Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dear Lord...

Dear Lord,

This New Year I ask that you give me more wisdom and insight; wisdom to know what to do or say when circumstances and situations are beyond my knowing, and insight to see ahead of time when trouble is looming down the road, especially trouble that can be avoided.

I don't want to throw stones, Lord, and I truly want to believe the best, but sometimes the best is not reality. Sometimes I am naive, sometimes I am blind, sometimes I have looked the other way when I should have been paying attention. Sometimes I have simply done what I thought was best instead of seeking Your advice. Please forgive me, Lord, and show me how to deal with what is now before me.

Beams and specks... help me to know the difference...

Shine the light of Your word on my path that I might follow in Your footsteps instead of making my own way in the world.

Pour Your love in and through me that I might love those you bring into my life. Sometimes it is hard, Lord, especially when they give so many reasons to be hurt or angry instead.

Teach me to judge the thoughts and intents of my own heart, to give to You that which causes my heart to become hard and callous, and to become pliable in Your Hand.

May I learn to trust you more each day, to thank you for each blessing you bestow, and to cherish every breath.

May I treasure every loved one, forgive their mistakes and misdeeds, and remember that even they won't be around forever.

And please Lord, keep the memory of my dad alive in my heart and mind. Please tell him that I love him and we're taking care of Mom.


Happy New Year and a Blogger Surprise

Yesterday I stayed home; today we needed cat food. The bag was empty, so putting it off was not an option. I headed to Webster, ran my errands, and stopped to visit my mom. (She was working on a puzzle.)
When I returned home, I found a package on the kitchen table. The label told me it had come from my blog friends, Tracy and Denis, who came to visit us this past summer. Inside the box are some yummy chocolate covered treats, Marion berry jam, and a picture book of the Pacific Northwest Coast. (James thinks it looks like a great place to visit...) I am supposed to "share" but I haven't yet decided if that is really a necessity. :)

I hope you all have a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dinner Guests

"The Vonage device cannot contact the Vonage network."

This was not exactly the kind of message I wanted to hear when I picked up my telephone yesterday morning. I was expecting company for dinner and we had not yet totally finalized our plans. Telephones are quite helpful in these situations and yet I found myself without one. Service was sporadic and while it was working, I found the cell number I had for Heather was not correct. I sent her a message on Facebook, hoped for the best, and waited while the phone service went out again, this time for hours.

What to do? There was not much I could do about the telephone connection, so I decided to put a roast in the crock pot, wash the badly neglected kitchen floor, and give the dog a bath. Ben and Hannah helped me put away folded clothes and vacuumed the rugs and floors. I cut up and cooked a pumpkin for pie and then decided to have cookies and ice cream for dessert instead.

In the end Heather was able to call me (thanks to some help from Nate and Cheney) and our friends arrived for dinner a little after 6 pm. Nathan and Josiah came too and enjoyed a game of Scattergories with Cheney, Ben and Hannah while the adults chatted. Davin made his wishes known with his eyes. They say "it's all in the eyes" and I think it must be true. He wanted that drink and he thought the cookies looked mighty good too. And, as usual, thought James highly entertaining.

I am looking forward to spending some time with our friends who moved back to New Jersey six years ago and will soon be returning to this area.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


High winds whipped across the dark and snowy landscape as I snuggled down into bed last night. Some are frightened, or at least unnerved by the wind, but most often I find myself lulled to sleep by the relentless sound of a winter blizzard.

As I lay listening in the darkness, memories crept in and I once again found tears rolling down and soaking my hair and ears. My dad, out "scrounging" wood for the fireplace. My dad, brushing snow off his little truck before leaving for work on a dark winter morning. My dad, sipping hot coffee in front of the wood stove on a cold, blustery morning...

Every time I closed my eyes a new memory would flood my mind; walking to the junior high school every morning for three years, the same school Dad attended when he wrote his first journal, hiding from the freezing cold in the backyard woodshed or in the evergreens, Dad throwing an extra blanket on my bed on extra cold nights.

In spite of the tears that creep from the corners of my eyes, there is still a strange comfort in those childhood memories. We had a warm house on cold winter days, full of wonderful smells and good things to eat, a daddy who would pull into the driveway each night and tell stories of his day at work and maybe draw us some pictures or play his harmonica, and a mom who was there throughout each day to love and encourage us, look out for us when we were sick, and love the daddy who worked so hard to provide for us a home.

They are good memories of days gone by, days that will return over and over in my mind. I guess those days are never really gone forever if they live on in the hearts and minds of the children who lived them. Once again I am blessed.

PS. The photo is borrowed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Snow Buddy Knows

I woke this morning to the sound of a snowplow going down the road. What a surprise to find a world of white when yesterday was wet and green. It was a great morning for sitting by the fire with a cup of hot coffee and a basket of laundry to fold. It was a good day for running the vacuum cleaner and putting things away. It was a wonderful day for an afternoon nap.
Ben and Hannah are off to a Progressive Dinner with a local church youth group and James is gone to the nursing home in Penfield. The house is quiet aside from the occasion groan or snore from a cat or dog and the crackling of the fire. Every once in a while I hear the wind pick up outside. The forecast calls for more snow and wind. It will be a good night to throw an extra blanket on the bed. On cold nights I am thankful for the bed warmer who sleeps just on the other side of me. When I get cold, I snuggle in a little closer to him.

Is it Thursday Yet?

Thirteen Thoughts on Christmas...

1. Christmas is really about remembering Christ's birth; that God actually clothed himself in human flesh and came into this world to offer us hope.
2. Jesus tends to get forgotten in the commercialization of the holidays.
3. There is a child-like wonder in hearing the story of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem during a candle light Christmas eve service.
4. I miss having nativity pageants, plays, concerts, and contadas at church.
5. I love old Christmas carols, the ones we used to sing in church, and "Away in the Manger" is still my favorite.
6. Giving and receiving gifts is fun, but I'm beginning to think it needs to be done in increments.
7. Shopping on the day after Christmas is more fun than shopping before.
8. Maybe we should exchange gifts on New Years...
9. I want to give more to those who can't give back.
10. Cutout cookies should be made early in the month and enjoyed by children each day after lunch.
11. A family Christmas party sounds like a good idea; a Bible reading, some music, white elephant gifts, and a few snacks and games.
12. Real trees smell better than fake ones.
13. I miss my Dad.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Printing Press

Christmas has come and gone for another year. The big project for me began just four weeks ago when I found Dad's first journal in the attic at my parent's house. After reading it myself, I knew it needed to be copied and shared with my family.

Christmas is really about Christ and how the God of the Old Testament loved us so much that He clothed Himself in human flesh, was born in a stable, grew and sacrificed Himself on our behalf. Along our way through life, He is there. Sometimes He walks quietly alongside us and other times He makes Himself known in ways so obvious that it is impossible to deny He is there. Such was the case with Dad's journal.

I spent many evenings deciphering words on the pages, written sometimes in pencil so light I had to squint to see it. When the copying was complete I found I missed those evenings spent with my fifteen year old father. He loved the Irondequoit Bay, spent many days working on a farm, and woke up late for school more often than early. He shared hopes and dreams as well as frustrations and heartbreak. I came to know him in a new way.

I printed page after page of journal, folded and set them in order. There were last minute additions, like the ship he drew inside the front cover, and a few typos I missed (It says 2009 instead of 1947 in one entry). I left Dad's spelling errors in order to preserve the authenticity and here and there left my own italicized explanation of people and placed mentioned.

James stayed home on Wednesday to bind the pages together and make covers for eleven books. They turned out beautiful and we were able to give one to each of my children, both my sisters and my mom, and still have one for James and me.

I am grateful for a God who loves me so much that He gave us a Christmas present from Dad sixty-two years ago. He knew we would be blessed all these years later when we spent our first holiday without our precious earthly father.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Little Christmas Music

If you frequent Bethany's blog, you may know that Josh likes Christmas music. It makes him want to dance. His dancing makes us smile. Tomorrow will be fun.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Visions of Sugar Plums

My little Sugar Plums are excited. Today was the preschool Christmas party and they are full of ginger. I let them open my gifts to them when we arrived home this afternoon. It is a distraction from lunchtime as I honestly doubt they would eat anything after filling up on cookies and treats at school.

I gave each girl a wrapped shoebox and inside they found a stuffed polar bear, some Play Dough, and a pair of silly glasses. They have forgotten all about lunch and are happily making "spaghetti" with a mini Fun Factory. Oh, to be a kid again!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cookie Helpers?

This morning I finally got around to rolling and baking my Christmas cutout cookies. I have been meaning to do this for days now but it just didn't happen. Yesterday afternoon I went out shopping and got home too late to bother with cookie dough, instead we went to evening church here in Williamson and Ben and Hannah ended up going out caroling with the teen group there.

This morning seemed a good time to sort through the cookie cutters and undertake the task. I cut trees, stars, snowmen, stockings, candy canes, and snowflakes. Bella found it fun to watch, especially if there was the possibility of getting a cookie out of the deal. I wasn't so sure it was a good idea for her to "help" as she has a tendency to have a soggy thumb. Believe it or not I didn't notice the finger in the nose until I looked at the photograph.

Now it's lunch time and I'm taking a little break before I get the gingerbread dough out of the refrigerator. We will be baking little gingerbread men very soon and maybe even some gingerbread bears. Mmmm!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Every year goes by faster than the previous. Lucas turned one year old yesterday and this evening there was a big birthday party with plenty of aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. Lukie was a good sport and wore a party hat for a bit, but really preferred to pinch the hats instead. He was more than happy to grab a hand and practice walking back and forth through the building. Soon enough he'll be walking on his own.

The snowman cake was yummy and the ice cream was delicious and Lucas received enough presents that we have decided to return everything we bought him for Christmas (or maybe save them for next year). I am kidding, of course. He got some very nice outfits and a few cute toys. I guess his toy box is not so full that he can't fit in a few more things...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Another Christmas Tea

My brother Tim is autistic. When we were little girls, the term "autism" was not in use as it is today, in fact most professionals knew so little about it that they often blamed the parents for the condition of the child. Many parents don't know the cause of their child's autism, but my mother knows exactly what happened to her firstborn son. An induced labor left her unable to breathe and her newborn son with brain damage.
Mom and Dad never hid Tim away or pretended he didn't exist. They kept him home for as long as they were able and, when circumstances made it necessary to find him a new home, they searched diligently for the best place. In the 1960's there weren't many options and Tim eventually ended up being placed in the State School. Every other Sunday we took a forty-five minute drive to Newark, NY and took Tim out for a ride to get a hamburger and a milk shake.
The State School has now been shut down and most of its residents live in smaller group homes of 10-12 residents. It is a far cry from the institutional setting where they once spent their days. I don't see my brother often, but since my father's passing, Rachel has taken up the task of taking Mom to visit Tim and go out for a drive to Wendy's each week where they buy a few Frosties and enjoy some time together.

Today was the annual Christmas Tea at the house where Tim lives. We missed Dad with his banjo and harmonica, playing and singing Christmas carols, but it was a good time anyway. And all three sisters were able to be there along with Mom and Aunt Margie.

(Thank you, Rachel, for taking the time each week to show your love, not only for Mom and Tim, but for Dad as well. We all know it would mean the world to him. I think he's smiling now.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winter's Arrival

James and Ben arrived home this afternoon with a tree to decorate and, after the supper things were cleaned up, Hannah set to work stringing the lights. She is quite pleased that we actually have a real tree this year as last year we opted to use a table-top tree rather than go out and buy a real one. She and Ben both say "the smell of dusty plastic just isn't the same as having a real tree".

She didn't decorate totally on her own. I helped her string some of the lights and we both sorted through and hung ornaments. I suppose we will have to buy a box or two of candy canes as they do enjoy "picking" one every now and then. I sure don't want to disappoint anyone with something as simple and easy as candy canes.

The snow has arrived in abundance and I am thankful that today my tires have tread.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Countdown to Christmas

The days are flying by. December will have come and gone before we know it and there are still so many things to be done. I have finished copying Dad's journal and am on to print preparation... Thus far I have refused to let the pressure of the holiday season get me down, and have only lost two December weekends to illness. Never mind that we have only had two weekends to December and the next one promises to be busy. (There is a birthday party planned for this Saturday because somebody is turning one...) Jim plans to arrive in town Sunday. I am looking forward to wrapping my arms around my oldest boy and giving him a big, long hug. I have missed him.
I had thought to tell you about our shopping excursions with Bella and Emma, but found these photos instead; some memories from last year, preserved not only in a few photographs, but a video tape as well, thanks to Josiah and a college professor who gave him an old video camera so he could record some of his grandfather's stories. I'm glad he took up the task and actually did it.
The camera man eventually wore out and decided to take a nap, but not before asking grandpa about several of his childhood adventures. There is even one story on the tape that I had never heard before. Who could have known that they would be such a gift this year?

Monday, December 14, 2009

White as Snow

Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Is. 1:18

Scarlet sins covered in white...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Abundance of Things

And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."Luke 12:15

My cats aren't worried about being ready for Christmas. They haven't been out shopping and they aren't expecting any presents. They own nothing but the furs they wear and ask only for a warm place to sleep, a bowl of food, and the occasional taste of milk.

So, Christmas is just around the corner and, in my usual fashion, I feel as though I will fall short. But fall short of what? Short of my own expectations mostly, and that because I keep forgetting what the season is supposed to be about. It isn't about acquiring possessions, either for myself or for others.

Christmas is about sharing the love of God because He shared His love with us one dark night over two thousand years ago. He clothed His word in flesh and sent it to us in the form of a tiny baby. This is the reason we celebrate, because He gives us hope in a world otherwise filled with hopelessness. There is reason to smile, there is reason to sing, there is reason to celebrate, and there is great cause to be thankful.

There isn't much I need and there isn't much my children need, but there is a world full of needy people, people who need to know the real reason Jesus came. I need Him, my children need Him, my family needs Him, and we need to share His message. The love of Christ is one possession that grows the more we give it away, so this Christmas I pray that God will enable me to give His love away in a way I have not known before. Hold on, the ride has just begun.!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Poor Honey

My poor Honey is sick in bed. I hope this means we will be done with tummy bugs for many days to come. I am off to the grocery store and other sundry spots. I think I shall purchase a few more cans of Chicken Soup with Rice and a box or two of crackers. I doubt I'll be cooking any big meals for a while. Grilled cheese might just be as fancy as it gets.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chicken Soup

"In December I will be a baubled, bangled Christmas tree
with soup bowls draped all over me.
Merry once, merry twice,
Merry chicken soup with rice."

I had chicken soup with rice tonight. Now I am ready to "hit the sack". I'm hoping for a better day tomorrow. I'll say one thing for being sick, it makes me appreciate the good days all the better. I couldn't help but think of my dad who never complained during his struggle. I am a wimp, but I am learning and I think there might be hope.

Bitten by the Bug

Picture this child about 40 years older with a small white dog next to her instead of a cat. Yes, I have been bitten by the bug and let me tell you, some suppers should not be served just prior to being ill...

It has been a quiet, achy day with several stops to rest on the couch, several Advil, a few cups of tea, and a couple cups of ginger ale. I am rather reluctant to eat anything at the moment but maybe I will have some Chicken soup later.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Bit of the Bubbly

Something didn't smell quite right yesterday afternoon and I discovered a certain somebody had created quite the mess. (Remnants of a recent stomach bug have wreaked havoc on one small digestive system...)

After carefully removing the socks and overalls from one small boy, I summoned help. One person to hold the child upright, another to roll the onsie up and over without smearing his little head with the offending substance. We decided a bath and change of clothes (duh!) was in order. Large kitchen sinks sure do come in handy. We had him cleaned up and smelling sweet in no time and he only cried when we took him out of the water.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

If You Don't Like the Weather...

... just wait a minute.
Yesterday was green and mild, today is white and sloppy. The wind is busy blowing, rain is hitting the windows and winter is gearing up for a comeback. I rather prefer the softly falling flakes to wet, packy slop but no one asked me which kind of snow I was looking for and I am likely to get the flakey dry stuff sooner than I think. Talk about a change of scenery! The trees are gone, dark gray clouds fill the sky, and a blanket of snow covers the hill across the street. It looks rather bleak at the moment, and "The Claw" was busy in the back orchard this morning. Rumor has it the back hedgerow is being removed.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Healthy Dose of Chaos

Parent/teacher conferences meant a few extra kids in the house this afternoon. Tyler and Troy came on the bus and Makayla met us at preschool. At home the Lincoln Logs and Playmobil came out to play and blankets draped themselves over tables to create wonderfully exciting hiding places. Children ran circles through my living rooms and made lots of noise. It was chaotic and I liked it. (James opted to work away from home this afternoon.)

For days I have felt lazy and unproductive, but today I felt pretty good. After dropping the girls and Colton (we pick him up on the way) off at preschool I went to Ladies' prayer at church. After prayer I went to Staples and purchased a pack of banker's boxes, stopped at Wegman's for a few groceries, and was able to take them home before preschool was over. This afternoon I did laundry and made lunches for five kids, and... ta da!... I cleaned out my TV/game cabinet. The toys are all put away and the hide out has been dismantled. Maybe tonight I will dig through my closet and find the Christmas decorations. They say that snow is on the way!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Josh Talks

As amazing as it was to watch my own children grow it is even more amazing to watch my grandchildren. I can hardly believe it when I listen to this little guy talk. He is so cute and funny (most of the time) and although he usually call me "Buppa" there have been a few times when he has decided to call me "Martha" like Emma and Bella.

Bella was taking a nap when Josh arrived this afternoon. He was supposed to gather pine cones with Mommy, but she made the mistake of coming inside first and Josh decided to "take off his coat and stay a while". "Do you want to play toys?" he asked me. How could I resist?

On a side note, I think the tummy bug is past now, at least here. It hit at least four of the seven children who were here last Thursday, and then went on to take down my mom, Dave and Leta, as well as Bella's mom. It hits hard and fast and reminds me of a Christmas gathering in Colorado a few years back where two thirds of the family was violently ill. Luckily it is short lived.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

A Dark and Quiet Day

With both of my children, the two still at home, feeling under the weather, the house has been unusually quiet. I have had the washer running and now hear the rhythmic clacking of a sleeping bag tumbling in the dryer and the clicking of computer keys as I tediously copy Dad's journal. So far I have copied six and a half weeks and have about four more to go, July 22, 1947 - Oct. 5, 1947.

I have taken a break here and there to wash dishes, load the washing machine and fold the clothes. I also took a run up to the grocery store for sick supplies; ibuprofen, Robitussin DM, soup, and, of course, more ginger ale. Both Ben and Hannah have spent the entire day on a couch. Good thing we have two.

It's a rather dark and dreary kind of afternoon, good for sleeping, and quiet too. Did I mention that? We had turned the radio on to listen to Christmas carols earlier but then came one with a high pitched woman's voice, not all together pleasant, and Hannah turned it off. Maybe later we'll dig up a Christmas movie to watch. I wonder if we have "The Bishop's Wife"?

Friday, December 04, 2009

That is Sick!

It has been a sick week. Ben was feeling slightly off Sunday evening and by Monday morning he was cooking a nice fever, 102.7. By Tuesday afternoon I began to have concerns when he started twitching, breathing heavy, and looking as though he was either going to start hallucinating or pass out. I took him to the doctor who determined it was not strep but likely one of those very nice viruses traveling about. She suggested 3 Motrin every 6 hours. It seemed to work well as long as we kept ahead of it. Wednesday evening he seemed to be coming out of it and was fine yesterday too. This afternoon he seems to have suffered a relapse though the fever is not what is was earlier in the week.

Hannah feels rather pukey tonight. No fun. This is not what she wanted this weekend, she had plans. Emma was sick over Thanksgiving and everyone we talk to seems to be coughing. Good thing I stocked up on giner ale. It is what my father always brought home for sick tummies, and Canada Dry is the best. I just may be picking up a few more bottles tomorrow.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A Change of Scenery

"The Claw" has returned and the old apple trees across the street are destined for the fire. Impressive is an understatement. This massive piece of equipment is ruthless when it comes to old trees. They don't stand a chance. There is no fighting back, no resisting, instead they are "plucked" up by the roots like a mere weed. (You all know there is an analogy here...) I don't believe there is much chance of these old apple trees being redeemed. They have lived long and borne much fruit. I believe they did a good job and produced just exactly what was expected, but they are old trees now, soon to be replaced by new stock, and there is not much call for apple wood in the woodworking industry. I'm glad I'm not a tree and that I am held in the Father's hand. I don't need to worry about "The Claw".

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Happy Birthday to You

Happy Birthday to my very favorite mother in law!

Now don't you roll your eyes at me. That's what Leta did the very first time I called her my favorite daughter in law and she still holds that title. You very well may hold the favored position forever!

I love seeing your exuberance show up in my children; their love of art, music, nature, photography... I smile when I see you appear in that little dance My Darling does when the holidays are near, music is playing on the radio, and he is happy... you know the one, I'm sure you do.

It's been three years now since you were here, a visit is long overdue. See? I am keeping track. There is another wedding in New Mexico this spring... hey, maybe we can all make this one too. We can always hope...

The day is almost done and I am late posting this. I do hope you had a super day full of things you love and that turning 70 was every bit as wonderful as you had hoped. Though we couldn't be there, we send our love and wishes for another year full of fun and adventure. Christmas is just around the corner and I hear you are heading to Dallas, so you are off to a good start!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

"The Life of Me"

Sunday afternoon I went up to the attic bedroom at Mom's house to see what needs to be done before Jim comes home for Christmas (just in case he decides to spend a bit of time there...). I was distracted by peeking into the attic. Though there is not really much stored away up there, once in a while I find a treasure. Sunday I hit the jackpot; I found two very old journals of my dad's and a box of letters various people sent to James and I when we lived in Albuquerque. I will go through the letters eventually, for now I am concentrating on the journals. They have captured my attention.

My eyes are puffy, my throat is scratchy, and I continue to pour over dusty old documents. Allergy medicine and decongestant are helpful in my quest. I must remember to be thankful for them. I'm not sure if I will ever get all the old notes, papers, and journals into any semblance of order, they are jumbled together with video and audio recordings, photographs and memories, but with the Lord's help maybe something will eventually come together.

I hope my family will be patient with me as I endeavor to copy and print out Dad's first journal. I was both blessed and amazed at what I found and I think they will be too.