of prayer literally across this nation, and even other countries. I've personally been comforted, just to stop and think throughout this day, how many times God heard Miss Addison's name whispered today. If you wake up tonight, can't get back to sleep, feel free to pray just a bit more. xoxo

UPDATE: Honest to pete, I held it together all day long, came home and saw 46 comments from all of you out there, and melted. I knew, before I opened any of them, that every one would say you were praying for her. If we don't meet this side of heaven, I want you to each know how much you mean, and we're so thankful for you. Thanks for being there. Here's Sarah's update. I've been on my cell phone the whole livelong day. The last time I talked to her, Addison was doing worse, so to click on this update and see that she sounds better - well I'm a puddle of mess. I'm assuming Sarah has Chris' laptop with her and will keep you updated. I'll do the same if I hear something, and don't see it posted. You guys are awesome! xoxoxoxoxo

Sarah phoned me from the back of an ambulance, asking me to post this on my blog because she's away from home. Addison was diagnosed with RSV a few days ago, has been on breathing treatments, and seemed to be doing better.

Apparently last night she started having more difficulties. When Sarah took Addison to the doctor this morning, he sent her straight to the hospital. She was receiving a breathing treatment on the way. Sarah suspects pneumonia, but I've yet to hear anything more since Sarah saw the doctor.

She just asked me to let you all know - Addison needs prayer again. If you have a minute and can put this on your blog, this Grammy would feel better knowing Heaven is being flooded with requests on her behalf. I'm sure Sarah and Chris would too.

Soon as I get an update, I'll come back and let you all know. Love and hugs to all of you for spreading the word. xoxoxo

  posted at 1:04 PM

Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Anniversary Dance with Dyson
A personality test I took a few years ago said I'm a "Task Structure" person. The results were right. I'm not really a people person. Beyond my family, I prefer someone with four legs. My family would argue that I'm even an animal person since I've been known to do a few major purgings of pets. My worst record, we started the day with 9 and ended with 2. In spite of those few knee-jerk reactions, I really am an animal lover.

Soon after Don and I married, I climbed up into the rafters of a nasty musty old barn to bring home Chubby, an already old, tiger-striped cat so fat her stomach laid spread all around her while she ate yet more. My husband's comment, coming home late that night, with the house all dark, seeing a very large something splayed out on the kitchen floor, was "Good God, Bev, What Is That?" He thought I'd adopted a badger. Don would prefer I spend time at the mall rather than the humane society where the "damage" is shorter-lived, say one stretched budget, versus years of caring for yet another pitiful animal.

Many of our pets have been rejects. Many but not all. We've had our share of pure-breds too. Even there, I manage to bring home those with the highest shedding capability. We've invested a good chunk of cash in those roller things that de-hair you. Anyone who knows us, knows - don't wear black at our place. For the past twenty plus years, all the four-leggeds we've brought home seem to be every man's dream - a four-legged Farrah Fawcett with long, silky blonde hair and when you stroke them just right, they tilt their head up at you, batt their eyes, and let out a nice deep purr.

You know that 'inner-person', the one we all could easily fall into? I could easily be The Cat Lady. The scary little old lady, down the street, with too many cats climbing in and out of her windows all hours of the day, and when she dies they go in and find her hunched over in her rocker, dishes of days old wet cat food sitting out, and cats. Lots of cats. They'd start taking them out the front door. Count Dracula, counting 1 2 3 4 and on and on. She'd make the front page of the newspaper the morning after her demise. How many is too many? I want every unclaimed one I see. Especially if they have anything wrong with them, like a missing leg (I'd name it Tripod), or only one seeping eye, or they're too old for anyone else to adopt and I'd be good to them in their last years, or they aren't really nice so who on earth else will adopt them, except Scary Cat Lady. I'd do the same with the dogs, as long as they have hair and are bigger than a cat. I'm not real partial to little bald dogs. I've come to accept I can't adopt them all. But there's something in me that wants to, rationalizes why it would be okay to have say, 5 or 6 or 10 animals living with us.

My upbringing may have set me up for this. We grew up with a few pooches living in our backyard over the years. Only one lived inside with us, a miniature poodle named Pauletta Sue June. Even she was pretty-much rescued. No way did my parents ever put out hard earned cash for something as frivilous as a pet. Being adopted by our family didn't necessarily bless the animal, as it certainly didn't ensure longevity. Some died of mysterious diseases, some probably ran away after realizing they'd chosen a house with six hooligans and didn't want to be tormented by BB guns or dressed up in doll clothes, complete with bonnets tied under their whiskery little chins. Some met their fate under the school bus wheels or other similarly glorious tragedies that made us the talk of the neighborhood for a day or two. I still remember a few dog funerals on our block, grand events they were. It was like a bidding frenzy, who had the best mom, whose mom was willing to give up one of her sheets to give Tippy a proper send-off? All the kids in the neighborhood would spend time there, days afterward, gazing on The Spot where he'd met his end, reliving every detail.

In case you would label me a fanatic, I do not belong to PETA. Being honest, I care more if my shampoo fades my expensive highlights than if it's been animal tested. And it's not that I don't care about the bigger causes of the world out there. I do. Over the years, our family has supported children in other countries, given to other causes. I see my role as bringing balance into the world, making up for those who would happily let Petco go out of business. I can even be friends with you, probably. I am proud to say I have one, O.N.E. friend who has admitted to me she does not have the spiritual gift of animal-love.

I'm just doomed by my dumb heart. I feel more complete with a few of the four-leggeds roaming our house. No pet of ours has ever slept outdoors, no siree. Each has his own little padded bed, labeled dishes, and jar of treats. Between my husband's admission that there's something charming about an animal that licks your face, lavishes you with love when you walk in the door, versus the wife of many years who gives you the perfunctory peck on the lips, and my need to rescue every pitiful creature out there, we're likely going to stay pet people. Even into retirement when we should be smart enough to take the break. You'd think once the kids move out, we'd leave the nest empty, click our heels in delight over the newly found freedom and go somewhere. Instead we hire housesitters so the tender psyche of our pets doesn't get damaged by spending time at the dreaded kennel.

Some girls like diamonds. For others, it's a dozen roses, or being wined and dined. Me? I'm swept off my feet by anything that makes life easier. Over the years I've asked for, and received, numerous appliances, a Hoover Floormate, a drill, and even my own toolbox. Generally speaking, you can find anything on my Christmas list, with a quick walk through the aisles of Lowes. Don knows me very well. For our 26th anniversary, this is what he bought me.

I spent two solid hours yesterday, dancing all over the house with this contraption, appropriately named The Dyson Animal. Such joy in seeing all the awfulness sucked up into it, then flipping the little door and watching all the yuck fall into the trash. Taking each attachment for a trial run. We live with pet hair at a different level. That's not going to change. I want pets. I need pets. What I don't want is to be walking around town, people staring at my backside, covered with long silky blonde hairs. I told Don a few years ago, if I die and he's still young enough to care, I hope he marrys again, some nice lady who's a good cook, and is nice to our kids. If he leaves this earth too much ahead of me, I won't bother to remarry. Good grief, no. But I will get another cat. Or three.


  posted at 9:00 AM

Monday, March 19, 2007
Monday Morning Meditation

Several years ago our Sr. Pastor gave us a wonderful quote, while preaching on the 'art of prayer'. I was one of those who immediately flooded him with requests for the exact wording. I've had it printed out, in my devotions basket, ever since. I'm sharing it with you, because it's too good to keep to myself. Picture it, printed out on a pretty piece of paper, in a pale green frame, a pretty bow atached at the top corner, my "gift" to you, as we welcome Spring.

Francois Fenelon, a seventeenth-century Roman Catholic Frenchman, said this about prayer:

"Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one's heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you to conquer them; talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them; show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability. Tell Him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and others. If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. You will never exhaust the subject. It is continually being renewed. People who have no secrets from each other ever want for subject of conversation. They do not weigh their words, for there is nothing to be held back; neither do they seek for something to say. They talk out of the abundance of the heart, without consideration they say just what they think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar unreserved intercourse with God."

  posted at 8:24 AM

Friday, March 16, 2007
Risky Business
I've been told before my idea of fun rates right up there with chinese water torture. A day spent getting all nasty sweaty cleaning the dusty, overfilled basement thrills my soul. Pulling papers out of file cabinets, going through each one, then making new folder labels. Yep, I'm a barrel of fun... To apply for girlfriend status, dial 1-800....

Oblivious to the fact that we have 99 gajillion things to do, we're leaving in 8 days on a cruise, with someone coming to stay in our home. Appointments out the whazoo (I love that 'word' and the fact that it's not in the dictionary YET does not disqualify it because they routinely add much-used slang on a yearly basis and I've used it enough it lately it should qualify as a 2008 addition.) My ADHD and OCD combined and I decided to destroy our home. Actually just the top floor.

This house is 40 years old. Wood floors are in every room, except for the ceramic tile kitchen. That's even better for wearing out the pads of your feet, according to my podiatrist, who I'm on a first name basis with, since I was foolish enough to go either barefoot or clad with $9.99 slings from Payless much of last summer. The wood is beautiful oak, with a luster that comes from 40 years of kids, dogs, etc sliding across them. We're keeping it on the main floor because when you walk into our house, it just screams 'welcome'. Welcome, make yourself at home. Feel free to clean or straighten something while you're here. Lord knows, there's plenty of that to go around, so we can be generous and share.

I know some of you are screaming, "cover up wood floors?" There's a rage out there, to put wood floors in homes, particularly in master bedrooms. Trust me, save your money. Mine are beautiful. They're also loud, they're also hard, they're also cold. They spit up dust bunnies at a rate that is driving me out of my everlovin' mind. We should have taken out stock in Swiffer. Our DIL fell down the entire flight of stairs at Christmas because there's no traction on them, and our old dog cannot make it upstairs anymore. When he tries, he looks like I imagine I would if I were dumb enough to put on two pairs of ice skates. We're only planning to be here a few more years before the next bunch of hooligans move in and take over. When you combine an engineer and an OCD lady, you get a couple who makes reservations for a vacation three years from now, now. When we do just about anything, it's planned out on graph paper, in a file with a nicely typed, color coded label. So we're getting the house ready to sell. In three years. Which makes you understand why we had to install the carpet this week, before our trip. There's a rush, people.

We're putting carpet in the entire upstairs, except for the floating laminate in the two bathrooms. When we placed the order, they told us it was "in stock". I found out "in stock" means it's in a mill, somewhere in North Carolina, will take three weeks to reach our state, then it goes from the warehouse to the store, then several days to schedule the installers.

If you die and don't go to heaven, you may wake up to find, instead of the fiery furnace you heard about in Sunday School, a roll of carpet and padding, and you're the eternal installer. On a daily basis you'll go to the homes of women who have purchased vast amounts of heavy furniture, then decorated each room with all sorts of baskets and charming little tables that have to be moved. Before you can do your job.

Darrell and his helper showed up yesterday morning. The carpet company told me to pick the two rooms where they should start, and clear them out as much as possible. I did that. Ends up Darrell would have chosen otherwise. After they spent two hours moving our stuff from room A to room B, when I'd already moved it all to rooms C and D, where they wanted to carpet first, they went to work. I spent the day listening to them hammering so hard, so loud that all the knick knacks on the main floor were flying off the walls. It sounded a lot like Rap Music to me. I hate Rap Music. They got three rooms done, at opposite ends of the house. That lovely little blue nest of mine, at bedtime it looked like a filled rent-a-storage spot. My lucky husband gets to trim and sand all 20 of the removed doors, since they're now too tall. Sleeping upstairs, last night, with no doors on closets, or bedrooms, or bathrooms and piles of stuff everywhere, conjured up thoughts of when parents send you to really cheap summer camp. Your bunk happens to be in the room where they stored all their junk, until two days ago when they realized they overbooked. That's what our place looks like about now. We have the junk, just not the scary bugs and creepy spider webs. I expect those are two floors below, in the basement workout room.

Darrell and his helper are back today to finish the job. I was impressed they even showed up again. We spent the first hour trying to get all the heavy furniture out of the master bedroom, down the hall into some other room that wasn't full, so they could carpet in there. I'll let your imagination make the list of things you pray they don't see, while they're moving every bedside book, accessory, etc. Usually you're dead a few days when strangers go through your stuff at this degree. You can only shove so much stuff in chest of drawers, and if they're very observant, well.... keeping in mind I feel violated when the security people go through my luggage and see a bra any color but white. For being so open, I am a bit private at times.

Right now it looks worse than the day we moved in. If I had to deal with this day in and day out, I might lie about foreknowledge of stock stuff, so I could be locked up in some nice minimum security facility, where I'd teach my fellow inmates how to eat more nutritiously, or how to knit ponchos. Maybe Martha was having carpet installed in one or more of her many homes, a few years back? Maybe she had it planned out, all along? If so, I completely get her train of thinking.

Since the house is pretty much a disaster, everything is exposed, I'm going through the no-door closets, tossing out unused clothes, clearing out toys, etc. It looks so bad, there's nowhere to go but up. By day's end, we should have five beautifully carpeted bedrooms, and a hall and flight of stairs. Tomorrow morning, some nice man named Ron will be showing up to pull out two of the potties, destroy the bathroom floors which are currently a puky peach, and that minty green we were all so crazy about back in the 60's, and yes it makes lovely t-shirts now, but not so much on the floor. Hopefully he'll have them back to working order quickly. We're currently on good standing with our neighbors; if I have to go over every two or so hours this weekend, to visit their little girl's room, they may get a wee bit sick of me, or monitor my liquid intake.

I'm all atwitter, knowing 24 hours from now everything will be back where it belongs, better than before. Waking up tomorrow morning, surveying my surroundings, everything in it's place. Sticking one leg out from under the covers, onto the softly padded floor. Making my way down the hall, then the stairs without hearing a symphony of creaks and groans from old, dry wood. The silence will be music to my ears. What was that Tom Cruise movie? Risky Business, where he stripped down to undies and a shirt, slid across the floor singing his heart out. Don, close the blinds and give me a microphone. No slidin' down the hall anymore, but I can sure do a little soft-shoe. Like I said, I'm a party waiting to happen!


  posted at 12:36 PM

Thursday, March 15, 2007
Another Set of Eyes...
I'm so bad at remembering where I saw this tip, that idea, recalling where a recipe is, or a link. Last week I read a post linking to this site. You can go there to get a critique of your blog. Not one post, but the overall feel, content, etc. A real human reads some of your stuff, and summarizes it. I simply clicked on the link on the sidebar, submitted the url of my blog, and about a week later, a man named Billy Mac sent me an email telling me my critique was ready.

After spending some time at my place, this is what he had to say:

Just a hop, skip, and a jump across state from me is where our next blogger hails from. Bev's blog, Blessed Beyond Measure, is a study in feeling at peace with yourself and loving life. I get a very positive vibe when I read through Bev's Blog and it's evident she puts alot of time and thought into her posts. She's had her ups and downs as mentioned in a post from early on...but it seems this blogger is a firm believer in faith and it comes across clearly as such. Loved the blog and keep the blog rolling!

Simon might not have been so nice, possibly a bit more critical, but it was nice to have a new set of eyes take a look. If you'd like to have that done to your blog, click on the link at the top of this post. I'll also attempt to put the link in my sidebar. You'll notice he didn't mention my techno-prowness. Smart man. However, much more important to me, knowing my "faith" came out, since that's what it's all about.


  posted at 4:27 PM

Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Major Overhauls
A few months ago, my husband was told his cholesterol and weight were too high. I'd have gotten the same advice, if I'd had the checkup. Don and I are do it yourselfers - spreading mulch, mowing, remodeling, or laying a brick sidewalk. For the past few years we've kidded ourselves that effort equals fitness, in spite of nightly disrobings in front of mirrors screaming otherwise. We were overweight, flabby, and unfit, inside and out.

The doctor also suggested Don have his neck checked out. Some things creep up on you; 75% of the range of motion in his neck was gone. He'd ask me if the lane was clear to pass, and I'd answer, "if you go right this second, really fast." We didn't notice what it signified. The physical therapist told Don probably the best scenario was 75% restoration. It would take 3 visits a week, for at least 6 weeks.

We joined a gym close to home. Neither of us enjoys exercise, but if we did it together, with no get out of jail free cards given, we might stick with it. We began work outs in early December. Don started on his new cholesterol reduction medication and we cut down ice cream frequency at home. (Chick-Filet does not count.) His "neck wrenchings" began about a month ago. The appointments take at least 2 hours. We currently have no night life. Three nights a week he's out getting his neck wrung (I love to say that), and the other three we're sweating side by side on the elliptical machines, or lifting weights together. The look on our faces reminds me of childbirthing days gone by. Yes, romance is a'bloom at our house. Sweaty, tired and sore all over will do that to you. We don't have headaches, we're just worn out from trying to get put back together.

Then Don went to his dental checkup. His teeth are about shot. Never had a cavity, but something has to be done about thinning enamel. Back in the early 50's nobody, but nobody had braces. I remember two girls in my jr. high who had braces. The other 99% of us just had crooked teeth. Braces would have prevented the excessive wear he now has. Don's parents grew up in the depression, picking beets for a living, so braces seemed exorbitant. I wish they'd picked a few more beets, personally.

This past weekend, our pastor asked that we clean out our closets; bring unused, outgrown clothing to church next week, to be given to the local shelter. My husband is a Certified Packrat. We still have his letter jacket, erector set, and Mr. Invisble, in case he ever wants to invite the neighborhood boys over. We could clear out a spot in the basement mess; I could make some shake 'n bake and stuffing, just like our mamas used to do. The man doesn't throw much away. That staying power is lovely in a relationship, but in basements and closets it's not so great. The repeated neck wrenchings must have cut off the circulation to his brain a bit. He came home from church, and emptied out half his closet, literally. The entire pool table is covered with everything from undies to suits. I'm beginning to feel like I'm married to a new man. He's even lost 10 lbs since all this began. (Hip hip hoorah, I've lost my 5, and am trying like the dickens not to find 'em again.)

I went to the dental consultation with him yesterday. For the mere cost of a very nice used car, he'll soon get veneers. Otherwise, his teeth won't last as long as he's likely to. The high cost we expected was higher. We'd budgeted for a used, rusty car. We got a used car, nice paint job, heated seats, cool wheels, and low miles. Don's DNA lends itself to taking frugality to another dimension. Beet farmers don't raise extravagant kids. As we ate lunch after the dental consult, I lovingly bluntly told him, "if it was my teeth, you'd say, do it, in a heartbeat. The miser in you won't do it for yourself." He agreed he should go ahead, but his face had that pinched look generally accompanied by physical pain. We left lunch in separate cars, me headed for the bookstore, him headed back to work to make a little more money to cover his recently high maintenance costs.

As I pulled up next to him at a light, I phoned him. Looking over where he sat in the other lane, I told him, "look, I know you hate to spend the money, are worried you won't get your money's worth (the fear of all misers), so here's what I'll do. When you die, how 'bout if I ask them to lay you out smiling, just a bit. Enough to show off your pearly whites (because this treatment will include zooming). That way, anyone who hasn't seen you recently will see the new improved version. Would that make it more palatable to spend a small fortune on your mouth?"

He, using that newly re-acquired range of motion, turned to me and said, "could you pose me, smiling, with my neck over my shoulder, and lying on my side so they can see that my belly doesn't hang out as much as it did a few months ago? How 'bout that?"

I would say we both died laughing, but that would just be tacky.

"I can do that", I told him. We hung up, drove away. How I love this quiet, sweet funny man, his sense of humor. He's well worth the cost of a really nice used car. Heated seats and all.


  posted at 10:22 PM

Monday, March 12, 2007
Monday Morning Meditations
Good morning Lord,

A new week; another fresh start at this journey I'm on. Starting my day, good coffee, great creamer, I'm thankful for the little things. Spring is tip-toeing in today, and 60 degrees is going to feel balmy around here.

Morning devotions interrupted with loud, persistent pecks at the back door; investigating, I found three enormous turkeys dancing on the deck. Venturing outside, I saw courtship on display in our little woods. No closed doors for them! Majestic feathers, spread out, to impress the females. I shooed the three ladies away, told them to go check out the males struttin' their stuff; it's all a reminder that you give life. In all its forms. This time of year takes my breath away, and makes me smile. You're so good. I thank you ahead of time for the fluffy little creatures I'll soon see scattered around our property, sometime in May. Thank you for reminding me, through nature, that you made it all. Homely turkeys, daffodils peeking out, grass turning greener by the day, the little buds I see on our bushes and trees. We were made for life - this resurgence of life all around me. Help me to not only notice it, today, but to notice you in it. It's not Mother Nature, as Hallmark would have us believe. It's you, Father God, creator of all things.

My prayer guide today - you're named as Counselor. I need that. Just yesterday I asked someone, how do I know? What he wants me to be busy with, how to spend my time, my days? She told me, "listen for the Echo." So God, I'm asking for echos in my day, that your counsel is clear to me. Reflections over and over of what you'd have me be busy with, where to invest my hours, days, energy, effort, to glorify you. I want to be busy with what you've chosen, not what this sometimes disobedient, sometimes lazy, sometimes whiney flesh would choose. Please give me counsel. Counsel that echos.

Thank you for this man you've given me. Given me to. Please be with him today, protect his integrity, his witness. Help him be a blessing at his workplace, to the company and the individual. Give him confirmation that his efforts are noticed, and rewarded. Make me aware of how I can best be a blessing to him. When to speak, when to listen. Protect him from listening to me when he shouldn't. You gave us lessons, in Adam, of when that's not what's best for him, for us. Remind me not to beat him up with volume of words. A little goes a long way.

Please protect our family - our married children, their spouses, their children. Provide what they need, strengthen those marriages, watch over their health, give them wisdom to make good decisions this week. Guidance, an awareness of you all around them. Support where they need it, including good friends. Our extended family, parents, siblings. Esp. this week, Don's mother is in the hospital, with some difficulties. Thank you for the years you've given us with her. Give the doctors wisdom as they try to clear her lungs, and calm her fears. Thank you for the blessing of our family.

Thank you for our sweet dog, the years he's shared our home, made it a cozier place to be. He's getting along in years, and that snout of his is whiter by the day, it seems. No more long walks for him. Now I wish we'd taken more. Thank you for the privilege of being master over the animals, and for what we see of you, in them. Help us honor the gift our pets are to our family, by caring for them as we should.

Please watch over the missionary families from our church, the Russells, the Diggins, the Muckles and the Rysenkos. Protect them, encourage them, keep them close in our thoughts as we look for how to support them in tangible ways.

You are a mighty God, you crafted the planets, stars. You keep it all going. You literally are the giver of our every breath. This week, as we get busy about the stuff of life, help me to keep you in it all. Not fit you in, but wrap my life around you. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. Even when it's stopping to take in a turkey, doing the corn dance on the deck. How could anyone, seeing a majestic peacock, then a homely turkey, not take in the vastness of you - You are an amazing God.

  posted at 10:09 AM

Friday, March 09, 2007
Covering the Miles Between Us
I'm just home from the airport. Right about now I expect Sarah and Chris are developing a good case of Twitchy Eye, brought on by flying with three small children missing their naps.

We've been apart all of two hours. I already miss them. It surprises me to realize Sarah and I have lived apart the past 13 years. We're 'used to it'. Our love for each other covers the miles between us. We both know that feeling we'll get when we say goodbye. We hate it, do it fast to get it over with. Much like grabbing the bandaid, over the scab, and pulling quickly. Usually, a little of you comes with it. I feel like Feivel, standing at the window singing his heart out. Will the love go out, across the miles, and will they be Somewhere Out There, wishing on the same stars? Cornball I know, but I swear I do this. Except for the standing at the window, funny ears, being all furry part.

We had The Perfect Visit in every way. The only thing wrong with it was that it was A Visit. We're separated, apron strings cut long ago, as they should be. 'Should be' just doesn't always feel good. Tomorrow morning our house will be quiet. I'll go downstairs to the smell of fresh-brewed coffee. I'll let the dog out and stand at the backdoor. Stop for a minute, listen to the sounds of birds busy with their nest building. I'll grab my Bible and settle into my chair to start my day. It will feel right, because it is. Sarah will wake up too early, little people standing by her bed, hungry, wet diapers, demanding her attention. She'll hear baby-talk, or the voice of an exuberant 5 year old, yakking away faster than her brain will be awake enough to absorb. That will, I imagine, feel right to her. (Hopefully she won't think too much about my very calm, quiet morning...)

When I came home from the airport, Addison's pink sippy cup was sitting on the fridge shelf. Toys were scattered around the family room, piles of borrowed snow clothes that need laundering before they're returned. Books we read, crayons that had neat points on them, lined up in the box, now peeled and broken off, playdough that just days ago was in four jars, four separate colors; now one big lump of red, green, yellow, blue smushed together, looking a bit like a globe. All were scattered about the house. Much like The Three Bears fable, everywhere I turned were signs they'd been here. The quiet that greeted me made it clear, they are gone again.

The first time the nest empties is almost physically painful. That tightness in your chest as you, or they drive away. It's grace that you don't know then, all the other times they'll flit back home, and fly away again. Each one, when it's their time. There's something sacred about the left behind traces of those you love, much like tiny feathers scattered across the back yard, signs of young ones leaving. A baby spoon in the dishwasher bin produces a lump in my throat. Throwing out unused baby cereal is difficult. Putting away dinosaurs, building blocks. Washing sheets, knowing they'll come out of the dryer smelling like fabric softener instead of those I love. If they could package that smell - 'those I love' into little dryer sheets, they'd really have something, for it's far more precious than the smell of lavendar or rainwater, or cotton. That's it. I miss the smell of them, the sound of them, the scattered signs of their presence, the feel of them here in our home, our nest.

Yet, this is as it should be. Separate nests. Ours emptying, theirs full to overflowing.

Yesterday we woke up to a fresh coating of snow. Papa, who had taken the day off, gave sled rides up and down the driveway, while Chris worked for hours rolling up every snowflake the lawn's covering would yield. The last of the carrots were already sliced up in homemade chicken noodle soup. Mr. Frosty was adaptable, agreeing to sport a zucchini schnazola.

Caiden and Chris climbing around the woods behind our house, discovered an old tree house and came upon 3 deer. We roasted marshmallows and made smores in the family room fireplace before bedtime, and yes, the sugar fix made it much more fun settling down the little people.

This morning Sarah and I headed to the local coffeeshop for breakfast quiche, rich coffees, and the catch-up conversation women so enjoy. I tried to soak it all in, store it up for later days when I will miss the sight of her sitting across from me. The time is so precious, yet what I miss is the casual crossing of our lives. Can I have both? Can precious be casual? Or vice versa? I found myself trying to absorb the grey-blue of her eyes, where the few freckles are sprinkled across her cheeks, how her bangs fall down her forehead. To remember when it's been too long since we've been together. She was unaware. Or maybe she did the same with me. We dragged ourselves away, to the frame shop with her birthday stitchery.

Back home, I spotted 15 turkeys hanging out in the neighbor's driveway. Quickly carrying Caiden across the yard, I explained to him that's what they look like before they end up on your Thanksgiving table. At the last possible minute, they packed up half the house, loaded it into the car and we were headed to the airport, with Caiden already in deep mourning. He told me he prefers Pennsylvania over Texas, because we have deer, turkeys, squirrels, birds, smores, and snow. And grandparents who take vacation days to pull him up and down the slushy driveway, or play Candyland.

Inside the airport, they were a caravan of kid-stuff, carseats, strollers, diaper bags, etc. I stayed with them as long as possible, in my role of pack mule. When it was time for final goodbyes, I went down the line, giving everyone one last kiss and hug. I hurried as I felt tears coming on, feeling too exposed to the eyes of other passengers standing in line. Sarah and I barely made eye contact, just a quick hug and kiss goodbye. As if we'd see each other in a few days.

Then I bent down over this precious five year old with the long face. I announced, "one last kiss". He obliged, flashed those big blue eyes at me, grinned and said, "Grammy, one last hug." We hugged, tight and long. I turned and walked away. Out of the corner of my eye, I think I saw a few tiny feathers from our nest, fluttering in the wind. I kept going. I know love covers the miles that lie between us, and they'll fly back home now and then. It's as it should be. It's right.


  posted at 10:36 AM

Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Just Like Ridin' a Bicycle...
Chris, Sarah and Addison have been living the glamorous life, in NYC, the past 36 hours. I volunteered to watch the two boys while they were away. Yesterday started VERY early. I tiptoed downstairs at 6:15 a.m., hoping to get in some much-needed devotions. Pray up the day.

At 6:30 a.m. I heard a Very Cheerful Voice say, "Rise and Shine, Grayson." The next words out of my mouth were, "Caiden Pace, you get your skinny hiney back in that bed right this minute and don't you even be talking to your brother. It's way too early for you to be up." They stayed put, likely out of sheer terror, images of my eyes bugging out of my head flashing through their little minds, but they never did go back to sleep.

Caiden is 5 1/2 and Grayson is 2 1/2. Caiden is the easiest going thing, precious in every way, with the ever-so handy talent of asking about 99 questions per hour. Any answer brings up another question, til you think you may get brain freeze if you hear another one. Grayson's entire body weight is made up of precious greased lightnin'. Looking at him, you're easily sucked into thinking he's the calmest little thing. He is, in a perpetual motion sort of way. My goal for babysitting was simple: no reportable injuries. We had a couple of bumps, but I just told them, "rub it hard". I learned the first time around, if the kid's hurt, offered sympathy brings on a melt-down. Sarah had given me a schedule, and I'm all about that. Make me a list, bullet points on the important stuff, and I can do just about anything. Snack at 10:30 a.m., two cartoons, lunch at noon, naptime follows. When Grayson is back up, it's again snacktime, play for the afternoon, til suppertime, baths, books, prayers and bedtime.

Shoot, why do any of us ever want to grow up? Two snacks a day and a nap, play all day, someone delivers meals at regular intervals, spa treatments at the toddler level, then bed at 8:00 p.m. What's not to love about that?

I was also reminded, you never forget how to do some things, no matter how long it's been. I can still change a diaper with my eyes closed. Baths, lullabies, reading books with voices, I can still pull all those off with the best of them, especially if you're not offended by slightly off-key singing. I'm good enough at switching voices throughout the book, it should make up for the off-pitch crooning of Goodnight Sweetheart.

It's been a good number of years since I had a houseful of squabbling kids underfoot. We don't generally have much noise around here, unless our golden retriever decides to talk a bit. Any clutter is thought of as our personal treasures, so it doesn't really count. But today - it all came back to me. The minute I answered my phone, both of them starting fussing over some toy, and the words that automatically came out of my mouth were something like, "Do you SEE I'm on the phone. DO NOT interrupt me." I stared at them both with the hairy-eyeball look that stopped their conversation immediately. When I gave a command, and it was questioned, I heard some woman saying, "Do children argue with adults?" Then she stepped up to the plate and answered, "No" for them, just in case they were confused. A few times I corrected them, and they gave me that look I think Hansel and Gretel must have had, when they were in the ugly witch's house. You know, when she said, "I'll pick your bones alive." That look.

I've also automatically used their middle names a number of times, with that elevated pitch that sounds a bit like a pitcher winding up his arm, to throw a fast ball. Normally , I'd have to think a minute to even tell you what they are. (I'm not big on detail.) The minute I'm in charge, and they cut up, it just flies out - that two name thing that lets them know, "don't you even think about messing with me." I thought back to days when "Daniel Wayne!" flew out of my mouth more times than I could count. When the father of said Daniel Wayne finally walked in the door at night, he'd survey the top of the fridge, note the number of toys taken away for invoking the wrath of God that day. My husband knew, from the pile, how many times I'd gotten after his boy. HIS boy. On Double Name Days, he was his father's son, not mine. We finally put a round laundry basket on top of the fridge, to better contain all the lost toys. You could really pile them up that way. Anytime I see one of those inexpensive round laundry baskets, my mind goes right back to the top of the fridge, white plastic full of stuffed animals, G.I.Joes, trucks, blocks, balls, etc. in them, insted of the usual dirty socks, t-shirts, jeans.

At bedtime we had kisses, prayers, finding blankets and bunnies, tucking them in, followed by "Do not get out of that bed, not one toe. Do you understand? Two sets of blue eyes looked over the edges of the covers and said, "Yes, ma'am" I had a lot of patience with bedtime when our children were younger, but there was A Point, and when I reached it, they knew. Do not ask for water, for another story, for another hug. She's done. If you call her one more time, that other woman who lives inside her will come out. She didn't give birth to you, and she might put you out by the curb, free to a good home. At my age, she comes out more quickly than she did back then. She looks more wrinkly these days too.

Today, we started it all over again, and it was all of 6:45 a.m. before they got up. Apparently, they'd opted to sleep in. Breakfast, cartoons, snack, watching Cinderella even though Caiden tried to convince me it was a "girl movie" and I told him there were lots of mice and horses in it that were males, so it was okay. After snack I knew they'd had enough television. What to do? It came right back to me. Boxes. Kids love boxes more than what comes in them. I headed for the basement, retrieved three copy paper boxes, got out the box-cutter knife and we went to town. A bit later, they had three fine houses, with doors and windows that opened, and all of the little Fisher Price people had been dug from the recesses of the toy chest. Crayons and markers to decorate, they played for well over an hour, completely content.

Here's what the house looks like - apparently it slid back into the groove of parenting also. Gray's down for nap, Caiden is content with his Uncle D's old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle book, complete with sound effects, and I've cleaned it up, and mopped up all the crushed crayons, smushed playdough, etc.

Chris, Sarah and Addison should pull in any ole time, with tales of their adventure to the Big Apple. I've heard some snippets of what sounds like a magical, albeit fast, tour. I'm fully convinced we had just as good a time here. After two full days of grammy-hood, I expect I'll sleep well, but it was a great blast from the past. For a moment, when I looked in on these two little ones last night, and their faces had that soft, relaxed look of completely carefree sleep - I knew it was better than the closing act of any play ever done on Broadway.

I don't ride my now rusty bicycle without hands, like I did 20 or so years ago, but I can still pedal it down the trail for a good 10 miles or so. Apparently I can also raise a kid or two for a few days. Some things you just don't forget - the notes I took, way back when, they must have been etched on my heart.


  posted at 3:32 PM

Sunday, March 04, 2007
To Do List
Chris, Sarah, Caiden, Grayson and Miss Addison arrived safe and sound. After about 48 hours, we've done some hard partying. We had a big birthday party Friday night, complete with DQ cake and presents. (Sarah loved her gift and I'm stitching away in the black she chose to finish it off. I'm glad I waited - I would have chosen something else!) When Caiden asked "what kind of party" we were having, I realized we had no "theme". He made do by dressing up in his Uncle D's old football uniform, and drawing balloons on the patio doors with markers. I promised him, next time, I'll come up with decorations.

Photos from our fancy schmancy birthday party...

Saturday evening we took Sarah and Chris to a charming restaurant overlooking the city of Pittsburgh - fabulous time! We came out of the restaurant to a little blizzard, which seemed to delight them.
Dinner at Georgetown Inn was wonderful

Sunday morning, while getting ready for church, Grayson busted open his bottom lip, bleeding like crazy. As soon as that was remedied, he managed to sorta dislocate his elbow, and Chris was off to the emergency room with him. Sarah got a very brief MIRL with Katrina at Callapidder Days, at the church nursery drop-off, and Dianne at Unfinished Work, in the church lobby. By the time we were all home from church, Grayson was good as new again.

When Caiden walked in the door of our home Friday evening, I was given 'the list'. He'd prepared it while still in Dallas. Here's what's on it.

#1 football
#2 cook
#3 basketball
#4 petstore (to replace fish I lied about)
#5 play pool
#6 movie
#7 popcorn
#8 banana splits
#8 games
#9 snowball fight
#10 church
#11 tell jokes
#12 read
#13 poopscoop

Yes, poopscoop. He told his mamma he wanted to be helpful, "because since Papa and Grammy are old and fragile, which you can tell by the wrinkles on their faces", he thought he should help somehow. He has since also announced to the family that my hands "are all wrinkly too, but that's okay, they match my face". You have to love the honesty of children...

If you're trying to have a good time and need a little guidance, I strongly suggest the items on our list. We've done Popcorn, Play Pool, Church, Movie so far. Today we hope to go to a sledding spot and do Snowball Fight. Afterwards we're going out for mexican food at a kid friendly place. And, be still my heart, if it's not dark when we finally wander home, we may just knock ourselves, throw all caution to the wind, live with reckless abandonment and Poopscoop. Don't tell me we don't know how to have fun up here in the north. xoxoox

I had some dandy photos to share with you, but my USB camera cord seems to be just a bit crunched. Update: Don's work camera is identical; I was able to load my chip and share some, from our time together so far. Meanwhile my camera is off to the shop.

Chris and Caiden flying down the hill
Left - Grayson tries out the snowtube; Right - Sarah & Grayson bundled up

Chris, Caiden & Grayson at Snowzone

I'm with the boys tomorrow, as Chris, Sarah and Addison zip to NYC for a quick visit. My goal for the 36 hours? I'm setting the bar high - keep 'em alive. That's it. After observing the last two days, that's quite enough for me. The photos aren't dressed up all nice, but it's bedtime here, and I expect tomorrow to be a full day. I know if I stay up too late, about mid-day tomorrow I'll be regretting it.

Lovely Miss Addison rocks out in the saucer


  posted at 2:22 PM

Thursday, March 01, 2007
Wanna Hear a Secret? How 'bout Three?
Do you have time to hear a few secrets? Nothing too juicy, just things I've kept under wraps awhile. Okay. Let me just tell you a couple of other things too.

It's March. We're going to have some snow here and there, even that nasty "wintry mix" stuff, but, but, but - Spring arrives this month. Daylight Savings Time too. I'll plant pansies in the flower boxes. I'm completely giddy over all of this. We've been up here in the arctic, it's been stinking cold since November, and that 'charming' snow that Christmas scenes are made of - we've had quite our fill of it. Just seeing Miss March's face on our fridge has me grinning from ear to ear. When it hits 50 degrees around here, you'll see convertibles going topless, bare white feet poking out of slings, and cars being washed in the driveways along our street. Spring - one of my three favorite seasons...

While my sister, Barb ushers in Spring by cleaning every inch of her humble abode, I tend to give it a lick and a promise, and move on. Instead, I tear into my life, working myself into a fun frenzy, just thinking about all the Projects, Plans I can tackle.

It's time to update my sidebar. I've listed 15 projects. Some are leftovers from January. Here's what DID NOT get done, the first go 'round.

"Lose 5 lbs". I'm telling myself, after 3 months of gym time, that muscle weighs more than fat. Sshhh. I'm telling myself that. Instead of two loaves of raw bread dough sitting right in my middle, there's now one. Better, but not great. However, I will be wearing two-piece swimsuits on our upcoming cruise. I don't expect to run into anyone I'll ever see again. If they go home telling stories about one very pale lady wearing a swimsuit with a glob of raw bread dough on her belly, I can live with that. If my photo shows up on someone's website, it's not me. Mistaken identity. I'm the other, tan lady, off to the left, sporting the six pack.

"Clean the windows". I need two things: ammonia and professional help. I'm purchasing both. Twenty-two old windows, that don't swing in, some on the second floor, over unlevel ground, and would just snap your little fingers off to the bone if you dropped them. Cleaning them is a challenge. So I'm tackling the ground floor, inside, and hiring out the rest. Well spent $120.00. I won't think about all the fun things we could spend that money on instead. Right now, I'd enjoy seeing my neighbors across the road again. They've been gritty looking for so long, I might not recognize them in the grocery line if they'd recently showered and shaved.

(Secret #1) "Finish the stitchery". When this is posted, it will be safe to tell you what it is. I've been working on this cross-stitched sampler, "Proverbs 31 Woman" for at least 8 years. It was intended for MY kitchen. My oldest daughter, Sarah, turned 31 two weeks ago. I realized, a year ago, it was the perfect birthday gift. It's almost done. I've decided to let her pick the thread color that goes all around it. When I began it that lovely country blue was all hip. Now, not so much. She and her entire family arrive tomorrow morning. I plan to give it to her, unfinished, tomorrow night. Complete with Dairy Queen birthday cake. After she picks the thread color, I'll stitch like crazy for the next 6 days and then we'll go to the framers. She can choose the matting, frame, etc. Then I'll ship it to her, insured for a gazillion dollars since I'd drop dead of stroke if it got lost in the mail. After working on this for years, I could care less what it costs to finish and ship it. We're talking about my legacy, girls.

"Read 2 fiction, 2 non-fiction". True to my character, I read 3 non-fiction and 1 fiction. I have two fiction sitting by my pillow and plan to start them. I'm just more drawn to non-fiction. "Hello, my name is Bev. I struggle with balance."

(Secret #2) "Paint the master bedroom and bath". I try to be real with all of you, so I'm letting the cat out of the bag here. My husband and I have Separate Bedrooms. One of us snores consistently. The other now and then. The sound of that snoring is a bit more charming with a little drywall between us. We went through a period, over several years, of one of us wandering the house at night, looking for a quiet place to sleep. Finally, we did this the last year our son was home. It caused a family meeting - "No, we weren't getting a divorce, no we weren't having problems, yes we still liked each other. No earplugs don't help, enough." The last year with someone in the nest took creativity to keep "romance" alive. (I'm telling you this here, because you'd be amazed how many people just flat out asked us about this. It seemed to intrigue them.) There were moments we felt like two teenagers, in the backseat of the car, on lover's lane. In spite of our age, we could still move quickly when necessary. We now have "open visitation". I still miss the smell of him sleeping at night. I still miss waking up in the night, and hearing that other human I love more than life itself, sleeping on the pillow next to me. I still miss lying there, talking late into the night, where one of your voices trails off, and you realize how precious it is to share drifting off into sleep together. We just sleep, much better, apart. When we travel, we share a bed, one wears earplugs, and we enjoy the brief respite from our regular pattern. Maybe someday when we're old and frail, we'll lose our hearing enough that we can share a room again. In the meantime - my bedroom is a lovely robin's egg blue with gold stripes, all white furniture and a puffy down comforter. His is a pukey hotel rose, with maroon and dark green bedding. It's more "mastery". I didn't get it painted, a nice linen color, because he didn't travel much these past two months. He wasn't crazy about sleeping in the midst of drop cloths and paint pans. Soon as he hits the road, I'm all over it. Painting his room, because he's the Master of the house. Me? I'm his Mistress, just down the hall.

So my new, updated projects and plans are posted on my sidebar. I'm itching to get busy. Within hours we have five of our favorite people in the world landing on the runway at Pittsburgh International Airport (Secret #3 - that is, generally speaking, where I live. I'm confident nobody is going to steal me.) I'm OUTTAHERE for the next 6 days because we've got a lot of living to do. All five bedrooms will be full. So will the fridge, the diaper pail and the washer. Chris, Sarah and Addison have an overnight jaunt to NYC planned, so Grammy gets to be in charge of Caiden and Grayson for a bit. (Oh, do you hear the rules flying out the windows!) I'll be back next week, with all sorts of fun stories of a life so full, it spilled over and made a beautiful mess.

I've been blogging for almost a year now, so it seemed time to 'fess up on a few things. If you do decide to come steal me, a few tips: A. I'd suggest you wait til at least mid-April. The Groundhog could be wrong for heaven's sake. B. Please take me somewhere sunny. C. I'm accustomed to having my own pretty space.


  posted at 11:59 PM

Goodness Gracious!
- A Perfect Post – February 2007

As if it wasn't enough when I woke up this morning, with Miss March arriving. She pushed yucky, cold, wet February right off my fridge calendar, and out the door. Then Kathleen Marie, at Stranded in the Mountains, graciously blessed my socks off! She gave me the Perfect Post Award for February for this post about my Valentine's Date. Let me tell you, it more than made up for the nachos that never appeared.

To find more of the Perfect Post awards for February, you can go visit Lindsey at Surburban Turmoil, or MommyK at Petroville. I'm being given fits in linking, if I even attempt to link Mommy K here, nothing will post. You can find her by clicking on my Perfect Post button. I apologize for this.

I was completely unaware of this award til Kathleen emailed me. It's one we can give to anyone we choose, every month. Starting today, March 1, I'm keeping my eyes peeled. It'll be great fun to give it out myself in 30 days. To see someone else running around barefoot. By April 1 the yard will have had it's first mowing, and they can enjoy the feel of that freshly cut grass between their toes. Does this have you thinking? Who, out there, would be blessed by a little recognition for their writing?


  posted at 9:38 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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