Wednesday, April 30, 2014


For the past few weeks I've been struggling with an unusual problem. My tongue hurts as though it's been burned. The symptoms started not long after my mom passed away. I searched the internet for answers with no real success. Was I sick? Could it be related to depression?

Toward the beginning of April I finally talked to my brother in law's ex who has some expertise in the area of acupuncture and symptoms that show up on tongues. At the time it appeared that my tongue had a split in the middle and Amanda suggested a major cause was primarily dehydration. At the time I'd been drinking a pot of green tea and a pot of herbal tea each day, so I gave up the tea and started drinking just water. My tongue seemed to get better and then suddenly got worse again.

Yesterday I did some more internet searching and found a reference to possible reactions to toothpaste... That got me thinking. For years I have always bought the "cheap" toothpaste, Aim, Ultrabright..., the ones that cost little more than a dollar per tube, but when my mom passed away, she'd left a half used tube of Crest Pro Health. I'd used the remainder of the tube and liked how my teeth felt, so I bought another tube a couple weeks ago. When did my symptoms start? Yeah, soon after my mother's passing... What do you know? All kinds of people have complained about tongue and mouth pain after using Crest Pro Health products.

In the meantime, I've given up drinking both coffee and tea every morning and have spent the last week drinking just water. That probably won't last forever but it's nice to know I'm currently caffeine free.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tea, Toast, and Turtle Eggs

Last Tuesday we glanced out the living room window and saw an unusual sight. A snapping turtle was making its way up through the grass toward the house. It  had traveled quite a distance from the drainage ditch on the edge of our property and I found myself wondering how long the entire trip actually took.

Of course it's not every day that a turtle shows up outside my window. I called Rocky to see and grabbed my camera.

I am not a fan of taking photos through screens, so I had to go outside and get a better look at the prehistoric creature. (How cool is that?)

She made it all the way up into my flower garden where I assume she may have placed her nest. I didn't stick around to watch so I can't really be sure, and when I looked later in the afternoon, she had finished whatever business she had and there was no trace of her.

No such fun stuff today, just a cold rain. On the bright side, tomorrow's rain should be warmer.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Time Out

I didn't do much blogging last week and left a bit of a hole in my usual routine. Guess that happens sometimes.

Today I took Hannah out to babysit for a couple hours at Bethany's house. While she was there I took the opportunity to spend some time alone. I drove down to the Webster side of the Irondequoit Bay outlet, past the spot where the firefighters were ambushed in December of 2012. Most of the empty burned out lots have brand new houses being constructed. Only the Spengler lot remains empty and it is so small that over time it will not even be known as an "empty lot" at all. There is no way to drive that little stretch of road without remembering that fateful morning.

I found a parking spot on the lake side away from the construction area, but the view of the water was blocked by houses. There is better parking on the west side where we normally feed the birds, but at this time of year getting there requires a long drive over the bay bridge and down through Irondequoit back to the lake again. The sun was warm and I had taken my Bible and a Max Lucado book along with me. I had two hours to spend so I read Ephesian 4 and 5, and then turned to the book, "The Next Door Savior". At one point I got sleepy and dozed off eventually finding that my mouth was hanging open. Thankfully there were only a few people wandering about down there and all of them passed being my vehicle.

Didn't get much accomplished at home, but I did do two loads of laundry and straighten up the couch. And, I managed to make something for dinner too. Guess that counts for something.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Here I Am

I'm still here. Not really quite sure what to write lately.

Wish I had taken my camera along on our expedition to help our son Ben who had a flat tire on his old Ford truck this afternoon. Not too often do I see he and his dad bent over next to a vehicle on the side of the road. The tire James brought to replace the blown one had a different lug nut setup and so they ended up putting the flat one back on and we crawled down the road behind them on the way home. Thankfully, we only had to drive a few miles of country roads. That was when I really wished I had grabbed my camera. Picture an old Ford truck driving down country roads with the girlfriend sitting in the middle of the seat next to the guy. And that's why I should always keep my camera handy.

Friday, April 25, 2014


It's been a long week...

On Wednesday I had no small children. It was a gift. The day was dark and overcast and I decided early on to try something I don't normally tackle myself. It isn't a difficult task, per say, just time consuming.

I started with the chuck roast in my fridge. It went into the crock pot early in the morning, about 7 o'clock, with a package of onion soup mix, and then I did some cupboard searching to see what kind of supplies or ingredients I might be missing for the feast. I found a partially used package of crushed red chile from New Mexico (something like this...) and dumped some in a pan of hot water to simmer, but I had no masa and no corn husks, so off Hannah and I went to the Mexican Market in the neighboring town.

By mid afternoon I had a nice piece of beef that shredded easily and a tasty red sauce to stir into it. I realized a little late that my corn husks should soak for about three hours. They were probably in for one and a half. Then I mixed up the dough, found my trusty helper Hannah, and we did the assembly together. It was kind of fun actually and it wasn't long before we filled up the roaster and put them on the stove to steam.

I heard they were very good. My favorite "New Mexican" said they were delicious and my kids have been gobbling them up. I haven't had one yet, my stomach has been off, but we have a bag in the freezer and I'm sure to find one on a plate in front of me before too long.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

O is for Ouch

O is for ouch. (That's what you say when something hurts. It's safe to say. Unlike some other words...)

When my sister and I went out to visit our non- verbal autistic brother yesterday, she brought along a few old photographs. One was of my brothers and a cousin with our maternal grandfather. Grandpa Chambery died when I was just a year and a half old. My sisters never met him.

I glanced at the picture, taking in the smiling faces of  my brothers and cousin and set it back in her car's console. A few minutes later she said, "Hey, what happened to Grandpa Chambery's left index finger?"

I laughed. I hadn't realized she didn't know the story. "He got it smashed in an elevator of some kind on the hill by their house," I told her. "It was crushed so bad that they cut his finger open, removed all the broken bones, and rolled the skin up." (Kind of gives you shivers, doesn't it?) I knew the story from Mom, but I'd never noticed his hand in old photos. In fact, I'd have forgotten about it altogether if Rachel hadn't mentioned it.

On our ride with Tim, Rachel showed him the picture. She asked if he knew Grandpa was missing an index finger. (Apparently there is another photo where Tim is holding his left hand.) I reiterated the story and said, "He probably remembers it better than I do." You should have seen the smile on his face. Maybe that's why I got the kiss on the cheek when we dropped him off again. (Then again, maybe he really does think I'm cuter than Rachel.)

For more ABC Wednesday, click here.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Honest to Goodness

Several years ago I read a book that changed my life. It shined a light on the importance of unconditionally respecting my husband, and thus enabling him to love me in a more effective way. James and I don't always get it right, and sometimes we're sent spinning on the "crazy cycle" of no love/ no respect no matter how hard we try. We don't always see things from the same perspective, but in spite of the setbacks that come along in life, we now know better how to get back to the right place. (Read the "crazy cycle" article or you can have the short definition here. "Craziness is when we keep doing the same thing - again and again - with the same ill effect.")

This weekend has brought up the subject of honesty and I'm thinking that being honest comes with a "crazy cycle" all it's own. We've all been taught and encouraged to tell the truth. No one wants to be lied to, but I find that expecting honesty from others comes with a requirement from me. Being honest necessitates making oneself vulnerable, vulnerable to the reaction of the recipient. As one seeking honesty from others, I have to understand that honesty can be extremely fragile, and often painful. As one seeking to be honest, I desperately need others to honor my efforts if at all possible. When my honesty is trampled or dishonored, future efforts to be truthful are much more strained and sometime even avoided altogether.

Thankfully, there is One with whom I can always be honest. He doesn't mock or belittle me, I don't have to worry that He will share my secrets. When I fail, I know the judgement for my sins and shortcomings has already been taken care of at the cross. He stands ready to love and forgive, and if I will accept His forgiveness, I find it much easier to love and forgive those who hurt and disappoint me, loving and accepting those whose background might be a little different from mine becomes a little more natural, and maybe, just maybe that will help me to make a difference in the world too.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Scripture

Resurrection Sunday should be savored, but this year we are doing absolutely nothing special. I guess it's the mom's responsibility to make it happen, and I dropped the ball this time around... or maybe I dropped the basket. Nevertheless and in spite of my shortcomings, the tomb is empty and He is risen. Nobody needs jelly beans or chocolate to celebrate new life in Christ, and even without the fancy dinner my sins are still nailed to the cross and He's preparing a place in heaven for me.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Another Post

Two posts today, because I spent some time outside this afternoon.

The warm spring weather has returned. Children, whether inside or outside, must be supervised, so out we went into the sunshine. They're kind of like flowers... kind of.

The Stuffs

It's been a week of reflection. There is an empty spot in Mom's room where her hospital bed was. We took it to the local loan closet about a week ago. I was ready to let it go, but am feeling a bit melancholy just the same. I'm not quite sure how to sort through Mom's things. Thankfully, she didn't leave massive amounts of belongings because I already don't know how to "dispose" (that sounds like such a cruel word) of what is left. I've never divided an estate, never sold off possessions. Mostly I stand staring at things and wonder what to do, as if hanging on to things will keep a little bit of my parents here.

Slides and pictures

I had three quiet days this week, one of which I spent away from home. The other two found me attempting to sort through some of my own junk collections, turning Mom's room into a kind of catch-all. I've found that sometimes it isn't the letting go that is so hard, but where to send the stuff I'm letting go of.

yard sale

Do I want to put the effort into selling things? Is there a greater benefit in donating? Do I hold a "Great Give Away" with a donation jar toward Hannah's summer mission trip to Grenada?

The truth is that everything feels like a part of Mom and Dad... and I want to hold on to them as long as I can.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Newlyweds

N is for Newlyweds, in this case my parents.

I can't even remember where they went but I don't think it was far from home, at least not outside of New York state. Maybe the Adirondack Mountains... maybe the Thousand Islands... They were young, happy, and looking forward to starting a life together. Their marriage would last for fifty-six years, bring them five children and thirteen grandchildren. The picture doesn't seem so very long ago...

For more ABC Wednesday, click here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Winter's Back Today

On this dark and dreary winter-ish day, I met my beautiful daughters for lunch. Beth called at the tail end of my Bible study and we agreed to meet at Panera Bread around noon. While I waited for the rest of my party to arrive, I met the eyes of a woman across the room, someone I have seen only once in the past 30 some years. (Facebook is great for catching up with old friends and being able to recognize them decades later.) Mairead and I gave each other a quick hug and I said hello to her husband before he left to pick up their lunches, and then I went back to my waiting.

Tonight I'm missing my parents, both of them. I hunted down my CD of Dad singing hymns and popped it into the computer. It can make me teary, but is comforting at the same time. "God Be With You Till We Meet Again," he sings, and I remember how comforting all those songs were four years ago. Life sure was a lot easier when I was a kid...

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Little Bit of Nothing

Just not sure what to write today...

I could tell you how I accomplished some long put off tasks today...
Or how we had a brief taste of summer this weekend...
I might let you know that I slipped back into drinking coffee these past few days...
Or that I've gone two whole days gluten-free.. or at least eating far less gluten...

I washed my windows today with those pretty little Norwex microfiber cloths my daughter sells. Hannah cleaned my screens with the bathroom scrub mitt, which I rarely use on my tub anyway. My arms and hands are sore, but my windows are sparking.

I'm having a short vacation from small children and hoping to accomplish much in the few days without them. So far, so good.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Making a Difference

Not long ago a close friend celebrated a milestone birthday. Reaching milestones often leaves us thinking and my friend commented on wanting to make a difference in the world in the time that remains. They asked how I thought best to do that and, I must admit, I wasn't quite sure how to answer. It's not that I don't have any ideas, it's just that I wasn't sure how to answer this particular individual.

I'm reading Max Lucado's "A Love Worth Giving" for the second time in less than a year. Deep inside I believe love is the answer to making a difference. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12) It's what made the difference in my family when I was growing up. My parents loved us, they loved their friends and neighbors, and they loved our friends. Fifty years later the children who played with my brothers as little boys would recall how "special" my parents made them feel. One person after another at my dad's memorial service would tell me "Your dad always made me feel special." There were similar stories when it came to Mom.

Loving people isn't always easy, but love always comes on the very top of the list of things God calls us to. "Without love," He says, "we are nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:2) and not only that, we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. 'For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”'  (Galatians 5:14) It's a tall order, but I still believe it's what makes the difference.

Friday, April 11, 2014


I knew I should have jumped in the shower this morning, but I stayed in bed an extra ten minutes instead. A little before 9 am my "across the street" neighbor knocked on the door with a small white dog in her arms. Sofie had escaped.  (Visitor number one, Mrs. C.)

Bethany came around nine with a small grandson who stayed here while his big brother made a visit to the doctor's office. (Visitors two and three) Two hours later Beth took Cat to the vet and Josh stayed to play. (Visitor number four)

My Aunt Margie hadn't been over in a couple of weeks so I wasn't surprised to see her mid morning. She came in for a cup of tea and told me about her visit to Florida. (She was visitor five.)

Not long after lunch a black jeep pulled into the driveway. (Visitor number six) I went outside to greet our old friend Adam and give him a hug. (I told you he was one of my "dropper-inner" friends.) I made a fresh pot of coffee and we had a very nice visit. I

This week I had ten children pass through my doors. Half of them were grandchildren. I had lunch with a couple of friends on Tuesday, and tea and coffee with a couple more today. It's been a rather full and happy kind of week. Next week is spring break. I wonder what I'll do then?

PS. Look! It's spring! :0)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Just Stuff

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was to close all the bedroom doors and throw a super ball down the tile hallway. It ricocheted off doors, walls, and the floor while I tried to follow its path with my eyes. Eventually, the bouncing became less erratic and more predictable. As the ball lost energy and moved slower, the bounces became more frequent but less intense. That's when I would pick it up again and give it another toss. I'm not sure if there is any correlation between ricocheting super balls and the thoughts inside my mind, but there are times when it feels like I have a brain full of super balls.

Yesterday we had a couple unplanned visitors for a few afternoon hours. These little ones had already spent a restless night with other friends, following an accident at home, and the friends needed a few hours rest before picking up the task again. It wasn't hard to love these little people for the afternoon. What was hard was knowing their other sister and mommy were at the hospital waiting to see if sister was okay go home. Please pray for our little friend N. who has a cast from her waist down and is pretty much immobilized. We thank God that she is alright. Things could have turned out so much worse.

Today brought the first really warm and comfortable temperatures of the season. We took the kids outside and while they played, we raked out flower gardens. What do you know! There are actually flowers growing. Maybe I will have tulips and daffodils in a few weeks.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

M is for Manatea

M is for Manatea. (I know, you think I spelled manatee wrong, but this is a very special manatee and that is why we spell it "manatea".)

I'm not a big loose-leaf tea drinker, but I do have some on hand and some of it is pretty tasty. Yesterday I decided to try out the Manatea my sis in law sent me a while back. You fill him up with loose-leaf tea, hang him on the side of your tea cup, and then he "leaks" into your cup. :0)

Apparently, according to the box, this guy's name is "Fred" (or at least I'd like to think so...). Fred the Manatea didn't seem to mind his boiling water bath yesterday afternoon and brewed me a very nice cup of tea. Now if only I had a cup that looked like a hot tub or swimming pool.

For more ABC Wednesday, click here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Here a Blog, There a Blog

It's hard to keep up with blogging when my mind is weighed down with so many things. While writing provided a great sense of relief during my father's illness and subsequent passing, other life stresses are not so easily shared in a public forum, nor should they be. There are days when I'm just too tired or distracted to write, and there are other days when I sit and try but my efforts prove fruitless.

Today, after my Bible study in Webster, I met two friends for lunch. Shelly knew Nan would be meeting me, but Nan did not know Shelly was coming. It was a fun surprise and we had a nice time sitting and chatting over lunch. We lingered long enough at Panera Bread that one of the workers came by and offered to take our plates. The three of us decided that it was so much fun that we should do it again. It was a great stress reliever even if only for a few hours.

Sadly, I did not grab my camera on my way out of the house to prayer. I didn't grab my purse either, but did remember that before we got to the end of the road. Didn't think we should turn around twice (once for a camera) or we might never have gotten to church.

PS. My favorite neighbors have just put their house up for sale. This is a very sad thing for all of us.


I will make a valiant attempt to post something blog worthy later this evening or early tomorrow. Right now My Darling is sitting alone in the living room so I'm going to keep him company for a while.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Rat Race

Not that I'm racing rats or anything. (haha)

My "weekend" starts on Monday and I get one day to recover before jumping into the week again. I lost a little bit of sleep over the weekend due to a small overnight guest. (He gets up at the crack of dawn and sometimes well before dawn even thinks of cracking...) Let's just say there was very little rest for the weary between Friday night and Saturday morning, and I will be grateful hereafter for nights of "mostly" uninterrupted sleep. The small child was taken into our room at about 2:30 am and didn't go back to sleep until round about 4 am. I think I got and hour or an hour and a half before he realized it was 6 am and sat up again awaiting the rising of the sun.

I managed catch a few winks when I crashed on the couch Saturday morning and a few more Z's while the little ones watched Toy Story Saturday afternoon. (A very few...) I fought sleep in church this morning while Vinnie, who was, of course, up at the crack of dawn, dozed on my lap. He slept through all the announcements, the offering, a hymn or two, and the scripture reading, along with a long prayer, and woke up just in time to go out for junior church. I thought to drop him off and come back for the sermon, but he was not about to be left. I decided not to fight it and stayed with him rather than make everyone miserable should he attempt a coup. It's a good thing I love him so much. :0)

Today My Darling had a birthday (Sorry, it wasn't yesterday, yesterday was just the day we tried to pull the food together.) He's just a little older than he was last year. It's just too bad he didn't start counting backward when I did. He's gotten way to mature for my childish antics and scarcely knows what to do with me anymore. Good thing I have grandchildren!

Happy Birthday, James!

Friday, April 04, 2014

Last Year

The photos are from last year on this day. Today we had a cold rain which refilled the puddles that had just disappeared. I don't believe there is a lake in my backyard, but to be honest, I never really checked.

It was a busy day with another houseful of children and tomorrow promises more of the same. Somewhere in the middle of it all, I will be making a valiant attempt to put together some kid of birthday party/lunch for My Darling. Should be quite the feat, but I do believe Bethany is coming over to lend a hand (and bring another small child). Funny to think how I did this all by myself when I had my own houseful of children.

I'm still looking for warm weather but purposing not to dwell on the fact that it hasn't shown up yet. We'll know spring has truly arrived when the grass turns green. Guess we need a little more rain and sunshine for that to happen.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Toys on the Floor

My living room is often strewn with cars, blocks, and books, but the children aren't the only ones who get out toys and leave them on the floor. Once in a while Sofie decides to play too. She is especially interested in Beanie Babies.

She was probably hoping for a good game of "Fetch" but lost interest when I started taking photos.

She's overdue for a haircut, way overdue. Her hairdresser closed up shop due to lack of clientele. Sad because she was close, affordable, and did a great job. *sigh* I've either got to go back to butchering her hair myself, or finding her a new stylist.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Annual Easter Egg Hunt (or something like that... )

Okay, so it wasn't actually Easter eggs I was looking for in the grass, but it was a hunt. I was hunting dog poop, picking it up with an ash shovel, and dropping it into a plastic bag lined bucket. The hunt is getting harder every year and I'm beginning to wonder why I haven't kept up with this during production. Not only are my eyes not seeing as well as they used to, but the grass is dead and brown, the yard is full of sticks and scattered leaves, and some of the "piles" are more like pancakes. Dog poop really does show up much better on top of snow...

I've come up with a new "law". I call it "Mom's first rule of dog ownership" and it goes like this: "Where there is dog poop, someone will step in it. Sometimes it will be Mom." It was bad enough that I stepped upon a terd on my first morning venture into the yard, but when I went back out to "find" some more, I managed to get some on the bottom of my other shoe. And I was looking for it!

If it's nice out tomorrow, I just may employ some younger, sharper, and "closer to the ground" eyes to help me get the yard cleaned up. And then, I'll need to find an old toothbrush to clean up our shoes. I think maybe I know where My Darling keeps his.


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

L is for Look!

L is for Look!

Look what I have in my garden!!! In spite of the snowstorm that dropped five or six inches of wet, heavy snow on us between Saturday night and Sunday morning, we have flowers. I came home from a day out to find my snowdrops had miraculously popped out of the ground. My friend says, "their circadian rhythm was humming under the snow." She says it's "magic". I had to look it up.

Circadian rhythms occur as a plant entrains to synchronize with the light cycle of its surrounding environment. Wikipedia

Sounds cool to me. I'm just happy to see that spring is actually beginning to show its pretty face.

For more ABC Wednesday, click here.