Saturday, March 30, 2013

It's a ....Gender Reveal Party!

My baby sister Jill is 19 weeks pregnant. Today she and her husband threw a Gender Reveal Party. The party was from 3-5pm and the big announcement was scheduled for 4:00. 

This was my first time ever going to one.

I wasn't sure what to wear. So I
wore  a pink top,
carried  a short-sleeved blue sweater,
painted my nails pink, wore pink lipstick (because who wears blue?)
and accessorized with multi-pastel earrings, a blue topaz necklace and ring, and my birthstone bracelet because the baby is due in August. 

Jill wore brown. No hint to be found there.

She also wore a smile the whole time.   

We were invited to take guesses --boy or girl--by looking at her framed sonogram pictures on the wall.  (I saw a clue in terms of "parts,"  but didn't let on. Most people don't know what they're looking at on sonograms.) Guests were asked to toss around some suggestions for names.  David! Anna! Jayna! Josiah! Lilian! Jonathan!Ashlan! Thomas! Elizabeth!  Of course I said if it's a girl due in August, it's got to be Zoanna. I don't mind sharing either my name or my birth month.

The clock struck 4 and small talk was over.

Jill told the baby's four grandparents (my mom and dad on the left, below, and Jay's parents
on the right) to gather around the cake.

She handed them each a knife and said,

"Do the honors, please. The color on the inside of the cake will tell you what we're having."

Pink or blue?

On the count of three...





 .                                               PINK!!!!! IT'S A GIRL !!!!


I am so excited I can hardly stand it!  I secretly hoped it would be a girl.
These arms ache to hold a baby again, and my heart is drawn to having a niece. It's been quite
a while since there were any babies on my side of the family.
Last year Jill was pregnant and miscarried.
While still reeling with grief, she visited her friend Alaina in St. Thomas in October.
One day they went shopping, and Jill spied a darling little plaque. She told Alaina, "If I
ever get another chance to decorate a nursery, this is what I want to have in it."
Well, what are good friends for than to remember special things like that? And to have faith for you?
And to mail you a gift when they find out God has heard your prayers.
Here's a girl trying not to cry ... .
 yet beaming with joy.
I remember when I first held my baby sister, 
the one I had prayed for since I was 8.
  She finally came when I was 14.
We painted one dot of pink nail polish on each of her nails.
Now she gets to do that with her own
baby girl.
I. can.not. wait!!!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bits 'n Pieces

We are officially on Spring Break from school now. We get tomorrow off and all of next week. I feel free! No more lunches to pack, carpools to run, papers to sign, or uniforms to wash for an entire week. Wahoo! 

It's also Spring Break for my daughter, the first grade teacher, who is spending it in Florida. Lucky thing. Gonna miss her at the table.

While in the paint department of Home Depot today, a young mom stopped me and said, "Excuse me, ma'am. Do you have an eye for color?" I told her I thought so; I'm an art teacher. She exclaimed, "An art teacher? Score!"  Made me laugh and made my day.  She needed help deciding between two colors to go with her tile. That was fun.

I, in turn, held up three paint cards with  a total of 9 colors for my new guest/craft room. I asked her which of the top 6 she found both restful and inspiring.  I was hoping she'd choose my choice, Wickerware (by Behr).  She did. Score! 

One of my dear young friends won Teacher of the Year for our county. I am so excited for her.  And what's even better? She co-teaches with my nephew in the same fifth grade classroom. He's a special educator and they're quite a team. Two of the most hilarious people I've ever met, with hearts of gold.

I plunged into the A to Z Blog Challenge which starts April 1.
Nope, I have not written a word ahead of time. However, my theme is easy and I have made a tentative list of subjects for each post. I am stumped on several letters, though. I am also giving myself a word-limit challenge per post, as I know no one wants to read long posts if they're hopping around. I was something like blogger #1253  but I promise I won't write 1,253words per post.

My sister's baby "cooperated" at the sonogram today. They're having a Gender Reveal party Saturday, so you know I'll be back here with great news! And I won't even wait for B is for Boy or G is for Girl. No, way. I am not that patient! This is pretty exciting stuff!

If you want to read a sweet love story, in his own words, my engaged son Steve has posted here, "True Love Began with a Bag of Doritos." I was moved to tears. He's such a tender, funny, precious guy who's got a way with words. Love him to bits 'n pieces.  She does, too. Good thing, because they're gettin' hitched in three months!

Have a blessed Easter weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What's Hoppenin' in the Hodgepodge?

Slept in with a belly ache, headache, and leg aches, and tried to go back to sleep after drinking hot tea, but my bedroom is too sunny. I need room-darkening shades. Since I can't sleep, I will hop into the basket of Hodgepodge questions and see if I can hatch a few answers.  After reading mine, click on this cute button  of Joyce's to see what other good eggs had to say.
1. What are your plans for Easter? Are you cooking a big lunch or dinner? Dyeing eggs? Attending a sun rise service? Eating too much chocolate?
We will go to church at our choice of times: 7 , 9 or 11 a.m.  I'm thinking 7 is out of the question,  possibly 9 since at 11 there might be standing room only.... 
I'll be "cooking and taking" some of the Easter meal, but the specifics,  as yet, are unassigned. My precious daughter-in-law invited us to their place for 5:00 Sunday.  Her mom is coming down from NJ so it'll be quite the crowd. I'm so excited because I just feel so honored to be on the receiving end of an invitation, and because Easter has never been a big-meal deal in either my growing-up years or with the kids we've raised.  A big spiritual deal, yes, but not food-wise.  Perhaps we are starting a new tradition??!!  I am not a big chocolate fan. Gotta be in the mood.  I have been known to get in the mood when I see chocolate, though.

2. What is something you feel too young to do?

Go mall-walking. Yes, I know a lot of younger people do it, but I associate it with senior citizens.
On the other hand, I  have such a bad foot right now that ANY walking is making me feel old.

3. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs..."
Of the characteristics mentioned in the biblical definition of love which do you find most difficult to live out and why?

To not be proud.  Pride is at the root of the others, is it not?  My pride says, "Hurry up. I have no patience to wait for you, to adapt to you, to listen without interrupting." My pride causes me to act and speak unkindly or to not do a kind favor when it's in my power. My pride makes me thinks I'm too good to accept what God has apportioned to me, so I envy what others have. My pride makes me want people to notice me. I hate the feeling of being invisible! My pride says "don't embarrass me or you won't live it down." My pride keeps a record of many, many wrongs.

4. What's a springtime flower you associate with your childhood?

Dandelions.  Okay, technically they're a weed, but I like the quote that goes something like, "A weed is only a flower you didn't intend to plant."  As  a kid , I had SO much fun picking and blowing their seed heads.

5. Ever sung karaoke? If so, what's your go-to song? If not and you're given the opportunity, would you?

Not in public. A few times at home with family, I sang "Open Arms" and "Don't Stop Believing" with all the passion that a 40-something-going-back-to-high-school-in-her-mind could sing.  Yeah, there's a reason my kids stopped inviting me down to the basement...

Given the opportunity, would I sing karaoke? Well, it would REALLY depend on the circumstances in which the opportunity presented itself. As in, will these people ever see me again?  If not, then yes. Is there a fair amount of wine cursing through my veins? If yes, then yes.  Could my performance show up on Facebook? If yes, then no. So, bottom line is, NO!

6. What is something you keep in a basket?

Linens in the closet, food in the pantry, books in the bathroom, mail in the kitchen.

7. When was the last time you felt foolish?

Yesterday, as I was seeking to explain "planned obsolescence" to my 11-year-old. While holding an iron, telling him things aren't made to last like they used to be, waiting (impatiently) for it to heat up. I took the time to make it a teaching moment, so "waxed eloquent"  and said maybe we need to stimulate the economy by buying a new iron.

Then I realized the darn thing wasn't plugged in.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I thoroughly enjoyed Passover seder last night with my parents' congregation.  Why I wore mascara is beyond me; I always cry, so humbled by the fact that Christ delivered me from my own Egypt, my life of slavery to sin. He is my Passover lamb.

I loved being with my parents, seeing a couple young boys blow the shofar till they were red in the face, watching their excitement at finding the afikomen and my dad handing out prize money like he's Bill Gates.  I loved seeing my sister's pregnant belly (she finds out today if it's a boy or girl if baby "cooperates").  I loved all the food.

However, all the food didn't love me.  I'll spare the reasons why I know that. Even this morning I have a Passover seder potluck hangover, or a bug, I'm not sure. I am nauseated. By the way, do you know you shouldn't say "I'm nauseous"?   Nauseous means "causing nausea." Do I have that effect on you?  The correct way to say it is, "I'm nauseated." --that is, something has caused an ill feeling in me. Does all this talk of nausea make you nauseated or nauseous?  

Happy Resurrection Day to all my fellow believers out there! He is risen!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Counting 1000 Gifts, # 223-243

Linking with others who are Counting 1000 Gifts at A Holy Experience.

3 Gifts that Made You Laugh

223.  Tim Hawkins (Christian comedian) asking the audience, "Any Mormons out there tonight?" (Looks around.) "I didn't think so. I didn't see any bikes parked out front. I did pass one on his way here. He's probably still out there, pedaling, turning around ,   "Come on, we're gonna be late, honey...honey...honey...."  "That joke was worth the price of admission right there. You know it was!"

224.   Explaining to my youngest son the meaning of "planned obsolescence" while waiting for my iron to heat up. It was taking forever, and I was saying how things just aren't made like they used to be. That's not all bad, I was saying. We need things to be replaced so that people have to spend money and stimulae the economy and keep other people employed. Blah, blah, blah. I tapped on the iron. cold. Looked for a blue light. Not on. Then I checked the outlet. I didn't have the correct cord plugged in !  Duh. I told him my brain is becoming obsolete, but it wasn't planned that way.

225. A set of sarcastic "mom magnets" sent by a friend in Colorado.  One of them is a mom's face all snarled up as she asks, "COOK? You mean you want to eat EVERY night?"

A Gift Sweet, Salty, Just Right

226.  Cinnamon roll
227.  Chicken tortilla soup
228.  matzo crackers

3 Gifts Found in His Word

229.  songs
230.  warnings
231.  ancestors I can relate to

3 Gifts Found in Women Today

232.  wisdom of their age
233.  energy in their youth
234.  transparency

3 Gifts Almost Gone

235.   shampoo in the bathroom
236.   winter  (for that I will be very thankful!)
237.   my husband's gout

A Gift Sung, Written, Painted

238.   a parody of the West Side Story song, "When You're a Jet"; this was "When You're in Debt"
on my favorite radio show,  A Prairie Home Companion
239.   a 14-page letter from a friend (snail mail !)
240.   my daughter's room and bathroom at her new place (painted and organized by a team--her dad, me, her friend-since-birth Hannah, her little brother and herself).  The colors of the rooms were inspired by this bedding...

3 Gifts Spoken:

242.  "Dad, can you help me _____________ (put this thing together?) (change my car battery?) (do my taxes?) (hang this curtain rod?") followed by a yes.
243.  "These crab cakes turned out good. Really good!"
244.   "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." 



Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Simple Woman's Daybook. 3.25.13

It feels like a Daybook kind of night. So I'm linking up here:  A Simple Woman's Daybook.


Outside my window...
we are waiting for the predicted "dusting to an inch of snow."  However,  considering the track record of professional weather forecasters here in Maryland, we probably should have bought a generator today.

I am thinking...about all the things on my DIY project list.  Yesterday I posted a biggie (framed pegboard) that I'm eager to start. But, on a much smaller scale--with a higher priority--is a sewing project.  Today my future daughter-in-law brought me the fabric to make the  pillow that the 3-year-old ringbearer will carry. Oh, my goodness, he is going to be so cute with this little 7x7 thing! (For the record, no, he will not be carrying the actual rings!)

I am thankful...that I have not been sick for the entire winter.

In the kitchen... on the table, is a bouquet of flowers I bought myself for my son's 25th birthday. After all, if it weren't for mothers, how would children be born??

I am wearing...a plum-colored cotton V-neck tee from Lands' End.  So comfy I ordered two more--one in white, one in royal blue, and I wear all three QUITE a bit. I also am wearing some black pants and red indoor/outdoor slippers.

I am creating... a new craft/guest room, and having so much fun.

I am show you the shields that my art class created for the school play. The director "commissioned" us to produce eight shields, each to fit a 20x20" space, with heraldry, Maryland colors, our school logo, a likeness of our county's seal, and a cross/tree combination. Here's how they turned out. Sorry for the poor  photo quality. I couldn't get a good angle, didn't have the right setting, and was surrounded by a crowd.  I created one of the shields. See if you can guess which.


I am wondering...if a heel spur is what I have. Terrible pain in my left heel and it's been like that for going on two months or more. I've kept thinking it would get better, but it's gotten worse. It affects my gait, my posture, my productivity, and my mood. I think it's time to see a podiatrist and hope he doesn't tell me bad news.


I am reading... a few different books:  Power Thoughts, by Joyce Meyer; Followed, by Elaine Dauber Thornton,  Simple Secrets of a Beautiful Home, by Emilie Barnes.

I am hoping...that April is as warm as March has been cold.

I am looking forward to... the "seaside ladies' retreat" in early May.  It's been many years since I've been on a retreat, and my soul is thirsty for a spiritual lift, fellowshiping with other women
(I only know a few from the church we've been attending since Christmas).  And I can't think of a better place than on the Chesapeake Bay.

I am learning...that letting go of children as adults is its own kind of labor pain. 

Around the house... is much less clutter, thanks to my giving up "stuff" for Lent. Feels good!

I am pondering...getting involved with a particular "homeless" ministry of sorts. It's called Samaritan Women and is a home for young women, a beautifully restored Victorian mansion on 23 acres. The women,  who have been rescued from sex trafficking, suffering from PTSD from combat, or physical abuse, find hope and healing at this Christian farm. They are also taught to grow their own food, as well as how to prepare nutritious meals from it.   This place has all sorts of needs and ways to offer help. I would like to volunteer to teach a six-week, once-a-week art class. Creating beauty is a big part of the healing process.

A favorite quote for today...

Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved."  (NIV)

One of my favorite things... is finding notes like this, written by my 11-year-old boy.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

 -Monday : wash mountains of laundry, finish an mixed-media art project, build a snowman snowbunny?
-Tuesday : attend Passover seder  (anyone got a good recipe for a carrot dish--no leaven, not a dessert?)
-Wednesday:  teach a class
- Thursday : work on my craft room
-Friday: attend a Good Friday service

A peek into my day...  for lunch we ordered the second thing from the top on the right of this menu. My daughter likes to call them Hoochie Mamas. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Framed Pegboard: My Next DIY Project

There's no getting around the practicality of pegboard.  Everything needed at the fingertips can be stored in one place, yet not take up space on the work table. 

My problem is that it looks so utilitarian.  I was hoping to find an attractive alternative to the look, but still maintain the function, of pegboard organization.  Beauty is, after all, what inspires me to create beautiful things. Pegboard itself doesn't do much for my spirits.

Thanks to Google, voila!

Here's what I found.  I can custom design it to fit  on my large wall between the windows of my craft/guest room, above my table. And when I say "I," you-know-who will get the honor of actually sawing, mitering, and installing the thing.  


Friday, March 22, 2013

Rich in Random

How's that for a euphemistic title for  "I got a mishmash to talk about, with seemingly no connection"?

We bloggers are nothing if not  creative in our way to express our fragments, snippets, slices of life, hodgepodgery, tidbits and trivia.
My youngest is a born salesman. He has always been keen on making a buck. In fact, a couple months ago, when Sarah was getting ready to move out and Steve was apartment hunting, Joel said, "I don't like change."  I said, "I don't either, honey. I wish things could just stay the same."  He said, "No, I don't mean that. I mean, I like dollar bills, not change!"

At his school they have clubs that meet every Thrilling Thursday during the lunch/recess hour. He joined the School Store club. No surprise there. He and his cronies got to choose 5 different items from the Oriental Trading Company to stock the store with. Yesterday was the "grand opening," and he was so excited. The store is a rolling cart with the items. He and the other guy in the club got to be "the money people." When I asked him what the best-selling items were, he said two: the Books of the Bible pencils, and the stuffed bunnies.  I asked if he bought them. Pencil? Yes. Bunny? No. I asked if he thought it was a good idea to have purchased bunnies for the store since he and the other boys didn't buy them. "Of course! Because half the school are girls, Mom. It's all about profit."   I knew he had analyzed the market and seen green in those bunnies.

The profits go to the fund for the family in our school who lost their home in a fire at Christmas and their dad to cancer the next month.  The club decided that; was that not sweet and thoughtful? They made over $40 the very first day!

I'm looking forward to the Passover seder on Tuesday with my parents' congregation.   I wish the rest of the family shared my passion for it, but they don't.  I think just my daughter and I will be attending, and perhaps a friend of mine if room allows.

My sister Jill goes for her second sonogram next Wednesday. If the baby cooperates, they will find out if it's a boy or girl. Then, they are planning a Gender Reveal party at their house next Saturday.
It will be my first. Back in "my day,"  the gender was revealed on the birthing table. We announced the gender at the same time we said  this one was bald or loud or long-legged. Now we have parties . I think I'm excited. I certainly keep praying this baby makes it full-term.  It's not a given in life, and certainly not in my family's experience. This much I know: being an aunt again might feel a little grandmotherish to me!  I haven't seen Jill since Christmas myself!
 (The gal in the middle.)

I celebrated my oldest son's birthday with him yesterday. I blogged about it already, but given that it's long, I doubt it will receive much attention. Birthday posts seem only most interesting to those close to the birthday boy or girl, but I wrote it for me, for my own recollection, and perhaps for him and his kids in the event I ever get around to publishing my blog into a book. I would have to delete much of my rich randomness, I'm afraid, before doing that.  Currently my annual blog posts are as thick as a speed bump, and maybe not much more interesting.

My man is home today. Sick with a fever. Somehow when he's off I feel the urge to relax, too. Except by relaxing I mean blog and he means watch NCIS between naps on the couch.  My future DIL (the gal on the left, above) said to him last night, "Mr. Paul, I think you look like that main guy."  She means Agent Gibbs. We laughed. I mean, Mark Harmon has silver hair and dimples, and is tall. I guess there's a similarity! Anyhoo,  I love that show; my friends might be into many seasons of Downton Abbey, but me? I'm an NCIS aficionado.

I'm also a fan of the show.  But I love the word aficionado?  A Fish in Auto.   Hey, you gotta smile about that.

Time to change the laundry over. I hate change! And not just because I also love dollar bills! It's just that change is part of life, and  the cycle of dirty/clean/dry/folded/put away/worn/dirty never changes!

Ben's Birthday Yesterday

Ben's 25th birthday.  I can't see that number without gasping. Was I only 8 when I had him?  No, actually, I was 23, heading fast toward 24.  Nowadays I don't head fast toward much besides the bathroom and a great sale, but certainly not the next birthday.

Ah, at any rate, my heart was so full yesterday when I woke up thinking about him.   I just really wanted to see him, hug him, spend time with him.  (They'd had a party for him last weekend which was only "for young people," so the parents weren't on the list of invitees. Sniff, sniff. And we've come to agree--more or less agree--that it's too pricey to take the whole family --all 8--for birthday dinner since it's almost one a month.)

But deep in my heart, two days ago, I was about to break if I didn't see him.  I was feeling so intensely about touching him, seeing his  eyes, hearing his voice, being with him.  Couldn't squelch it.  It was like early March of  '88 all over again.


I called Ben yesterday morning at 8 a.m., hoping to catch him before he or my lovely daughter-in-law had packed his lunch. Well, what a blessing my phone call was (NOT) when I WOKE HIM UP on his birthday! Some mother I am. Sheez, I wanted to shrivel up into a ball. Instead I apologized and asked if he'd like to go out to lunch. He graciously (sleepily) agreed.

Yay! That put a "spring" in my step!

Daffodils and sunshine marked March 21, 1988.  In my mind, as I've said before, the first day of spring will always been 3/21. Every year I get my first daffodil bloom on March 21st in the yard somewhere. It's as though God keeps saying to me personally, "Children are my reward; flowers are yours."  Sure enough, I had ONE daffodil yesterday open its pretty yellow face to the sun.

I got dressed up, fixed my hair, makeup, jewelry, heels. The whole bit. Felt happy and like crying all at once. What is wrong with me? Might as well have been back on that delivery table, as mixed-up crazy hormonal as I was.

Wanted to take a picture to remember the moment, yet didn't take one  so that we could live IN the moment. Besides, these men of mine aren't too keen on being photographed , especially in public. The self-controlled me said, "Okay, skip the camera."  The nostalgic me is already regretting that decision.

We met at a Vietnamese restaurant that Paul has been to.  Never fails, whether there are 12 or 312 things on the menu, Paul and I end up wanting to order the same thing. Guess what? So did Ben.
We sat and chatted about quite a variety of things. Ben is a good conversationalist. Listens well. Asked good questions. Has strong opinions, but doesn't force them on people.

I made a card for him and told him how very proud I am of him, for the man he's become. For how he takes care of his wife. He cares about the disenfranchised. He has helped rebuild a home in Baltimore with Habitat for Humanity, and will soon be getting involved with a group that ministers to people with AIDS, and is going to be part of the security team for an upcoming Youth for Christ rally.

He's the most politically active 25 year old I know. Don't be surprised if he runs for office someday. He's a born leader with strong convictions and beliefs.  He doesn't go along with status quo if status quo is morally, ethically, or biblically wrong.

Well, I could go on, because he's my son and I love him to pieces. I never imagined, when he was born, how much love my heart could hold.  Nor did I imagine the love could get any more intense than it was the first time I held him in my arms.

Now this young lady gets to hold him.  (Picture taken May, 2012)

The nest may be getting empty, but the well of my heart keeps getting fuller.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Yike Ben: A Repost on my Oldest Son's Birthday

Today is our oldest son's 25th birthday. There's much I want to write on this special day, and I probably will, but first I want to repost something I found  while scrolling back a few years. 

The youngest, Joel, was 3 at the time. Ben was 17.

Our youngest son is now 11. I have pictures somewhere of their workout sessions and the lacrosse helmet mentioned. But I'm not sure where....


Yike Ben
Joel at age three looks up (and up and up) at his six-foot-six, 17-year-old brother Ben (who never wears a belt except in public). Joel notices all the details and wants to copy them. Mostly in the hair and wardrobe departments. Here are some live examples from our household:

1) Every time I put Joel's shorts on him up to his waistline, he shoves them down a few inches so that the top of his Pull-up or underwear shows. "Yike Ben, " he insists.

2) Before he went to his visit Pappaw and Ima last week, he climbed up on the toilet, ran tap water on his fingers, and slicked his hair down. "Yike Ben," he told me.

3) He wants to have "pikey hair yike Ben's." (The front spikes forward.)

4) He likes to go shirtless but never shortless.

5) Muscle shirts (tank tops) yike Ben's are "weally cool."

6) He "works out" yike Ben. He takes a cup of ice water down to the basement and sets it on a high shelf. Then he turns up the music , picks up the two heaviest objects he can lift, raises them over his head, puffing and blowing out rhythmically for a few reps. After this little imitation of Ben, he walks around with hands on his hips, sometimes wiping sweat off his brow.
When he's finished, he reaches for a 32 oz Gatorade in the fridge and tries to guzzle it before anyone notices he hasn't asked and isn't using a glass.

7) He loves to wear Ben's lacrosse gear. Never mind that the helmet rests like an inverted Colisseum on his little shoulders or that the gloves skim his armpits or that the size 14 cleats smell like...well, size 14 cleats.

As a mother who has watched her first son grow up so incredibly fast, I can only say, "Slow down, Joel. Please slow down. You'll be as big as Ben before I know it."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Sprang a Leak in the Hodgepodge

Welcome back to the place where great minds think alike, and even when we don't, we're still
friends. Thanks to Joyce again for puttin' a spring in our Wednesday by hosting the Hodgepodge.

1. March 20th is the first day of she a lion or a lamb in your part of the world?

She's a cowardly lion.  She tries to snow, and sometimes she succeeds, but only for a few minutes. Other times she has poked her head out and teased us with 57 degrees and sunshine, but then she goes back to her old ways. And I do mean old. Winter is getting old.

Mostly she has just decided to rain, be cold, be grey and dreary.  That's okay, though, I have daffodil stems springing up in the front yard and in our woodland backyard  and in the wild part near our stream. My son's birthday  is tomorrow and that usually has been marked by the glorious
show of the first yellow heads of daffodils. 

No matter what the the calendar or meteorologists or the almanac say, March 21st will always be the first day of spring to me, the day I gave birth to our firstborn. It was certainly spring in my heart that day!

2. What's the most dreaded task on your spring clean to-do list? Do you have a 'plan of attack'?
I really hate to clean windowsills. All that dirt. Those bug corpses. Yuck.  I guess it's not a spring chore, per se, because I do attack them a little more often than that, but I think of spring as window-cleaning inside and out, bugs and all.  My plan involves a vacuum hose, some PineSol, and Windex.
And a tall husband who ain't afraid of no dead bugs.

3. 'em or hate 'em? What's a favorite dish you make using peas?

I like them, but love is too strong a word.  I like them just boiled and buttered, with a dash of salt. Call me simple.  Actually, my sister-in-law made a 7-layer salad once upon a time that I ate, and one of  the layers was peas. Yummy.

4. Do you feel under appreciated?

By the people I do the most for, yes.  By the people I do the least for, no. What gives?

5. Have you been using Google Reader? If so, what are you switching to now that GR has announced retirement? If not, how do you read your favorite blogs?

I'm just now hearing the buzz about this. I'm so techy illiterate. How do I even know if I have Google Reader?  My blogroll only shows new posts when people update their blog. But that's Blogger-controlled, right, not GR? I don't read anything through email except comments. Is that GR? I'm so confused.  Sometimes my brain springs a leak and all intelligence flows downhill. As Patsy Clairmont says, pointing to her double chin, "in midlife, all our brain cells eventually end up here."

6. Anne Bradstreet is credited with the following quote~

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."

Agree or Disagree? Why?

I agree, but I don't have time right now to expound.  (I can hear you breathe a sigh of relief.)

7. When did you last 'spring for something'? What was it?

Hmm. I had to think. I sprang for a new (to me) queen-sized, Shaker-style headboard from Craigslist. I had searched and searched, and wanted to keep my purchase to under $50, but without compromising style. Lo and behold, I found the perfect thing! It was $40 and all I have to do it give it a coat of white paint.

8. Insert your own random thought here?

Would you believe this? Yesterday in my Bible study a new-ish friend of mine, Maria, was talking about a time a few years ago that she lived in northwest NJ. Made me think of Joyce.  She was talking about how different it was from her home in MD.  She had bears in her backyard. Made me think of Joyce again.  She mentioned a great Bible study group of women. Again, Joyce. So I finally asked her afterward, and she said, "Yes, I know Joyce!" 

And here's an extra little funny tidbit for my HP regulars. Last week there was a question about the last time something made you "green with envy."  I posted a picture of Maria's house.  Maybe next time I'll post a picture of her.  She loves to decorate and I need help with my guest room, so I think we might be partnering up.

 Small world, eh?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Counting 1000 Gifts, #201-222

I keep counting, thanks to Ann Voskamp's inspiring dare...

A Gift in Wind, in Water, in White

201.  reminders that God's spirit is both gentle and powerful
202.  hydration
203.  a soft, long V-neck tee

3 Gifts Round

202.  three wee rings of mine (which I wrote a song about,
          sung to the tune of "We Three Kings")
203.  a clock I redecorated this past weekend
204.  my baby sister's belly in pregnancy

3 Gifts Found in Silence

205.  creative juices
206.  God's voice
207.  sleep

3 Gifts Given Away

208.  more than 240 pairs of new shoes from our church, for orphans
209.  encouragement
210.  cheerful service

3 Hard Eucharisteos

211.  chronic pain
212.  re-reading old journals and realizing I still struggle with the same things I did 5 years ago
213.  grief

A Gift Turned, Folded, Hung

214.   the key in the lock of my home
215.   fresh, clean laundry
216    this inspiration piece, now in my art studio,  made by my bloggy friend Rachel (whom
          I've met once in real life!)
Image of His Eye is on the Sparrow

3 Gifts Red

217.   my winter coat
218.   stop signs
219.   the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin

3 Gifts Eaten

220.   pizza, after a long day
221.   chile relleno at a new Mexican restaurant
222.   LIFE cereal

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Newly Upcycled Pinwheel Clock

This clock  had hung in my living room for many years, but I no longer loved it.  I put it in a box of stuff headed for Goodwill, and there it sat for a couple weeks.

Until I had the brainstorm to repaint it somehow to use in my guest/craft room, currently in the making.  The size, shape, and hands of the clock were things I did still love about it, and those I could work with.

I removed the glass and painted the  gold plastic frame a shade (like turquoise) that I liked. But after a time, I realized I wasn't quite happy with it.

Meanwhile, I pondered how I really  want this room to feel. What says both "comfort" and "inspiration" to me?  

An old cotton quilt.

I want the room to be a place that inspires quilt-making, and of course features a comfy quilt on the bed.

A room that'll let my mind drift back to happy places.  Kansas is one of those places.  Kansas with its sunflowers, blue skies, and windmills.

That's it!  Or should I say "Eureka!"?  (An aunt and uncle of mine once lived in Eureka, KS.)

Windmills! The perfect memory and quilt pattern all in one on a round clock.

So I cut a wedge out of yellow cardstock to use as a template for the paddles.

I chose a pretty blue floral print I had in my scrapbook paper collection. I've always loved this paper.

I needed a second blue for the space between the paddles.  The lighter one offered better contrast.
The "space" between paddles is simply the width of 2 paddles. 
  4 paddles + (4x2) spaces = 12 "hours".

But--ew!! That turquoise was now REALLY wrong.


Good thing I had made a fun trip to Michael's with a gift card the day before. I bought 16 bottles of craft acrylic paint in every color of the rainbow, for future projects.

Well, as they say, the future is now.

I mixed these two (Denim and Lavender, by Craft Smart) for the perfect Delft blue of the paper.

There are few things in this world I enjoy as much as mixing paint.
My maiden name isn't Dauber for nothing.
Yes, that's an empty glass spice bottle I mixed the paint in, in case I'd have to stop my project and come back later.  Rummage sale last fall netted me this entire bag for 5 cents.

Stirring paint relaxes me, bring my blood pressure down.
Getting the color I want causes my stomach to do happy flips. I can't explain it.
Maybe, in a small way, I feel a bit of  the way God might have felt when He looked upon His
creation, one day at a time, and declared it good. 
Good is a rich, deep word.

Next step:  apply Mod Podge to seal and shine the paint job.

 I'm a happy girl in the presence of Mod Podge.  

(I'm ambidextrous when I don't have to do fine detail work with my right hand. Or hold a big ole' camera with it.)

Next I needed new numbers for the clock.  Digging through my stickers, I found these.

So I added the four I had planned for the blank spaces.
I messed with the hands so much in the making of this clock that they quit working!!!

I took it to my husband, who has a grey hair for every problem I've ever taken to him. To console him, I say I'm the reason he hasn't turned grey, he's "gone platinum"!  (He went from zero to platinum in our first six years of marriage.)

But I digress.

He fenagled and hmmphed and poked and prodded and balanced on one foot and practically stood on his platinum head to get the fool hands to work.   No use. Most times he can fix anything. Not this "time."

"I think it's just a decoration now, Zo,"  he concluded.


I've always said that time seems to stand still when I'm creating .

Now it truly does.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday's Letters


Ashley at The Sweet Season blog has this clever meme I like to play along with from time to time.
It's called Friday's Letters.  You may write to people, places, or things or all three. This week all my "recipients" happen to be of the people kind.

If you read nothing else below, read the last letter. It's what makes life worth living.

Dear Author of this post,   thank you for experimenting and failing so that I can save myself a lot of trouble in my personal art studio preparation. As my desire to paint continues to grow, so does my stash of acrylic paints. I've been perusing the internet (namely Pinterest) for ideas on how to organize those little bottles of delicious colors. I happened upon your  post that spelled out all your trials and errors of accomplishing this feat, followed by something that works for you.  I think I'll capitalize on your wisdom. (In case the link disappears as some are wont to do before I want them to, your idea is this: Take a small bookcase with sides, stack up the paint bottles on their sides, with the bottoms facing out. That way, you can see every color at a glance and they're easy to pull out individually. I might try a variation on this theme since I have a bookcase I can use, but it's not small.)

Dear Stephen, I'm so glad you got approved for the apartment that you will move into at the end of May.  Yes, I guarantee that I will have "a moment" (or maybe two) when I collapse into tears again over yet another birdie leaving the nest. As Ecclesiastes says, "A time to break down...". You've seen me break down over your leaving for summers away and when your brother and sister "flew the coop."  I'd like to think of those as my "practice breakdowns" that make the next departure-of-child easier.  I'm not banking on it.

Dear Daddy, I've always known that you loved to share the love of Jesus with others,
particularly now with Jews. But I don't think I've ever known you to be so bold and evangelistic
as you reported this week.  You said a Conservative Jewish man called to inquire
about your Messianic congregation. He hadn't been faithfully observing his traditions, and
asked you many sincere questions about your faith and sabbath observance. You told him that
on Sabbath your congregation reads a passage from Torah (the first 5 books of the Old Testament)
just as all Jews worldwide do every Sabbath . You said you also read a passage from Haftarah (non-Torah parts of the OT) as well as a passage from the New Testament.   He asked more questions about God and you said that you believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the savior who died for the forgiveness of our sins.  He asked still more questions and then you asked if he would like to pray a prayer of repentance and ask the Messiah for forgiveness and eternal life. He said yes!  This Jewish man surrendered his life to Yeshua Jesus on the spot!!!!  He then asked "Where to from here?" and you guided him. He will join you this Sabbath for the very first time as a believer in his Passover Lamb. What a thrill he will have this Passover! The blood of the Lamb has saved him!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

OCD Has New Meaning

My conversion experience continues. The experience of converting of my daughter's room into my hobby room, that is.  I have become fixated on this project,  thinking about how I want the room to look and feel and function. I've been rearranging, planning, decluttering, and dreaming. I've been scouring  Pinterest for inspiration, Craigslist for a queen-size headboard, and the house for things I can repurpose.

I'm having fun.

In the big categories of this room makeover  there's a bit of OCD:  Organizing, Creating, and Daydreaming.


-sewing supplies 
-art supplies
-scrapbooking supplies
-gift wrapping supplies


1)  a theme ... and the best I've come up with is my twist on "An American in Paris" --mixing my love of Shaker style furniture, Normal Rockwell, and homespun plaids and calico, with my love of  swirls of wrought iron, Renoir, and toile joli (pretty toile).  Also thinking "songbirds and flowers" as a subtheme.  Okay, am I nuts? Who decorates with subthemes, anyway?

2) things with scripture to surround me.  I need His Word ever before me and in me, if I want to have it spill out of me.  Currently I'm working on transforming a clock that I had in the Goodwill pile. The new paint job is drying as I type.

3) a room that reflects my personality without driving me (or any occupant of the house) crazy.  However, my personality DOES drive my family and me crazy, so that mission ought to be easy to accomplish. I want the room to be both calming and vibrant.  A peacefully invigorating space.  Sounds like an oxymoron. That, my friends, is my biggest challenge. Bigger than painting pale yellow over deep purple.  Oy.


1) of sharing my space, time, love, and resources with other women (more on that soon)
2) of  doing all sorts of arts and crafts with future grandchildren (can't help it; you might say I'm all for creation, otherwise known as procreation!). No pressure, kids. Really. None. But I have been looking at baby quilt patterns...

Yep. My official self-diagnosis for this passion to organize, create, and daydream is "OCD" !

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

There Once was a Hodgepodge from Joyce

                                 There once was a Hodgepodge from Joyce
                                       who likes to give ear to your voice.
                                     Though she poses eight questions
                                         we all think her best ones
                                    Are those that are multiple choice.

She comes to us From the Other Side of the Pond, where she must "Pond-er" these questions for the upcoming week about as soon as she hits the "Publish" key for the current week. 

Let's see, considering that today is the 13th, which is typically an unlucky number, I am going to change the fate of that guy and declare him lucky today. Each of my answers will have 13 words, except for the limerick in lucky question number 7.

1. Do you play games of luck/chance for money? Have you ever played bingo for money? Visited a casino? Placed a bet on a horse? Bought a lottery ticket?

No. No. No. Just a mechanical horse on the boardwalk game. Again, no.

2. Will you be preparing and/or dining on the traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage meal this St. Patrick's Day? Mashed-baked-hash browned-french fried...your favorite way to have potatoes?

I have never made that traditional meal. I'm just a pinch Irish.

3. What's the last thing you felt 'green with envy' over?

My friend Maria's Cape Cod style home, decorated beautifully. Here is a picture:

4. What's at the end of your rainbow?

Either of these would do: a new body or control of my tongue .

5. March 12th marks the anniversary of the death of Anne Frank (June 12, 1929-March, 1945). Anne's diary detailing her time spent hiding from the Nazi's during the war ranks as one of the best selling books of all time. Besides your blog, do you keep any sort of diary or journal? Was this a habit you developed as a child or is journaling something new for you?

Gratitude, Meditations, Prayer.  Started diary-ing in third grade. (Not diarrhea-ing; that occurred earlier.)

6. What's an item in your home or closet that contains every color of the rainbow?

The bruise on my shin . Wanna see? Just call me a serial klutz.

7. Write a limerick with you as the subject. You can do it!! Just remember this is a family friendly blog...don't make me get out my wooden spoon.


There once was blogger named Zo
Whose posts, like fungi, would grow
to the great size of Texas
or an SUV Lexus.
Her words-- they needed a lasso.
8. Insert your own random thought here.

Happy first anniversary to my handsome firstborn and your beautiful wife. Love you!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Counting 1000 Gifts, #171-200

I haven't felt thankful much this past week. It's been difficult. Good thing I have Ann Voskamp's Joy Dare list to direct my thoughts toward finding a few gifts to be grateful for.


3 Gifts Found

171.  sleep that had eluded me
172.  great craft table for my room makeover
173.  insights by Priscilla Shirer in her Bible study book One in a Million

A Gift Bent, Broken, Beautiful

174.   my lower back, after being stiff
175.   my heart
176. . an encouraging card from a friend, tucked in a book she is lending me

3 Gifts in the Kitchen

177.   meatloaf, made especially for my husband
178.   bread pudding, one of his favorites
179.   the desire to cook even when being on my feet today was painful

3 Gifts Loud

180.   pre-adolescent boys' voices singing while playing video games
181.   bing-bing-bing reminder to take my keys out of ignition
182.   cheering which I imagine took place when my favorite English teacher was met in heaven

3 Gifts Carved

183.  bones carved by God,  in my body, before I was born
184.  the beautiful medallion design in my Victorian organ
185.  fresh deli turkey

3 Gifts in Christ

195.  conviction
196.  forgiveness
197.  hope

3 Gifts Read

198.  Power Thoughts, by Joyce Meyer
199.  Followed, by Elaine Dauber Thornton (my aunt), a mystery I'm a few chapter into
200.  my son's creative writing piece, called "The Dumpster Genie" 

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Farewell to one of my Heroes

She encouraged my creative writing, and strengthened my technical writing. She inspired me to become an English major.

She taught me to understand and love English grammar through diagramming sentences. She is the reason I also adore the French language. (Oui, j'adore la langue Francais.) To this day I enjoy collecting things with French words printed on them. 

She would correct her students' grammar in a way that always made me grin.  For example,  a guy would ask, "Can I go get a drink?"  She would slide her reading glasses down her nose to inspect the asker before replying, "Well, I assume you can. Your legs work, and you can bend at the waist toward the water fountain.  Are you asking if you may get a drink? If so, then yes, you may."  

She often said something about learning  that I have never forgotten.  "If you haven't learned it, then I haven't taught it."  She believed in explaining things in myriad ways, and loved to answer questions, and reviewed often until we mastered French or English grammar.  She told us that cramming for a test and then forgetting what we learned was not really learning at all. If we could remember in May what she had taught in September, then we had learned.   I recall having said the very same thing to
my children (and all the students I've ever had)  at least 42 times a year.

She was the first female I knew personally who had been in the military.  I thought that was quite impressive.

She brought in a picture one day of herself surrounded by about 25 young African people.  The class clown asked, "Which one are you?"  And she said (I've never forgotten this, either), "Why, I'm the one wearing pantyhose, of course!" 

She compelled me to want to become a foreign missionary because of how she spoke of the people in Africa whom she loved dearly.

She had mercy on me in home ec class when I botched the sewing of a jumper.  That canary yellow jumper later got "upcycled," shall we say, into the brightest corduroy book covers a school has ever seen.  And, boy, were they ever seen.

She planted seeds deeply into my heart, seeds that sprouted these thoughts:  "That's what I want to be when I grow up--a teacher, a writer, a missionary, a caregiver of orphans, a friend of the poor."  The only difference was that I wanted to be married. She remained single all her life.

She was on my mind a few days ago while I was Windexing. Isn't that odd how someone from long ago pops into your head and gives your heart a lift  just remembering them?  Perhaps she was taking her last breath while I was thanking God for her.   I had no idea why--"out of the blue"-- her name was on my heart.  Now I do.

She was Ada Yarnall.  And she was a gift to me and to this world.

Rest in peace, Miss Yarnall.  I love you and appreciate your service to the Lord through your
teaching and example. Thank you.  I will see you again in a place where all grammar and punctuation will be perfect.

Her obituary made me weep and rejoice at the same time, grateful for her influence on my life.

(In the upper left corner of her story page is a montage of photos. I remember her looking like the one where she is dressed in red, when she was in her late 50's.)

Here, Blow. It's the 116th Hodgepodge, Sister!

Thanks to Joyce for stocking up on questions to keep us thinkin' and chattin' amongst ourselves. Anyone else who happens upon this here blog party is welcome to join in. Simply read my answers, leave a comment, click on the button over and it'll take you to the hostess station.

1. My real life friends came through with another question this week so thank you real life friends. When you've eaten in a restaurant do you complete their comment card? Do you take online surveys highlighted at the bottom of store receipts?

If service is either exceptionally good or exceptionally bad, I do, yes.   A couple weeks ago my daughter and I went to a local Indian restaurant which is normally excellent in food and service. That time, however, the food was lukewarm and the service likewise.  My comment card said so, as did the tip we left.

I don't fill out online surveys that require my email address, which most do. It's not worth the possible "win" to me.

2. The (US) ban on women in combat was lifted at the end of January. It will probably be next year before specifics are worked out, but it's been reported over 200,000 front line positions will eventually open up to women. Your thoughts?

Oh, boy, this is  a 'can of worms' question that I happened to discuss with a few people when it was brought up on Facebook. Big mistake.  I think I might have lost two "friends" based on my outspokenness. Dare I open the can again?

Yes, I dare, since you asked.  I don't think women are fundamentally wired to kill. We are nurturers.  If I were a man, and wired the way I think most "men of war" are, I am not sure I'd see a woman as my military equal emotionally, let alone physically. That's not a putdown; it's reality.

Also, what about the feminine care issues that arise every month? In a war zone, you're supposed to take with you all remnants of your having been there (vomit into your helmet, cover your tracks, don't leave trash, etc).  Is a woman going to take her  "mess" with her? Sorry if that's TMI, but it's a fact of life.  I also know that my husband would have a harder time seeing his daughter go into combat than seeing his son do so, not because there is a difference in how he loves them, but in how he views their need to be protected, not doing the protecting with a gun in hand.

I personally think the current epidemic of PTSD is bad enough; dare we add to it exponentially by exposing women to the close-up horrors of combat?

3. In looking back at all the blog posts you've written, what's your favorite post title?

Ugh! That's tough, considering this post is my 1735th on this blog alone.   Plus it feels a bit like tooting my own horn. However, I compromised and looked back over the most recent 700 posts or so, looking for a title that grabbed my attention.

I guess when you grab your own attention as an author on something you've written,  you're either forgetful (which I am), or you must be easily entertained (which I definitely am).

That title was for the post called "How Do You 'Break it' When You've Broken It?"

4. What's worse-overly permissive parents or overly protective parents? Did your own parents lean more to the permissive or the protective category? If you're a parent where do you fall? s

Overly permissive parenting is worse, by far.  My parents struck a great balance in my childhood, but they probably should have kept a closer watch on me in my teens.  I tend to lean toward overprotectiveness based on some of the things I experienced or heard about as I got older.  I've always told our kids, "I'm not here to be your friend. I'm here to be your parent. I'd much rather you
be upset with me now for "overprotecting" you than having to live with your pain and my guilt that would come by permitting you to do things, go places, or hang with people that I have misgivings about."

I am the mother who took her sons into the ladies' bathroom till they were 7.  After that age, I would stand outside of men's restrooms and speak to them through the door so everyone knew Mama Hawk was there. We are the parents who haven't allowed our kids to go to sleepovers unless we know the parents VERY, VERY well and have SOME modicum of "like" for the friend hosting.  We are the parents who get on our kids' nerves by checking on them. But at the same time, we've given them a lot of freedom to travel out-of-country without us, to carry our credit card for emergencies, and to take risks, and to get married young, and other things that some parents would find 'permissive' and not 'protective.'

5. Candlelight-moonlight-firelight-bright lights in the big city...which one's your favorite?

Candlelight, unless I'm super cold and there's a blazing, controlled fire in a fireplace with a hearth on which I can sit to warm myself.

6. Dr. Seuss's birthday was celebrated on Saturday. What's a favorite book you remember (Seuss or otherwise) from your own childhood? Did books play an important role in your growing up years? Explain.

Green Eggs and Ham is a favorite Seuss book.  Speaking of being an overprotective parent, I guard my Seuss collection .  (For anyone who read my Hodgepodge last week, my daughter kept her end of the "compromise." All Seuss books are safely back under my roof. :)  )   My earliest best memories include books. One I distinctly remember was called Grandpa's Policeman Friends.  Another was called Big Sister, Little Sister.  My big sister and I would listen to that while lying on either side of my mom for a nap. There was a line in the book we would eagerly await, when Little Sister started to cry and Big Sister would hand her a Kleenex. The line was "Here, blow."  To this day, whenever I get
weepy around my big sister, she pulls out a Kleenex and we both say, "Here, blow!"   Then of course we both crack up.

7. To quote Dr. Seuss...

"From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere."
from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

Share something funny you've recently read, seen or heard.

Did you know there are pun-off championships?  I am not kidding! My friend Amy posted this status on my FB&nbsp wall.. "Zo, I found your people..."  and followed it with this video:

8. Insert your own random thought here.

After being without a working heating system (except for the mighty expensive auxiliary heat)
we had a new one installed today! I love it and am OH, SO, GRATEFUL!

Especially since we could get anywhere from 3-18 inches of snow tomorrow.

 (Don't you love well the meteorologists predict similar amounts of snow?)