Monday, January 31, 2011

Taking Care of Business

It always feels good to get pressing matters taken care of and out of the way, so I have been working on that. On Saturday morning I managed to find Ben's W-2 that I had put away in a "safe" place. That was a relief because, although I remembered the initial conversation, I didn't recall where I had put them. (I chalk it up to brain overload...) Today I took care of Hannah's quarter reports for home schooling, paid an over due bill left me by one of my darling children, and drove to Webster to figure out what to do about my mom's Star Tax Rebate. These are the things that wake me up in the night and prohibit a good night of rest. I'm sure something will pop up to take their place, but for now my brain is a little less overloaded.

They say a winter storm is moving in. We are to expect cold and snow... It is winter in upstate NY. Of course, the forecasters don't yet know where the snow will be dumped or exactly when it will arrive. God likes to keep us guessing in those areas. It shows he's still in control.

PS. This my friend Sally's house where the kids went sledding the other day. It looks like a little place up in the mountains but it's really situated on the edge of what is called a drumlin not too far from here.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Darlin' Clementine

The weekend has flown by. There was just a little bit of cleaning on Saturday morning, a trip to Webster to visit the bank and a few stores, some grocery shopping, and a sledding party for Ben and Hannah. I made 3 pizzas Saturday afternoon and we ate one of them for supper. Josh came to stay overnight and I played "The Marble Game" with James and Hannah.
This morning I was awakened from a deep sleep by a knock on my bedroom door and a voice that said, "Josh threw up in his bed." (I thought having grandchildren was supposed to be fun...) I hopped out of my warm bed to assess the damage and found it not as bad as I had feared. No chunks. Hannah had changed the boy's shirt and he was downstairs. James had gone down too and I supposed there wasn't much I could do with a soggy-ish bed in the dark, so after rolling up the sheet and washing my hands I climbed back into my warm bed.
When the time came, Grandpa (aka "James") opted to stay home from church with the now smiling boy, feed him cinnamon toast, and play trains. I took Grandma, Ben, and Hannah to church where we met up with Dave and Leta. I hugged my favorite daughter in law who had some exciting news to share... (Wouldn't you like to know what she told me?) Josiah came to church too, and after church I found that Beth and Adam were there. (They didn't know "the boy" was home with Grandpa.) Rachel and my nephew Steven came to visit Grandma in the afternoon, and Nate and Sabrina came to eat with us and share a rare visit. (It was a busy place, but I had two pizzas left to share. Joe liked that.) I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies as a thank you for Dr. Matt who has been adjusting Hannah's back and neck for her, and then we headed back out to the evening church service.
Tomorrow is Monday. My little friends will arrive, we will wait at the bus stop, eat animal crackers and pretzels, and play blocks. I will pluck climbing children from dangerous places, wipe boogers from runny noses, and change a few dirty diapers. We will share Clementines. Maybe Andrew will peel them for me. If she's lucky Sofie might even get a section or two... maybe.

PS. I had Hannah to the doctor Friday morning because she's been feeling lousy for the past couple weeks; headache, nauseous, and generally blah. I got to thinking she might have mono and she was tired of feeling yuck. The doctor was thinking mono too but did a strep test first. It came back positive?

Weekend Wrap Up

Something new to try from Sue. You can find her here.

Join the weekend wrapup!

Sue is asking readers to blog their responses to some (or even all) of these questions, to post their answers on their own site, and to link back to her post.

Here are the questions:

The best thing that happened to me this week was __________________.

The worst thing that happened to me this week was __________________.

The funniest thing I saw/heard/did this week was __________________.

The craziest thing I saw/heard/did this week was __________________.

The thing I was most thankful for this week was __________________.

And here are my answers for this week:

* The best thing that happened to me this week was the encouragement that I found the Lord sending me through scripture, books I am reading, and comments from friends. It has been much needed and I am grateful.
* The worst thing that happened to me this week was washing my hair with conditioner and not even knowing it, but then I burned my hand this evening while I was making pizza. (I'd say it was a pretty good week because those things don't sound too bad.)
* The funniest thing I saw/heard/did this week was my oldest son's answers to the survey my youngest son posted on Facebook. Guess you had to be there but I laughed so hard I cried.
* The craziest thing I saw/heard/did this week was "The mermaids and the humans are on the good team. But not you, Ben. You're part of the twilight kingdom." This was one of the little girls I babysit talking to my 17 year old son.
* The thing I was most thankful for this week was having a warm van to wait in at the bus stop when the temperature was below zero.

Proverbs 23:22


Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.
Proverbs 23:22

Friday, January 28, 2011

You're My Inspiration

Everyone has somebody in their life who inspires them to greater things; to try harder, to love deeper, and to hold on just a little bit longer. I just don't have the words to convey my own thoughts and feelings, but Pam, I want you to know that you and Larry are an inspiration to me. Your dedication and Larry's determination are a testimony to the grace of God and the love of Christ in a world often devoid of such. I know it is Christ in you that makes the difference.

For those unfamiliar, I give you just a portion of Larry's story.

www.democratandchronicle.com

January 27, 2011

Disabled hunter Larry Hogestyn an inspiration and much more

Leo Roth
Staff writer

Larry Hogestyn's sense of hearing had to have been much keener than an average outdoorsman's.

"I get in tune with the woods and I listen for steps made by animals and try and guess what they are as they approach," Larry wrote in an e-mail.

I wonder now what Larry Hogestyn heard as a trophy tom turkey approached his blind as he sat quietly alone during archery season last fall. Dropping the big bird — which weighed an estimated 25 pounds with 1 ¼-inch spurs — with an arrow shot from his crossbow modified for disabled hunters was the highlight of his hunting season.

It would be his last season in the woods he loved.

"He was as excited as he could be," said Pam, his wife of 29 years.
"It was his last hurrah."

Larry Hogestyn died on Jan. 12 after a courageous, eight-plus-year battle with a rare brainstem stroke that left his mind intact but his body paralyzed, except for the ability to move his eyelids and little else. He was 55.

His inspirational story as a severe stroke victim who still managed to pursue his love of the outdoors thanks to his zest for life and the unyielding love and strength of his wife and family was the subject of an Oct. 17 Do It! column in the Democrat and Chronicle.

Even after incurring dreaded "locked in syndrome'' in the fall of 2002, Mr. Hogestyn was determined to live his life as fully as he could.

"The mind he had, it was always ticking," said George Bolender, founder of New York Outdoors Unlimited, which helps disabled outdoorsmen return to the woods and water with adaptive equipment.

"For all the people who say they can't do it, I throw a picture of Larry in the mail and say, 'Look at this guy.' He was our poster boy and he didn't mind it. If he could inspire someone else, he did it.''

Larry was an accomplished big-game hunter, deep-sea fisherman and so much more.

A xerographic engineer at Xerox, he owned eight patents. He once raced cars at Spencer Speedway. He was a woodworker who crafted fine furniture, firearms and built boats. He even constructed a small-engine gyroplane that he flew around his neighborhood in Ontario, Wayne County.

After his stroke, he became a prolific writer thanks to technology that allowed him to use a virtual keyboard by biting down on an eyedropper to click each letter. He wrote a book on spirituality, maintained a website and communicated with friends and family.

I've never been more moved by a subject I've interviewed, and this was a man who could neither move nor speak. But Larry Hogestyn had that effect on everyone who knew him.

"He was just so vision-driven," said good friend Jack Satta, a high school chum who met his wife, Lisa, through the Hogestyns. "Most guys see barriers to doing things, but not Larry. How many guys build a flying machine?"

Or fly outside the constraints of their physical limitations? His story was a testament to the human spirit, but also to a family's unconditional love and the power of faith.

Pam Hogestyn inspired others, too. For eight years and four months, she was her husband's chief caregiver nearly 24/7 so he could live in his own home.

"It's where God wanted me to be," she said in her typical selfless manner.

Not a hunter herself, Pam learned to field dress deer and work her husband's adaptive equipment so he could continue to enjoy the life he once knew.

In addition to his turkey, Larry also harvested three deer with his bow last fall, giving him a total of nine as a disabled hunter. Some able-bodied hunters don't have one.

A previous cancer survivor, Mr. Hogestyn had dealt with myriad health issues related to his stroke and had mentioned to Pam he may soon elect to remove his feeding tube. That occurred in early January. He died peacefully at home.

"I knew he was contemplating this end so it was hard for me knowing it was his last hunting season," Pam said. "We went out every weekend. He chose this way and he left with the dignity he had. He was done fighting and we respected his decision. I know he'll live on in many people's lives."

What people can will themselves to do under dire medical circumstances is what doctors can't predict. What we can't comprehend.

Faced with such a thing, Larry Hogestyn did decide being alive in mind only was worth it. In the process, he celebrated eight more years worth of birthdays and holidays. He watched three sons grow into successful men. He told his wife he loved her each day by blinking his eyes.

By living his life, he made people examine their own. He left them vowing to themselves never to complain again. He is free now.

Additional Facts

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spilled Water



“If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love. For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.”
~ Amy Carmichael
I rolled my eyes at the inconvenience and heaved a sigh of irritation. It wasn't a really a big deal and the offender took no notice, but continued instead to be a puddle of icy, cold snow water on the kitchen floor. It was only me who was bothered by the incident. No matter that I had actually been the one who did the stepping. In actuality, I was the offender, not the small amount of snow tracked into my kitchen on the bottom of someone's boot or shoe. The snow had been doing only what God made it to do, melt with rising temperatures. I could have been grateful, for it's presence indicates that my home is warm and cozy, but instead I grumbled at the cold, wet spot on my sock. I could have taken opportunity to smile, sit down in my blue chair with a cup of hot coffee, and put my feet up on a stool in front of the wood stove. My sock would have dried in a few minutes time. I could have turned the moment into a visit with my Lord and Savior, but instead my Bible sat, waiting and unread, on the dining room table.

And what of those I love? How often do I look upon them as I looked upon this puddle of ice water? When did I forget to take each and every opportunity and use it for the glory of the One who died in my place? Have I ever learned to do such a thing? Can He, will He, help me do just that? Only if I make myself willing and available. The real question is, will I?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

B is for Blueberries

B is for Blueberries

On the east side of our property, a nice little distance from the house, is my struggling blueberry patch. For the past ten summers I have spent untold hours standing out there, sunshine or rain, picking berries. I have been helped my friends and family, but the majority of the the picking has been left to me. Most of the time I am not bothered and enjoy the peace and quiet of the blueberry patch.

On a good year, when there is plenty of rain and lots of sunshine, the crop is good. I have been known to fill buckets and boxes and set them out front for neighbors to buy. I've been known to give folks a bargain because otherwise no one stops to buy any.

Blueberries are good for baking. We put them in muffins, coffee cakes, pancakes, and pies. I have turned them into jam, tossed them on my breakfast and eaten them fresh off the bush. Birds also like blueberries and we often find them half-eaten which is rather frustrating. I have several bags of blueberries waiting in my freezer. Maybe I'll turn those berries into pie... or a Blueberry Buckle!

Click here for more of ABC Wednesday Round 8.

He Knows

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
Hebrews 12:12-13

There is nothing quite like the voice of God to take one's focus off self and onto others. I have continued to struggle with my thoughts and feelings of late. They aren't what they need to be and I am hurting only myself, yet I can't seem to get past them and on to where I should be. As I looked at Jasmine's zigzag pattern of tracks through the yard yesterday, I thought it just a little like me. Not quite sure where I'm headed, tending to shift my focus often, and stumbling headlong as I go. I'm glad God knows how to gently shift my gaze back in the right direction without knocking me over.

I left a very short note for an old friend this afternoon, actually she is more of an acquaintance and I haven't had any contact with her for years. I was surprised to find a return message, one asking prayer for a hurting heart. God knows His children. He knows when we need a shoulder to cry on or a word of encouragement. He sends His love and care packaged in the words or touch of a fellow child. I have had Him touch me in such a way and have found Him use me when I least expected it. Tonight "J" is on my heart. I pray the Lord will wrap His loving arms around her in such a way that she feels His unmistakable presence and finds comfort in His touch.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Following Rabbit Trails

I woke this morning to find a strange and mysterious zigzagging trail through the snow in our yard. There were spots where the maker of the trail had obviously either lay down or sat to take a rest, but I was confused as to what kind of creature had left it. It appeared to go in only one direction, leaving me to assume the animal had passed by on it's way to somewhere else. In the frigid, subzero morning temperatures, I decided to investigate, following the tracks backward toward the bottom of Barn 3 and toward the old migrant shack out back. There the mystery was solved when I realized the trail had been left by a dog-like creature with only three legs.
For many years winter brought out the puppy in my silly, frolicking dog. Now she struggles to keep her footing on good ground, falls often, and sticks much closer to home. She has wandered up the road to visit Martin just once since Christmas and spends her nights "secretly" sleeping in the blue chair which is occupied by Mom in daylight hours. I feed her glucosamine tablets each night in hopes of relieving the painful arthritis that appears to plague her. In spite of her limitation, she still gets excited on cold winter mornings and I see the shadow of a younger dog who would run circles through the yard, threatening to hit me like a freight train. She chased snowballs and ate snow. She hasn't given up yet and I suspect she had an idea about going to visit Martin as she made her way through the blueberry patch the other night. She must have decided better of it when she got down near the road and came home instead.

Bus Stoppers!

It was too cold to stand out at the end of the driveway this morning. Actually, it was too cold to send children to school, especially four year old children, but there we were, getting ready for school anyway. My van was nice and warm since James had taken Ben to work. I piled the kiddos in and parked at the end of the driveway. For some reason they find this wildly exciting.

Minus 6ΒΊ Fahrenheit and there we were. It was so cold the snow squeaked under our feet. My nose hairs froze and when I took a deep breath I found myself coughing. In spite of the brutal temperatures, it is an incredibly beautiful morning. The sun is shining and if it wasn't for small children, I might just bundle up, grab my camera, and go for a walk.



Can't do the laundry. The pipes to my washer aren't working...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Deep Freeze

The "arctic front" has moved in. I thought it was cold enough this morning, but the mercury has managed to keep dropping throughout the day. It is now minus 2 degrees Fahrenheit and promises to get even colder before morning. I am somewhat curious what will become of school tomorrow. A snow day sounds perfectly wonderful, don't you think?

While James took Ben and Hannah out to church this evening, I stayed home with Mom. Although there is something intriguing about subzero temperatures, staying inside in this weather is much preferred, especially for over seventy women hooked up to oxygen tanks. Instead we ate some supper together and worked on a puzzle.

On one of my afternoon venture into the deep freeze in search of a small white dog, I decided to see if I could capture the cold on camera. The naughty dog was in the bushes at the front of the house and came out licking her chops. I suspect she has found a stash of "kitty treats" which I find absolutely repulsive!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Frozen Solid

It is winter and it is cold, but complaining about the weather will not make it pass any faster, nor will it make my feet any warmer. I recall a winter six or seven years ago when I read Endurance- Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. I know that spring will arrive in a few short months, but Shackleton and his men were stranded on the Antarctic icebergs for two years. They slept in tents on the ice and when summer came it probably felt about like my winter does now.

So today we ventured out to Webster again as is our Saturday tradition. We went to the bank first, and while Ben had his hair cut, Hannah and I wandered about in Hobby Lobby. To my dismay all the scrapbooks, extra pages, and paper were 50% off. I bought that kind of stuff last week... When we were finished there Hannah decided we should get a burrito at Moe's. How could I argue with that?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Funny Stuff

My Minnesota son had this photo on his Facebook this morning. He called it "Old Men of the Mountain." I am quite familiar with the "Old Man of the Mountain" in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and this is what first came to mind. Of course, that "Old Man" collapsed and fell off the mountain back in 2003. Was this something new? I took a closer look and found myself beginning to smile at a very new perspective on what could be an either old or new photograph.

A Brand New Day

I had a good night's sleep, thanks to a little bit of Benadryl, and the sun is shining this morning. Soon I will be headed up town to take Hannah to the chiropractor, otherwise known as "Dr. Matt." I think perhaps we shall make a visit to the library and possibly find a Dunkaccino somewhere along the way.

I am determined to smile, to enjoy the arctic temperatures, and have a much better day than yesterday, which shouldn't be too difficult. My camera batteries died this morning... Why is it they always die when I want it?... but I popped a few regular ones in to hold me over until the others recharge.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

FAIL

Ever have one of those days when you really want to have a good attitude but every time you turn around it disappears? It's not quite 10 o'clock. I think I'll go find my jammies and a cup of warm herbal tea and crawl into bed. Tomorrow is another day and if I'm going to keep that good attitude in sight, I'm going to need a good night's sleep to keep up with it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Take My Life, and Let It Be

This song has been on my mind for some time now. It has long been a favorite and a prayer of my heart, yet I still struggle with how to live the words. "Take my moments and my days..." I am learning how to let them go, still stubborn and holding on much of the time, but making progress. When I find myself grumbling, the Lord gently brings the words back to mind.

Take my life, and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee;
take my moments and my days,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
at the impulse of thy love;
take my feet, and let them be
swift and beautiful for thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
always, only, for my King;
take my lips, and let them be
filled with messages from thee.

Take my silver and my gold,
not a mite would I withhold;
take my intellect, and use
every power as thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it thine;
it shall be no longer mine.
take my heart, it is thine own;
it shall be thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
at thy feet its treasure store;
take my self, and I will be
ever, only, all for thee.

Another Babysitter Test

When in the midst of childcare responsibilities I care not to leave the little ones in the charge of another, but once in a while circumstances make this necessary. Yesterday afternoon I had a bank appointment and left my little ones with Hannah (Mom was here too) who was responsible to finish lunch detail and put them all down for a nap. I would be gone close to an hour and it seemed a fairly easy task. All would have gone smoothly if not for "The Babysitter Test." (Click here to see not only this test, but the previous tests as well.)

I left the house at 12:40 pm and returned at 1:30 pm. In that time The Test had been administered and, in my humble opinion, passed with flying colors. It seems My Little Guy had an upset tummy after my departure and returned a portion of his lunch to the plate in front of him and down the front of his shirt as well. My only clue was the small pair of pants and shirt I found rinsed and hanging on the laundry bucket in my downstairs bathroom. The little ones had been tucked into bed, stories had been read, and the mess had been cleaned up. Hannah had recovered from the trauma and was sitting in my favorite, big chair working on school.

I am not quite certain as to why or how these tests are determined, nor why they often occur when I have stepped out for a moment or two, but I am grateful that my kids are brave enough to tackle the messy jobs and come up smiling.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A is for Appple

A is for apple.

We live in a little house surrounded by apple orchards. The orchard is a favorite place to walk on summer evenings and autumn afternoons. In the spring they are adorned with pink blossoms and in the winter time the trees stand silent and waiting.

Down the road and around the corner is the Mott's applesauce plant. Many of the apples grown and picked locally end up being turned into juice or applesauce at Mott's here in Williamson (even though the foil covers on those little cups of applesauce say "Plano, Texas"... I don't think there are any apple orchards in Plano, but you can correct me if I'm wrong).

Keeping an orchard requires year round work. It seems there is scarcely a time when there is not something going on there. If they are not spraying or picking, they are trimming, pruning, or planting. Tractors run up and down the road early in the morning and late at night, and the noise of a far off (or not so far off...) sprayer can be heard most days.

Of course, one of the best things about apples is that they make wonderful pies!

Click here for more of ABC Wednesday Round 8.

Just Blink

Yesterday morning's temperatures were brutal. Although the sun was shining, it was deceptively cold, several degrees below zero. Since there was no school, there was no waiting at the bus stop. I must admit I was not disappointed. Since there was no school, there were no small children at my house either. I spent the entire day cleaning upstairs and finally uncovered my bedroom. Today we are forecast to have rain and children.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy Bloggy Birthday to Me!

It is a little hard to believe that tomorrow morning I will be celebrating five years of blogging. I was sure it was going to be just four, but when I went back and counted again I realized this is the year 2011 not 2010. Sorry just four candles on this cake...

My first post was short and sweet. I had no idea where it would take me and the wonderful friends I would meet.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 Getting Started
"My name is Martha and I was born and raised in upstate NY. I live out in the country and am surrounded by apple orchards and farmland, no where near New York City, in fact I've never even been there. I have a wonderful husband and a whole bunch of great kids! I've never tried a Blog before and I'm not quite sure exactly how this will turn out. It looked like it might be fun, so here I am."

I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed the blogging journey. My only regret is that I actually deleted a few of my earliest posts and found myself initially rather reluctant to converse with total strangers.

Life now is in many ways much the same as when I first began and yet in many ways vastly different. I have gone from having four children living home to just two, I have become *gasp!* a grandmother, and filled my house with daytime "flowers." I have bid a tearful goodbye to my dear father and had my mother move in with us. I've met some of my wonderful blog friends in person, exchanged cards and gifts with others, and lifted your names in prayer. I have been blessed by your encouragement, helped by your advice, and found myself smiling (or laughing out loud) while reading your stories and experiences. Thank you for being a part of my life!


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sleeping In

Saturday had finally arrived. No small children whose arrival would drag me out of bed before 7 am., no appointments to make, just a house that was quiet and still. I planned to sleep late, maybe until nine o'clock, but someone stirring in my kitchen woke me from my slumber. It was my dear mother; up, dressed, and washing the dishes. I will say that she was trying to do them quietly, but there are no carpets to absorb noise in this little house and so every sound carries.

I curled up in my favorite, big chair, tried to shake off the sleepies, and finally decided to hop in the shower with the hope that I would feel more awake upon my exit. Finally, I settled back into the chair to brush out my tangles. Pretty soon my mother said, "Well, maybe I'll take a walk out to the mailbox and get my newspaper..." This is akin to her saying, "How about you get out of that chair and fetch my newspaper?" but I played along. "I can just see you dragging your oxygen tank down the driveway through the snow," I said. But she didn't plan on taking it along, she'd just go without it. She's not fooling me. I got up, found my coat, boots, and mittens, and hauled myself out the back door.

She's not really so much different than me. I like to read my "newspaper" too, only mine happens to be on a little counter in the front room and is connected to a keyboard. Mom reads and rereads her newspaper several times each day (I just heard her fold it up again...), and so do I. I just wish her newspaper was delivered a little closer to the door than it is.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snowglobe

Sometimes the air is full of them; giant, fluffy, white flakes of snow, falling through the icy winter air. From the warmth of my living room, the world outside appears to be a life-size snow globe, shaken up and left to settle. It is a world fresh and clean, clothed in white. The air is crisp and snowflakes cover the ground like a thick, white down quilt. The world is in a winter slumber.

I am not always thankful for snowy days and temperatures well below freezing. Sometimes I forget to appreciate the beauty of these somewhat rare days. Not every winter day is fresh and clean. Not every winter day am I privileged to spend inside where it is warm and cozy.

The house is quiet and still. Little ones lie snuggled under blankets, a thumb or maybe a couple of fingers stuck into a small mouth. The fire hisses and my dog lets out a sleepy groan as she stretches on her rug in front of the stove. I should be curled up in my favorite, big chair, but time has gotten away and it will soon I will venture outside, drive to town, and bring Ben home from work. Somehow, right now, I am looking forward to crawling into my bed tonight, putting my head on my own familiar pillow, a warm husband by my side... My eyes are feeling sleepy already. Maybe I need another cup of coffee.

PS. It IS snowing in these photos. Click on them and you can see the flakes against both the tree trunk and the picnic table.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cold, Cold, Cold!

It was a very cold morning. The roads were what I call "slickery." My tires slid as I drove around corners and I dared not go too fast. The Little Guy and I went to the library while Hannah visited with Dr. Matt the Chiropractor. We also went to IGA and bought some pork chops and sauerkraut, a spiral cut ham, and some beef to put in my crockpot. This will make my mother happy. There will be dinner cooking at supper time and she will not wonder "what is going on here?"

I am not sure what happened to the laundry this week. Some of it has been resting quietly in laundry baskets, folded and waiting, while the last load shivered in the drier for three or four days, unfolded and wrinkled. The ten minute warm up cycle did not remove enough wrinkles to satisfy my mother who folded them for me. I didn't tell her how long they had been in the drier. She might think me an irresponsible housekeeper. There is another cold load in there now. I think I hear it calling me... Nah, I guess it isn't after all.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

S'no Joke

It should have been a snow day, but the little girls climbed on the school bus in spite of that and headed off to school. While Hannah played with the Little Guy, I helped Ben move and stack some of the firewood that was delivered yesterday. (It was in the process of being buried by the snowstorm.) I'd guess we moved and stacked a third to maybe almost half the pile. We'll have to find the rest when the snow melts.

I was scheduled for a meeting at the bank this morning but, due to extenuating circumstances, ended up staying home instead. James took my van to work and I did not have to fight traffic or brave the snowy highway. Truthfully, I didn't mind, I just hope we can get James' van unstuck later tonight. (Oops. Did I just say that? I wasn't going to tell... Well, at least I didn't post a picture.)

Anyway, while I helped Ben stack wood, my little "garden" grew by two. Simon and Lucas came to play while their daddy plowed driveways and their mommy cleaned a house. It was a noisy, busy kind of day, the kind I used to dread but now rather enjoy. When everyone had gone home and the house was quiet, Mom said it was no wonder she has hearing loss after babysitting for so many years. I didn't really think it was so bad and besides she does have the option of turning her "ears" off, or at least down a little.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

ABC Wednesday- Letter Z

Z is for Zydeco.

I always assumed this music was Cajun, but it turns out to be Zydeco which makes a very nice post for the letter Z. Actually for most of my life I was totally confused as to what kind of music this was. It sounded like the stuff my mother in law said her cousin played on the radio up in Nova Scotia and the guy was singing in French, but it appeared to be filmed in a hot and sunny climate, not quite like what I thought the maritime provinces of eastern Canada would be.



Come to find out the French were years ago ousted from Nova Scotia and sent to Louisiana. That explains the similar music style, the French language, and the summer time video. It all makes perfect sense.

By the way Z is also for zero and that is about what the temperature feels like outside right now. It's freezing!

To see the other participants in the new round of ABC Wednesday, click here!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Time is a Racer

Last week we celebrated the first family birthday of the year. In our usual style, we made pie. This time it was blueberry. By the time I had placed and lit 23 candles (actually I lit 24...) those first to be lit were growing quite small. Can one "grow" small? So, I am late to post Josiah's birthday. It has come and gone, but it was not forgotten.

There appears to be no slowing time down, instead it keeps gaining momentum and the days just fly by. I stayed home from church yesterday. We were ready to walk out the door when my stomach decided to do a flip-flop. I did not want to run from the sanctuary midway through Sunday school and so I opted to stay home. I curled up in the big brown chair with my pillow and favorite afghan and went to sleep. I did not get sick to my stomach but nursed a headache throughout the day. Better to be sick on the weekend, I guess. In no time it will be Sunday and I will be back at church again.

This afternoon my couches and the brown chair are full of "small plants." Josh has come to take his nap while his mommy has a throat culture done. Nap time is almost over and the "Little Guy" is whimpering in the crib upstairs. Should I get him or wait and see if he goes back to sleep? Soon Ben will call for a ride home from work, I will wake Hannah from her slumber, and then head out into the cold to retrieve my son. I will start supper, we will visit the nursing home, and in no time it will be tomorrow afternoon. At this rate it will be summer before I ever get my bedroom clean!

Guess I'd better go check on the boy...

Saturday, January 08, 2011

A Little Bit of Blizzard

Saturday is my day to run around and get as much accomplished in a few hours as is humanly possible. This is done while almost everyone else is attempting to do the same.

It was a lovely January day. James was working, Hannah was gone to a friend's, and Ben had spent the night with one of his brothers. I packed Mom into the van and headed out to Webster. While Mom spent a few hours at Rachel's house, I ran errands. I went to the bank and cashed a check. I went to another bank, cashed another check, and got a cashier's check to pay a bill. I went to the post office. I went to another bank and made a deposit. I stopped in BJ's and then went to Kohl's and Target to pay bills. Across the street I wandered about at Wegman's trying figure out what to feed my family and "flowers" this coming week. And then my final stop, Walmart, where I desperately tried to remember everything I needed in order to avoid a return trip in the near future.

The roads had been clear and dry all afternoon and it was just starting to snow when I started for my van in the Walmart parking lot. I was hungry and thought I'd take a quick run through the drive-thru at Taco Bell. In the ten minutes it took to get my Chalupas, a mini blizzard hit. The snow was falling quickly and piling up fast. Giant flakes stuck to my windshield and invaded the interior when I rolled the window down. By the time I pulled back onto the road, driving conditions were terrible and visibility was almost nil. I slid past one of my turns in a feeble attempt to slow down. I picked Mom up at Rachel's and started home only to find a rather large section of Rt 104 (between Rachel's house and Wegman's) closed due to a weather related accident. I had to wonder about all the red lights and slow lines that stretched my running of errands across three hours time, and once again thanked God for having me just where He wanted me to be throughout the day.

PS. No this photo is not from today. It was taken on an outing last January.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

... how does your garden grow?

It has been a busy week of "flower tending." Throw a migraine in the mix and it makes for one very tired "gardener." I am thankful today for both Benadryl, which helps me sleep through hideous headaches, and caffeine, which keeps me awake when I must not sleep. I am very much looking forward to laying my head on the pillow tonight and closing my eyes.

It has been nice to have my sisters visit this week and I truly appreciate them. Rachel was here Tuesday, and Priscilla came for a visit this afternoon.

Mom occupies my old, blue chair most of the day. She reads her newspaper, sleeps, and referees the children playing in my living room. I am not entirely grateful for her watchful eye... My moments of escape to the computer are not quite the same lately as Mom often asks "Where's Martha?" I am still trying to figure out whether or not to feel guilty. Nah, I think I just won't.

I will admit it can be hard for me to sit down and have an extended conversation with Mom. My house is busy during the day and I am often back and forth between the kitchen and living room. By the time evening arrives I am ready to sit by the computer or settle into a chair with one of those books I'm still trying to finish. So far I have been able to run out to the store or the bank during the day if I need to, but I don't like to leave Mom alone for extended periods of time. Usually one of the kids is here or I know Rachel will be coming over. I'm not really even sure how clear Mom's thinking is. Sometimes she seems okay, and other times she leaves me very much confused. I am grateful not to be doing this totally alone. I think James just may be her biggest advocate. He reminds me to look at the bright side and wash the "FAIL" stamp back off my forehead. He reminds me to laugh and keep on going. It's hard to believe he and Mom were once mortal enemies. That is God at work.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

ABC Wednesday- Letter Y

Y is for youth. (We're almost done with the alphabet! Can you believe it?)

My husband and I married young. You might say we "robbed the cradle" since we were both just seventeen. Ours has been like any marriage. We've had our struggles and moments of joy. We've had a house fill of young 'uns, a good share of pets, and plenty of noise and mess. We've grown up together and hopefully, we'll grow old together.

Some folks say teenage marriages are doomed to failure, but I wouldn't trade mine for anything. (Not today anyway...) All marriages take plenty of work and lots of sacrifice. And, with God's help we can survive. I know it is only by His grace that we have and will.



To see the other participants in the new round of ABC Wednesday, click here!

Monday, January 03, 2011

One Year Ago Today

One year ago we gathered at Mom's house to celebrate Josiah's birthday. Tomorrow he will have another birthday and rather than celebrate a day early, like last year, we will be celebrating on Wednesday which is a day late. Last year we had pistachio cake. Tomorrow we will have blueberry pie, even though I said we would have ice cream sundaes. I hope he isn't too disappointed. :)

I received two Christmas cards in the mail today. One was from my Aunt Barb and the other from my friend Della. What a great surprise! It even had a photo of all sixteen of her children lined up in a row from youngest to oldest. I have managed to learn the names of her girls but the older boys still have me guessing. Well, at least I know my own kids names, even if I do call them the wrong thing every once in a while. Just think, I only have seven names to go through before I get to the right one.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A New Year

Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." Revelation 21:5

Sometimes it takes a long time and a lot of work to make something, or someone, new. I know this because God has been working on my heart for a long time. Yes, He made me a new creature the moment I gave my heart and life to Him, I was justified immediately, but the sanctification part is an ongoing work and it takes a bit of cooperation on my part.

A few years back I prayed that God would scrape the dirt from the hidden corners of my heart and He has continued answering that prayer to this day. He knows exactly how much "cleaning" to do before it's time to give me a break, and He knows exactly which tools to use to get the job done. Now if only I can remember that He is the One bringing these "tests and trials" into my life and that they are really for my benefit and not total frustration.

If I am honest, I must admit that the past two months with my mom have been an "adjustment." There are challenging moments for each of us, moments when we must practice the art of setting our own wants aside and putting the wants and needs of someone else first. Unfortunately, this doesn't quite come naturally as I can be as selfish as the next guy. (Kathy, I'm still working on it.) I need constant reminders and thankfully, God is good at bringing those into my life. They come in the form of encouragement from friends and strangers alike, programs on the radio (thank you, James), and a book handed me by a friend who had no idea how applicable those written words would be. Incredibly, the issue I am struggling with often happens to be the very one that appears on the page precisely when I need it. I have been reading "Having a Mary Spirit" for over two months now and I continue to be amazed at God's timing. Isn't He awesome?