Saturday, March 31, 2012

A to Z Blog Challenge 2012: "Legacy" is my Theme

My story started in the summer of 1965 when I entered the world. Thousands of people have been part of my story, hundreds have influenced me, and dozens have played key roles. All of them have left, or are leaving, a legacy, and it is the legacy of each one that I intend to highlight.

This year for the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I have chosen to tell my story by paying tribute to 26 people who have influenced my life. Such a challenge presents great joy and great difficulty. Whom should I include? How do I choose between candidates who share a common initial or the same name? Should I write about people I've never met, such as authors or missionaries, but whose work has had lasting impact on me? What about the people who have so much influence me that I can't write a post succinct enough for readers to stick with it?

After much thought, I settled on three guidelines for myself in this challenge:

1. The A to Z list won't feature members of my immediate family as title roles. Since my blog has told much of my story already, including about my parents, husband, and children, I will instead be devoting April to other influences in my life.
2. Choose a positive legacy to write about. Negative people didn't make the cut.
3. Post a picture with each entry, if I have one.

I hope you enjoy my story. I do.

Friday, March 30, 2012

To "B" or not to "B"?

I've thought of at least five different blog post themes for the A to Z blogging challenge .

1. Words and phrases
2. People Who've Influenced Me
3. Advice (I've given or passed along)
4. Stories from my life
5. Imperatives from scripture

For number 1, I drafted many key words or phrases. That's as far as it went.

For 2, I am afraid to offend certain people who share the same letter of the alphabet; they've influenced me, but how to choose?

For 3, would anyone care to read advice ? I don't think I would unless I went seeking something specific, so I've ruled that one out.

For 4, it's kind of close to what I wrote last year as a theme (memories). Redundant?

For 5, imperatives from scripture. I posted them on Facebook (accidentally omitting W and Y because I drafted without proofreading) and while it's truth upon truth,
seeing that many in a row at one time had the effect (on at least reader) of being a list of rules instead of ways to love the Lord and your neighbor with all your heart. The A to Z blog challenge draws readers from every belief system, and I don't want my blog to be a wall. I'd rather it be a stream.

There is a sixth idea in my head: Instead of blogging for 26 days in April, I would not blog for 26 days. That would be a greater challenge to me. Besides, we are planning a trip in April to visit my brother-in-law in Ohio during our Easter/spring break. If I did the challenge, I would have to write and schedule the posts ahead of time. That's not really "blogging daily," but the rules don't state you can't schedule posts ahead, and many people do out of necessity or fear of forgetting or pure eagerness or for carpe diem.

Still thinking. So many people have influenced my life that I would like to pay tribute to. So many stories haven't been told. Or maybe they have. This post is, after all, #1509 for me!

To blog or not to blog in April? To take the A to Z Challenge and write, write, write this next month, or challenge myself in other areas--home management, exercise, reading, creating, and save four days in April for self-expression in blogland?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Delphic Sibyl

A few weeks ago I taught a bit about Renaissance art. Michelangelo's painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was a main focus since we had to move along at quite a clip to keep up with their fast-paced history studies. Among the many figures the artist painted were several Delphic sibyls (Greek prophetesses). The students were to draw this particular one, and I modeled it.

Now, folks, please know, I am not a trained artist and have never had an art lesson per se, so this drawing leaves MUCH to be desired. I do not claim to have talent, only desire and determination to become better. I would really appreciate critiques from those of you who are much farther along the road in drawing. Please give me some pointers for improvements.

I am embarrassed about her lips. Try as I may, I couldn't erase that extra shading in the middle, so it looks like she has a duet of cold sores. Poor gal. I also know that several other things are not quite right, such as her eyes, nose, cheeks, and arms. Goodness, it looks like she swallowed canteloupes that got stuck in her biceps.

Please, fellow artists, help me out. If Michelangelo were ever to get a look-see at this, I'm sure he'd roll over in his sarcophagus.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hodgepodge: Mopping, Shopping, and Hopping

Volume 72 from Joyce's Hodgepodgin' noggin. Wow! And I thought *I* could ask a lot of questions!

These are my answers to her query this week. Read them if you wish, and if hungry for more variety, then click on the button above to see her answers and the links to more.

1. What's the last job you did that required elbow grease?

My kitchen has gotten more of my elbow grease lately as I've been in a spring cleaning mood. (Take my temperature; it could just be a sickness.) I've scrubbed grease off the appliances, sucked bugs and dust out of the windowsills with a vacuum , double-mopped the floor (once for clean, twice for shine) and scraped that icky build-up from around the faucet.

2. March Madness, aka the men's Division I basketball championship, is nearing an end. What sort of 'madness' has your house seen this month?

Good madness? Our son's wedding shown here, there, and everywhere.(See my past few posts. I've gone mad showing off my lovies.)

By the way, I can NEVER hear the term "March Madness" without remembering the March when I was recovering from a broken ankle. On the last Sunday night in January, 1995 (at age 29), I wrenched my foot so hard playing volleyball that I passed out from pain. Two teen girls drove me home. I couldn't bear weight, so they carried me under the armpits up the steps and to my threshhold. My hubby was watching a Maryland Terps basketball game. The Terps were Final Four material that year.

Mind you, this was in the days before cell phones, so Paul hadn't heard how hurt I was before I got home. Nor did he really see me -- his beloved wife of eight years and mother to three small children--, when I finally did get home...crawling toward him... in pain... while those teen girls stood in the doorway commiserating. "Oh, Miss Zo, I hope you're going to be okay!" The Man was fixated on the basketball game. Fixated, I tell you. Terps fans on TV cheered so loudly that he couldn't hear my voice as I lay on the floor, swollen foot propped on the sofa next to him, writhing in agony. "Honey," I moaned, "can you pleeeeeease get me some ibuprofen?!!!"

He said, and I repeat, "Can it wait till halftime?"

My madness that January night lasted well into March. I am not sure I have yet forgiven him.
Ever since then, when I really want his attention, I hop on one foot in front of the TV and scream, "No, it can't wait till halftime!!!!"

I could be embellishing part of this story, but it's the way I remember it, so I'll stick to this version.

3. What's your favorite shop for browsing?

Consignment shops. There are a few near me that I frequent. One in particular has two levels of beautiful things--from furniture which has come from model homes and upscale homes, to designer purses and accessories, pillows and prints, a Christmas nook, and Persian rugs. It's like shopping my older sister's closet, my mom's jewelry box, my aunt's kitchen, Martha Stewart's basement, and Santa's tool shed --all under one roof.

4. Is there ever a time when giving up makes sense?

Oh, sure. The term "cut your losses" is often the best advice. Quitting is sometimes the wisest thing one can do, given the options, circumstances ,or repercussions.

5. What's a song you love that contains the name of a city, state or country in its title?

One of my favorite songs takes me back to the stage when I was in the show "The Music Man." We sang and danced the soft shoe (a tap dance) to the lyrics sung by the leading man, Professor Harold Hill: " There is just one place that can like my face--Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, not Louisiana, Paris, France, New York, or Roooooooooome. But Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, my home sweet hoooooooome!" (clickety-click!)

6. When did you first begin using a computer?

In college, circa 1983-84, I took a computer class using a language called Basic. Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? It was the hardest class of my college career. It was the first class after high school chemistry that convinced me that my brain doesn't fire on all cylinders and never will, this side of heaven. I ended up withdrawing from that class in order to save my GPA as an English major (a case in point for question #4).

7. Did you buy Girl Scout cookies this year? What's your favorite?

No, I haven't seen them for sale yet, which is a very good thing. I love Thin Mints, followed by Samoas. Literally.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Please continue to pray for my brother-in-law Tony and his family. The cancer surgeries have taken their toll on his body and spirit, as you can well imagine. It's really hard living nine hours away, unable to be on hand for practical help.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How to Make a Gumball Machine

Our second son, Steve, is rather smitten with this treasure of a girl, and has been for over a year. They adore each other. They don't use the "l" word yet, but everyone (including them) knows they l-o-v-e each other.

He is always on the lookout for creative
ways to express his adoration. Sometimes he asks me or his sister for ideas, because his dad and brother aren't exactly the go-to guys for help in the romance department.

Our daughter saw a super cute "gumball machine" on Pinterest back in early February. She told her brother about it, and convinced him that he could make one for his girlfriend.

Arts and crafts projects take him quite a few zones out of his natural element, but that's what makes him all the more attractive to her. He tries to please her in ways that aren't necessarily easy for him.

He created this gumball machine for Valentine's Day. It could easily be adapted to be a gift for Easter,
birthday, or Christmas, or graduation, or just about any occasion, or "just because."

Materials Needed:
- a small clay pot with base
- your choice of acrylic paint colors (small tubes)
- medium paintbrush for painting the pot
- a skinny brush for writing a message (optional)
- a round vase with a "neck" like in this picture (available at the dollar store)
- a drawer pull or some sort of knob (monogrammed ones are extra special)
- ribbon to dress it up a bit
- hot glue gun with one stick of glue in it

Steps (after wiping dust off flowerpot with damp cloth)

1. Paint a clay flowerpot and its base with red acrylic paint. *The base becomes the lid.
2. Let it dry, and apply a second coat.
3. Let that dry and then turn the pot upsidedown. Paint a message.

4. Apply hot glue to the "top" and press the glass bowl securely on it.

5. Add gumballs or chocolates (such as these Lindor truffles) or whatever candies your recipient would enjoy eating.
6. Hot glue a ribbon around the rim of the clay pot. (This ribbon says "Happy Valentine's Day.)
7. Hot glue the knob on top of the lid.
8. Let it all dry thoroughly before wrapping it as a gift.

9. Watch the smiles appear before your very eyes when your special someone sees what a sweet
thing you made.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The "First Look" Pictures

The wedding would begin at 1:00, but most of the pictures were taken outdoors from 10-12 a.m. The purpose of this was two-fold: to minimize the time guests would have to wait at the reception while formal photos were being taken, and --most importantly--to allow the groom to get his first look at his bride.

When the idea of "first look" pictures was first presented to me, I balked. I'm old-fashioned. Traditional. He shouldn't see her in her gown before she came down the aisle, right? Well, my sister-in-law convinced me that this way of having the "first look" is far better because the groom gets to really take in all her beauty and not be rushed to turn to the minister after a quick fifteen seconds of her walk
down the aisle.

It still took me a while to get over myself and
my traditionalist mindset, but then it made perfect sense. When I really pondered it, I realized that the people closest to Ben and Dee would get to see their faces up close when they first saw each other. We wouldn't miss that. We might even get to hear his reaction. And she would get to be in his loving arms for a good while before the crowd came around. The other advantage is having all that wonderful natural lighting to work with. Nothing beats the great outdoors
for making people look their best.

Even though it was a chilly morning, the sun was shining and the
air was electric with joy and eager anticipation. These first few shots
show how we all dealt with our nerves and emotions.

Ben finds something
to toss.

Joel wrangles his
blasted tux.

And does that thing
with his lips.

Some use their
hands to tell stories.

Others fold them
in SBA (Standard But
Awkward) man fashion.

Some shove them
in their pockets.

Some point, and most
pay attention to the

Men in black
stand poised.
Ladies in pink
fuss with their
shawls and
flowers, trying
to keep warm
while waiting
for the bride
to show up.

Some cozy up
to each other, intensely
happy that this day has
finally come for their
precious 23-year-old
son. The wife asks her
husband, "Has it hit you yet?"
and he admits, "Yeah. A couple days
ago. I was sitting in my office
thinking...remembering stuff over the years." She asks
if he cried. "Kind of. Not like
you do, but y'know...." And yes,
she does know. She knows that he would have shut his office door to let the tears come and to blow his nose. And if anyone had asked,
he would've blamed the red eyes and sniffles on allergies. They wouldn't have believed him because his lips don't quiver when it's just allergies.

"Dad, I'm not
cold, but my hands

"Well, then, put
them in your pockets."

"Nah, then they'll be
too warm. I hate to be too warm!
Remember I have warma-
phobia?!? I 'll just do this with
the sleeves."

Hey, look! She's here!

Her mom is holding
her veil (the veil she
made because Dee wanted
one that was longer than
her train). The wedding
coordinator is giving last
minute instructions to
Uncle Ron. So is Dee. "Don't
let me fall!" (I don't think a
man of his rank and stature
is going to let that happen to
his niece.)

The groom's mother, seeing this
vision in white loveliness from afar, can't hold back the tears. She squeezes
the father's arm and looks up at
his face. "You're crying, too!" she
says with a giggle. "No, I'm not,"
he says. "It's the allergies again."
Quivering-lip liar. Can't fool me.

Meanwhile, the little brother

Can't wait to get this
over with. These
stupid pants won't
stay up.

All bachelors here except for
the bearded redhead wearing sunglasses. He gets the
credit for matchmaking.
In April of 2010, he invited
Ben to a birthday party for
his wife and her twin sister.
Just come along for the ride.
I'm not trying to set you up or
anything, bro.

Hey, she's coming!
Her mom was watching
Deirdra. Her sister was
watching Ben. Sarah and
Jillian were complaining
about having their hair falling.
The flowergirls were gaga
over the princess coming toward

The wait is almost over!

First look photos. I'm a believer.


All photos courtesy of Ambrey Zaun, friend of the family. The professional was Craig Schulte
of Salex Photography in New Jersey. (You can find a beautiful shot of Ben and Dee on his website.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Wedding Ceremony

Pretty dresses, pretty hair,
Pretty flowers here and there.
Pretty girls, smiling wide,
Prettiest of all, though, is the bride.

Joel tried not to make eye contact with a single soul.

Here come the tears. I never knew I looked so silly when I'm on the verge of crying.

Dee's precious Uncle Ron walked her down and aisle.

Her veil got a bit stuck as her uncle lifted it to kiss her, and there was a cute, awkward laugh in the house.

The minister spoke about
how this wedding marks
both the end and the beginning.
The end of the waiting,
the longing, the tearful
goodbyes on Sunday nights,
the end of being
incomplete without each

And the beginning of a new life, new memories, new traditions,
new sacrifices, new joys. (Of course I was thinking, "And please, Lord, if you will, many new grandbabies.")

The beginning of being complete.

Ben and Dee read sweet words that they'd written for each other. When he started out, "Little One, I've always prayed for a godly, sweet, beautiful woman to be my wife..." he choked up, and I choked up, and she wiped a tear or thirty. His heartfelt eloquence moved us deeply. The love and passion he has for this woman! It so much felt to me like Jesus speaking to me. To each of his beloved. God has written His love letter to those of us whom He has chosen as His own and for whom He paid the greatest price for the joy set before Him!

Never before has a wedding moved me so symbolically as this one, because I was privy to the pain and suffering they went through in the waiting and separation, and the acts of kindness and bright-eyed enthusiasm and gratitude they oozed when together. We watched him plan for their future. With a lot of prayer and counsel, Ben planned his steps toward marriage once he knew he loved her. 1. Finish college. 2. Get a job that will support a family. 3. Ask her mom for Dee's hand in marriage. 4. Buy the prettiest, most valuable ring he could afford. (This took almost 2 years of saving.) 5. Propose to her when she least expected it, but in a romantic setting. 6. Leave father and mother (aka move out of their house!) 7. Support himself in his own place, preparing it for her. 8. Save up vacation time for a tropical weeklong honeymoon plus an additional week for setting up house together. 9. Show up for the wedding (at times was quite tempted to elope, believe me, and skip all the stress imposed by "all the women" involved, and 10. Cleave to his wife. (He likes the cleavage part, I'm sure.) Live happily ever after starting March 10th.

I, Deirdra, take you, Benjamin, to be my lawfully wedded husband, in sunshine and shadow...

Unity sand. (They couldn't have candles in the old, old church.)
The song being sung during this part was "Great is Thy Faithfulness."

Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in public, I present to you

Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Paul Zubrowski.

"Yes! Finally! We made it! We did it! Woo-hoo, baby!"

That indescribable feeling of finally being united after 23 months of traveling back and forth from Maryland to New Jersey to see each other for weekends. Oh, there awas the occasional spring break or Christmas break, but the aching to spend every day together was becoming almost like grief. Their wedding really and truly reminded me of the feeling we have to look forward to, as believers, the Bride of Christ, when we finally shed the shackles of earth and this mortal body, getting rid of miles and miles of sin, so to speak, and in the arms of our Bridegroom. Joy forevermore!

And now, let's eat, drink, and be merry!

Siobhan, Dee's twin sister, and Stephen, Ben's younger brother.

Katie and Dan.

Ben's friend, Ben, and Dee's friend Melissa.
Did I mention there was a third Ben, the minister?

Our Sarah with Ben's friend Sam.

This beautiful red velvet cake is not covered in fondant. Amazing! Smooth and creamy. Dee's friend's mother made it.

Luke, Ben's friend and teammate for several sports since childhood, walked with Kerry, Dee's friend. My brother-in-law Jay ran video, which I can't wait to see!

It looks like I'm strutting my "I'm all that" stuff,
but honestly ,I was just really
happy and also trying not to lose my left shoe.

Give Steve a mic and he is in.his.element. He can't resist telling stories on his kinfolk. When sisters give toasts,
they give toasts, but when
brothers give toasts, they give roasts.

He poked fun at their Facebook countdowns.
"Dee's status: Only 83 more days till I get to
marry the man of my dreams! I love you, Baby!"
"Ben's status: Enough lies from the White House!
Go Ron Paul!"

He poked fun at Ben's youthful
folly that often landed him in the ER.

He poked fun of my waddle when eight months pregnant, trying to rescue Ben from a snowboarding-in-our-backyard accident. (Steve did some action that resembled a penguin trying to waddle his way out of a wedgie.) We laughed till we cried. And we celebrated that decisiveness and eager determination in Ben when it came time for him to woo and wed his gorgeous bride. Besides putting his faith in Jesus Christ at a very early age (just before his naptime, I still remember that day) the best decision that Ben has made was to say "I do" to
this prize of a young woman.

More pictures coming. Beautiful outdoor shots taken of his "first look" at her before the wedding. You don't want to miss them.