Monday, November 30, 2009

A Few Pictures from the Past

Stephen, ten months old, in Pappaw's arms at Andrea's wedding,

My happy parents at the beach.
Not sure when this was taken, nor where.

My parents' 25th wedding anniversary, 1986.
Paul and I (far right) were engaged. Back then,
it was hard to fathom being married 25 years,
but we're coming up on 23 this year. Wow.

Daddy shoveling after a blizzard at our
old homestead. He had the strength
of a 30-year-old--and borrowed a
30-year-old son-in-law (Paul) to help.
Not that he asked; I'm sure Paul
volunteered. We owned that Dodge
truck in the picture.

Seated: my grandparents, Chet
and Kathryn. This was the grandma
who played baby dolls with me and sang
"His Eye is on the Sparrow" while
sitting beside me as I played it on piano.
(What patience she had!) Back row:
Mama, me, baby Sarah, Andrea,
Rachel, little Jill, Daddy. 1989.

Our beloved horse, Brandy, with
Ben and Sarah on her back, and Pappaw
close beside. Probably 1992.

My parents kissing at Gettysburg.
Her caption on the back of the
photo: This is a battlefield?

Is any job beneath Daddy?
Just floor-scrubbing:).

A personal favorite.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Trophy Cake

Anybody suggest how I can make a cake shaped like a trophy? I want it to be vertical, preferably.
The flavor is German chocolate (Daddy's favorite). Gold, silver, black are the party colors. Elegant feel. I am actually delegating the job to my Sarah, the better baker.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Take More Pictures of the Older People

If I've learned one painful thing by going through all these old photos, it's that I've not taken enough pictures of my dad and mom.

-many holidays but not enough everyday ones,
-plenty with background, but not enough close-ups
-too many posed shots, not enough candids

If I could encourage people to make one change to their holiday pictures, it would be to increase the number of pictures of their parents and adult siblings. They may not be as "cute" or entertaining as the teeny crawlers or jumping monkeys, but chances are your hard drives already have a 100:1 ratio of kids to adults if you're a parent.I regret that's the case here.

My resolution for the new year? "Shoot the elderly," and I mean that in the kindest way possible: with a camera.

Need German chocolate cake recipe

So far I've gotten a link to a German chocolate cake recipe through a Facebook friend.

My dad and sister both requested GC cake and I would prefer the taste of homemade over storebought, but I need cake toppers to fit the theme of trophy/prizes (elegant, not cutesy ).

Where do I go for those?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Grandma's Laugh Lines

I've been poring over lots and lots of old family photos lately, in preparation for creating a slide show for Daddy's 75th party this coming Sunday.

How good for the soul to flip through old pictures. But it does make me feel a bit weepy looking at some of the people who have passed away before I knew them well.

My Grandma Dauber was one such person. When I was born, my mother got a bad case of phlebitis in her leg. We were living in Baltimore, but Grandma came all the way from Kansas to take care of me for six weeks. Of course I don't remember it, but I am positive that my bond with her formed in those earliest days of my life.

I didn't get to know her until we moved to Kansas when I was in third grade. We lived in Alden, she and Grandpa in Sterling about seven miles away. And though we only lived there two years, my memory bank is full of deposits made by my sweet Christian grandmother. Her sense of humor was infectious. My favorite line of hers: "I love the old hymns. So much of the Bible is based on them. "'

What I remember best were all the times she and I played dolls together in their "fifth wheeler"--a parked metal trailer out back of their little house. Grandma was compassionate and nurturing. She would make sure we wrapped our babies well in blankets, gave them plenty of milk in their bottles (those forever-full toy bottles, remember?) ,and take their temperatures like they were in a hospital or something. I think Grandma always wanted to be a nurse because the babies were always sick, getting sick, or recovering from sickness. She was a worrier in real life and at play, but when she'd say, "Now, Zoanna, let's check your baby's temperature one more time. She still feels warm to me, " I really believed the plastic skin of Baby Wets-a-Lot
did indeed feel fevril . Grandma kept chewable baby aspirin in the trailer for our babies, and once in a while she'd let me take one myself to show Baby it wasn't so bad. (Never did it dawn on me that my babies had no teeth to actually chew their pills with. But, at any rate, I developed a taste for pink chewable baby aspirin early in my childhood. Expensive candy.)

Grandma's hypochondriac and subsequent caregiving tendencies came back to mind as I read a funny one-liner from Barbara Johnson's Humor Me! this morning.

"I've come to realize that most of the things I worry about never
happen--which just proves that worry does work!"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Overstimulus Package

I startled awake at 5 a.m today, with the next two weeks of events on my mind. Since going back to sleep was impossible (but fine, since I turned in at 9:45), I got up and wrote out everything I could think of that I have to do between today and December 6th.

The Events:
Tuesday: Parent/Teacher Conferences

Thursday , Thanksgiving Day--just my little Six Pack here because they like having something on the day, namely turkey (extended local fam are vegetarians)

Friday--pick up Andrea from airport, have her spend night

Sunday the 29th : T'giv w/ Daubers at 1:00, Daddy's party at 5 (Jill's house)

Dec. 5th--Ladies' Christmas Breakfast -- I agreed to decorate a table and make a sausage casserole. Sadly, none of the guests I invited can come this year.

Dec. 6th-- baby shower for Leanne for which I am helping Sarah prepare

For Andrea's arrival, Sarah wants to repaint the bathroom. I predict the Mouse/Cookie syndrome will play out. She'll start by painting, and Paul will add to it by replacing the vanity, sink, and medicine chest, and I'll come along and accessorize and take pictures. (I am NOT supervising a home improvement project in the next 2 weeks!)

For Daddy's party, I've decided to do a slide show of pictures thru the years, getting my sisters and mom to contribute photos. I spent yesterday (while talking with Amy) finding clear surfaces and trashing junk from the office. This morning I started in a shoebox called "Before 1999" finding pictures of my dad. So nice to have clean space to work with and almost all my photos organized, thanks to the oomph I had last summer. I'm also making him a German chocoloate cake, his favorite, or order a chocolate one with white icing one if Jill really wants the top to "say" something rather than have stick-in toppers.

For Thanksgiving here and at Jill's, I am making lots of food. Rolls for the Dauber clan, mostly. They love my homemade dinner rolls.

For the LCB, I have decided on a theme.

For Leann's showers, I'm taking orders from my girl. What goes around, comes around, right?

I have renamed my to-do list "The Overstimulus Package."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Special Phone Call

We'd been talking about it on and off in a few emails.

We mutually confessed our reticence to initiate phone calls, yet admitted we'll talk the other's ear off once we get started.

We accepted one another's excuses with perfect understanding and agreed that "when it happens, it'll happen."

And today, my friends, it happened.

She called.

A fellow blogger phoned me a few minutes before 11:oo this morning after getting my hopes up in an email. We talked for an hour and a half.

The most pleasant thing about this call was how naturally it flowed. Through blogging as Christian sisters, we kind of knew each other and didn't have to "start from scratch" with awkward small talk. What a blessing, because I love getting into deep conversations quickly.

So thanks, Amy for making the first move. Talking with you today was the highlight of my day. I'll be returning the favor soon.

PS I keep trying to link your name, but Blogger isn't cooperating.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Damsel in Distress on her Dude's Day Off

Last night after dark, Sarah started to drive the van to care group, but turned around three houses up when she realized the tire was flat. Flat-flat, not just going flat. It was news to us; we had just driven it to the city for lunch after church on Sunday, without incident.

So Paul asked me to call GEICO first thing this morning for emergency roadside service which is covered under our policy. (He'd taken yesterday and today off to do some projects, but the flat was something he could delegate to pros.) I called right away. The driver came later than they promised, but not by much. However, there was a check in my spirit I wished I'd acted on. Paul was here, so I dismissed my skepticism, given that he didn't feel the need to babysit Joe Tow to make sure he did his work properly. The van was parked slightly out of view, so neither of us had occasion to observe the job as it progressed. I let go of anxiety, the guy changed the spare, and that was that.

Or so I thought.

The ride to school wasn't overly disconcerting, but I didn't feel the tire should be so wobbly. It wasn't a donut; it was a full-size spare. Called Paul at a long red light. He wasn't too concerned based on my description ,so I drove on to work.

However, on the ride home, I had Joel with me, and the tire was making a lot of noise, the kind that reminded me of...oh...a wheel about to come off an axle. I put on my hazards, slowed to 30 mph, and pulled over as soon as I could. The tire didn't feel as tight as I would've liked, but I chalked it up to Zo-Don't-Know-Jack-or-how-to-use-one-Anyway. Ignorant of auto mechanics and maintenance, to my shame. I got back in, kept the hazards on, and steadied the wheel in both hands at 30 mph.

Five minutes later I was on a busier road. The noise was growing louder, if not in reality then certainly in my imagination. I pictured the tire rolling into oncoming traffic and causing a horrible accident. So I crept on, praying for wisdom and protection. Once again, I pulled over, let speeding traffic pass, and then jiggled the driver's front passenger tire. I tugged on the lug nuts. They budged a little. Oh, great! They should not do that! I tightened them as hard as I could, which was a fraction of an inch. Then I decided to take a road of slower speed, albeit one with no shoulder.

Up one hill, down another, and it started to feel really shaky--and so did I. Finally I pulled over into a parking lot five minutes from home and called Paul. Once again I thanked God for the perfect timing. Paul came right away, despite wanting to be on the other end of town for a doctor's appointment. (He had 40 minutes to spare--get it--spare?--but he's the type who likes to be early.) We switched vehicles and I watched him muscle the lug nuts with a wrench from his own trunk. He got probably four or five 30-degree turns when he tried.

I love watching him do manly things like that. I don't know what it is, I guess the feeling of being protected and cared for by someone with heart, brains, and biceps. The feeling never gets old. But I digress. (Or maybe I don't. Maybe this is the soul of my post--the feelings that come and remind me of what a wonderful man I married, the guy who, on his days off, takes his son to school, rakes a half acre of leaves, has blood drawn, folds laundry, paints bathroom trim, and rescues his damsel in distress.)

He muttered something that suggested incompetence on the tow guy's part, and tossed the wrench back into the trunk. He then drove the silver horse home, in case it bucked, while letting me and the papoose take the trusty black stallion. I felt protected once again by my knight in blue jeans.

At home I called the tow company to complain about the job they'd done. They apologized. I then called GEICO with the report and they sent out my favorite company to tighten the lug nuts the right way. I'm a big fan of this company; they've bailed us out before and I wished I'd requested them in the first place, rather than settle for the other one.

But then again, had this reliable company come first, I wouldn't have experienced any of the drama of a late-afternoon van ride, nor the ensuing heart-pounding thrill of seeing my prince do what he does best most often--prove his love with wrenches and rakes instead of with roses and romance.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook 11.14.09

My Simple Woman's Daybook entry, AKA my Saturday evening post.

Outside my window...

it's dark. Why do I always post these "day"books at night? Today was grey and cool, but the early evening was refreshingly warmer.

I am thinking...
about way too much right now: how we'll do Thanksgiving; my sister coming in the day after; my dad's party the 29th; family dynamics; wanting a new family room and kitchen.

I am thankful for...
the smell of leaves.

From the kitchen...
came what I call comfort food--Chicken Roll-ups that Sarah made from scratch, with a side of fresh asparagus I popped in the microwave to "help" her. Right.

I am wearing...
a blue Tommy Hilfiger knit top, brown capris, peek-a-boo socks, and tennis shoes. I can't believe I went out in public like this. But I rationalized it by saying I was going to the Thrift Store and didn't want to be overdressed for the occasion. Too bad I decided to swing by TJ Maxx afterward. Oprah would call it a schlumpadinka outfit. The only thing that would be worse is if I were wearing a denim A-line skirt with my hair pulled back in a ponytail.

I am creating...
zip, zero, zilch. I thought about creating a scrapbook for my dad, but my sister advised against it. She convinced me that I'd spend 40 hours making it and he'd spend one hour looking at it. He'd love it for that hour, but we are not sure it wouldn't sit on a shelf for the rest of his life.

I am going...
mattress shopping tomorrow. Paul wants me to do the legwork and let him know when I've narrowed the choice to three. He can sleep on rocks as long as I don't hog all the covers.

I am reading...
Anne's House of Dreams.

I am hoping...
to find inspiration for my Ladies' Christmas Breakfast table. This is the first year I haven't known well in advance the theme I want to use. Any suggestions?

I am hearing...
strains from the movie "Up" coming up from the basement TV.

Around the house...
is evidence of a busy cleaning day, led by my dear husband. How did I get such an organized, industrious man to share a home with? It's almost embarrassing how much more he can accomplish than I can in the same amount of time.

One of my favorite things...
is Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. I get my stash of it at TJ Maxx in the housewares and food aisle. Of course I wanted to buy way more than coffee while I was at it, but opted for using a lot of self-control instead.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
The rest of the week has an hour and 34 minutes left in it. I have no plans except to sip some tea to try to relieve a stomach ache.

A picture thought I am sharing...
Joel did a series of marker drawings a while back. I'm amazed how much he knows about football players and their uniform colors. He's kind of a mini-Ben when it comes to being an NFL guy. My favorite picture is Troy Polamalu in the lower right corner there). Notice all the various action poses all these players are in. His art delights me. So does his humor. At Walmart yesterday, after being told by the customer service lady that they weren't taking returns on Halloween costumes (not even brand new, never-opened one like I had) Joel looks up at me and says, "Mom, you should just have another baby and wait for him to grow into it." He also told me, in the same day, quite matter-of-factly that he has changed his mind about what he wants to be when he grows up. "I did want to be a newscaster, but now I want to be an underwear model."

Friday, November 13, 2009

'57 Studebaker

My dad's 75 birthday is coming in two weeks and I don't know what to give him.

I have been debating whether to make him a scrapbook, or whether he might not appreciate it the way some of us saps would. He's sappy, but I don't know if he'd look at it much after all was said and done.

Would I regret not making one? Hmm.

Would he prefer an antique car instead? Yes! Maybe I'll just pluck a '57 Studebaker off eBay and stick a big ole' red bow on it. Why a '57 Studebaker? Because it's an old joke between us. When I was a little girl riding in the car with him, he would always point out an old car and tell me what year and make it was. But the only answer I remember to the question, Daddy, what's that car?" is, "Oh, that? That's a '57 Studebaker. "
I am sure he knew what almost every car was, so why is it stuck in my head that that was his pat answer to every old car inquiry of mine?

The joke revived itself when my own children were little. Ben would spot an antique car and say, "Hey, Mommy, look! What's that?" and I would say "a '57 Studebaker." He'd be impressed with me, which I had every intention of milking for all it was worth.
After a while, though, Ben wised up and said, "Nuh-uh. It doesn't look at all like the last one you said was a '57 Studebaker. " (Rats! Why do kids have to be so observant?) As I recall, it was about the same time he started asking where babies came from.

The theme of Daddy's party will be old cars.

Any suggestions on a gift? Scrapbook or no?

Or should I just scour eBay for a toy '57 Studebaker and present him with that instead? I wish I had the cash on hand for the real thing. He would so appreciate that and he would take it out and look at it long after the party was over. And who knows, it might do a 360 as a gift someday when Daddy's too old to drive but still wants to go for a ride with his little girl . That little girl will hug him and say, "Okay, Daddy. Wait right here while I get the keys."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


When you haven't quite done a 180 when it's the right thing to do, thank God for the 140 degrees He has moved your heart.

That's where I stand. On the 140 mark.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Somebody, stop the madness!

I'll admit, I'm scared, angry, and feeling overwhelmed. I just read that the Democrat-controlled House tonight passed the health care reform bill.

I am trying to take comfort in the truth in God is in control. He is the one who puts authorities in place, and that includes the formidable President of the United States.

All I can say is, "Lord, have mercy."


Tell me if this happens to you.

You get violently ill at 1:30 a.m. After that you sleep for only six hours, and you wake up feeling like cleaning. Not the bathroom, but the living room, as if the proverbial mother-in-law has just announced she'll be here in two days. But you don't have a mother-in-law, you just have a lot of clutter to deal with. You have 38 library books due on various days, can't see through the windows clearly, and have the urge to rearrange your pretty things and get rid of all the things that don't bring you up.

You are easily distracted, but not as bad as you were 10 years ago, so you realize you've grown. In a good way. For a change. The Windex does wonders for the windows. Guess that's its purpose. The sky is a vivid blue. Azure. "Azure cleaning the windows," you wonder if there's a scientific reason the sky is bluer, or if it's just that the golden trees against it makes such a brilliant contrast. At any rate, you find you love the word blue as much as the color.

And yet, the blue feelings, though slightly less vivid than they were yesterday, are still with you.

It happens every year at this time. I find myself realizing I have so many blessings, yet I feel blue, and I don't want to celebrate anything. As cathartic as it is to give thanks, it doesn't mean you don't still feel a little sick.

Friday, November 06, 2009

So instead of crying

I laughed really hard this morning.

I went in to wake Joel up for school, but thought to have a little fun with it rather than the same old/same mold way. Figured I'd make him think I had fallen asleep beside him and would start pretending to talk in my sleep.

Using a half-groggy, half-squeaky voice, I mumbled, "Elijah is smoking cigarettes and riding horses!"

Joel turned his head. "What are you talking about, Mom?"

I paused, eyes still closed, trying not to crack a smile while making up some other bizarre statement. He flipped his head back to the other side.

"What color is the pizza?" I asked.

He flipped back to me and said, "You are so weird, Mom!" This time I let out a full-out belly laugh.

Sarah came into the room and asked what was so funny.

Joel said, "Elijah is smoking horses!"

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Holding them Back

The tears, that is.
I need a really good, long cry, and an equally good long talk with someone who cares. I feel like I'm losing eveything that's important to me.

And I hate the holidays.

This is my post for today.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

My First Blog Post Ever, Revisited

After reading Amy's post on her penchant for pens, I was curious to reread my first-ever blog post by the same name, which I wrote back on January 29, 2005. Wow. Coming up on five years?

I didn't intend for my blog to be named "A Penchant for Pens," but rather it was the title I chose for the first post. In my ignorance, as I told Amy, I didn't know the difference. I thought a blog was just a journal entry, and before I knew it, Blogger told me my blog's name was "A Penchant for Pens," which was better than anything else I could think of at the time. It still suits me fine. As Amy said, it was a "happy accident." I still do have a penchant for pens and suppose I always will.

You can read about it below. Unfortunately the link isn't working, so you'll have to cut and paste it into your browser if you want to pull it up. I remember spending a inordinate amount of time writing and revising it; nonetheless, my red pen didn't catch every little mistake, which always bothers me as much as having a hair in my mouth, but not as much as finding one in my food.

Anyway, this was my maiden voyage on the USS Blogger:

Junior Moment

You're familiar with "senior moments," those times when you forget something so simple, so commonplace, that you fear you've temporarily embodied the brain of a person much, much older than yourself.

Well, yesterday, just the opposite happened in my fifth/sixth grade art class. This is the same class that I'm studying ancient Egypt with. (And yes, I realize I just ended a sentence with a preposition. Fire me.)

We were making Egyptian wigs as our art project. Thanks to Kelly, we had four skeins of black yarn to make generously coiffed hairpieces. (No, we didn't use anywhere near even one skein's worth.)

I went around to each student measuring the circumference of his or her head. Then I asked, "Do you want to make the wig for a man, woman, or child?" Every girl answered, "Woman," and every boy answered, "Man."

One boy said, "Yeh, 'cuz mans are cool!"

I smiled at him and asked, "Mans?"

"Yes! Mans are cool, don't you think?"

"Do you mean 'men'?"

He still looked at me funny. Then that "lightbulb" effect happened.

"Men! I mean 'men'! What in the world made me say 'mans'? Good thing you're my grammar teacher."

I chuckled and thought, "Junior moment."

Monday, November 02, 2009

Memoir Prompts

I love reading memoirs. It doesn't matter one whit if the author has ever been famous. In fact, I much prefer reading snippets from the lives of people I know personally. My dad, for example, filled out a book for me that I gave him for Father's Day one year. It's a blank journal except for a pre-printed question on each page to help the writer recall a specific memory. This book is called A Father's Legacy, and is an absolute treasure to me.

Reading that my dad's favorite author is Albert Einstein came as a complete surprise, more because I don't think of Einstein as a writer, but as a wild-and-white-crazy-haired scientist and inventor. But it should not have been a surprise: my dad is an excellent writer, scientist, and inventor. No white and wild hair, mind you, but intellectually (in my childlike bias, at least) my daddy is on par with good ol' Al. In the last couple of years of my dad's career with the Army Corps of Engineers, he invented a new-and-improved chemical filter for mustard gas. Along with it, he wrote a manual, complete with diagrams and explanations that even the layperson could probably understand, because he's had a major beef about writing with such "-ese" (government-ese) that the average Joe --GI Joe--is left scratching his head rather than using it.

So here's my prompt for anyone who wants to use it: Choose a male in your life (doesn't have to be dad) and ask him who his favorite author is and why. Write a post about it. I know I'll learn something from it. Maybe you will, too.

If you do this, please leave a comment here so we can follow you. Thanks.

(The candid above is my dad playing MasterMind in my parents' loft on Christmas Day last year. I'm sure Joel will always keep a fond spot in his memory bank, recounting many times of playing games and drawing cars with Pappaw. My dad's love of children, his seemingly endless patience, and his affinity for art make him a favorite companion to my little guy--and to me.)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Mini Grammar Quiz on Repeating Adjectives

Which is correct in each pair of sentences?

1. She gave birth to a boy and girl.
2. She gave birth to a boy and a girl.

1. Please feed the chickens and the cows.
2. Please feed the chickens and cows.

1. I would like some ice cream and some sauerkraut.
2. I would like some ice cream and sauerkraut.

Anyone curious for the answers? I'll post soon, with explanation. (By the way, I just discovered the reason myself a couple of weeks ago.)