Thursday, January 31, 2008
I Love Strange People....

My husband didn't give me a very long list of "no's" when we married. Don't touch his ears, he sleeps on the right side of the bed and no bumper stickers. He's also not fond of german food or quiche. I've lived by most of the rules most of the time. The bumper sticker one has been strictly adhered to. If he doesn't want paper stuck to something that costs $20,000 I guess he has that right.

So this just amused me - running errands today, I happened to have my camera with me. I don't know that I'd want to be stuck on a reality show with this person for 39 days, but I bet they'd be great company for lunch at least once.

Can you read them? Here's a sample -

"I took a pain pill, why are you still here?"

"Don't make me release the flying monkeys."

"Caution, angry monkey on board."

"Licensed wench."

"Real Men Wear Kilts."

"Be What You Are." (I imagine this person is doing just fine at this one!)

"Feisty redhead on board."

"Louder is better."

"I need my space." (I bet you do!)

"I sincerely want you to genuinely worship me."

"Help, Help! I'm Being Repressed!" (Doubt that!)

"Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons if you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup."

"Going crazy, back soon."

Wouldn't you love to see what this person looks like, where they work, are they married? How do they dress, what does their typical day look like? Then would it not be oh so interesting to have a conversation regarding eternity? What do they believe? I didn't stick around to meet the owner. Really, how do you nicely explain that you're taking photos of their car because you suspect they are odd? I sure would have liked to though.

Then I thought, what bumper stickers would I put on my car?I do love the threat of releasing flying monkeys, so maybe DH was right. He must know what I'm capable of, without a list of no's...


  posted at 4:59 PM

Recipe #2 for Susie
I promised Susie, at Pink Carnation in Bloom, three recipes that are standard fare at our home. #2 is Paula Deene Pot Roast. "Back in the day" Mom would put a pot roast in the oven before we left for church, leaving it to cook for hours to tenderize the inexpensive meat. By the time we got home and all six kids had changed out of church clothes, Sunday dinner was on the table, looking and smelling wonderful. Mom didn't have what Flylady calls "The Secret Weapon" - a crockpot. It's a lifesaver for me at least once a week, and I can't remember the last time I actually put a pot roast in the oven. The tougher and less expensive the meat, the more ideal it is for a nice long visit to the crockpot. This recipe can be put together in 15 minutes or less, and it'll be ready when everyone walks in the door that evening. That's why it's such a favorite for us.

So here it is - pot roast by the Queen of Cooking in the South - Paula Deene. This recipe is from her "Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook". Paula doesn't mention adding the potatoes and carrots, but I throw them in because it provides the entire meal - the roast, the potatoes and carrots, and the gravy for the top.

You need:

1 - 3 lb boneless chuck roast
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
1/3 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, thickly sliced
3 bay leaves
3-4 beef bouillon cubes, crushed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 - 10 3/4 oz can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/4 - 1 /2 cup chardonnay wine, optional

Sprinkle roast on all sides, with pepper, salt and garlic powder. In moderately hot skillet brown roast on all sides in oil. Place roast in crockpot. On top of roast layer onion, bay leaves, crushed beef bouillon cubes, crushed garlic and cream of mushroom soup. Add chardonnay. Add just enough water to cover all ingredients sufficiently. Cook on low setting approximately 8 hours.

I add a small bag of baby carrots and 1 potato per person served, scrubbed and chopped into chunky pieces. The gravy from this roast is fantastic! If you want to make this a bit more healthy you can use low sodium beef bouillon cubes, the lower fat / lower sodium mushroom soup, and spray your skillet with pam instead of using oil to brown. Cooking wine can be substituted for the chardonnay if you don't keep wine on hand in your home. I generally just throw in half a glass of whatever we're sipping on that night. f

Note: I've gotten several emails, so to clarify: if you do my version, put the pot roast in, then add the carrots and potatoes on top, then the soup mixture right on top of that. Hope that makes it clearer when to add what!

Add bag salad and some crusty rolls and this is a great meal for having friends or family over. Even the boss maybe if his wife isn't much of a cook. There aren't that many homes these days where Mom is up early putting a pot roast in the oven before heading the kiddies off to church, so it just might be a warm fuzzy memory for him or her! I didn't add a photo because it's a pot roast, and anyone, with some effort, can conjure up what Mom's Pot Roast looked like. I promise - this one will be more tender, and much less work.

PS. Be sure to remove bay leaves before serving. They should not be eaten.

PSS. If you don't own a crockpot, buy one! I actually own three, a small one that cost $9.99 at Walmart - perfect for the two of us, or for making side dishes. The second one is the huge Cuisinart for $99.99 at Bed, Bath and Beyond - I used the coupon! It holds enough chili to feed an army, and you'd be surprised how often I drag it out. Both of those have removable liners for easy cleaning. My older crockpot, the one I've had forever, is in the camper. I often make this potroast when we camp, and after a day on the trail or the lake, we come home to Cub Sweetheart and you can smell this pot roast cooking long before we get to our campsite. Crockpots abound at garage sales and thrift stores. It's even nice to keep them on hand for taking a meal in. Make the meal early, drop it off at the home, plug it in, and their dinner will be ready when they are. A nice big piece of masking tape with your name on it will ensure that it makes it back to your home eventually, and since it's a spare there's no hurry returning it.

I still remember after having our third child a girlfriend, Deone from Washburn, North Dakota, showed up at my door. Her husband owned the local grocery and she had in her hand a hunk of raw meat. She told me, stick this in your crockpot! She wasn't much of a cook but she didn't let that stop her from 'taking in a meal'. Funny that I don't really recall what anyone else brought us, but I'll never forget the raw roast that was delivered to our door. Much appreciated and it taught me a valuable lesson - help when you can, where you can, how you can, but help!

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  posted at 7:34 AM

Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Recipe #1 for Susie
My last question was from Susie, at Pink Carnation in Bloom, who was sweet enough to be happy I'm moving to Texas soon. She wanted to know my three most standard recipes.
I like to cook and bake. I just don't fuss a lot. When the kids were little it wasn't worth it - dinner took less time to eat than dragging out all the ingredients did. Now that our nest is empty we tend to eat pretty simply. I'm going to put the recipes in three separate posts over several days at least, but you can bet any recipe I give you is easy, a sure-fire winner, and not terribly expensive.

My #1 favorite thing to make: Chili Burros. The recipe from my friend Connie when we lived in Washburn, North Dakota 27 years ago. I'm still making it as do both my daughters.


1 1/2 lbs ground beef (can substitute ground turkey)
1 box brown gravy mix
2 - 10 oz cans enchilada sauce
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup water
1 - 4 oz can chopped green chilis
8-10 flour tortillas, plate size
3 Tbsp water

In a large skillet brown and drain the ground beef. Add to it the gravy mix, 1 cup water, enchilada sauce, chilis, onions. Heat to boiling. Immediately reduce to low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat. Pour mixture through strainer, separating sauce from meat mixture. Divide meat mixture between tortillas, one scoop on each. Roll up tortillas, place seam side down in a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with pam.

Place reserved sauce in saucepan on stove. Heat over low heat. Mix cornstarch and water together, pour into sauce. Cook til sauce is thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Pour sauce over enchiladas. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve on individual plates with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes (use canned diced when out of season), black olives, sour cream and salsa as toppers. Nice side dish is spanish rice, or fruit cup.

This dish can be made ahead of time and reheated right before guests arrive. It can also be made and frozen, thawed and reheated. I generally make a pan of it and freeze it to have during holiday busyness. It serves 6 adults, and I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't like it. Key lime pie makes a nice dessert to cool off the tastebuds afterwards.

Surefire hit recipe #1 - enjoy! I don't have a photo of it - just imagine a plate full of spicy, oozy goodness.

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  posted at 9:42 AM

Monday, January 28, 2008
Puzzle Pieces Cont'd - Raising Hooligans
Clementine (no link) asked: were our kids awful to raise, did I ever want to throw in the towel, and did I ever seriously question if they would grow up to be adults who contribute to society as a whole? Her question was put in a much more entertaining fashion, but that's basically what she wanted to know. And Samantha (no link) asked me what was their worst moment - the biggest act of rebellion, and what was my most wretched moment as a kid. Kelly, The Feathered Nest, wanted to know about how Sarah started journaling as a youth, and was it about anything in particular, or was it a devotional.

Clementine, of course our kids were wretched - at times. Sometimes those times ran together for long stretches when I wanted to pull my hair out. Sometimes it was just moments but those moments always seemed to be in the middle of the grocery store, or at church, or when we had company. Our kids turned out well, but I don't think it was good genes. And I prayed like a crazy person, because it didn't take long for me to know I was in over my head, but still I didn't pray as much as I should have. I also suspect somebody was praying for me, because in spite of my fears I did survive the whole process. We all did, and some of those awful times make great Thanksgiving dinner conversation. But it wasn't very funny back then much of the time.

They were precious, it was wonderful spending those years with us, but we had temper tantrums (all of us), acts of defiance, sibling rivalry and knockdown dragout fights between them. Our house was NOT quiet! They were precious, sneaky, some loved school, some despised it. Some never met the principal except when he gave them the perfect attendance or good behavior award; others went there on a more regular basis and it wasn't to chat about their good grades. Some of them skipped a class here and there, some probably cheated on a test now and then. Some loved their teachers, some of them were probably their teacher's worst nightmare. It was amazing that each kid became a different kid completely now and then, right when we thought we'd figured out what made them tick. We had a deal with one that if that child got wet at any time during the day, it counted as a bath. Seriously. Each was allowed one "hate food" that they did not have to take a single bite of. We did not, to my husband's protest, belong to the 'clean the plate club' and they got dessert even if they didn't eat all their peas, but they did have to eat a bite. Hate foods were - eggs, black olives, and wet fruit. Not peas. One still hates olives, and one hates eggs. The other got over the fruit thing a bit. We came up with the 'hate food' method after one child threw up stuffed bell peppers all over the dinner table. That was fun.

We let them pick out their clothes, even when they didn't match. They went to school looking funny, but happy. They had chores, which they complained about and did sloppy jobs at, but all three of them now live in clean homes, and I think they have clean underwear on most of the time. They got allowances, had to save their money and give to the church. That's not to say they enjoyed doing so.

We spanked some a little, some a lot. We grounded some a few times, some spent several of their growing up years in their bedroom or the timeout chair at the bottom of the stairs. We disciplined the daylights out of them.

There were days I literally sat in the living room chair and cried, soft, quiet tears because I was not able to do the job. But I did. God knew I had it in me, with His help, but I sure doubted it at times. I was too strict, not strict enough, inconsistent at times. I read to them, kissed them goodnight and then yelled at them when they asked for an extra drink of water. I was the very best mom I could be, but I made mistakes. Mothering is so, so hard - I think you have to take it one day at a time, but have the overall picture in mind. They are not your children. Thank God that they are His kids! They are on loan to you for about 20 years, and you are to work yourself out of the job a little bit every day. That keeps you from holding on too tight, and from throwing in the towel too.

I read a lot on how to raise kids God's way - I'd highly recommend "Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours" by Kevin Leman, "Dare to Discipline" by James Dobson. We tried to err on the strict side rather than the permissive. We were very big on reality/consequences discipline. If their actions were wrong, they suffered the consequences of those actions.

Journaling? Sarah would tell you she was at that stage where I called her "a royal snot". We laugh about it now, but she was in 3rd grade, and at a sassy stage. I bought her a notebook or something like that and she had to write in it every single day. I don't remember much about what all the rules were except that she could write anything, and I would not read it. She did have to hold it up from across the room and show me she'd written in it. We came across that journal together once and laughed at it. The very first entry was all about her 'stupid journal' that I was making her keep. She has journaled for years, as does my other daughter.

Their rebellion? Honestly not one specific thing comes to mind about any child, and I would not divulge their names with the acts anyway. I will tell you we dealt with some skipping school, not being where they said they would be late at night, talking back to a teacher, that sort of thing, but nothing big honestly. We were strict, about most things, which included clothes. Our girls were fully dressed when they left our house. The thought of a teenage daughter leaving my home with a thong showing above her jeans is ridiculous. We didn't really fight about clothes - they knew what was okay and what was not. I wouldn't say they were rebellious, rather just the normal teenage attitudes now and then. Sometimes we tolerated them and sometimes not. We took the approach of 'pick your battles' and if you pick too many then you're at war all the time. What didn't matter in the long run didn't matter. They went to youth group, even when they didn't want to, and were in church weekly. I think you have to live what you preach, and that it will eventually make a difference.

My rebellion? My father was very, very strict. I would not have climbed out very far on a limb or the wrath of God would have come down on my head. I snuck out once at a slumber party in my pjs and we all went to a boy's house and danced in the basement in the middle of the night. I was 14 or 15. I got grounded for six months for that one! I also skipped school routinely, going to the 'little store' and spending my lunch money on cigarettes. When my father found out about it I was 17, and that was my last spanking, for smoking. I smoked off and on during my teen years, to fit in and look cool, then quit. I started again when I was going through a divorce. I quit forever the day I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter. I'm a middle child, so I tend to try to please. I wasn't really rebellious - just dumb sometimes.

Parenting - it sure isn't for sissies, is it? Hold on tight, you'll all live through the process, then come out a bit refined from it all. I always suspected anything our kids threw at me was mostly God doing some shaping and molding on me. If I hadn't needed some cleaning up, he would have given me perfect kids.


  posted at 2:00 PM

Sunday, January 27, 2008
I'm So Excited, I Just Can't Stand It!
He told me if I emptied it out, he'd start the wall.

So I did, pronto and then he went to work.

Look what he did while I was away at a baby shower, sipping punch and eating prissy sandwiches...

I was only gone 3 hours, and came home to the beginnings of a wall.

Those places the wall juts out are for a 9 foot closet next to the pantry, and a 6 foot one in my sewing studio. That storage closet wil hold golf clubs, vacuum, shampooer, off-season jackets. Neatly behind closed closet doors. All my fabric and the patterns, the notions that were sitting out making a mess will be neatly behind closet doors on closet shelves.

All this and he's handsome as heck too!


  posted at 6:40 PM

Out of Bed, Sleepyhead!
I made just three resolutions for 2008. #1 - clean the storage room. #2 - deal with 31 years of unscrapbooked photos. #3 - sleep. (I'm going to need massive amounts of sleep to slay #1 and #2!) Most people don't have to resolve to sleep, but it's something I struggle with almost daily. Staying in bed is hard for me.

When the kids were little and sleep was 'grab as you can', any morning sounds would see me pulling the blankets up over my head, trying to grab just ten more minutes. Soon there would be a little person standing beside me, yanking on the covers, with requests for cheerios and cartoons. I remember telling DH once that I thought I'd die of terminal tiredness.

Those days of swingsets and sandboxes in the yard, bicycles thrown down, trucks and toys left scattered on the rug, they've passed. The nights of being up with a feverish child, or bad dreams, or finishing a forgotten homework project, they're gone too. These days I go to bed around 11 pm, with a cup of tea and a cookie or two, to read a bit before turning out the light. The sound of classical music playing wakes me up most mornings, and I come down the stairs to few responsibilities - feed the four-leggeds, set out coffee, yogurt and granola bars. There's a soft, easy feel to most mornings as I light a candle and settle in for morning devotions in my favorite chair.

So mornings are great, but Sunday mornings - they're just the best! We attend church on Saturday night, so Sunday looms wide open, full of possibilities. I've learned to set my clock for eight hours of sleep on Saturday evening, as a discipline to keep me in bed a reasonable amount of time. That which calls me out of bed all during the week screams my name from the rooftops on any Sunday morning. When I wake up, I have to hit the alarm button, check to see when my 8 hours of 'roomtime' is finally up. I'm a kindred spirit with grandson Caiden, who also greets every day with the enthusiasm of a golden retriever puppy. I can't wait to escape the confines of bed and get on with the stuff of life!

Waking up to the light coming in the window, feeling that I've had enough sleep to get by, sitting up to peek out the window and seeing snow falling, adding to the blanket of white that already covers the ground - it all beckons to me, get up, get up Sleepyhead. Lying there I remember there's a box of cinnamon streusel muffins in the pantry, and I have a brand new soft pink coffee mug. There's a baby shower to go to later today, after I've worked in the storageroom sorting a bit. Tonight we'll have some comfort food kind of supper, in front of a fire, watch a bit of TV. All nestled inside our cozy home together.

Still, I pull the covers over my head, lie there awhile trying to go back to sleep, but it's to no avail. I just can't. There's just too much I'm missing out on, it can't be put off any longer by something as trivial as sleep. A 'cup that runneth over' is waiting for me today. What a blessing!

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10


  posted at 9:40 AM

Saturday, January 26, 2008
In Love with Craig's List
Earlier this fall my son and daughter-in-law told me about a way of selling stuff locally; maybe all of you have heard of it, but when you're 50+ you need your kids to keep you cool. What's new, what's up, a new way to do an old thing, or how to program your cell phone! So Dan and Janae have done some buying and selling on something called Craig's List. Anyone who reads here regularly knows I'm going through a major purge, anything without a heartbeat is up for possible elimination! The local consignment store did a 50/50 split plus I had to haul it there, and return it back home if it didn't sell. I figured Craig's List was worth a try.

So I went and checked it out - got an account. Easy, easy. I found out from a magazine I recently subscribed to, that featured Craig's List, that they don't charge any fees, ever. Interestingly, Ebay recently bought out 25% of the company to get in on what they were missing out on. Craig's List will sell or trade or barter, but it's all local. People in your town who want to buy or sell something. You can set up the meeting place, tell them if your price is firm, and that you want cash, not checks.

So I went around the house, picked out the extra pieces of furniture we didn't need, shot a few photos, measured them, and it took me maybe an hour to do six listings. The listings are good for 45 days and you can extend them if you want to, or delete, update, whatever. It's really, really simple. In the past I've taken stuff and set it by the curb, but this is so easy I'll at least try to sell it from here on out.

I got my listings posted around 10 pm. Before bedtime I had an inquiry on a desk and chair, and another one this morning. (The emails can come to you anonymously so they don't have to even have your email account if you don't want to put that out there.) I also had an email on a baker's rack I'd decided to get rid of, she emailed me at 6:30 am! I emailed her back, then she phoned me, made an offer, and within an hour was at my house, the cash was in my hand and the baker's rack was in her little car.

This has a new home, and it's not where I live! One less thing in this house that we don't need!

Fabulous, simply fabulous. I didn't want or need the rack anymore. She said she decided it was her goal of the day, to find a small, simple one she could afford, for her cookbooks. About now she should be giving it a good dusting and putting her cookbooks on it; I put the money in my 'money to purchase skeins of nice wool yarn' envelope!

This has gotten several calls, hopefully it'll fly the coop tomorrow and I'll have yet more money for my yarn purchases!

If you want to check it out - go to - fabulous way to declutter your house, or even to find that specific piece of furniture you want to buy or barter for. There's even a free section, so you might find what you're looking for completely free of charge, just for the hauling it home. What's not to love about that! Do note - they don't allow listings of litters of kittens. Even Craig's List has limits to what they think you can get rid of...


  posted at 12:25 PM

Friday, January 25, 2008
Kid Puzzle Pieces
If you're still with me, I got four questions that had to do with raising hooligans. I'd thought to lump them all together, but after remembering that the average blog reader hangs around for 96 seconds, I decided on one at a time.

Gretchen at Good Enough For Now asked me "How do you maintain your mom-grown up daughter boundary? I want to know how to transition from authority figure to shoulder-to-shoulder friend. I have a daughter, my mom is deceased; my mom and I never got it right, and I don't want it to happen to my daughter and me."

I think maybe the best advice I could give you would be to put down the baggage of your relationship with your mother, especially since she's deceased. Look at the relationship with your daughter as fresh and new and full of possibilities for all you didn't have with your own mother. I do tend to climb on a soapbox just a bit when I see mothers concentrating too much on being friends with their kids and not accepting that somebody has to be the grownup, the parent, the authority figure. Being a friend is a lot more fun, but they have lots of friends, they may even have an adult or two out there who functions as more of a friend. They have one mom, so be it. Be the authority first, and the friend when they need that, but not in place of the first. If you have a situation where you have to choose, go for the boundaries because that is what will make them feel safe, even if it makes them yell and complain a bit. A healthy house is not necessarily a quiet one!

As your daughter gets older (and your son also) you will naturally slide toward being less of an authority figure whether you want to or not. They do grow up. Dr. Dobson said in a magazine article that he thought it was much safer to give a kid responsibility, a chance to fail, while they still lived at home, where you could catch them a bit if they blew it. Don't wait til they are completely away from home - college - to let them go. Rather turn loose a little more each day, giving them responsibility for taking care of themself, let them fail now and then, let them live with the consequences of their actions, praise them when they handle it well, and love them when they don't. Then when they fly out of the nest they will be more ready. If you don't shift the responsibility enough from you to them, they won't feel capable of running their own life. You know they aren't so great at it yet, but don't tell them. They need the confidence to at least try.

When our kids were late jr. high teens we gave them money, monthly, that covered their clothing purchases, their entertainment, lunch money, gift purchases, etc. Our only stipulation was that the money was spent on activities we approved of, they had to go to two youth retreats a year out of that money, and they had to eat lunch. They learned to budget from that. They learned to decide whether the Abercrombie shirt was worth the extra it would cost them beyond what we'd given them. We were pretty strict, set a lot of rules, and made sure they followed them as much as possible. When they didn't we let them live with the results. Even simple things like not taking a backpack to school when they forget it will help them not forget it!

Kids can become somewhat independent while you are still paying the big bills. When they went away to college we were paying the bills, but the school did not release grades to us. They were their grades, and they were the one who would be trying to get a job with those grades eventually. We paid for a class once. We expected them to pass that class the first time and they always did. They paid for books and quickly learned about buying used books and reselling them to get the money back.

If you open your hand and release the areas of your relationship that require your 'authority', as they are able to handle them on their own, you have the opportunity to be a bit more of a friend. By the time our kids went to college we didn't need to tell them our opinion on anything, they already knew. What we thought, what we expected, what they were capable of. All three of them still phone now and then asking for our opinion or some guidance on this or that, but we try not to offer unless it's asked. I would not want to have anyone take the hard lessons I've learned in my life, and many of them were learned by failing then getting up and trying it again. As a mother, I'd like to protect my kids from any heartache, but that would rob them of some valuable lessons. Sometimes it's awfully hard to stand back and let them figure it out themselves, but if you can't let them get a zero in a class because they left the paper at home, or miss lunch because they left their money, then you rob them of time management skills, learning to come up with a Plan B, etc. Better to fail a test in 7th grade, than in college when the class cost $1500!

As they grow up, become more responsible for their own lives, you get the wonderful freedom of being friends. We certainly didn't do it perfectly, but I'm proud to say all three of our kids graduated from college in a resonable amount of time, attend a church weekly and tithe, have chosen great life companions, the ones with kids are doing a great job of raising them, and they phone us regularly. Now and then they ask our opinion. And we still pray like crazy for each of them daily. This side, after raising kids, is absolutely wonderful, so enjoy the next ten or so years you have of doing what you do, then you can enjoy the relationships that have grown out of all that hard work. And don't overwhelm yourself, you only have to do it one day at a time. xoxoox


  posted at 7:07 AM

Thursday, January 24, 2008
Lord Help Me....
to be the person my dog thinks I am.

Happy Birthday #9 Old Guy.


  posted at 8:00 AM

Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Hodge-Podge of Answers
I'm answering a mish-mash of questions here. I'll save the last group - raising kids, that'll take a bit more gathering of thoughts. I do remember the experience - you never forget!

My daughter Sarah asked if I could be anything BESIDES a wife and mother, what would it be? I thought she meant IN ADDITION TO, but she meant INSTEAD. So my answer to her was 'no clue'. I could have said 'have lots more money', 'less stretch marks and saggy/baggy figure', 'nicer wardrobe', 'cleaner house'. No way would I trade one for the other. God is sovereign, and if He'd chosen for us to not have children, I assume He would have worked in other ways to chisel off those things about me that stunk, and given me purpose in other ways. I'm more thankful for the gift of children than any other gift He's ever given me, after salvation. Especially now that they're grown and turned out nice, but that's a different question for a different day. :-)

I told her if I got to choose IN ADDITION TO, what didn't I do that I wish I could have, I would have gotten a degree in either Literature / Writing or Art, and taught at the Jr. College level in one of those classes. I think I would have loved being Prof. Bev.

Summerjoy (no link) asked my sister, Barb and I - how do we get so much done in a day? Barb and I are very different personalities, but have the same heart for our home. She's more calm and serene, focused on one thing at a time. I run around like a chicken with her head cut off much of the time. So - #1 - I don't have children at home anymore! When I did, I got done what was necessary, but I didn't have all these hobbies, I didn't lead Bible study, I didn't repaint every room in the house over and over. I raised kids. On not enough sleep. So if you're still raising kids, wait ten years and it'll change. #2 - I'd define myself as practical, rather than perfectionist. I do what is necessary, with a bit of zest thrown in, but I'm not going to fuss over dotting every 'i' of anything. Good enough is good enough.

I've used a lot of systems, and love the one I've currently come up with - just invented it myself. Every Sunday I take 6 large index cards. Get out my calendar. Write on each card "Out and About", "Do", "Phone" and "Menu", put the date at the top, and on each card write down any appointments that day under "Out and About". Saturday and Sunday share a card since I try not to load up the weekend. Then I take the projects for the week and divide them amongst the cards, under "Do". If I'm going to be out and about much of the day, under "Menu" it's automatically a crockpot meal, or something super simple. Phone calls are divided between days when I'll be home. Every single Friday is 'paper day' at my house, bills are every other week, but anything that involves deskwork is done on Friday. The normal flow of my calendar includes MOPS every other Monday and Landon every one, Bible study on Tuesdays, quilting on Wednedays, knitting on Thursday evenings - that shakes out the week so I can see which days to add more or less to. I can slip the card in my pocket or purse when I leave home, I don't have to jot errands on another piece of paper that'll get lost. At the end of the day whatever didn't get accomplished is jotted on another day's card. I lump errands into a few times a week rather than every day, and put them in order of where they are around town. I take "white" days now and then, when I just don't schedule anything. If you are raising children, that may not be possible, but even half of a 'white day' can keep you going. I've heard, 'fail to plan and you plan to fail', so I'm big on planning.

We generally eat dinner around 8 pm, now that kids are gone. After dinner I knit or read. Lights out at 11:30 pm, and start it all over at 6:30 am. I sleep in as late as I want Saturdays and Sundays usually. You can't get a lot done without sleep. So if you're in a stage of life where that's not possible, trim down the expectations.

Mer, Life at 7000 Feet, asked what is my favorite thing about Colorado, where I moved when I was 13. When we go back, the mountains of course are wonderful, and we love seeing the whole front range out the window of the car. But hands down, the blue sky is my favorite thing. You might have a whale of a snowstorm one day, and the next will be sunny with skies that are as blue as can be. We don't get that very often here in Pennsylvania. I also love how much my husband loves Colorado - he's a native.

Michelle's Family Life asked, if we spent a day together,what would it include - a bookstore, a coffeeshop that had great pastries, and maybe a consignment or antique store. You learn a lot about someone seeing what thrills them in those types of stores. What they read, what they love. And you get to talk the whole time. I'm a pretty simple girl I think.

Beck , at Frog and Toad are Still Friends, asked what one thing she should visit in my town. I've lived here almost 13 years, a record for me. My #2 favorite place is The Farmhouse, an old house where everyone used to go to pay their utility bills, it's had many lives, and now it's a christian-owned coffee shop. Three rooms, the service is slow because each coffee is made as you order it. There's a fire going in the winter, you can get scones or they'll heat up brought-in quiche, a few books for sale, but you never feel you have to hurry there. I'm in the Farmhouse almost weekly, it's the #1 choice of my girlfriends for a place to visit. But my #1 choice - our trail. An old railroad bed that years ago some wonderful group of people worked to get it turned into a trail that is open to bikes, strollers, joggers, rollerblades, and the walkers. It actually runs for miles and miles now, connecting towns, but our part is around seven miles long, surrounded on each side by tall trees. In the spring it's fabulous to walk and see / smell the buds coming out, or early spring flowers begin to pop out. Birds building nests, and mothers with their children on bikes or in strollers, happy to get outside again. In the summer The Farmhouse (which is situated right on the trail) opens a lemonaide stand where you can grab something cold as you walk by. Kids out of school for summer, dogs fresh out of spring obedience class pulling their owners, a great place to be. Fall - the leaves begin to turn, and cover the trail, and you need to put on a sweatshirt for the more shaded part of the trail. If you walk far enough you come to the horse farm. Sometimes if you stand at the fence the young colts come up to you for a quick nuzzle. Winter - if the trail isn't covered in ice and snow you bundle up, pull on your boots, and the quiet is amazing. Walking along the trail in the winter, seeing the sky through the bare limbs, if you pass anyone you just sort of nod, not wanting to break the silence you went there to find. If the snow gets out of control, then I hear cross-country skiers or snowshoers venture out, but that's the kind of weather that keeps me on the sofa, with a book or knitting. So the trail - Beck, if you come see me, we'll take a walk on trail. Then pop into the Farmhouse for a mocha latte or chai tea. I'd absolutely love that and think you would too.

Laura, Org Junkie, what is my favorite thing / product of all time? Right up there is my Chi (flat iron) for my hair - saves me tons of time. Tivo - we couldn't watch TV without it, and I've grown to really enjoy TV in the evening with my DH. But hands down, the Internet. When we moved into the house I remember asking the man up the street, what's 'the internet' and he showed me live footage of a street corner in Germany. I'm in touch through email with my kids, my mother, my sister, friends around the country because of it. I can find anything on google, order from Ebay or Amazon at least weekly. A recipe for dinner with whatever's on hand. Someone has been diagnosed with something I'm not familiar with, what other books has an author written? I think the internet is just amazing and it has changed the way we live, for good for the most part. I also love my digital camera, my laptop, flavored creamer and the heated seats in my car.

Susan (no link) shared: "You've mentioned a few times recently that you had a brother who died. My brother died in a car accident a few months ago. How did you get through that time? I am extremely grateful for my life and family, but I also feel like a big piece of my life is missing. I would appreciate any advice you can offer as someone who has been through that." Susan, I'm sorry for your hurt, and hope my words will be of some help and comfort. I'd start by saying you feel like a big part of your life is missing because it is. My brother is the only immediate family member I've lost, I didn't know what to expect. My biggest concern at the time was for my mother. No parent should have to bury a child, and because the circumstances were so awful, I worried for her. I thought it was harder because we had to deal with not only his death, but his suicide - two almost separate events. A lot of sadness, but also anger, guilt, etc. Yet any death will have it's own unique hurts to deal with. I can only imagine that you and your family have wrestled with why God allowed the accident, what if this, what if that. I sat in on some grief sessions at our church, people there had suffered different losses. But they all hurt, and the one who had lost a child didn't seem more or less grieved than the elderly woman who had lost her husband of over 50 years. Hurt just hurts. Grief doesn't run a set path - you don't work through step 1 and move on to step 2. Sometimes you're fine, sometimes it blindsides you. Sometimes you're angry, then you move to regret, then the sense of loss, then back to anger. It's been almost four years, and sometimes I'll see someone who reminds me of him, maybe even just one facial feature. Or I'll hear a voice in a restaurant and look up, surprised it's someone else and not him. Sometimes I still think it's all a mistake and he's going to show up. He loved iron skillets and every time I make cornbread I'm sad over the loss of his life. So I don't know 'how long it takes' but obviously more than four years. I don't expect it ever becomes completely okay.

What did I do that helped? I read a fabulous book, "Surviving the Death of a Sibling, Living Through Grief When an Adult Brother or Sister Dies", by T. J. Wray. I read the daylights out of it, underlined, highlighted, and journaled as I read. It helped me work through a lot of the pain. I talked to others about him, how I felt, and gave my mother opportunities to talk also. Talking is good. It helps us process. We have a group at our church called Grief Share, it runs twice a year, and the room is always full. The woman who runs it lost a five year old boy to leukemia, so she's good at working with them. You may have something like that in your area. I'd also encourage you to allow yourself all the time you need, to feel however you feel. To feel one way today, and completely different another. Find a way to commemorate his life - whether it's making his favorite dessert on certain occasions, supporting a cause he felt strongly about, aiding someone who struggles with something he struggled with. I recognize the day he died by making a difference in the life of others who struggled with what he did. On his birthday, I try to celebrate what he loved - barbeque, dogs, the outdoors, antiques. God already knows how you feel, if you're mad or sad or not even sure how to feel. Tell him. Don't hold back, because there's healing in it. Just don't keep it inside.

And last of this batch - DJ at Chocoholic Life asked if I will blog in Texas? I would assume so. I asked the realtor when we visited Lake Palestine if they had good internet access around the lake, and he assured me he runs his realty business through his computer. I'd guess the move will put a break in there, but once the boxes and the laptop are unpacked I'll be back at it. With all new stories of the next stage of life.

Thanks for all the fun questions - for even caring to ask. I still have about 5 or 6 questions on raising kids that I'm going to somewhat lump together, and then Susie, I have not forgotten about those three recipes - have them jotted down and will do a separate post on them. I haven't posted a recipe in a coon's age!


  posted at 9:56 AM

Puzzle Pieces and A Big Mess!
I've been busy! To keep myself inspired, I'm posting the 'improvement' I've made in our disaster of a basement. The casual observer coming in, or a thief for that matter, would turn tail and run as soon as they walked through the basement door! The rec room looks worse than it did, but the basement storage looks better. Not beautiful but better. My nails are trashed, but the room looks good and that's what's important to me right now. I'll get a manicure later.

Here's what it started as:

I've taken almost every single item completely out of the room and made piles. That's what any organizer would tell you to do - make piles: "give away", "throw away", "sell", "put away", and "keep".

Here's what the rec room looks like now:

Not good but we have a goal in mind. The photo is cropped weird because I forgot and left Sarah's birthday gifts on the table at the front of the photo. If I were her, I'd be a bit scared to know my birthday gifts were anywhere in this room! The metal shelves here are going to the shed or garage or give away pile. The pool table is, horror of horrors, covered with boxes of photos or framed photos that are now outdated. The walls are lined with boxes of keepsakes for the three kids. Sarah wins with only two, Leslie has about six, and Dan amazed me - the boy has at least a dozen! Who knew the male would have more stuff? But here's the deal - the real saver - nothing goes back into the storage room til it's been combed through and sorted into the above-named categories. Even if it takes til spring. Hopefully a lot of it will go to the 'throw away' or 'give away' piles. Those lovely boards in the front of the photo are the bones of my new wall, which DH said he'd start on this weekend as long as the room is emptied out.

So, yes it is! He'll consider this 'cleared out'. Five metal shelves against the far wall.

I cut the shelves down from 9 to 5, determined that only what fits on those 5 will stay. I got rid of half of the paint cans and supplies, (our church's art department loves leftover house paint for their sets!), there's an entire shelf for storing decorating items for various seasons, all the camping supplies were cleaned out, culled out, and we're ready to go when the snow stops falling. I can find our boots, gloves, shoe shine, beach towels, it's just amazing how much better it is already. The two wedding gowns were gently folded and placed in plastic zippered bags that had comforters in them at one time. I've been told the chemical process dry cleaners do on them actually yellows them, and so I'll save the $. At the end of the shelves is a two drawer file cabinet that has older tax returns, loans, investment files, that sort of thing, that our CPA told us to hang onto. We've shredded massive amounts of paper and aren't done yet. The two boxes on top of it are work files for Don, and they will hopefully be burned when he retires.

I moved the fridge and freezer to the end wall, at Leslie's suggestion - great suggestion! There's one metal shelf that has our old yearbooks, textbooks, comic books, erector sets, train sets, that sort of thing. We're already set on having the kids show us how to sell on Ebay when they come home, and that money will go toward Don's boat someday. I was shocked to find out what his erector set is worth!

I left an entire metal rack for putting back the keepsakes the kids hang onto. Those will stay there til we move, when everyone gets to grab their stuff for their own storage rooms!

So progress - it looks awful still, but some places are looking better. I've been amazed at how much trash we've hauled out, how big the 'give away' pile is getting, and I've got to call the furniture consignment store to get rid of some bigger pieces. So I think Laura at Org. Junkie would be pleased. And maybe thankful she's a safe distance from me so she doesn't get sucked into helping muck out the mess.

Okay, a quick answer - because it's an easy one. Sherry from Georgia, at Sherry's Bits and Pieces asked me how I got connected with my quilting group. She told me she works through the week, and so she'd like a group to get together with once a month, maybe on a Saturday. She preferred some time out of the house. She also told me it didn't necessarily have to be a quilting group since she doesn't quilt.

Sherry - start one! If you attend church regularly you can likely ask your church to let you meet there free of charge. If not, or if you prefer to open it to people who either don't attend your church, or might be uncomfortable in a church setting, then you could likely meet at Panera's or Starbucks or something like that, and open your group to 'lap work'. Most public libraries will let you use a room for free also. Even in our quilting group you never know who will show up with what. We quilt, knit, crochet, embroider, sometimes we even just bring our ironing, or papers to go through, or coupons or magazines to clip. We've sat and addressed Christmas cards, just about anything goes because the point is not just the quilting, but rather the fellowship that grows from a group of women getting together on a regular basis. I'd find a few friends with similar life situations like yours, and invite them to meet you for coffee somewhere in February, and see what happens. You could even do a book discussion group and keep the reading light. Or maybe a movie group - meet for a movie once a month. My group was made up of women I attended church with, but the group has grown and includes women of different faiths who attend different churches than mine. We range in age from mid-40's to late 60's, and once in awhile a 17 year old even joins us!

I've already told my husband if there is no knitting group in the neighborhood we're moving to then I will definitely start one. It's such a wonderful way to make friends, all those women who went before us, who sat at a quilt together, or even on the front porch shelling peas, they knew a good thing!

Last, in case you scrutinize the photo and see that the basement fridge has a label on it, it does indeed. It says, "MEAN PEOPLE SUCK", my favorite bumper sticker ever but the entire family voted against putting it on the family car, so it's in the basement.

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  posted at 7:00 AM

Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Twenty-four years ago, and don't you love the footie pajamas on the counter. We did NOT have our act together back then. I didn't even know then that you don't like chocolate!

Look how you cleaned up!

Happy 25th Birthday, Dan.

Love you,



  posted at 8:07 AM

Monday, January 21, 2008
Puzzle Pieces #3 - Marriage
Back at it - answering questions, and hoping to lump a few together so you don't all think I'm so rude as to completely forget you asked a question to begin with!

Several asked about marriage, before, now, and later. TNS (no link) asked how my husband and I met, after she was nice enough to say she thought we have a wonderful marriage (we do). Anonymous (no link) asked a much harder question regarding being married before, and how did I have the courage to leave and start over. What would my advice be to someone who was struggling with unfaithfulness on her husband's part, and the depression that results from that, while trying to hang onto the marriage? Karen, At Over the Backyard Fence, asked what goals Don and I have when we retire to Texas next year (that sounds scary!). (And hugging Karen's neck for asking for a signed copy of the book my mother keeps bugging me to write xxxoox). Deidre, at For Such a Time As This, asked why we chose Texas to retire, and finally Boomeyers (no link) asked where is my favorite place to go on a date with my husband. Whew!

I'll start with a disclaimer to Anonymous. I'm no counselor, nor the Holy Spirit. All I can do is share part of my story. My situation was not the one you are dealing with. I married for the first time at the ripe age of 19, he was 21. We were both from fragile backgrounds, so we weren't very well equipped to sustain a marriage. I think part of my 'having the courage to leave and start over' was being young, naive, not realizing how deep my choice would affect not only me, but my husband at the time, and our daughter, our families. I was unhappy, and at that time I would have said it was a marriage that would not work. Now at 52 and having trudged through 27 years of marriage with my husband - ANY marriage is hard work. My husband and I have a rich, wonderful marriage today, but it didn't just happen. It takes maintenance, even after all these years. We've hit some rough spots, we've raised three kids together, moved across the country and started over several times, had strained budgets, issues with family members, gotten sick of each other a few times, and chosen to continue to love each other even when we didn't feel so much like it. I really believe more situations than not can be worked through, prayed through, and counseling should be part of that work, together if you can, alone if he won't go.

I would never advise anyone to stay in a relationship that is abusive, whether that is emotionally, verbally or physically. I'd also never tell anyone to just toss out a marriage, but rather to remove yourself from the situation if you are in danger. I can't tell you for sure my stand on whether divorce is biblical. That's after studying it a bit too. Looking back and remembering the problems my first husband and I had, that went beyond our immaturity and background, I think we could have worked through much of it. I never would have believed that at the time, I just wanted the quick solution. A few years ago, when I struggled with depression myself, I went on medication but did not go for counseling. I've always been somewhat of a 'rock' and didn't want my husband to realize just how much I was struggling. My oldest brother died during this time, and still I didn't go. I should have. I can only imagine the pain you are dealing with from your husband's unfaithfulness, and would encourage you to reach out for help to another christian who is trained, not just some well-intending friend or relative. I'd caution you from discussing much with your family because they cannot be objective, and if you are able to save this marriage, they will have a hard time forgiving him, long after you have. If you can get your husband to go for counseling that's a step in the right direction, and shows he's at least willing to work on whatever is causing him to be unfaithful. God is the great healer, he can mend the worst situation.

Because my ex-husband is the father of my daughter I have shared very few details of why I chose to leave him. Each child should be able, as much as possible, to love and respect their parents, and I did not want to damage that. He and I are friends today, both of us are happily married and the four of us could go to dinner - that is a testimony to the healing God is capable of! I hated answering this because I'm sure I didn't give as good advice as I'd have liked to, later I'll realize I forgot to add something, so if readers out there have anything words of wisdom, please feel free to share in my comments.

TNS: My husband and I met at work. I was a secretary there (we called them that back then) and he began working there as a summer student, and eventually hired on full time as an engineer. We were friends for a few years before we ever dated, and the dating period was very short. We lived in different states and were spending a small fortune on phone calls and plane tickets. After I got a phone bill of $500 and had to sell stock to pay it, we realized it was less expensive to get married. I've told my husband for years that my goal is not to be a cheap date, but rather to be worth it!

Deidre: We chose Texas as the place to retire after considering many options. Don is from Colorado, I'm a Texas native. We chose Lake Palestine in Texas because we have two grown kids in the Dallas area. It made sense to us to move near some of them, rather than a neutral place, so hopefully we can all be together now and then. I love it when we're all together.

Years ago as we visited our parents, with wiggly bored kids, we decided we needed to retire somewhere that would feel like a vacation, rather than a beating, to them! All the men in our family are avid fishermen, and all play golf badly. We'll live in a neighborhood on a lake, with an 18 hole golf course surrounding the homes. Hopefully that will feel vacation-like to the kids! Lake Palestine is two hours east of Dallas where our kids are, and we think that's a good distance to have, for all of us. We can make the drive for ballgames, dance recitals, be there for an emergency, or for holidays. Our daughter, Leslie and her family will stay here in Pennsylvania, both she and her husband have very flexible schedules, and so we're hoping they will come for visits often. When we miss beautiful fall or snow we'll pack up and come visit Pennsylvania.

Karen, our goals for retirement? Don says he's going to sleep the first month, then we plan to take a Mediterranean cruise to celebrate his retirement, rather than have a party. After that we hope to get settled in our new community, find a good church where we can serve and worship. We'd like to be involved with Habitat for Humanity. We might take some short-term mission trips here in the United States. We hope to visit friends who have hung with us over the years. He and I both plan to relearn the game of golf, he wants to find out if the lake has a bass over 7 lbs in it, and I hope to spend some time writing in addition to all the other hobbies I already have. Sometimes I think I'd love to write a devotional-type book for women, but other times it just sounds like a lot of work. I'm definitely not the book-tour type. We're talking about seeing what petless feels like, and we hope to learn to dance, so we can kick up our heels a bit, since we think that's part of what retirement is all about.

Finally, Boomeyers asked where is my favorite place to go on a date with Don? It used to be a fancy restaurant, where I'd get all dressed up and have an evening away from the kids. I can remember budgeting $30 a month for us to get a sitter and go out for dinner and a movie. We went away overnight maybe once a year. Now we're at the stage in life where we eat out once or twice a week, usually spur of the moment, and we're gone more than we'd like to be. Home is usually our first choice of where to sleep. But a date? That would have to be camping in the woods in Pennsylvania, and hauling out our bicycles, riding the 11-mile trail that runs next to the river where we can watch white water rafters float by, then at the trail's end, when our rears are numb, we park our bikes, and head to the River's Edge Cafe for a quiet dinner on the porch. Eat all we want, then climb back on the bikes for the ride back. We try to do that once a year, and have never been disappointed yet.

If you made it through this, thanks for sticking with me. Next time I'll answer Gretchen (boundaries), Clemantine (urchins), Samantha (rebellion), Kelly (journaling as discipline) - they all have to do with raising kids, which I'm very thankful to say I'm done with! Then one more cleanup of miscellaneous posts should do it.


  posted at 2:51 PM

Saturday, January 19, 2008
We interrupt this broadcast....
Taking a break from answering questions, or maybe better put - giving anyone out there a break from reading long, winding answers to what started out as simple questions!A few quick photos to share:

Basement storage room, pre-destroy sort and organize - the pantry and gift wrap area. I'm actually done with this area, and it looks worlds better! This wall will get some sheetrock put on it, making it much more finished looking.

This half still looks pretty rough. I've cleared out two of the metal shelves, two more to go, that are not staying in there. They have a new home in the garage and shed. The five black ones will stay, on a different wall. Hopefully all organized with matching white boxes neatly labeled with the contents. That curtain 'wall' at the back of the photo is going to be replaced with sheetrock, closets on both sides. Very exciting, but it's going to make a big mess getting there.

Dublin arrived at his new home in this. We're hoping to sell it on Craig's List. It's way too big to just keep around. He sleeps in another one much like this, and we don't need two.

Don's old letter jacket, Boulder High School, umpteen years ago, still has the letter and the pins on it. I was thrilled that he agreed we could just take a photo of it for the scrapbook, keep the letter, but get rid of the jacket. That's the spirit! I think he was just relieved I didn't ask him to try it on, to see if it still fit! I do have a very cute photo of him wearing it, back when he was 18. Again, that curtain behind the jacket is the current 'wall'.

Don and I last night, having dinner at a restaurant voted "Most Romantic" in the city of Pittsburgh, you can't see the wrap-around windows that show off the skyline view of the city. We were just tickled too, to include the people eating behind us. Wouldn't want to forget any of them, now would we? This is Don's first beard in ages, I like it. You can also see my horrid haircut is growing out just a bit and it's at least manageable.

So I'm off to dive into the basement again, tackling a few more shelves. I'm finding I run across fun memories often enough to keep me going through the muck and yuck. I'll be back with more answers to questions on Monday, after the snow, after church, after some football. Happy Weekend everyone!


  posted at 2:43 PM

Puzzle Piece #3
Sharon in Seattle (I've always, always wanted to go there!), (no blog to link to) asked: "I want to know how Sarah got the name "Aunt Poppy?"

It's a family thing, mostly instigated by Sarah's younger sister, Leslie. Hardly anyone gets called by their God-given (actually Dad and Mom) name. Leslie has a playful side to her personality, we call it 'quirky', and she has a tendency to call everyone by anything but what they were named at birth. She calls her father 'Don-Daddy', I'm either 'Momby" (after the headless woman in Return to Oz), or 'Bevy', sometimes it's 'Bevmeister'. Our son has been called 'Danny-Wanny-Panties' by his sisters for years, and they eventually shortened it to DWP, which we all call him now and then. (All, that is, except his wife, and can't blame her for that). Sarah's husband has a duo-name, Chris / Pace, and some of us call him one thing and some of us the other. Leslie doesn't even call her husband by his real name (Jeremy) but rather either Jer or Jeremiah. As grandkids began to appear on the scene, and they had difficulty with pronunciations, other names began to appear. Dan is called 'Uncle D', Leslie goes by 'Aunt Nessie', Dan's wife got to keep her real name (so far!), and the only other grandchild in our family, not birthed by Sarah, is not old enough to call her anything actually, but Leslie decided when he does, it will be 'Aunt Poppy', a shortened version of a nickname Leslie came up with her that bears little resemblance to the name I gave her.

Most of the rest of our family actually calls Sarah 'Runt'. She's 5'6"ish, and the rest of us start at 5'9" and go up from there, so she's the shortest by a far cry. Dan lovingly calls his sister, Leslie 'Gazelle' or 'Forehead' much of the time.

The one child, so far, who would call Sarah 'Aunt Poppy' was named a very diginified 'Landon James' and his father and his 'Uncle D' call him 'Bull'. So Sarah could have done worse, obviously. She's lucky she got out of it with 'Aunt Poppy'. I think it sounds very English, don't you? Almost like a modern-day version of Mary Poppins I think.

Becky, at The Butler's Wife, asked a question in an answer post: "What sweet memory(ies) do you have of time growing up with your sister, Barb (A Chelsea Morning)."Barb is 5 1/2 years older than me. We shared a bedroom most of the years we were growing up, actually shared a double bed. When she was into Rock 'N Roll, and makeup and dating, I was into paperdolls, Barbies, etc. - those years made a big difference back then. She was my 'big sister' and I adored, admired her as I watched and saw what the next stage for me would be like. I don't have many specific memories, rather just a side-by-side experience with me as the little girl and her as the young woman. I do remember seeing her, ready to go to the Homecoming game, in a red wool skirt and sweater. Her hair was a sort of bob with plenty of teasing on the top! Another time, standing in our living room in a floor-length white satin gown my mother had made her for a dance, thinking how beautiful she looked, how grown up. Seeing her standing in the front yard with her baby blue Volkswagon with the big flower decals all over it. A sister who could drive - THAT was grown up!

Two memories I have, one she will recall and the other I'm not sure. For her Home-Ec project, she threw me a birthday party when I was ten years old. I do believe it was the only birthday party I ever had, outside celebrations with the clan my mother gave birth to anyway. I remember sitting at the kitchen table, all my girlfriends around me, and a big sheet cake with candles, in the middle of that table. I remember the bright sleeveless top with a ruffle across the bottom and shorts that came to my knees. My main gift that year was roller skates that had a key. You wore the key on a string around your neck, for when you had to adjust the skates. I still have the photograph of me roller skating down our cement driveway, those skinny legs with big clunky skates on the ends of them, looking down with fear and trepidation as I slowly rolled down the driveway toward the street. She stood at the bottom of the driveway, taking the photo that is somewhere in the 99 gazillion I have in the basement, so no hopes for sharing that with you.

Then I remember a time, in our bedroom, standing at the window with the blinds pulled up. We stood there, with the sun coming through the glass, and traced what was for me 'paper dolls', for her probably practicing drawing fashion figures. I've often thought back to that moment, her standing a good head taller than me (I'm taller now!), and what it would have looked like to anyone walking down the hall. Two sisters, different stages of life, sharing a moment together. You never know, at the time, the little things that will stay with you for a lifetime! It's an image I'll never forget.


  posted at 10:10 AM

Friday, January 18, 2008
Puzzle Piece #2
Hip Hip Hoorah - I finally got my header fixed! Those little girls - the blonde is me, and the brunette - my big sister, Barb, about 45 years ago. Not really, but we like to think so.

My sister, BARB, at A Chelsea Morning, asks "what is the one thing you will miss most about Pennsylvania and especially your town, when you leave (and you can't say Leslie).

Even now, 1 1/2 years ahead, it physically hurts inside to think of moving away from Leslie and her family. If I think about it too long I start to cry. She and I have talked about it many times. I think we're both slowly working through / toward it. It will be painful, and I dread it. Still, I know it's what we're supposed to do. (Silly me, I'm getting weepy even typing about it...) so we'll move on. Barb didn't give me that as a choice anyway.

I've moved 31 times in 52 years. 24 of them were in the same state, pretty much the same town. Don and I have moved 5 times in our married life, to five different states (never within the same town.) We never knew anyone going in, no family nearby, so we always started over. He would go to work, and I'd settle the house and the kids, then begin to get situated myself - make friends, get involved in a church, etc. We've lived in this house for almost 12 years, it'll be 13 by the time we tell it goodbye. I don't love everything about it, and I am not crazy about the long, grey winters here. This house represents 'home' to Don, me and especially our three kids and grandchildren more than anywhere else we've lived. When I go to the grocery store I see friends, familiar faces. At our church of 1500 we probably know, on a first name basis, at least 500 people. There are two groups of girlfriends - one is a circle of friends - we get together regularly for coffee, lunches, etc. and there's my quilting group - we meet weekly in each other's homes. I've grown to care deeply for each of these women. It takes years to grow friendships with women that go beyond the surface. When we move, I will be at the stage in life to cling to my husband for awhile, while he gets his retirement feet under him. It wouldn't be a good time to have close girlfriends, leaving him alone too much of the time. Still, leaving all that is familiar, familiar in a way I've never had before in my life - will be hard.

Because Leslie and her family will stay here, we're blessed that we'll be traveling back on a regular basis. I'll still be able to have coffee with girlfriends, visit the sewing group, see the trees change color in the fall, spend some time in the snow if I miss that, go to our church for a weekend, and then drive by this big old white house and see what the new owners have changed. I know it's going to be okay with some time.

We have two children and their families who will be about two hours away from where we've chosen to retire. There will be wonderful times together with them. But I'm just like most people - I don't want to open my hand and let go of what I'm holding onto, so I can take what God's waiting to give me. I want it all - all three of our kids and their families living near each other, so we can be together. I know it's not reasonable, or probably even healthy and smart. The unobjective mother in me will always long for it. All my little chicks gathered around...

Life is all about changes, I know if I get too comfortable in my daily life I tend to not need God so much. It's going to be a good thing to start all over, it's just going to feel a bit awkward and scary and maybe a bit sad for awhile.

DIANE at Diane's Place, asked, "If your house was burning and you could only rescue one thing (not a person or pet) what would it be? What possession do you value above all others and why?"

I am not terribly sentimental, and like my sister, Barb, dislike clutter. I tend to give away a lot of things, rather than keep them for a rainy day.

So let's see - the typical - photographs? Good Lord, no! They're in six big boxes and I'd never get out of the house with them. Even if they were scrapbooked I likely wouldn't grab them.

Passports, birth certificates, etc.? They're in a fire-proof safe, we'll get them out of the ashes.

One particular keepsake? I don't really think so. I don't really have anything like that. I'm not really into possessions. Almost anything I have could be replaced.

So one particular item? My daytimer - sits on my kitchen counter all the time, has all our appointments, etc. in it. If our house burned, it would be frustrating enough to deal with replacing everything, so I wouldn't want the added aggravation of trying to know when the next dentist, eye doctor, haircut, etc. was. I'd also know exactly where it was and wouldn't have to go running all over creation trying to find it. I could just grab it off the counter as I scooted out the back door!

If Diane had let me, I would have chosen my cat Miah. The two dogs would run out in a heartbeat but she'd get scared and confused and hide under some bed, so I would have grabbed her. I've had a cat since I was 15 years old, and she's probably the sweetest I've ever had.


  posted at 9:22 AM

Missing Puzzle Pieces
The questions seem to have stopped trickling in, so I'll answer a few, and check back to see if anyone else decides to play over the next few days. Some are serious, advice-type questions and they'll take a bit more thinking, so I'll post on those separately. Others are light fun, and I can toss several of those together I think. I won't do them in order - rather, just dive in!

Let's start with easy since I actually have bills to pay today, filing to do, a dozen shirts to iron (I like to iron, not that you asked...) and then the basement monster still calling my name.

PAM at Without Fear, asked: 'You just taught yourself to knit. What else is on your top five list of things you still want to learn / do

My daughter, Sarah (In the Midst of It) actually taught me to knit. I've taken one class since, gone to 'open knitting' at the yarn store, and bought about 14 books, but she got me started. I'd call myself an advanced beginner. My goal is to eventually be able to knit one of those gorgeous fisherman cable sweaters, and that's going to take years to get good enough

I have an insatiable appetite for learning - I've taught myself many things, and there's no telling what else I'll decide to pick up. But definites on my list:

#1 - Golf - with my husband, who used to play, when we retire. We're moving to a neighborhood that is on a lake, and they've built an 18 hole golf course in the neighborhood, so we think we should take it up. I've only played once in my life and was pitiful. Our past 'hobbies' have been camping, yardwork, or working on the house, but since it's retirement we're talking about we'd like to find a hobby to pursue together that's just for fun's sake. It'll also be easier on the knees!

#2 - Ballroom dancing - I wouldn't say I'm an awful dancer, rather that I just don't know how. Again, Don and I plan to take classes together. We'd like to dance some when we retire.

#3 - Bridge - I played when I was a young girl, and would love to play again. Don hates games so this will likely be a solo activity for me. I think when I'm a little old lady I'd enjoy it.

#4 - Piano - Don and I both plan to take lessons when we retire. I took them when I was a little girl and again about 8 years ago, and we'd both like to learn to play poorly. I think it will be fun / funny to have both of us practicing scales and beginner piano pieces daily. Anyone walking by our house will likely think we have elementary school kids!

#5 - Self-education. I've taken a few math and art classes at the jr. college level, but would like to study history, government, philosophy, religions of the world, geography, whatever else would be considered the basics of a degree. You'll notice math isn't on the list. I've studied a lot of personal finance, but anything algebra or higher I'm pretty terrible at, and that's okay. There was a time when I considered going to college, but we had three kids who needed degrees, and it didn't make sense financially. I didn't really want a career - just the education, so I've gone the self-taught route. Because I didn't go to college, seeing that all three of our kids got a degree was a big life goal for me personally. My husband, who has two degrees under his belt, saw it more from a financial standpoint. Watching the last kid walk across the stage and get his diploma felt better than if I'd gotten my own. Don thought making the last tuition payment felt pretty wonderful too.

I've been asked 'why' about this one many times, why bother, why do you want to learn about such things, especially if you don't want a career? I'm not completely sure of the answer - I think God just made me with a desire to know, to learn. Part of it is a feeling that God intends us to keep growing, to be the best we can be, that it's somehow part of 'loving God with all my mind', and that whatever I learn can be used by Him, for Him, in this world. It's all part of truly appreciating His creation, the world He made, how it functions, even understanding our government structure and comparing it to that of other countries is part of appreciating and playing my part as a child of God in this world. How much more would I appreciate the beauty and complexity of the planets, stars, phases of the moon if I studied them a bit, rather than just glancing up and thinking, "Good job God!" So it's not so much about obtaining a degree, but being the best I can be, to be used by Him as He sees fit.

#6 - Writing - I'd like to take some writing classes when we move to Texas. I think there's some raw basic ability, but would like to improve.

#7 - Bible - I'll always be involved in teaching or leading a Bible study, there's not only the head knowledge to gain, but then the really tough part - applying it to my life! So that will be a lifelong pursuit of mine.

Sorry Pam, that was more than five.

SUSANNE at Living to Tell the Story, asked, "What's your favorite TV series of all time and why?"

Growing up I have such fond memories of when we had one TV in the living room and nobody had a family room. It had rabbit ears with aluminum foil on them, Dad got to choose what we watched, so the Ed Sullivan show (and I remember Elvis and the Beatles performing), then Mission Impossible and Gunsmoke and Bonanza. Can you see that a male chose the program? My Dad told me recently that he watches Gunsmoke everyday on some channel that has reruns and I was tickled to hear that.

When our kids were growing up we didn't watch much TV. We were too busy raising kids, doing homework, going to ball games. I didn't watch much TV for a good 20 years. We were pretty restrictive of what our kids were allowed to watch. Sarah recently told Lisa Whelchel she wasn't allowed to watch her show growing up! Anything resembling The Simpsons wasn't allowed at our house. I was probably too strict, but we nixed a lot of popular TV back then.

When the last kid went away to college we got a dish, then Tivo, and it revolutionized our evenings! I remember telling the kids, in the middle of planning Leslie's wedding, that I was going to find a show to watch to relax at night, and every single one of them told me I'd never watch it. That show was Survivor, the second season (I've still never seen the first one) and I fell in love with not only the show, but the whole tradition of eating dinner together on TV trays while watching a show (this will probably horrify some of you). My husband loves TV and it's become a nice tradition for us - put on pjs, he gets out the trays, I set out dinner, and we spend the evening together in front of the TV. After supper, I grab my knitting or whatever else I'm working on, and sometime during the night we take an ice cream break. We almost always watch TV that has been Tivo'd to skip the commercials. (We do belong to a gym and work out regularly, to counter our couch potato evenings!)

So my favorite shows now: Survivor, American Idol, Biggest Loser. Don loves CSI, House, Bones and Cold Case, and that's generally bubble bath time for me! I suffer through '24' and Prison Break with him, but could live without both - I'm not crazy about graphic violence.

Favorite show as a kid: (believe it or not....) Gilligan's Island
Favorite show with my family growing up: Mission Impossible
Favorite show with my husband: American Idol

I also really dislike Donald Trump's Apprentice and The Bachelor. He's a jerk, and the Bachelor is just pointless, not to mention trashy. What woman would kiss someone who was kissing everyone else? Just not my cup of tea I guess.


  posted at 7:50 AM

Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Any question?????

Well, I just went and visited my sister, Barb's blog and goodness gracious but she's opened the doors wide and told everyone they can ask her anything they want! I wouldn't even ask her anything I want! I read all the questions and I won't give it away but I can't wait to see her answers to a few of them.

So, not being willing to be a chicken, I figured I'd be brave and do the same thing, although honestly I can't imagine what any of you would want to ask me. Maybe she'll come over here and do some giggling herself when she seems what I've opened myself up to. Still, what a fun thing to do - so I'm going to put it out there, and then, if there are any questions, I'll take a handful a day and answer them. If there's anyone else out there who has nothing in mind to blog about right now, like me, then feel free to jump on this train - I think it'd be great fun to ask some of you a few things!


  posted at 7:13 PM

Monday, January 14, 2008
Crossing the Sea
To be a missionary, you don't have to cross the sea, you simply need to see the cross. Leonard Ravenhill

That's the jest of the sermon I heard this past weekend. The speaker, a missionary himself, was trying to open our eyes to missions, beyond the stereotypical, 'off to Africa' stint. He had the difficult task of making us realize we are all missionaries in one way or another, or at least we should be. We also prayed for a young girl headed to Africa this coming summer. Crystal was in my small group during jr. high and high school, and even back then told me she had a 'heart for missions'. Back from college, with a degree in teaching, she's going to Kenya to teach English to native missionaries so they can make better use of the commentaries and other study materials that are not available in their own languages. After I got over the soft mushy feeling of seeing one of 'my girls' all grown up and headed out into the world to do what God's called her to do, I spent the rest of the weekend thinking over this quote.

It's all balled up in a much bigger question for me. Not just missions, but serving and giving and how much and who. Then when you get more specific, where does 'missions' start? The speaker went on to say something else that really struck me - "God puts burdens on hearts to accomplish his will in the world." So God has burdened Crystal with the needs of Africa, but what about me? It's not that I don't care about the other side of the world, I do. I applaud those who go there, heck I even do some supporting of them, and will certainly help support Crystal when she heads out. But for me, I've always been of that school that thinks, "no need to travel the whole world when there's so much to see here in the US of A." That travel / vacation thinking can cross over into serving and / or meeting needs - where do I serve? Where does our money go? So the sermon helped me hone in a bit. What burden has God put on MY heart? For me 'missions' begins right here at home. I don't have to cross the sea, I have to adjust my line of vision - see others as Christ saw them, then do something about it.

Years ago I took art classes at the local junior collge. The professor told us anyone can draw, it's teaching them to look that is the real trick. Really looking at a model and drawing her eyes rather than seeing eyes and automatically drawing as I remember them, as I've learned them, and ironically not drawing my own eyes because when I conjure up eyes in my mind, I come up with my own.

So missions is truly seeing others, with all the stereotypes and social boundaries removed, without putting an individual person into a group I can apply a name to, whether it's the 'unchurched', or the 'homeless', or those who may look a bit more cleaned up on the outside, but be just as empty and hurting inside, the 'not searching', the 'privileged' or just the 'different from me'. It's seeing one individual person who is struggling just like I am. I once heard a wonderful quote - it's stuck with me, "Be gentle to everyone you meet, they're fighting a battle too." It's seeing that person, whatever their outward circumstances, and while they may be working like crazy to hide it from the rest of the world, I can bet they are fighting a battle today. That battle might be financial, or substance abuse, or lack of purpose, or loneliness, or emptiness, or a wayward child or a struggling marriage, loss of career, loss of hope, loss of enough strength to get through whatever today throws at them.

If I start there, then who? When my oldest brother ended his life almost four years ago, he left a note telling us he feared homelessness. Someone standing on the outside would naturally wonder why his family, my family, did not reach out to him. We did. Many times. His life alone taught me not to judge purely from the outside, that each of us walks a path today made up of many steps, many decisions all linked together one day at a time, landing us where we are right now, for good or bad. Sometimes my own worst enemy is me. It was true of my brother, still I never think of him without feeling the weight of how hopeless he must have been. Life was just too much work to continue. So I've had a heart for the homeless for awhile now, and often when I see a man walking down the road with what is obviously everything he owns, and it's cold outside or brutally hot, I fight the urge to stop and help. I know better, but it doesn't make the yearning go away. Every year to commemorate my brother's death I've given to shelters, donated blankets, prayed, remembered and hurt, but I've never put a face on it. I've stayed back a safe distance.

So this weekend I realized just like the unsaved, the unloved of the world can only be reached one at a time. I cannot fix homelessness. I cannot keep everyone fed or warm or make sure they feel loved. But I can put one face on the problem, and that would be my next brother, who is bravely trying day to day to get by, to keep the place he lives in, to work when he can, to raise the son who is fighting him tooth and nail. I can help that one person fight off the threat of homelessness, not only with the support of finances, but by simply loving him enough to lend a listening ear, one that does not judge or offer solutions or turn away when the conversation makes me uncomfortable a bit, which it does sometimes. Our lives are very different, maybe as different as the lives Crystal will see when she travels to Kenya. Different languages, customs, culture. Stepping into his world sometimes feels a bit like traveling to another place not comfortable to me.

I'm called to give and not off the top, but rather sacrificially, til it costs me something. That may include writing a check, but it goes far beyond it. Having a mission, for me personally, does not include crossing the sea. Christ died for me while I was yet a sinner, knowing I would remain one. Seeing the cross - what it means to me, what it offers to others - and listening to the burden he has placed on my heart - that can change the world, one life at a time. God called Crystal to go across the world, I believe He called me to love those right here at home. Thank you Scott Boyd for helping me see that more clearly.


  posted at 8:40 AM

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    About Me

    Girl Raised in the South

    I have a deep, abiding love for full octane coffee, sewing, knitting, quilting, reading, cooking, gardening, God and my family - not in that order.

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