Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday Nights

We are still heading out to the nursing home on Monday nights. I find that most Mondays I am feeling somewhat under the weather; tired, achy, generally blah and wanting to stay home. Most nights I go in spite of myself, find that I am actually feeling fine, and blessed for it besides. We have come to love the little band of people that come out to hear us sing and shake our hands.

This was my father's passion. When he was sick his biggest concern was for Mom and his nursing home services. He id four. Dad was a much better musician than any of us, a more accomplished speaker than James (he did it for 30 years...), and had developed a deep love for the people he served that we are only just beginning to understand.

We were missing a few of our regulars this week. Betty, whose hand I held as I talked with her last week, had a mini stroke and was in her room. Millie, Betty's best friend, was not feeling herself either. These folks don't always remember our names, but they are always glad to see a smiling face, be given a hug, and asked about their lives. They are thrilled and often surprised when we remember who they are.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Winter Chill

Winter is strengthening its grip on us. The days have been cold and gray, and I find that I must wear my mittens or suffer the consequences of chapped hands. Though I heard there has been snow nearby, it has not had any significant accumulation at my house. I don't mind, I rather like clean, dry roads.

I am finding myself in quandary lately, a battle of the mind, I guess. I wish I could say that I never struggle with selfish thoughts and tendencies, that I always have a smile on my face, and put the needs of others ahead of myself, but that would be delusional. I am coming to discover it is best to admit my weaknesses and fall upon God's mercy. He already knows my failures and waits for me to confess. It is only in confession and dependence upon Him that I can be made whole.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey Soup

It was a different kind of Thanksgiving. My sisters were both with in-laws this November, and I think I missed my dad even more this year than last. We had a much smaller gathering, though I wouldn't say it was necessarily "quiet." I have decided that my father's was a calming presence and this is what was missing. A sense of calm will be something to pray and strive for come Christmas. All our local children made an appearance this year and our own family grows by one or two each year. This year we added Simon and Nathan's fiance, Sabrina.

Thanksgiving Soup was on the menu tonight. I have come to love my crock pot for making turkey soup and the carcass goes into it as soon as we have picked the bigger pieces of meat off the bones. Today I threw in some leftover mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, along with some baby carrots. It made a yummy supper tonight and will make a nice lunch tomorrow as well.

I am also proud to announce that even my sons are able to make wonderfully delicious pumpkin pies. Jim tried his hand at a Thanksgiving dessert this year. I guess he was watching me in the kitchen too. His friend's mother left this note on his Facebook page today, "Jim Teal makes the BEST Pumpkin Pie EVER! Glad you could come Jim!" along with this note to me, "You should be proud Martha! It came out Fantastic! I just finished the piece I hid last night! ;-)"
You have to know that made me smile.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanks Be to God

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15

The turkey is in the oven and I have a moment to sit down before the fun begins in earnest. Well, before I need to finish cleaning the house and peel the potatoes anyway.

It is a day to be especially thankful, a day to make certain that we stop for a moment, count our blessing, and acknowledge the One who loves us more than anyone else ever could; One who is beside us each step of the way, and who paid the ultimate price that we might have our sins covered by the blood of Christ.

This Thanksgiving Day I am thankful for many things but one in particular comes to mind. It involves a wayward son, a mother's desperate prayer, and a near head on collision with a DOT dump truck...

Moms and Dads want nothing more that to see their children grow into successful, law abiding citizens, but sometimes our children follow a path quite the opposite of what we had hoped and dreamed. Though our situation could have been much more dire, I knew deep inside we were headed in that direction if something in our son's life didn't change. In a moment of desperation I cried out to the Lord, "Please,... ... ... do whatever it takes..." It was a frightening prayer because I knew that sometimes God uses desperate measures to reach His children.

Dave and Leta had been married for about five months when I got a teary phone call from my daughter in law. All she knew was that Dave had been in a bad accident, he was still alive, and had been taken to a hospital in Rochester, NY. It was Dave's friend, Chris, who really knew the severity of the situation and when I watched tears roll down his cheeks in the waiting room at the ER, I had to stifle the panic that wanted to well up within.

Dave had been delivering pizzas for work when he stopped to make a left-hand turn. It was a dark rainy day when on a cold, soggy stretch of highway not far from home, he was rear-ended by a pickup truck which pushed him into oncoming traffic. The on coming traffic was the DOT dump truck whose driver swerved just enough to avoid a full head-on impact that surely would have left our son dead. Miraculously, he survived the initial collision, the subsequent spinning and bouncing off the dump truck, and narrowly escaped being thrown out the passenger side window. He also walked away with seeming minor injuries which continue this day to be little reminders of God's mercy. Little did we know that he had actually fractured his C-7 (neck).

Rarely does a life change overnight or in an instant, and there was a moment when I looked heavenward and said, "God, it didn't work," but in His love God had begun a work in Dave that He wasn't about to give up on. He began to open my son's eyes to the love and grace of God, to a Savior who actually gave His life that we might live, and to Dave's own responsibility to give back to God which was rightfully His to begin with.

So, this on Thanksgiving, like several before, I am thankful for the life of my son and God's amazing mercy and grace in not only his life, but ours as well.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winding Down or Gearing Up?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I feel unprepared. I'm not sure when the panic will set in, maybe tomorrow. I do not need to make pie as that base has been covered. We will have pumpkin pie, apple pie, and blueberry pie, and a cheesecake too, I think. The turkey is waiting in the fridge... We will have eleven for dinner and a few more for dessert. Maybe panic is unnecessary...

Mine and Bethany's pie making days are coming to an end. We are winding down just in time to gear up for Christmas. Today was a baking day for Beth, and tonight I will help her deliver her Thanksgiving cache' of pastries. Next Wednesday will be lonely without her. Maybe we'll have to find another reason to be in the kitchen all day.

Today I rearranged my living room for the holidays, and probably the entire winter. We need more room for tables and guests, and Hannah would like to have a "real" Christmas tree, because she likes the smell of fresh pine branches. Christmas carols will soon fill the air and Josh will be asking to hear "Frosty the Snowman" repeatedly. Children will bounce off walls and I will be stressed about the next celebration. :) I must recall the lesson my cats taught me last year, if I can do that I will not be stressed, I will enjoy the season instead.

This year Hannah is in a Christmas play at church, there is a Christmas Tea at my brother's residence, and a Gingerbread House night at church as well. I hope to bake cookies with Emma and her mom, and watch a few Christmas videos with my kids. I am looking forward to these events and maybe, just maybe, a little bit of Christmas shopping. Mostly, I want to enjoy this special time of year and be able to share the love of our Savior in a new and different way.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

ABC Wedenesday Letter S

S is for sisters. I have two.

My brothers were both older than me; my sisters are both younger. I was not yet three when Priscilla came along just before Christmas in 1966. Rachel arrived two years later well before Thanksgiving. While I remember Mom being pregnant with Rachel, my memories of Priscilla's arrival are a bit more hazy. In any case we all had a lot of fun together as children. We played dolls and Fisher Price, rode bicycles, and played in the woods. Mom and Dad took us camping, read us stories, and drew with us around the table on cold winter evenings. They have been there through the good times and the terrible and I don't know what I would ever do without them. This week I am thankful for many things. One of the big ones is my sisters.

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

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Brother's Guardian Angel

My brother Tim was born in November of 1958. Although his arrival was a joyous occasion, the joy soon faded to fear and often heartbreak. A hormone induced labor and a mid-forceps birth left my parents newborn baby with injuries that would follow him for a lifetime. Now fifty-two years later he lives in a state home with other special needs adults.

Autism is a word we hear quite often. It is often applied to children who have idiosyncrasies that make them slightly different from the rest of society, but my brother was born before most people had ever heard the term. His is a severe, nonverbal form of this disorder.

My parents raised five children. I don't know whether we all had guardian angels or shared the same one, but I know whoever kept watch over my brother worked over time. Two stories in particular come to mind. When Tim was small for some reason my mom had some Castor beans. Knowing they were deadly poison, she buried them in the bottom of a container full of other seed packets. They were on the very bottom. As she vacuumed her carpet one day, she heard a voice call out to her, "Arlene!" Thinking she was hearing things she continued to vacuum but the voice called out again. "Arlene!" Mom rounded the corner to the other room just as her little boy started to put a Castor bean into his mouth. He had emptied the container and found the bean-like seeds at the very bottom.

Another time there was a loud knock at the front door where an angry neighbor stood with my brother by the arm. The man was visibly shaken and relayed the story of how he had come out of his house and gotten into his car to go to work. Somehow he had been unable to turn the key in the ignition. "I was compelled to get out and walk around my car," he said. On doing so he had found my brother sitting behind the rear wheel. I don't know whether you believe in God or not, but I find it hard to believe that evolution could come up with an explanation for stories like this.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Family Ties and Tangles

Sometimes family history gets confusing. It hard enough keeping track of aunts, uncles, and cousins without trying to remember the names of all my ancestors, but I try anyway.

Once upon a time the Harwood family reunion was the highlight of the summer. Long before I was born my father's family gathered in the hills of Allegany county with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. I can just imagine the fun it must have been if seventy years later those once children still recall it fondly.

My great great great grandfather George W. Harwood married Margaret Almira Bixby in September of 1852. Four months later, on January 1, 1853, George's brother, Rufus, married Margaret's sister, Hannah. If that wasn't confusing enough, in 1870 George and Rufus' father (also named Rufus) married Margaret and Hannah's mother, Fannie Betts Bixby.

George and Margaret Harwood had eleven children. I stared at the list trying to recall which was the next of my ancestors and found myself confused. Well, of course it was the daughter who was given the same name as her mother, Margaret Almira. No wonder I was stumped. Years ago large families were common and parents often named their children, both sons and daughters, after a parent or other family member.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about my great grandma (the granddaughter of George and Margaret Harwood) and yesterday found a curious email in my inbox. This is what it said, "I came across your Lookin’ Up blog and noticed we have a common ancestor, so I thought I would drop you a line." It turns out the writer's great, great grandmother was the sister of my great grandma. How cool is that?

Friday, November 19, 2010


For a little while now I have been contemplating a new camera. I miss the old one, the one that took nice, crisp photographs with bright, clear colors. It froze up a few years ago and when I tried to replace it, I bought one that was a step or two below the first one. It has been disappointing. No one ever asks me anymore what kind of camera I have and I don't love the pictures I take near as much. So,... I am contemplating.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I must admit that Thursdays have been feeling rather drab and mundane. This is simply because of all the excitement here on Wednesdays this fall. Bethany, Josh, and Molly the Dog have come over almost every Wednesday since sometime in September. We set up the kitchen to make pies and spend almost the whole day at the table cutting apples, stirring up fillings, mixing and rolling dough, assembling, and sometimes baking. We have been known to make about 18 pies in one day, but that is not all that is happening here on Wednesdays. There are also children; my small "3 flower garden," and typically a few little grandsons. Hannah runs off to help Leta clean my cousin's house leaving Bethany and I to monitor children and get the pies together. Then there is Benjamin who must be taken to his math class for an hour and a half in the middle of the day. (This is our little break from pie making.) Bethany takes Ben to his class while I attempt to get lunch on the table and listen for the school bus to return "Flowers 1 and 2." After lunch we read two stories and the little people go down for a nap. If I am lucky I get to grab some lunch before Bethany returns to resume pie making. Of course there are the usual interruptions from crying (or fighting) children, dogs who must go out, or the rare telephone call. By the time late afternoon rolls around we have often totally forgotten about supper, so there is a mad rush to solve that little dilemma also. We wrap up pies, pack the supplies back into boxes, clean up the kitchen, and pack everything back into Bethany's car. Once it is evening we are so tired that we just want to collapse, but Bethany has, on occasion, been known to make an appearance at a Wednesday night church service. So, by the time Thursday rolls around, all the excitement for the entire week has already been spent on Wednesday, leaving Thursday feeling rather,... well, boring.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Who is That?

Ben and Hannah went to the mall with some friends on Saturday... They decided not to take Justin home. (Hannah says he was more expensive than Edward... and they left him there too.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

ABC Wednesday- Letter R

R is for rest and relaxation (and also for rocking chair)

I love rocking chairs. Maybe it is because my parents always had several. In the evenings, after the dishes were done and we children had been tucked into bed, Mom and Dad sat in their rocking chairs and talked quietly. We couldn't always hear exactly what they were saying, but the sound of their voices was comforting just the same. There was nothing nicer than to crawl up into the lap of a loving parent, rest of their chest, and sip the last drops from their coffee cup.

As a child I would climb into a big rocking chair, start to rock back and forth, and inevitably find myself at the tipping point. I would make a mad grab for the front of the seat in an effort to keep the whole thing from toppling over backward. Sometimes I was successful.

Now I have a home pretty much void of rocking chairs. The two I had inside are broken, and the one I keep on my back porch doesn't rock smooth and nice. What I do have is a child-size wicker rocker that I picked up at a sale this summer. It is a wonderful place to rest and relax if only one's backside will fit into the seat.

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

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanks, I Needed That

I have been feeling stressed and under pressure. There is so much to be done and so much to think about that it leaves my head spinning. I knew I needed a break, but I didn't know quite how to take one. I don't like to leave my mom alone for extended periods of time and when I do get out of the house it feels like I am rushing to accomplish the task before me rather than taking life at a leisurely pace, so I was relieved yesterday when James suggested we go out to lunch together after church.

Our first stop was Mom's house to make sure the outside water was turned off and the outside pipes were drained. We didn't know to do that last year and had to replace the PVC in the spring. After meandering about the house, stopping to pray together, and gathering a few items, we left to find something to eat. We decided to go to Moe's for a burrito. It was a nice, relaxed couple of hours, much needed and bringing with it a sense of relief. Today I am thankful for the man God chose to put into my life. I am grateful for his love and encouragement through these difficult days, and for his willingness to take me out to lunch. It's those little things that mean so much. I think he's the best!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy Belated Birthday to Ben

Dear Ben,

I did not forget your birthday last Thursday, November 11th. That should be quite obvious as I took you, Clay, and Caleb to the bowling alley precisely for this occasion. No one had school because it was Veteran's Day and this always makes it possible for you to spend your birthday with friends. I didn't forget the root beer floats; they were yummy. I did, however, forget to post a birthday greeting here. Please forgive my negligence and accept this apology.

Love, Mom

PS. I hope you have a wonderful time being seventeen. You will probably get your driver's license sometime within the year and you will find yourself longing for that independence that still seems just out of reach. Don't worry, it isn't far off. Enjoy being a kid for now, it won't last forever.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sleepy Saturday

The sun is bright and it looks like a great day to be outside, but I am inside instead. My eyes are achy and my head feels tired. This is what sinus headaches do. In spite of the headache, I am enjoying the quiet. I should be cleaning the house, reading a book, or sorting through stuff at Mom's, but I am not. Instead I am thinking about a dose of ibuprofen and a quiet nap.

Anyhow,... this painting now hangs in my mother's room. For many years it was on the wall in my parent's house. It was painted by my dad's Aunt Harriet and I have just learned that there is an autumn version or two of this very same mill. Her grandchildren had never seen this one, but could tell me that the mill was located in Ashantee, NY. I think it might be fun to compare this painting with the autumn versions. Kind of makes me want to dig my craft paints back out of the basement...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lost at Sea

I'm not sure when I was last so lost in a sea of unfamiliar thoughts and emotions. I suppose that this is the way of life sometimes. There are periods when we are unsure of what to do and even more unsure of the outcome. I desperately want a voice from heaven to tell me what is the right thing, but I know God doesn't work that way. All I can do is reach out for Him and pray that His is the hand I am holding.

I have answered many questions during the past two weeks, hard questions, questions that cause me to step back and reexamine my own heart. They are questions that made me uncomfortable the first time around, and it is probable that I will be asked to answer those same questions again today, or maybe tomorrow, when Mom either forgets she already asked or isn't quite sure of the answer. Each time I groan inside, not because of her, but because the answer is so difficult to start with.

I am not in a state of deep depression or anything, just cautious and contemplative, trying to sort thoughts and do the right thing, but never entirely sure what that is. Bethany came over to make pies on Wednesday. We had a house full of people. My little flowers were present. Josh was bouncing around. Dave had come with Simon and Lucas while Leta went to clean my cousin's house (he pulled a muscle in his back the other day), and Hannah had a friend over. Grandma never came into the kitchen until it was close to supper time. I don't know whether the activity throws her off or if she just rolls with it like she always has. It's hard to tell and I am not an asker of questions. When Dave took the boys home and my little garden was asleep, the house was actually quiet. It was a busy, productive day. We made 18 pies plus used up some of the leftover dough for a chicken pot pie. We ate that for supper and it was yummy!

Enjoy my bouncing boys below. See? We really are still smiling.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Poor Baby!

He has learned to sit up all by himself! And he looks so cute too. I couldn't resist taking his picture, after all isn't he the sweetest little thing you ever saw? I got one and went to take another when all of the sudden he started to tip backward. I couldn't catch him in time and over he went.

Let me tell you, he was not happy at all. He did eventually forgive me and he even forgot about the whole episode and decided to smile again.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

ABC Wedenesday Letter Q

It's that time again...

Q is for... Albuquerque. (Can I do that?)

Although my husband's father was Canadian, he was also a member of the United States Air Force. His military travels took him to Albuquerque, New Mexico sometime around the year 1966 or 67. It became home to his family who lived there for many years. In the hearts of some, it will always be home. A little piece of me likes to call it home too.

Albuquerque is located pretty much in the middle of the state of New Mexico. (For those who missed my previous post, yes, there really is a state called New Mexico. Please do not confuse it with Arizona, Texas, or the country directly south of the United States. They do speak English and their money looks exactly like ours. You do not need a passport to visit this enchanting place.) The city of Albuquerque lies in a desert valley between the Sandia Mountains on the east and a band of extinct volcanoes on the west. From Sandia Peak visitors can look out over the entire city and see the volcano peaks on the opposite side.

A visit to Albuquerque isn't complete without plenty of New Mexican food. New Mexicans are very particular about their food which includes plenty of chile peppers, both red and green. Please don't confuse New Mexican "chiles" with the chili peppers that grow in the rest of the country. They just aren't the same. Ask the locals. Don't forget the sopapillas or fried dough drizzled with honey, and save room for a taste of Auntie Kathy's queso too!

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

Monday, November 08, 2010

Caught in a Storm

A stiff wind blows and the waves are rough. Our little boat is tossed to and fro by the storm. We are drenched by the the spray and uncertain which direction we are headed. Though we know He is in the boat, it appears as though He is asleep. When we cry out there is no answer and we must trust that, as long as He is with us in the the boat, He will get us safely to the shore. It is the journey between here and there that causes us to fear.

Life sometimes takes an unexpected turn and spins out of our control. It goes in a direction we never imagined and couldn't prepare for. All we can do is hold on tight and pray that when the ride is over we are all still buckled into our seats. Where will it end? Is there really a light at the end of the tunnel or is it another train barreling down from the opposite direction? What are the casualties going to be?

All I really ever wanted was a chance to sift slowly through our childhood home with my sisters, to have the time and space to make the difficult and yet so important decisions that come with an aging, dependent parent and her property. It is our job to do. It can not be passed on or handed off to anyone else. We need to do it ourselves without any outside pressure, without the questions of others, and without trying to work around others living in the home. That is really all I ever asked. Grandchildren can not make those decisions and it is not their responsibility to clean out drawers, cabinets, cupboard, or attics. Do I really need to give a better reason? Is is not enough to simply say it would be best if you found another place? Do I really have to pay for that decision with a broken or crippled relationships? Do I really have to explain that decision?

I can not run away, I can not hide, and I can not pretend all is well. I can only trust that when the master of the ship decides the time is right, He will calm the storm. Soon the little house will be empty and, with hearts heavier than anticipated, we will resume the task of closing another chapter in our lives. I pray the story has a happy ending.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Settlin In

We have gotten through the first week. It has been different, but not in a bad way. God is growing me and my family in new ways. It is sometimes painful, but we are grateful to know Who is in control. Mom is cooperative and likes her new room. It looks like home with her bookcase, china cabinet, and dining room table. The lamp from her dining room hangs over the table, and her pictures and knickknacks grace the walls and shelves. We are slowly organizing her belongings and adding some extra storage. This evening James installed a closet area in an out of the way corner. Now she has a place to hang her clothes and store her puzzle collection. She still hates climbing the stairs to the shower, but tonight she didn't complain about that either. We are making progress.

This afternoon Rachel and I began the job of sorting through some things at the house. It still feels like it will be a slow job, especially as we stop to look at pictures, read notes, and agonize over whether to keep, store, or throw things away. We are saying goodbye to another piece of our childhood as we sort through the house that has forever been our home. None of us has ever known it to be anything different. It will be a difficult task in some ways and bring closure in another. Life will never be the same here either, but God knows and He has a plan. His footprints are everywhere even if we can't quite see them at the moment.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Rose of the Hills

My mother told me she had been known as "The Rose of the Hills," but I never knew her as anything but Great Grandma. When we visited, we drove for seeming hours down country roads and through the hills of southern New York state. My father knew the hills like the back of his hand. Grandma no longer lived up in the hills, but in a big white house in town. Uncle Leo lived with her. He was a stranger to me, though I'm not sure why. It was probably my own timid shyness that made it feel so. That and the fact that he was so often out working in the garage on things unfamiliar to little girls when we came to visit. Once he was packing ball bearing for a car or tractor... Most often we visited with Grandma in her dining room. Once she showed us where to find four-leaf clovers in the backyard, and another time she showed me the mint plant by her back door and told me a little about it. Timothy the cat rubbed his sides against her legs as we sat on the porch steps.

In my genealogy search I found that Grandma and her sister Maude had both been known as the "Belles of the Hills." Maude was blond haired and blue eyed while Grandma had dark eyes and hair, but all that was far, far from the mind of a small girl who knew the younger Grandma only by a picture on the wall. What I wouldn't give to fly back in time and get to know her.

Rocks and Hard Places

If the events of last year were difficult, this year they are monumental... My dad's cancer battle, from our perspective, was short lived. What remains is an ongoing battle with our own inner thoughts and decisions. For the better part of our lives the affairs of our parents are not any of our business. Mom and Dad take care of their own financial decisions, decide when to come and go, do what they want when they want to, and answer only to God, and we, their children, learn to make all those same decisions for ourselves. It is part of growing up.

Remember the struggle throughout the teenage years? Independence was yearned for, fought for, and eventually achieved, but rarely did it come without a battle or two of some kind. Now we are in reverse. The independence Mom has had for over sixty years is waning. She is tethered to an oxygen machine, depends on others for all her outside needs, and tends to be forgetful in matters of all kinds. But, she still wants to make her own decisions, especially decisions regarding her home of fifty-two years. I can hardly blame her.

For the past year my son and his wife have lived with Mom in her home. They looked out for her welfare, made sure she was fed and took her medication on time. They dealt with her repeated questions, watched her taken by solicitors, and worried for her safety. They tried to enlist our help but what we were able to offer was limited, sometimes by our proximity to the situation and sometimes by our own lack of knowledge. We all knew changes needed to be made, but no one knew exactly what to do. We even sought professional help which brought us to change her phone number and have her mail forwarded to my house. It was also decided that my son and his wife needed to move as the pressure on them was heavy. They said they needed time to be a family and space to raise their little boys. Their move would necessitate a move for Mom, and thus we began exploring options.

As we searched out options for Mom, complications ensued. Mom decided, independent from us, that if she wouldn't be living in her house, my son and daughter in law should rent it. In some ways this seems an easy solution, but in other ways it leaves us backed into a corner. Mom can not manage renting her house alone, so that responsibility will naturally fall to either myself, my sisters, or one of our husbands. Our insistence on the house being vacated for the time being has been met with fierce resistance, both from Mom, who wants to rent it for dirt cheap, and, for the moment, from the occupants. After a year of paying no rent or utilities, they have no resources to move.

It feels like my family is falling apart. Life is not perfect, instead it dishes up challenges that we must overcome, some of them bigger than we really want to face. I do not know what is down the road and around the corner, I can only hope that the road once again becomes smooth. Until then the bumps threaten to throw us from the vehicle and leave us bleeding on the side of the road.

We have downloaded a rental agreement and hope to fill it out and have it signed in the next few days. I pray everyone can agree to its conditions. Maybe there is hope yet for restored relationships. We have a God of miracles and it is a good thing because we desperately need one.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Leave Me Alone

Leaves, they make great toys this time of year. Most of the trees have already dropped their foliage, but we have one stubborn red maple which holds on until after the first snow fall. Unless we climb the tree, those leaves won't be getting raked. Today was bright, sunny, and crisp. Ben raked leaves from the front trees into a pile and I took My Little Guy out to play.

While we were enjoying ourselves, the bus came down the road and left us two more little leaf hoppers. They were pretty excited to find us outside waiting for them. Too bad they hacked and coughed all the way through nap time. Maybe leaf hopping isn't such a good idea...

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

ABC Wednesday- Letter P

P is for pie.

What follows is a repeat for some of you, but I thought it was worth sharing again. This fall my daughter has been raising money. Her goal, to make enough to pay for a missions trip in February. She has been making pies, mostly apple, pumpkin, and blueberry, and selling them to friends. I have been helping. I don't think I have ever seen so many pies in my life! It has been a fun adventure.

Sit back and enjoy Auntie Martha's Pie Making Class, once again...

This is how my mom taught me to make a pie. I honestly haven't tried anything too fancy. Simple pies are some of the best, especially fresh fruit pies in season. I use Crisco because I have found cheap shortenings hard to work with, and I add water just one tablespoon full at a time and stir it with a fork. Why? Because Mom said to and it works. When I divide my dough for a two crust pie, I make the ball for the top crust slightly smaller than the bottom. I dampen the edge of the bottom crust before placing the top one and make sure the edges are sealed up. It's always a good idea to place your baking pie on some kind of a tray to prevent messes in the oven unless you don't mind the beeping of the smoke detector.


1½ c flour
½ t. salt
½ c. shortening
4-5 T cold water

Stir flour and salt together. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add water one tablespoon at a time stirring lightly with a fork. Add only as much water as is needed to gather dough together in a ball. Roll on lightly floured surface. Place in pie plate, roll and crimp edges before adding filling.

To bake unfilled pie crust, prick bottom and sides will with a fork. Bake in very hot oven (450°) for 10-12 minutes or until golden


2 c. flour
½ t. salt
⅔ c. shortening
5-7 T. cold water

Make as one crust pastry dividing ball of dough in half before rolling. Roll on lightly floured surface. Place in pie plate, add filling and top with second crust. Crimp edges together and bake as directed.

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

She Can Bake a Cherry Pie...

According to my calculations, Bethany and I have made nearly seventy pies in the past several weeks.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Grandma's House

Grandma and her things have been moved into our house. We did it Saturday amidst much hesitation and many tears. It was hard for her to do, but she did not kick and scream, and she did not cry. I cried instead. I will be ever grateful for the presence of my sisters on such a day.

Our trials are not over, in fact some have just begun. There is the question of Mom's house and how to proceed there. There are differences of opinion and strong feelings. Not everyone sees things from the same perspective and we will continue to struggle with decisions for many days to come.

In the meantime we have gathered around Grandma's table and shared a meal or two, worked on a puzzle, and simply been together. She is surrounded by familiar possessions and family who loves her. We are settling in together, tying up loose ends, and learning new routines. Prayers are appreciated.