Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Loving Old Photos

A few years ago (for Mom-Mom's 92nd birthday), I had the privilege of looking through her old photo albums for a DVD slideshow I was making as her gift. With each photograph I looked at, I saw how much she and my grandfather adored each other.

They were married just over sixty years when Pop-Pop suffered a fatal heart attack in their kitchen.

She had missed him terribly for almost thirteen years.

But I know they are together.

Right now.

And I imagine they look just like they did way back then. Young and beautiful. And in their prime. So, even in my sadness, I have happy thoughts. Happy that they have been reunited with one another. Happy to be their granddaughter. Happy with the faith that everything is okay.

* * * *
Thank you for all of your comments and emails. I wish that I was able to reply to each one individually, but time and energy did not allow it. I was working on a new, updated DVD slideshow for Mom-Mom's viewing and funeral and we have a house of sick people. Five children at once. And me. Landing one sick Mason in the ER on Sunday night. I'm happy that three actually went to school today. For the first time in more than a week. Thank you for your kindness, sympathy, and compassion. I will never forget it.

* * * *
Look at Mom-Mom's buff arms in the bottom photo. She used to be on a girls' softball team! Go, Mom-Mom!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

She's Gone

I am just returning from hospice. My grandmother passed away tonight. With her four daughters, sons-in-law, and most of her sixteen grandchildren at her bedside.

My father offered a prayer in her behalf, and after the prayer she took her final breath and left this world. Peacefully. Comfortably. And much loved.

We will think of you often, Mom-Mom. We will love you forever. We will see you again. (Please tell Kristen that I love her.)

Not Much of Anything

I've had a few sick children this week. Yesterday Taylor stayed home. Today Jackson is staying home. Mostly coughs, sniffles, and fevers.

Yesterday it snowed off and on (mostly off). But, at one point, the most giant snowflakes I've ever seen were falling from the sky. They were bigger than Sawyer's hand! They were giant!

To pass the time away yesterday (a sick child home from school changes all "plans"), I made some peanut butter granola. Oh, my is it good. I didn't have dry-roasted peanuts, so I used regular salted ones. Excellent. Someone keep me away from it. Please??

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thrifted Coat

About a month ago, I ran into the thrift store while Joe was in a meeting and the boys were at a birthday party. I had a little girl with me. When we spied a little green, wool coat, she fell in love. Instantly. She "oohed" and "ahhed" over it and I knew, if it fit, we would buy it.

Little did I know that it fits just right, right now, and it was 50% off. I think it was $2. Or maybe $1. (I'm not sure because I bought other things.)

It took me a couple of weeks to get it to the cleaners, but I'm so happy I finally did. She loves it even more. She wants to wear it. All the time.

Warm. Woolen. Vintage. Classic.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Valentines Recap

We had a great Valentines Day weekend. We spent our Valentines Day together. All eight of us. We took the children to the Chinese buffet for lunch. And then visited Mom-Mom in the hospital. She is still the sweetest lady in the world. She recognized all of us, by name. Even if she fell asleep in the middle of greeting the children. (She has her days and nights mixed up like a newborn often does.) We gently woke her up and she continued to acknowledge each of the children.

Joe sent me flowers for Valentines, which actually arrived on Thursday. They are rainbow roses. They are so very pretty. I'm not usually much of a flower person because I'm more practical. Flowers just die, so why spend the money? Joe's philosophy is different. And he likes to spoil me. So I will continue to oblige him in this.

And then Joe surprised me with a new pink iPod. I've been having a few problems with my old one, which includes the computer that had iTunes and my songs is dead and I had no way of adding to or rearranging the songs that were already on there. It made running with the iPod a complete annoyance. I suppose my complete annoyance turned into Joe's complete annoyance and he replaced mine.

So my new iPod is ready to go for running. And I couldn't wait to test-drive it. On Saturday night I was able to run seven miles (my first) without having to skip around trying to find good running songs.

The children had off yesterday and again today. We're going to visit Mom-Mom this afternoon, after Taylor's dental appointment. She has been transferred from the hospital to a nursing home/rehab center. I spent a few hours yesterday with her while Joe was home with the children. It was nice to be there without the distraction of the kids. We do think the end is near, but she is fighting for us. She said she will keep living as long as someone keeps loving her. She will be loved forever. (And my father joked that she will outlive us all.)

Thank you so very much for your kind words and encouragement. I cried with each comment I read. It is very comforting to know that I have friends like you.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Spring Dress

It must be spring fever that has me thinking about summery dresses for my girl. However, the nice 60-degree weather days are slowly turning into 50-degree weather days with cold, blustery winds. And those few 50-degree weather days are turning back into cold wintry days. And, well, since it's February, I just have to happy that it lasted as long as it did.

At a recent thrift store trip, I found the perfect springy-summery vintage sheet. White with white and pink daisies. (Have I told you how much I adore daisies?) I kept thinking I would make dresses and/or skirts for Spenser and I in the spring, but that darn spring fever hit me and I couldn't wait another minute.

The dress started out in the fashion of a Simplicity 4206. And with a few tweaks turned into something drastically different. It's now sleeveless. And has a keyhole with a halter top.

The back crosses to an elasticized back. It's a little wonky on the hanger and at the side seams because I had already cut out and turned under the armholes all the way around before chopping off the top of the back. That left the casing for the elastic a little short to reach to the side seams and makes it bunchy.

My plan is that she will wear this with a t-shirt anyway. Long-sleeve now and short-sleeve when it warms up.

* * * *
Today we are going to visit my grandmother in the hospital. She is not doing well. At all. It is breaking my heart. What started as a cough and difficulty breathing one week ago (she has had congestive heart failure in the past), has turned into almost sudden dementia. They have run tests to see if she had a stroke, heart attack, urinary tract infection, etc. Her kidneys now seem to be failing. She was living alone and normal as can be one and half weeks ago.

I'm scared to death. Almost all of the people whom I loved the most have died suddenly. Without warning. There was no time to say good-bye. I mean, how do you do that? How do you say good-bye to someone you have known and loved your entire life? I am fighting back the tears when I think it may be the last time I see her. And when I think "what if my kids don't get to see her again?" it breaks my heart. How am I going to walk in there and pretend to be normal and cheerful and happy to see her when my heart is going to break into two? The only comfort is that my mother told me she has recognized every family member that has been in to see her. She forgot how to drink out of a straw yesterday, but recognized my sister and her family later in the day. I need to get my family in so they will have that last memory. That she knows them. And remembers them.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I found this miniature deer at the thrift store the other day. It was an unfinished ceramic piece for 25 cents. I thought how much Spenser would love it. (She has a small collection of little ceramic animals.)

So, for a quarter, I bought it and painted it:


She loves it. She gently cradled it in her hand and said, "Awwwwwwwww. Whose is it?" When I told her it was hers, she loved it more and said again "Awwwwwwwwww. Whose is it?" I told her it was hers, and she even more lovingly cradled it and coddled it. Just like a little mother.

And while I was spraying things in the yard in our 64-degree weather yesterday afternoon, I pulled out two silver bowls that I picked up at the Swap Shop (for free) in December. One is now black. The other is white.

I have gotten lots of questions about whether this is toxic. It may be. I don't know. I have used my trays to serve. Not to cut. There is no knife or fork digging into the painted surface.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Balancing Act

Life is a balancing act. Sometimes it seems everything "comes due" at the same time. And it's a little nerve wracking. I have a lot of balls in the air and, thankfully, the end is in sight. I think.

I like to plan ahead and know what I'm doing each day. I don't usually make written lists. Just mental ones (which is not always a good thing).

Tonight we are giving the butterfly bags to the Living Legacy Foundation, so that's almost over. Kim and I have spent a few afternoons together sewing, fixing wonky bags, and stringing the bags. (Kim more than me, bless her.)

We are also having a program for the Young Women (ages 12-18) at church tonight and I was asked to make a DVD slideshow of the girls. That's almost finished.

I've been asked to give a soap demonstration for the women at church in March, but I don't know the date and I'm getting itchy about it. I have a bad feeling it's going to be on a Tuesday night, and that's a karate night in our family. With Joe and the Army, I can't plan ahead and expect he will be home early enough or be in town for said unknown date. Plus, they would like me to have a batch already made. And it takes four weeks to cure and, well, it's just next month. Yeah, getting itchy about that.

Today we were going to sit back and relax and finish Spenser's Valentines for preschool. No handmade again this year. When you need nearly 100 Valentines, you realize that the store-bought ones can be a time saver when you are near deficit in time. And energy. And I'm pretty sure my boys don't want to make them. Except my artist, Jackson.

Instead, we had a last-minute Valentines Day bash invite, so we are headed there this morning.

But, first things first. I need to go de-toothpaste the upstairs bathroom. Again.

For the sanity of your mother, boys, please keep the toothpaste on the toothbrush. Is it too much to ask? (Besides watching where you aim?)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Vintage Treasures

It occurred to me that I never showed the rest of my thrifted finds. These were bought when I found the little wooden oven.

Three Christmas decorations. Just like the ones we had when I was growing up in the 70's. I loved them then and I love them now. There is a Rudolph one, but the one at the store was missing a leg. I decided to tempt fate and not buy it, hoping that I will find a fully-intact Rudolph at another time.

Then I found a great little vintage suitcase. But, wait. There's more ...

It was filled with vintage Barbie clothes. The little girl in me squealed when I found this.

Be still my heart, you little rubber boots.

Monday, February 09, 2009


I love smoothies. It makes me feel all healthy or something. I don't know. But there's something refreshing about drinking frozen fruit. And lately, I can't get enough.

Last week I made blueberry-banana. Today, strawberry-banana. So yum.

There's not really a recipe for it (although I swear I saw it on Martha years ago, but I can't find it now). It's all rough estimates. Just change it to suit your taste.

To the blender* add:

1 1/2 - 2 frozen bananas
1 1/2 - 2 cups frozen blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.
3 large spoonfuls of cottage cheese
1 1/2 - 2 cups juice (apple, etc.) to get the blender moving, adding more if necessary
a few squeezes of your favorite local honey

Add all ingredients, making sure the juice makes its way down to the blades. Blend until smooth. (I usually add the honey after it's all blended.)

*You don't need a smoothie maker to make them. I have a smoothie maker, but forgot I had one and used my regular old blender. It's a lot easier to clean. Trust me. No gunky spout.

Also, the bananas I used were seriously overripe and were headed to the trash. (I didn't want to bother with making banana bread that day.) I removed the peel, cut them into thirds, and stuck them in a freezer bag. I have a few more bananas today heading to the freezer.

* * * * *
Running update: I have been continuing to run 3 - 3 1/2 miles every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. Even though I was sick last week. On Saturday nights I have my "long run." I ran my first six-miler this past Saturday. This morning during my morning run, my leg started to hurt a bit. It hurt worse after my run, so I promptly started on the meds my doctor gave me in August when I hurt my knee. It doesn't feel so bad now. I don't have time to be injured now. I've committed to three 5Ks this spring.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Service Project

On Wednesday night (and also two Wednesday nights ago), the young women of our church assembled together for a service project.

It was no ordinary service project. It was one in honor of our good friend, Caitlin. Caitlin died in a car accident in November, and her family bravely donated her organs.

Our service project was two-fold. We wanted to finish the last two ten-hour projects for Caitlin's Personal Progress. Knowledge and Good Works. We also wanted to show our love and support to her family and make a donation to the Living Legacy Foundation.

Before she died, the foundation made cast handprints from Caitlin's hand and gave them to the family in small drawstring bags sewn from butterfly fabric. The butterfly fabric signifying of the changes in life.

Butterfly fabric was donated by members of our church and about fifty of us set out to trace, cut, press, sew, and string the bags. The first night was the busiest with the tracing and cutting (while some of us did sew). This past Wednesday was mostly sewing and stringing.

I brought home a few bags to finish, as did a few other ladies in our church. When all is said and done, we will be able to donate approximately 250 bags to the foundation. In Caitlin's memory. We are so thrilled to be able to do this for Caitlin. Her family. And the foundation.

We managed to get a group photo from the first night.

(Photo by my eldest, Taylor)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


It started with a pink ceramic piggy bank that was dropped on the freshly-mopped kitchen floor. It shattered into bits.

And then, by bedtime, we realized our upstairs heat pump was not working. Joe checked the units. The breakers. To no avail. (Thankfully our downstairs oil furnace is powerful and compensated for the lack of heat upstairs. And we were most grateful that it was only the motherboard that needed to be replaced. And that it only cost $354 to repair. Seriously. We were happy that it only cost $354 to repair. It pales in comparison to the last repair bill, which was almost ten times that price.)

And then, the same night even (as Joe was flipping breakers throughout our house), I smashed my middle finger in a dresser drawer. I fell on my bed and held my breath until the pain subsided. It's not broken, but man is it ever sore.

And then I attempted to put leftovers in the microwave for lunch the next day. With only one second left, we heard an explosion. When we looked in, this is what we saw:

One of my most favorite Pyrex pieces. Shattered into smithereens.

Of course the "what-if's" are driving me crazy. What if I hadn't put it in for so long. What if I pulled it out of the microwave and it exploded all over me and the children. What if the door of the microwave blew open during the explosion and shot hot food and glass shards all over us.

We're very lucky indeed. And, I'm a little sad for the loss of my blue snowflake dish, but so very grateful no one was injured and the mess was fully contained to my microwave.

And, of course the afternoon ended with a mug of pens and pencils being knocked to the hardwood floor and breaking.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Doing My Part

I admit, I use paper or plastic.

Go ahead. Hate me. Call me a polar-bear killer. Whatever you want. It's probably well deserved.

It's not that I didn't want to use cloth, it's more like, I want a bag that will be strong and actually be able to carry stuff for a family of eight. Not a wimpy bag.

When I recently bought some canvas bags, my mind started swirling. These bags would be heavy-duty enough for my needs. But, they were ugly. And plain. Then Christmas came and I really didn't have time to think about it anymore, so I pushed it aside. Until a trip to the store left me with a wad of plastic bags.

It was time.

I bought some canvas bags and personalized them with appliques. Some with L's. Some with fruit. Simple. Pretty. And quick.

Since most of my shopping is done at the wholesale club (without bags), these will be for my trips to Walmart (don't criticize me -- I have a large family to take care of), Target, and my once-a-month-or-less trip to the actual grocery store. I think they'll be just fine.

Monday, February 02, 2009

O'Henry Bars

My, oh my. These are good. I made them Friday evening and ate so many on Saturday, I lost count (and forced myself to run 5 1/2 miles as payment). My mother makes them every year at Christmas and, this year, I just didn't eat enough. Although I'm sure I ate more this past Christmas than I did the previous Christmas. But let's not talk about that.

O'Henry Bars:

1 cup sugar
1 cup white corn syrup
1 1/2 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
6 cups Special K cereal
1 - 12 oz. package of chocolate bits/chips

Butter 9 x 13" pan. Set aside. Mix sugar and corn syrup in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Pour mixture over cereal. Mix well and press into pan. Melt chocolate and pour over cereal mixture in pan. Cool until melted chocolate is set. (Can be put in fridge to set.) Cut into squares. Enjoy.

You need to try these. Seriously. Like today ... They're healthy, right? I mean they have Special K cereal in them. The cereal negates the sugar and corn syrup. Doesn't it?