Saturday, December 31, 2011


It's Saturday, at least that is what the calendar says. On "normal" Saturdays I run errands; the bank, the grocery store... anyplace I haven't been able to go throughout the week and need to. Today I don't need to. I went shopping yesterday. I even went to the post office and mailed out three boxes that didn't get into the mail before Christmas. Today is dark and dreary, a good day to curl up with a cup of hot tea or coffee and a good book. It is a good day to sit and talk with my favorite second mom, or maybe to take a short nap.

James and Hannah have gone out together. They have taken my van, and that is okay because I have no plans to go out, and no desire to. I am happy to sit home, fold laundry, and check the computer. I am not eating anymore candy or cookies. I had fruit and nuts for breakfast and am now enjoying a second cup of half decaf coffee with Gingerbread Latte creamer. My eyes are tired and my vacation is nearly over. Maybe I really should take that afternoon nap...

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sand Through the Hour Glass

There is not much left to the year 2011. Another 26 hours and we will be counting the seconds until the arrival of 2012. Hopefully I will be wise enough this time around to sleep the new year in instead of to stay awake and stumble through the next day in a fog.

I have been considering New Year's resolutions... It seems every year they are about the same; eat better, exercise more, and lose weight, along with be more thankful, smile more often, and forgive more faster. ;) (Yes, I do know that's bad grammar.)

My treadmill remains in my daughter's basement. I miss it, but there isn't any extra space in my living room. (It once lived here in another room, but that now belongs to my mother...) Is there hope for this now middle aged woman? (I'm talking about me.) I am not liking what I see either in the mirror or in photographs... Maybe I need to go on a soup and watered down juice diet. That would cover my fluid intake and be lower in calories!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Constantly Praying

An old friend stopped by today. She came to bring some medicine to her auntie who has been sick this week. She is constantly on my heart and in my thoughts. The pictures are seven years old, but the love remains constant as it has through the years.

Please continue to pray for my friend and her family. Her father was her best friend...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

De Colores

Aren't colors fun? Cameras are fun too. :)

That's my favorite Little People guy there. He's wearing overalls.

Okay, so I'm a weirdo...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

X is for eXcitement

X is for eXcitement.

Filling seven to ten Christmas stockings is a big job, so my husband and I have relegated that responsibility to our now grown children. They fill each other's stockings by purchasing one or two small gifts for each. Ben livened things up this year by depositing a scorpion sucker into each red sock. That's a little too exciting for me. (And Jim thought Moose Poop was fun...)

I must say, though scorpion suckers may not be my weakness, there are far too many tasty treats around here that do call my name. I am in serious need of some eXercise, but really I feel more like taking a long nap. :)

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

December Gifts

I haven't shared my "gifts" in a while, and though December has been hard, there are still gifts to thank the Father for...

2565. Early morning sunlight turning the room to gold.

2568. Hannah playing her piano.

2577. A frosted world bathed in sunshine.

2587. Christmas carols, red kettles, and Jesus!

2597. Lips, chapped and dry though they be

2607. Memories of childhood...

2610. A God who hears our desperate cries.

2617. New furniture

2640. An unexpected package from my beautiful nice, Annie

2653. Grandmanita's safe arrival

2661. People; friends and family come to love and encourage the hurting

2662. Being a part of it, How humbling.

2664. Hearing my childhood friend say, "I love you."

2665. The husband God gave me and the man he has become

2669. A place of peace in a world gone mad

2670. Snippets of sleep

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Passed

Christmas is over for another year. I thought I would be ready early this time. I had done some prior planning, even purchased and wrapped several presents just after Thanksgiving. I had plans; plans to shop, to bake, to decorate, to attend Christmas services, and to enjoy the season, but the month of December didn't go as planned.

I am thankful God put it in my heart to do something ahead of my usual schedule, at least my grandchildren had presents under the tree. Thankfully, my children have learned not to expect anything too grand and glorious, perhaps one of the perks of having a half a dozen. James' mom made a wonderful chicken soup while we were at church yesterday morning, and this was made extra special by homemade noodles. (At this rate I'll never be gluten-free... :)

Tension remains high amongst family members. Please pray for our deeply troubled and hurting son and his family. There are some things moms and dads just can't fix. We need Somebody much bigger, but then again, don't we need Him all the time?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Wish

This Christmas I wish peace and comfort for my friends turned family, the ones who were my childhood friends before I married their cousin. I pray that God would be near to them each day, that He would wrap His loving arms around them, dry their tears, and bring them that peace that passes all understanding.
I pray that memories of happier days would carry them through the dark and lonely moments, and that the love of the Father in heaven would fill their days. I pray that they would cherish the time they had together and thank God for a dad who loved them without question. I thank God for my own memories of this man, for songs sung, dinners shared, encouragement given, and a love unspoken. (Here he sings to Bethany back in May of 2004. If only we had a video.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

And So This Is Christmas

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. 
- Dr. Seuss

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I have often wished for a way to simplify Christmas and this year Christmas will be just that, simpler. We'll gather for a meal, some games, and maybe a Christmas movie, but the gifts, wrapped gifts, will be few, and that's okay. We have each other and we have Jesus, and that is gift enough.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

About Those Presents...

I'm not complaining, I have been abundantly blessed with gifts this month. I'm just looking for something to smile about and Lucy makes me smile. :)

My eldest son will be home tomorrow night, and though there is not enough time left to create the Christmas I'd dreamed up in my mind, we still have Jesus and He is the reason for having a Christmas in the first place. There will be more food than we can eat, there will be laughter, and there will be gifts. I'm hoping there will be forgiveness as well.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It Can't Be Christmas

How can Christmas be coming in four short days when my family is falling apart? Why has my son chosen to stir up a ruckus on top of a tragedy? Why would my oldest son want to drive seventeen hours home to this?

I am emotionally and mentally drained, stretched to the limit. I don't think there is much hope of salvaging this Christmas...  but at least there are cookies.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Little On the Sleepy Side

It has been an incredibly exhausting two weeks. Sunday we went to calling hours and yesterday was the funeral service and luncheon. Around 2:15 pm we headed out on a journey to Toronto where James' aunt had to catch bus which would take her another two hours north. Both the E-Z Pass I bought for NY City and the licenses we had enhanced, were put to good use. The trip to Toronto and back took about 7 1/2 hours, and on our way home we stopped to say our final goodbyes to family that were leaving town today. (And enjoy some stuffed artichokes.)

I found it nearly impossible to sleep last night. When I closed my eyes I saw highway lights passing by, and when the lights weren't there my brain wouldn't rest. I must say that in spite of the original news story going nationwide (one family member said it was on the news in southern California), the media kept their distance this weekend.The church was packed and there were more people at the cemetery than I had expected. My own brain just keeps replaying old memories along with the events of the past two weeks. It still seems more like a terrible nightmare than real life.

Being with the family was healing for me. I find myself constantly vacillating back and forth between being childhood friend and present family member, not knowing quite where to fit in. I do know that I love my old friends become family and they love me. We've told each other so this time, and I can't imagine it any other way.

W is for Woodpile

W is for woodpile.

The woodpile on the back porch grows and shrinks with whether the temperature is high or low. We keep the wood stove going most of the day, but don't worry too much if it goes out at night. We live in snow country, but apparently the snow has other plans this year. We've not had more than an inch or two on the ground at a time. No need to shovel the walk, pointless to plow the driveway, and I can get away with wearing shoes instead of boots. That's okay with me. My house is warm and cozy, and there's still plenty of wood stacked outside the back door.

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

Saturday, December 17, 2011


December has gone terribly wrong this year...

I think maybe I need someone to come over and make cutout Christmas cookies with me... on Wednesday.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Old Pictures

Once upon a time a young couple embarked on a journey to Niagara Falls. It was not an overnight honey moon, but rather a day trip with family. Along with the young couple was their small son and the young man's mother. The mother owned a rather nice camera and had taken up the wonderful hobby of photography which she intended to practice on the small family.

I'm sure the young couple stopped to look at the thunder- ing falls, this was, after all, back when one could park along the boulevard, get out of the car, and walk across the sidewalk to see the spectacle. It was a bright and sunny day, warm and fair. Not far from the falls was a park with paddle boats and a trail to walk along, a perfect place for taking pictures.

:) I like When Grandmanita brings old pictures.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

V is for Vine

V is for vine.

 He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also made a wine press in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes. Isaiah 5:2

We found it all but impossible to keep wild vines from growing in our apple trees. The grape vines had a stranglehold, and the wild roses were nothing short of vicious!

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

Monday, December 12, 2011

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, a lifetime ago, the little boy moved into the house not-quite-next-door. We were just five years old and rode our tricycles in circles in the street in front of his house until his parents noticed called him inside. Little boys were to play in the backyard, not outside in the street and so, in days to follow, I rode my shiny new tricycle to his house and pulled it through the wire gate into the backyard where I traded my shiny new one for his older, smaller tricycle. This is the way it was, day after day, and I didn't mind because we were friends.

In the boy's backyard was a mud hole dug with sticks and old spoons. It was cone-shaped, perfect for stirring up a batch or two of mud pies, especially after a good rain or a thorough drenching with a pail of water. The boy and girl spent a good number of sunny, summer days cooking up mud pie cookies and cakes. Years later the girl scanned the backyard with longing eyes for a sign of the old mud hole but it had vanished.

There were dandelion and buttercup bouquets picked from the grass along the fences bordering the backyard kingdom, and delivered with a smile to the boy's mummy who took them inside with great appreciation. Each new day brought new flowers to pick, fresh mud pies to mix, and more tricycle rides through the backyard.

The days of time spun on, and the little boy and the little girl grew up. They gradually went separate ways, but each one carried with them, tucked deep inside, the days of  mud pies, tricycles, and dandelion bouquets.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What to Say?

What can I say? My mind is full of memories, a whole childhood of them. I manage to shut them down for a while, and then I find myself sorting through them all over again. Sometimes I feel numb, and other times I am driven to tears. Thankfully the newspapers have been silent this weekend. My favorite mom in law will fly into Toronto Tuesday morning and be here probably Wednesday.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

U is for Umbrella

 U is for Umbrella, and what nicer one than pink with Scooby Doo?

It should be snowing now, but we've had more rain this December than snow. No worry, it's much too cold to rain today! It isn't trying anyway. In spite of a bitter wind, the sun is bright and cheery.

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


It's all in how one looks at things, and sometimes a good hard kick in the head can put the whole world into an entirely different perspective...

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


It is a sad day here. The story will be in the news for weeks to come. It won't go away, and what we wish to be nothing more than a nightmare, is reality.

It could be just another unknown family's tragedy, but this time we are strangely connected. A house fire set by a teenage son intending to kill his family. He succeeded in killing three; his father and two brothers. The mother is in guarded condition, his sister will survive. But the family doesn't end there. There are other children, adult children, six of them. It is the oldest three who connect us to this family. They are the reason we call him "Uncle Carmen..."

So, if I'm absent for a while, it will be because I just don't know what to say...

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Little Boys

What are little boys made of, made of? 
What are little boys made of?
Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails
That's what little boys are made of.

This is Alex. He comes to visit me each day. He likes tractors, cows, and playing outside.

Monday, December 05, 2011

No Snow? No Problem

It is December. It is raining in Rochester, NY. It is snowing in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I don't know how they got our snow... We will have to make due. Snowman craftiness is in order. Somewhere between the changing of stinky diapers and the wiping of snotty noses, there should be some time for making snowmen. (I promise to wash my hands and use hand sanitizer, if I can find some.) Here are some crafty ideas...

Saturday, December 03, 2011


I stayed up late and woke up early. My tired eyes fought to stay closed as I reasoned my options; stay home and sleep a little longer or meet the ladies from church for breakfast. I pried my eyes open and stumbled out of bed.

The second snowiest American city is still without snow, but we are not without early morning frost. As I headed out the door to meet my friends, the thought suddenly occurred that I just might need to scrape my windows. I was thankful for warm mittens, a readily accessible ice scraper, and a restaurant that wasn't far off.

James, Ben, and Hannah have worked hard all day painting the living room. We've washed walls, vacuumed cobwebs, filled holes, and moved furniture. Hannah likes painting and does a great job. Me? I can paint snowmen freehand on four foot stockade fences, but somehow a flat wall and one flat color are intimidating.

After cooking breakfast for my family, I headed out to the bank, Home Depot, and the grocery store, nursing a headache and aching muscles the whole way. Now that my upstairs bathroom is clean, supper is eaten, and the dishes done, I'm ready to take some Tylenol and crawl back into bed. I'm pretty sure we've got another busy day ahead of us tomorrow.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Day to Day

Days with Mom blur from one into the next. Nothing too exciting is happening and what does often leaves me baffled and struggling with my own thoughts and emotions. I behave badly more often than I care to admit, but the past few days have been better than most.

It's quite evident that my mom is suffering from some type of dementia. She repeats herself often, asks the same questions over and over, and second guesses what was once second nature. Mom once did 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles with ease, now she struggles with obvious pieces. Sometimes she questions my ability or knowledge of things and situations. She forgets the names of the children I babysit although they come weekly and have since September. She has difficulty following conversations and often appears disconnected.

Not all is negative. Mom still enjoys doing word search puzzles, reads her Bible each night, and devours the daily newspaper. She seems to enjoy folding laundry and occasionally washing dishes or putting them away. Sofie is her all but constant companion and Mom worries if the little dog appears to be missing. She is not combative or disagreeable, doesn't often complain, and is still able to care for most of her own hygiene needs even if she does need an occasional reminder.

I've settled into a basic daily Mom routine which includes writing the day of the week and date on a white board (along with any information pertinent to that day), setting out her morning pills, and fetching the newspaper. She wakes up whenever, dresses and straightens her bed, and makes her powdered coffee drink. Then she settles into her chair to drink her "coffee" and read the paper. Breakfast is typically eaten at lunchtime and a snack consumed somewhere around 3 pm. Sometimes I feel bad there isn't more interaction between us as it seems I go about my day around her rather than with her.

In spite of my struggles, I trust God is working in my heart and growing me in ways I cannot see. I do not understand His ways, and marvel at how He is able to use my weaknesses and failures to mold me into a vessel fit for use. The pressure can be painful, especially if I resist His touch. This only brings more pain and frustration. I am learning to cry out before the pressure brings me to the breaking point and find He quickly answers. I am treading unfamiliar ground once again with questions that often go unanswered, forgetting that He who holds the universe in His hands also holds me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mitten Making

Many years ago I began the long and tedious process of learning to knit. I didn't get far. In spite of my lack of knitting skills, and my rather shady sewing ability, I have put together several pairs of wool mittens. I have found the sleeves can produce a couple pairs of child-sized mittens, while the body of the sweater is great for an adult pair.
I'm not quite certain who will end up wearing these warm fuzzies, but whoever does will have toasty warm fingers.

By the way, I have delivered three Snowman fence sections to two of my friends. Not sure if I'll venture to paint any more, but there remains that possibility. Then again, maybe I'll paint some smaller snowmen instead.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

T for Two

T for two, and two for tea.

I'll take a cup of cinnamon spice tonight, and maybe a couple of gingerbread cookies. Anyone care to join me? What will you have? A slice of pie? A piece of cake? (Don't worry, they're calorie and fat-free.)

The tea cups were at the antique shop I visited the other day. I didn't buy them, but I think they're pretty.

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

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stepping Backward

Frantically clawing to keep from falling in, I fight to escape the pit of holiday madness... There will be gifts to buy or make, presents to wrap and cookies to bake, and those favorite movies to watch.

I took a ride by myself Friday morning, but not necessarily Christmas shopping. There was no Black Friday rush where I went. I poked my way through Goodwill and took a leisurely walk through an antique shop. I bought little to nothing, at least in those two places. We won't talk about the grocery store...

In the antique store I found myself strangely drawn to old children's books and an intense desire to curl up in a corner and lose myself in a book. I resisted the urge to purchase this time... Do I really have time to abandon my house and family to read?

Upstairs I found myself smiling at vintage pull toys and wondering again how hard it would be to duplicate them. It's the old Fisher Price toys that always catch my eye. We never owned a chicken pull toy, in fact, I'm not sure I'd ever seen one before, yet they make me smile. (I truly am a hopeless case.)

Then there were the dishes. Lest you think I have suddenly matured, I will have to confess that almost every "little" girl loves a tea party and a fancy table. They are fun to look at and probably even more fun if the tea party actually becomes a reality.

I'm not certain what draws me to antique stores. They are expensive, smell musty, and are full of old things I don't need, yet I wander about taking in the sights and feeling comfortably nostalgic in the process. I like antiques. They take me back to safer childhood days, visits to grandma's house, and days spent on the farm, usually Uncle Joe's.  Hey, I've got a table almost just like that in my kitchen!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Frosting On Top

 He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes;
Psalm 147:16

We woke up to frost on Thanks- giving morning; cold and pretty. It doesn't last long, so on my way to tie out the dog and fetch the newspaper, I grabbed my camera too. The orchard across the street was filled with a smokey haze and the sun was working it's way into the sky.

There is nothing quite like early morning. Whether I am squeezing my eyes shut and snuggling back down under the covers or heading out the back door, a new day always to holds fresh treasures. Even frosted blades of grass are gifts if we just take the time to notice the beauty. I'm learning to stop, if only for a moment, and soak it in.

My list of "1000 Gifts" continues to grow. Little things like frost covered blades of grass seem almost insignificant at first glance, but shine like jewels written on the pages of my Thankful Journal. Sunshine and shadows, ripples on water, scent of lilacs, snow covered branches...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

S is for Snow

S is for snow. There is no snow on the ground today, but by the time the letter S comes round again, it will be July, and I don't want snow in July.

Winter is not my favorite season, but then again there are only four to choose from. Although freezing temperatures and snow keep me inside the house, I've decided to make the best of it and enjoy my time inside. There will be plenty of time for baking, cleaning, crafting, planning, playing, and sleeping. (A long winter's nap is always nice, isn't it?) It's cold enough outside and we've a fire in the wood stove. Bring on the snow! (Sorry, Stacy.)

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's A Snow Day!

I didn't have enough to do, so I decided to paint some more snowmen on another fence piece. I did have a little inspiration from a friend who said she might like to buy one. I think I like this one better than the first. I have a whole lot of fence sections out there. I could fill up my entire yard!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Making Snowmen

It was another beautiful fall day. I felt like being creative. Next to Hannah's little house sit some abandoned fence pieces. I decided they needed some help.

I picked out two paint brushes, some white paint, filled my paint pot with water, and headed outside. Sitting on the ground wasn't too uncomfortable, but pretty soon the wind kicked up a bit and I didn't think my paint was drying well. Besides, my hands were cold. So much for being a plein air painter... I dumped the water out of the pot and gathered my supplies. After hoisting the fence section off the ground a few inches (it wasn't heavy), I headed for the house.

Once inside I coerced Hannah into helping me out, and we each worked on a character. I don't know about Hannah, but I thought it was fun, and I think they're cute. Maybe they can live out in my yard this winter. Maybe I can make them some friends.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Imagine That!

Ever wonder where the gnomes and fairies live? It all depends on where you place the door. I really like this one out by the Weeping Birch tree, but tucking it up against the trunk is a little tricky, and I think it needs a little bit of weather-proofing, so I brought it back inside. It tucks up against the wall rather nicely, but ends up four to six inches off the floor... Do you think the Little People will mind?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thrifty Thinking

I had a free afternoon. I probably should have taken a nap, but Hannah and I went out to the thrift stores instead. Sometimes it's fun to look and on rare occasions we find something good.

A couple weeks ago I knocked a lamp off the end table. It had once been a thrift store find, and though the lamp itself was pretty, I had purchased the wrong type of shade which always sat at an angle. I've meant to replace the light, but kept forgetting when I was out.

I glanced around Goodwill today, but nothing caught my attention. (Truthfully, they were all hideous...)  Since we weren't in a hurry, we decided to stop at the Volunteers of America store. Although the day was cold, the weather was dry and there were a few items strategically placed outside the store; two small desks, a rocking chair, a lamp or two and several other things. One lamp grabbed my attention right away. I checked the price, $12.99. It seemed pretty fair to me, so I scooped up the treasure and headed inside.

I think it looks rather nice on the end table.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My New Mittens

I decided to embark on a new project, not that I've finished any of the old ones or anything...

It looked like a fairly easy project involving a thrift store sweater and a little bit of sewing. I searched the racks of sweaters at Goodwill and came home with three wool sweaters. They needed to be felted before I could turn them into mittens. I threw them into the washing machine, set the water temperature to hot, and waited for the machine to do its work. Next they went into the dryer on the hottest setting, and when they came out they were ten sizes smaller!

With the easy part of the project finished, the one where I could hardly fail, I set the sweaters aside, ... for a couple weeks. Yesterday, after tracing my hand to make a pattern, I pulled my old sewing machine out of its suitcase home and put it to work.

Not too bad for a first try. They're thick, warm, and pure Italian wool with a nice synthetic black cuff.  I think I'll keep them.

I have two sweaters left. One is gray and will have to be made into rather smallish mittens. It has some great sleeves that I imagine as the legs to some really cool baby leggings. The other is a beautiful green and red Christmas sweater with silver hooks down the front. I'm not sure I can bring myself to cut it up. It really looks like it needs a red satin liner and a little girl to wear it.