Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hodgepodge Wednesday: Queues, Quests, and Quintessential Beauty

1. Do you send Christmas cards? If so about how many will you send this year? How do you display the cards you receive? Or don't you? (gasp!)

I used to include our family Christmas Chronicle which journaled our year in (lame) poetry. It's been several years since I wrote one, for lack of inspiration, but I might revive it this year.

2. When do kids become adults?

Great question! Hmmm, I'm tempted to ask, "Can I get back to you on that?" so that I might possibly come up with an erudite answer. The thing that keeps coming to mind is that adulthood
seems to be not much as an age reached, but a perspective understood. That perspective seems to include a combination of fiscal responsibility, personal priorities, a sense of gratitude rather than entitlement, and a display of selflessness that includes serving his family, showing up for work when he doesn't feel like it, keeping a commitment even when something more appealing presents itself, and it includes having a quest for purpose and vision about his life.

As for the fiscal responsibility part of maturing, a child nearing adulthood seems to be "arriving" when he realizes that he has to put his own hard-earned money into the ATM before it will spit any out. When he puts more in than he takes out, he matures further. When he pays his bills on time before thinking of any luxuries, he is marked as more mature than when all the bills were paid for him. And when he shares his earnings regularly for the sake of another, rather than thinking only of himself, I would say he has pert-near reached adulthood.

3. Does your 'beauty regimen' change with the seasons?

If you mean the seasons of the year, then no, not much except for the lip color. I wear moisturizer 365 days a year, mascara most every day, usually eye shadow, and some blush. If you mean the seasons of life, then yes, in the sense that I am more careful as I age about protecting my skin. I also drink more water than I used to because I really think it moisturizes skin which , in addition to having good genes, keeps the skin softer and more radiant, which translates to "younger looking."

Boy, I'm starting to sound like an infomercial. Moving right along...

4. What's something you like to eat that might cause another person to turn up their nose?

Brussels sprouts. I used to turn up my own nose at them until about two years ago on a date, when our waitress convinced me to try to them as part of the special. They were fresh, cut in half, drizzled with olive oil, and roasted till tender-crisp and sweet. I had never liked them before (I'd tried them twice) because they'd been boiled to death and tasted like buttered golf balls.

Not that I've ever eaten buttered golf balls. (I tried eating unbuttered golf balls once, but...oh, never mind.)

The secret to liking brussels sprouts is not fixing them the way your mother's generation cooked everything.

5. Gloves or mittens?

Gloves. Mittens are fairly useless since the only time I venture out into the cold is when I need my fingers to be flexible for driving vehicles, scraping ice , shoveling snow , or assisting a 13-year-old man-child up the hill after he has wrenched his knee while snowboarding on one inch of the powdery stuff because he wore out his 7-months pregnant mother by begging her ad nauseum to try his new board in the backyard. I won't mention names, but he is getting married soon.

6. What's the longest queue you've ever been in? Was it worth it? Queue=line but doesn't queue sound nicer?

Yes, "queue" is a nicer-sounding word, Joyce, and one of my favorites. Longest queue I've ever been in was for a women's bathroom stall at the Women of Faith Conference in Kansas City several years ago. It was about an hour after lunch. There were 10,000 (give or take 278) women who also needed relief, and there were probably only eight restrooms in what seemed like 14 city blocks' worth of convention hall.

Even though all the mens' facilities (except one) had been reserved for the women, they certainly hadn't been converted for us. You know what I'm talking about.

There really isn't much a woman can do with a urinal. Especially an hour after lunch.
Although, I wonder how many women were sorely tempted to experiment.

At least one woman was, but she didn't yield to the temptation ,and by the grace of God, she didn't mess her drawers either.

She didn't even care that the lock on the door didn't work when she FINALLY-thank-you-LORD, FINALLY got a vacant stall. (She's not sure the woman exiting had fully exited, either, or if she knocked her out of the way whilst the woman zipped up.)

Sitting on that toilet (maybe she didn't even make it to sitting position?) was worth every second of "holding it," considering the alternative. Absolutely. She became a woman of faith in the almighty bladder and in the overwhelming ability to distract one's mind away from her bowels and onto solving complicated math problems such as 10278 divided by 14, x 7, - (14-7) to the 82nd power.

7. Besides Christmas, what is one thing you are looking forward to in the month of December?

I am eager to attend a parents' luncheon for the December 2011 graduates of the College of Education at my daughter's university. Our precious Sarah, who will graduate with a BS in Early Childhood Ed, has invited my husband and me to this special occasion.

We are so proud of her and what she has accomplished, and grateful that she puts her heart and soul into her studies and her student teaching. Forsooth (does anyone use that word anymore?) I absolutely love that she wants us to be at the luncheon. (That's another sign of adulthood--when your kids are no longer embarrassed to be seen with you, but actually ask you to be seen with them. It's almost worth the price of tuition.)

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Today I got to do one of my very favorite things in all the world- -have an international guest and a missionary in my home for a meal. My friend Bonnie is home on furlough from Zambia with her roommate/"adopted" daughter Swazi (who is 22). The three of us had lunch on a cold rainy day, and I got to hear first-hand what their lives are like, and felt honored that Bonnie prioritized her very busy schedule to include four uninterrupted hours with me.

It's just really too bad that missionaries have to spend so much of their supposed R&R setting up meetings, raising support, and showing the same videos over and over instead of just resting and relaxing, or reading and rejuvenating. The R&R for missionaries actually appears to stand for "Running and Rallying." But what is the solution?

Bonnie requested egg salad, so I obliged and just had to bake peanut butter cookies with Dunkin Donuts coffee, a treat I've been promising to serve her the whole time she's been gone. PB cookies and DD coffee. Yum!

And hot tea for Swazi, who was having trouble warming up, literally.

Swazi's first impression of America is "it's cold!" Oddly enough, we've been having a warm spell here in Maryland this past week, but today was cold and wouldn't stop raining. Swazi didn't have an umbrella, but I had a brand new polka-dotted one, still with tags on, so I wished her an early Merry Christmas, and she promptly popped it open before heading up the driveway in the pouring mess, all smiles.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

50th Anniversary Party, Final Post

Mama started with a story of when she was 18. "I was helping a blind lady, and when I lifted her to her feet, she said, 'You're a hefty girl, aren't you? Is that why you're not married yet?" Stunned by the lady's rudeness but still composed, my mom replied, "Well, I'm not THAT hefty, and no, I have my reasons. For one, I'm only 18, and for another, I'm in nursing school, and for another I have not found the man I want to marry."

The blind lady asked,"Tell me what sort of man you're hoping to find."
Mama replied, "First, he must love God. He must be educated beyond high school. He must be well-groomed and not a drinker or smoker. And he must be a man already, not a boy. So many of my friends married boys right out of high school. I'm not interested in marrying anyone who is not a man already."

"Hmph. Well, as time goes on, you'll get less particular," declared the old blind curmudgeon.

My mom said she had no plans to become less particular ,but had faith that God would bring her such a man of high caliber. Within a year she met my dad. Three weeks later they were engaged, and seven months later, married.

One day Mama's older brother came for a visit soon after their wedding and declared, "Sis, ya done good. If anyone's gonna be taking care of you, I'm glad it's Lyle."

Daddy started out by telling a lot of marriage jokes. One after another after another till our sides split. Then he folded his paper, put it in his pocket and said, "All joking aside, let me be serious now. When I was a single young man ,I had but one request for God about a wife: 'Give me the best woman in the world.' And He did. Every day for the last fifty years, when I've awakened with Brenda at my side, I thank God for answering my prayer."

For the record, the bottles we
served contained sparkling grape
juice, no alcohol. Daddy didn't
want little plastic champagne
glasses, either, that would "look
like liquor." So we used plastic
tumblers, which made it impossible to "clink" when we wanted to get
the guests' attention for toasts.
I dared Andrea to use her manly ranch whistle, but Rachel stifled my suggestion. Thank God. I'm telling you, we can put on and put off airs just like that!

Soon after their speeches ended, we sisters realized we'd forgotten to prepare our toasts. We'd been so busy planning and doing other things, that we didn't sit down and write out our toasts or really mentally formulate them. So, we "winged it," every last one of us!

We went in birth order with our toasts. I don't remember what Rachel said because I was too nervous thinking of what I would say .You know how that goes. Oh, well.
Whatever she said was eloquent, I'm sure.

My toast was a bit sappy. The emotions were hard to contain as I thanked God publicly for answering my prayer that my parents would live to celebrate at least 50 years of marriage together. I also said that I appreciate their perseverance because marriage is not easy. It's work and it can be tempting to give up when it's hard.

Andrea stood and said, "I'm not one for speeches so I'll make this brief. If it wasn't for you, Mom and Dad, I wouldn't be here. So thanks!" and she quickly sat down while everyone just howled.

Then Jill stood up and said, "Well, that's a hard act to follow, but I did...!"

Oh, the hilarious baby of the family!

Jill's friend Pam (whom she's known for 23 years) delivered the cake, snow and all:) Yay!

Thanks to Pam, the cake was beautiful and delicious. Vanilla on the top layer for my mom,
chocolate on the bottom for my dad.

We all cut it together (more or less).

To quote the late Paul Harvey, "And now you
know...the rest of the story. Good day."

Monday, November 28, 2011

50th Anniversary Party, Part 3: Before the Big Moment

A close-up of the floral arrangement we put at my parents' table. I could hardly take my eyes off it. (Note to self: it was made by Dee's Florist in Aberdeen.)

My parents met while at KU, and have been avid Jayhawks fans ever since. Mama set up this vignette next to the Welcome table. Love it! (I think I've mentioned a time or two that my dad tutored the late great basketball star, Wilt Chamberlain, at KU. (Wilt wasn't as good at algebra as he was at hoops.)
I always loved when my daddy tutored me in algebra, too. No one was too great or too small for his attention and brains, least of all his non-mathematically inclined second daughter.

Waiting for guests to arrive, my youngest was a bit on the bored side.
My oldest is standing there looking
suave and his fiancee' debonair.
Andrea is busy hauling water. Paul, AKA my Silver-haired Sweetie, well...I never get tired of looking at him from
any angle. Even (or especially?) at 50 he makes a suit look mighty fine.

There he is, beaming with his one and only daughter. They made a sweet greeting team. I made the floral arrangements in those vases. Love me some lilies. The basket contained little mints wrapped in gold "50" wrappers from Party City. The scrapbook paper in the front was for autographs as people entered. The gift bag held cards for the happy couple. My mom provided the gorgeous lace tablecloth,
a sentimental objet d'art if ever there was one.

Here's a close-up of one of our centerpieces.

In case you missed the how-to, it's a scooped-out pumpkin with a potted mum set down in it, some baby's breath, and silk florals poked in for added color. These were door prizes and thank-you gifts to people who helped us. Cost: approx $15 each.

We used two sheets of Faith paper from Hobby Lobby on each table, as well as silk leaves and two tealights for ambience.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

50th Wedding Anniversary Party, Part 2: Blowing a Fuse

Meanwhile Jill finished traying some snacks with a friend I hadn't seen since a teenager. Earlier that morning Gail came to my parents' church--the first time she'd been to church since her husband died in January. She had cried through most of the service, remembering the man who lost his life to Lou Gehrig's disease. Being around us, she said, was very comforting. She absolutely loves my parents who gave her rides to church and a cleaning job all through her teen years.

Look out that window. See the snow? You'd think it would deter old people from going out, but it didn't.

And look at that those young people trying to help their stressed-out mother.(I hesitate to put this butt shot on the internet, but it reminds me of how my children helped out and encouraged me in a pinch.)

What was the pinch? Coffee urns not working! Twice we blew a fuse from an unforeseen draw on the electricity: the photographer had two very bright floor lights and a laptop plugged in. We had two coffee urns, a hot water urn, and a crock pot of apple cider plugged in. ( I was about to "blow a fuse" of my own because cold people would be seeking hot coffee very soon,)

Once again, my quick-thinking and capable husband came to the rescue, flipped some switches, and we were back in business, except with the coffee urns spread on east and west sides of the room to ease up the circuits. Telling guests that "regular coffee is over there" felt like telling them to swim the English Channel, and I let that bother me. My daughter told me not to stress about it, but I did. "Only in America" is what I had to whisper to myself. It's what I say when I realize what a spoiled brat I am to be in culture that "hmphs!" about the mildest inconveniences.

Next time I think I'll bow out of not only anything technical, but anything electrical as well. It triggered a hot flash. Only in America.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

50th Anniversary Party, Part 1: Getting Prepared

My three sisters and I started planning in earnest for this party back in July, with input from my parents. They told us the essential thing that would make the event special: having all four daughters home to celebrate with them. They also wanted friends, neighbors, and congregants, but mainly they wanted their girls in Maryland.

So the two from out of state booked their flights for a long weekend. The event was to take place on Saturday, October 29, 2011, from 3-5 pm, on what we predicted would be a gorgeous fall day.

Hands-on preparation started Thursday night when the sisters gathered at my house to make
the centerpieces and cut up fruit and veggies.

On Friday, we went to the clubhouse with my dining room chairs, a rented bistro table and other rented items, all our pumpkin vases and other floral arrangements. (The one above was done professionally. Isn't it stunning?) My future daughter-in-law Deirdra, and my sister Andrea
dressed the tables in fall colored tablecloths. Jill set up the AV equipment while Dee set tables; Rachel organized the food and greeting table while I worked on getting the picture presentation boards set up and coffee urns and paperware in place. We were all too busy running around to get any more than this single pre-party photo. Oh well.

In the midst of setting up, we got a call from the cake decorator, a long time friend of Jill's who lives in Bowie, about an hour and a half from the clubhouse. She said that the forecast of 2-6 inches of snow--yes, SNOW!--might prevent her from delivering the cake. I prayed silently, "Lord, please hold off the snow! We don't have another dime for a storebought cake and it won't be nearly as special as Pam's."

The next day we attended shabbat where my dad preached on getting prepared for the return of Yeshua (Jesus). It was one of those moments I stopped and thought, "I'm so busy being about the here and now, what am I doing to plan for eternity?" Seemed in that instant I once again thought about how much of life is planning. In the image of God we're made.

We scurried out after oneg shabbat (the luncheon that typically follows the service) and made a beeline for the clubhouse to meet the photographer and set up all the food and drinks. On the drive over, snow began to fall. Or should I say, "fall began to snow"?