Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In Fry Bubble Hodgepodge

Once again, our hostess Joyce  has inspired us to express ourselves and get to know others, based on a hodgepodge of weekly questions.  Thank you,  Joyce.  

After reading my answers and hers, please go a-visitin'.   Might I inspire you to go pick two blogs in the HP  and then  leave some comment love?

1. . Share one way you think the world has changed for the better since you were a kid?

Affordable long distance telephone service for most folks.

     I remember the days of my youth when making a call from Maryland to my grandparents in Kansas meant doing it Sunday evening after 7 pm. My mom had her list of topics jotted down in front of her to remember to talk about.  Then she'd gather the whole brood  around the phone (which was attached to the wall and had a rotary dial).  She also sat facing the clock on the stove, seeing seven cents a minute rack up a huge bill with one of my grandmothers who had a habit of repeating herself--every third minute.

I smile as I write this.  Oh, to hear my grandparents' voices again. That would be priceless.

2. How 'bout one way it's changed for the worse?

 Terrorism on the rise. It's about to crescendo again, I think. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

3. Starlight, starfish, starling, Starbucks...your favorite 'star'?

Absolutely NOT Starbucks! I have been boycotting it since March 26th because of what their CEO said on March 26, 2013.

That said, my favorite star would be starlight.  It boggles my mind to think how many stars  there are that we CAN see in the sky, let alone all the bazillion jazillion that we CAN'T see. And yet, God has named each one of them.  How much more does He care about me, a living human being  that He created in his image, and care about the billions more people He created for His pleasure.  Seeing starlight makes me feel loved by God!

When my youngest boy was  about 3 years old, his favorite song was "Indescribable" by Chris Tomlin. Joel couldn't pronounce many of his starting consonants.It was so stinking cute how passionately he'd sing out when he heard the chorus of "In-fry-bubble."

 The real words go; 
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God

But my ALL TIME FAVORITE way of hearing it, which remains solid as concrete in my memory,  is the way that t0e-headed three-year-old of mine sang it in the backseat of the van: 

"In FRY bubble, 'un ten tain bubble,
You pwaced da 'taws in da 'ky and You know dem by name, you aw amaaaaazing, God..."

4. Name a song that's overplayed, but you love it anyway.

The first one I can think of is "Cinderella," by Steven Curtis Chapman. It's old and overplayed, but always reduces me to tears and causes me to stop and pray for the Chapman family when I hear it. 

5. When did you last have home made ice cream? Your latest favorite flavor?

A very long time ago, as in probably 15 years when my husband was leading Pioneer Club for a while at church.  At the conclusion of the year, we all gathered for a mini camping trip. One of the dads served homemade strawberry ice cream and I just absolutely loved it.  I also loved those sticky-fingered little boys who didn't think it necessary to wash hands after handling worms, sticks, and tadpoles.  

6. What do you think is the best way to inspire or motivate people?

By example.  Enthusiasm is contagious, and a little "show and tell" goes a long way.

7. When was the last time you were without power?

During Superstorm Sandy.   But only, thankfully, for about nine hours.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Please pray for the folks in Lindsborg, KS. The flooding has been so bad--three feet deep in many basements, folks displaced, much loss, kayaks in the street.   My bloggy friend Laurie lives there. I'm sharing this photo of a street in her town. 


Monday, July 29, 2013

This n That

I seldom rant here,  but this has been bothering me for a while and maybe I'm not the only one.
Isn't  it rude for a hostess of a meme not to come say hello if you've linked up to her meme? They get bent out of shape if you draw traffic to your blog via theirs without linking up (which is usually a technical oversight on the writer's part, not intentional), but I think a hostess who doesn't want to take the time to drop a line to say hello to her virtual guests should rethink being a meme hostess.  I've been to many other sites where I see a plethora of traffic on the hostess's site but her poor readers get little to nothing back from their link-up. Sad.  (And I am not referring to my faithful hostess friend, Joyce.)

In fact, I think it's rude to keep getting comments but not giving them. Excuse it for lack of time or bother, but in real life would you let someone carry on a one-sided conversation with you all the time?

Thank you to those who give as well as take. I appreciate your comments.

Yesterday was the memorial service for my friend Carol.   There must have been some 450 people in attendance. She touched the lives of so many and will be deeply missed. The last letter she wrote (ie dictated) was to her hero, Joni Eareckson Tada, to encourage HER to keep the faith, keep trusting, keep doing good in her walk with the Lord.

I got a job! Or at least I hope it pans out. It's supposedly tutoring a boy from England  in English (go ahead, laugh!)  while (whilst?) he's here on vacation. Not that sitting in a library taking English classes twice a week sounds like the vacation a high schooler would want, but I will do my best to entertain him and maybe teach him to enjoy the writing process. He might be the closest I ever get to royalty, poor kid.

A dark cloud hangs over me.  I hate this feeling of dread and despair.  It visits me from time to time and then leaves for a while.

I want to show pictures of  my new crafting/guest room but it means I'd have to actually get it camera-ready again. And I'm in the middle of a baby quilt so there's lots of stuff out and about, waiting for my sewing action.

I need to set a date about that with pictures and just use that to motivate me.

Speaking of pictures, I cannot access mine and am frustrated. My  IT genius son fixed the PC but I am not able to import photos from my SD card like I used to. Can't figure it out.  Not that that comes as a shock. My husband bought a MacBook mini for my son and me (because we supposedly were responsible for all the viruses the PC kept getting).   But the laptop didn't come with camera cables.What should I do? I hate change sometimes, especially where technology shows my ineptitude.

 I don't want to keep blogging sans photos. No one reads those,do they? You know there are some readers who cheat and just look at the pictures to make a comment--IF they make a comment. You know who "they" are.

Happy Tuesday to my bloggy friends.  KEEP CALM AND COMMENT ON.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Her Marathon is Over

Earth lost a saint and heaven gained one this past Wednesday. My dear friend Carol crossed the Finish Line on Wednesday after a 26-year battle with MS.   Her memorial service is this afternoon.  I was going to say "my heart is heavy today" but truthfully it isn't. Oh, I am certainly sad for  those of us left behind, but the weight of her suffering is now gone. As her daughter told me yesterday at the viewing, it's like the burden that everyone has been carrying, has been lifted.  

The last time Carol spoke was on Sunday. She said, "I'm ready for heaven." 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Of Good Eggs, Rulers, and Airplanes in the Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge, a place where you are highly encouraged to be yourself.  I rather enjoy this  little Q&A session on Hump Day.

Or, as in the case of us wordier people, Dump Day.

Guess we could call it HumpDay DumpDay.

1. July 24th is Amelia Earhart Day.  Earhart was the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.  What's something you've recently accomplished solo? 

I always manage to get the proverbial egg on my face without any help whatsoever.  Unless you count the set-up by someone else.

Most recently I was in a local quilt shop for only the second time. The cashier was explaining a reward system to me, a new customer.

Her: If you spend $50 a month, you get a charm for that month.
Me: Do I have to spend the $50 in a single purchase, or can I spread it out?
Her: Well, normally in a single purchase, but I'm sure the owner would give you a charm if you spent $50 in a couple weeks.
Me: Okay, cool.
Her: And when you collect all the charms in a year, there's a special reception for all those customers.
Me: How many charms do I have to collect in a year?

As soon as I said it, I wished so hard I had taken a millisecond to think about my question. We both laughed and I said something about math never being my forte. She was probably thinking, "Lady, if you can't figure out  1x12, maybe you should find a hobby that doesn't require rulers!!!!


 2.  What's one product you use that never ever fails?

Bleach. For better or worse.

 3. Have you found your place in the world? Where is it?

My place is still in the role of wife and mother mostly at home, but I am still trying to find my niche, where I belong, what other things God has prepared for me in this awkward stage of middle life with a middle schooler, three grown kids and two new daughters-in-law.  We still haven't found a home church, although we've been attending the same one since last December, on and off. I don't know what (or if) my teaching position will be this fall, or if I will be employed elsewhere.

Where do I feel most gifted? In an art or English classroom.  When do I feel most needed? When I 'm giving practical aid and companionship to someone with disabilities.

 4.  Worst movie you ever saw?

Oh, dear, I try to forget those time wasters.   How about the most recent one I can remember?  I don't even recall the title. Some "thriller" that wasn't thrilling, but rather a bunch of bad acting, horrible special effects, and comical stunts that weren't supposed to be. I mean, when someone falls over a steel fire escape from supposedly the top floor to the ground, you shouldn't hear them land on a squeaky mattress.

 5. What's the last fun thing you did?

Fun? I have pondered this concept for many weeks and concluded I don't really do much of what I'd call "fun."  As in "yeehaw, wowee!" stuff. But my happy place is anywhere I am creating or thinking creative thoughts.

 6. The month of July is named for Roman Emperor Julius Caesar...ever been to Rome? What's your favorite Italian dish?

I've never been to Rome, but I babysit every Friday and am putting my piddly paycheck faithfully into a savings account I call my Italy fund.

Fave Italian dish? Seafood linguine.

 7. What is one piece of advice you'd offer new mom Kate Middleton?

Get the heck out of Dodge, or  London, as the case may be. Take your little future ruler with you, plus maybe his daddy and 12 nursing bras.  Go to Wyoming and live in a hut to raise your son.

No, in all seriousness, I would tell her to trust God with her baby, and to trust her maternal instincts.

Speaking of all this royal baby hoopla, I simply MUST tell you that my very own brother-in-law and his wife had the distinct pleasure to be on a bus tour that let them off at Buckingham Palace just in time for the royal announcement to be set out for all to see!   Their vacation just HAPPENED to correspond with the Royal Infant's entrance into the world!

 8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I was able to spend a wonderful LONG evening with a dear friend this past Monday. Hadn't seen her in a few years. So good catching up, but one bit of sad news she reported. Back on Mother's Day weekend, a mutual acquaintance named Tom, was flying a small airplane with his dad in preparation for a Virginia air show. The plane crashed and both Tom and his dad were killed. Tom and his wife Yvonne, have 10 children. Yes, 10.

She is still homeschooling 4 of them, one of whom has severe CP.   I was never close with them, which is why I guess I'm just now hearing about this tragedy. Please take a moment to pray for his widow, his 10 children, his mom,  his siblings and friends who lost a dear person. He was strong in the faith of Christ, and he is safe in God's arms, but there is a huge, gaping hole left in his absence. He was 51.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Look, Ma! Friday Fragments!

Our lives are made up of fragments, aren't they? Big fragments like weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, births, and funerals. Then there are the gazillion, everyday fragments such as

-" How I Spent my Summer Vacation Day"
- "What we Ate Where and with Whom" 
- "Delayed Gratification,"
-"I Don't Feel Very Good"
-"Repeat as Necessary"
-"Look, Ma, No Hands!" 
'This Will Be Funny Someday."

All of the above fragments happened in one Friday,  thus an appropriate segue into Friday Fragments.  

How I Spent My Summer Day  (on a late June Friday)

My husband just absolutely loves guitars. His favorite pastime, his way to relax and learn something and worship God, something this quiet man loves to talk about with other musicians, and the job he loved most (and hopes to retire and get back to) was selling guitars in a music store.  For his birthday last month,  we took a  2-hour ride  north up to Nazareth, PA, to tour the Martin Guitar Factory.  Hubby was curious to see how Martin makes their instruments. I asked him on the way up, "Do you want to buy one?"  Oddly enough, he said, "Oh, no. I'd never own one, " and proceeded to give me A,B,C reasons why they're not for him.  Funny man.   (Picture of the tour in a later post.)

What We Ate Where and With Whom

Cheesesteak subs at the only place anywhere near the factory--a pizzeria across the street. It was so crowded  inside that we had to eat outside. Normally that's great, but it was hot and humid.  And by "we" I mean our grown daughter and our middle school-aged son.  And by "hot and humid" I mean Hotttttt and Huuuuuuuuuumidddddd.  

The tour and gift shopping took about 2 hours .

When we left Nazareth,  we drove 1.5 hours east to a car dealership. Our daughter--on a quest for a better vehicle-- ended up getting a great price on an older Santa Fe.  Delaying the gratification was no fun. It took almost 4.5 hours between the test drive, the appraisal of her trade-in, the negotiating, dinner at Perkins--with too much pie--and waiting for financing to be approved. But her (our) patience paid off. She got the vehicle.  

Of course they detailed it beautifully. 

How long would it stay that way? Two weeks?

Try one hour.

3.  For the ride home, my boy asked me to sit in the back seat with him to use my "cushy lap" as a pillow.  How does a plumpish mom take that--a lefthanded compliment? I took it more on the compliment side. Of course I would.  "I don't feel very good," he informed me. He had a headache from the factory fumes, the heat, the boredom, the greasy sub, the Perkins pie, and the lack of fluids during the day.  

Halfway home, he sat upright, groaned,  and leaned forward, hands over mouth. 

"He's gonna throw up! Pull over!"
"He's got a migraine. He's gonna barf! Pull over!!" 

Daughter, completely taken by surprise,  driving an unfamiliar vehicle, on the busy interstate, at night, in a BRAND SPANKING CLEAN car, pulls over.  Can't find the UNLOCK button. I'm grabbing a wooly blanket from the very back to catch the vomit in. Hubby jumps out his side, flings the boy's door open wide, and I plead and push the boy (gently,of course??), "Lean ALL THE WAY OUT,  HONEY!!!"   My right hand on the blanket, my left one reaching for HandiWipes in my purse,  I am one talented mom. 

We clean him and the new car best we can with...more HandiWipes.  

All was well for another half hour. 

Then we all repeated as necessary.  Yep, boy bolted upright with his Walmart bag. I grabbed the already wadded up-with-womit-on-it  wooly blanket. Daughter pulls over. Hubby jumps out, flings door open.   The shoulder of Exit 97 on I-95 gets some juicy morsels for the turkey vultures to enjoy.


This Will be Funny Someday.

 photo 8208e380-8d78-46f6-9fee-b1f11c0a510c_zpsab991844.jpg

Monday, July 15, 2013

Much Ado about Nothing Much

It's Monday and I am pausing in the middle of a stack of laundry to write a post on my iPad. It's guaranteed to be brief at this rate.  My IT son worked to fix our laptop but it still needs something before we go online with it.

I made a front door wreath of burlap, fake lilacs and daisies on Saturday.  Anyone want to see pictures?
They're on the laptop so you'll have to wait.

Tonight my daughter is taking me out for Indian food. Or I'm taking her out. Which is it?  She bought the groupon and asked me to go with her, I'm paying the difference, she is driving, she is tipping.  You decide. She is then taking her little brother to an Ironbirds game ( minor league baseball).  Such a thoughtful, generous daughter and big sister she is.

Our microwave had been beeping more loudly and  more often the past few days. It went from annoying to alarming. Alarming because  A) it's electrical and I'm a scaredy cat about all things electrical.   B)  It said "Power level is" but didn't say WHAT the power level is.  Deadly? or nearly dead?   How I  hate incomplete sentences, don't ?  I called hubby but he was unavailable ( very rare).  I called 311 because 911 seemed a bit dramatic. I explained my ( heart-pounding ) non- emergency to the Baltimore City 311 lady who gave me the number for my county non-311, non- 911 help. Meanwhile my niece suggested I unplug the microwave. Well, do you know scary that is to me? Like shaking hands with a sedated snake.   I did the deed, felt brave and foolish at the same time, and much relieved that the snake did not wake up and zap me when I touched him.

Last week our pastor asked which of our God-given vineyards ( health, house, relationship, job, church, etc) we needed to work on. I chose health. I need to lose weight, get my knee checked out so I can start exercising, and move forward. So I will be attending A Better Weigh seminar tomorrow  and seeing an orthopedist on Wednesday. I am debating changing primary  healthcare providers to someone closer with a more professional staff. But I do like her.  Decisions, decisions.

I also joined a quilting class to begin in September. Yay! Someone to teach me what I've been fumbling to teach myself.  I also am thinking of upgrading to an electronic machine. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Love Birds, Hate Liver in the Hodgepodge

The Orioles lost, but these lovebirds love the Birds  --and each other.    Just thought I'd let you know because I didn't want to be selfish by not sharing this photo of my pretty peeps.    

Now, let's take a swing at the Wednesday Hodgepodge, shall we?  (Which, by the way, is noticeably devoid of any baseball OR bird questions, so my title might  strike you as "out in left field.")  WHATEVER!  Help me! I've started punning and I can't get ump .  

1. What's something people might ask you for help with? 

Writing, editing, or proofreading.
Teaching a class or subbing for them (as long as it's not math).

2. What's something you might ask someone else for help with?

See my foul intro. Plus...

Cleaning my house. I paid a friend a couple days before the wedding. (Money well spent, since my knee and nerves were just about shot.)
Carrying in the groceries.

3.  Did your family take summer vacations when you were a child? If so, where did you go? If you're a parent, did/do you plan summer vacations with your own family? Did/do they resemble those you took as a child?

We didn't take many vacations. When my dad was an engineer and could afford vacations, I remember taking the START of one to Ridgecrest, NC (SC?) --a Christian retreat type place.  There were six of us kids--three biological and three foster kids between ages 3 and 9.  Somewhere in Virginia, maybe, the Buick overheated,  and we were towed to a bus station. My mom says we looked like the vonTrapp children, each carrying our own little suitcases to escape the Nazis.

On another (rare, rare) vacation, I remember that it was Nixon this, Nixon that, Nixon, Nixon, Nixon on the car radio as we drove to Alabama in early August. Without air conditioning.  Ugh! We had to be quiet when the radio was on.  We FINALLY got to our hotel in the late afternoon.  I couldn't figure out, for the life of me, why my mom would rather sit in a stuffy hotel room glued to the idiot box than jump in the pool. What's impeachment and who cares, anyway? I asked.

We (my hubby and I) have put greater value on vacations than our parents did. We've taken many out-of-state vacations with our kids. The destinations have been KS, NC, SC, MA, FL, NH etc.  However, I've not gone anywhere since summer of 2011 and I'm getting just a little bit...grouchy.

4.   Pool-lake-ocean...which one is most appealing to you on a hot summer day?

For vacation: a pool close to the ocean.  I like to see what I'm swimming in, but my soul is refreshed at the ocean.   For living: Pool near a lake. Can I tell you I think I found my dream home?  Okay, it's not the home itself.  It's  the setting. It's near here. A rancher on two level acres, with an inground pool and a view of the community lake!  I drove around the place three times today, disregarding the two little words above the FOR SALE sign. Those words? "CONTRACT PENDING."

5.  Have you ever justified using the expression, 'you gotta be cruel to be kind'?  Was it really necessary or were you rationalizing?

Making my child swallow an ibuprofen tablet when there was no liquid Advil around. He had a migraine.  Necessary "cruelty."

I've also had to euthanize two sick, old dogs.  One was this past Valentine's Day, which was also my youngest son's birthday--that felt cruel--but he didn't like her, so it wasn't like putting I was putting Reilly down!  And--to compound the cruelty/kindness paradox, my  husband was in the hospital and couldn't come home to the stress that Brownie caused all day, every day.   So I was doing Paul a kindness (which helped me through my anguish).  I'd been rationalizing my kindness by keeping the old pup alive that long.

6.  The Journal of Psychology recently mentioned the results of a survey identifying the ten most hated foods as-liver, lima beans, mayonnaise, mushrooms, eggs, okra, beets, brussel sprouts, tuna, and gelatin.  Of those foods, how many do you actually hate? Anything you'd add to the list? 

Of those ten, I can only say I've never tried liver. Can't get past the notion that it's the organ used for filtering toxins.  So I can't truthfully say I hate it, but I hate the thought of tasting it. The rest on the list vary from "okay" to "yummy."

7. What's your favorite book or movie set in a beach or lake town? 

Book:  Island of Saints, by Andy Andrews.   LOVED it!! Historial fiction superbly written. I couldn't put it down.  (And I'm a slooooooooowww reader.) 

Movie: (Here I need help with my memory.)  And you said "either book OR movie," but I am generous.  I'll give you both.  Let's go with "Man without a Face," set along the coast of somewhere I can't remember . (Can you help me?) 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Want to see more wedding photos  (our second son, not the first one pictured above)-- and read an amazing but brief (one paragraph) answer to prayer? It's all right here in a post called "Vintagey Venue for First Look Pictures".

Vintagey Venue for First Look Pictures

As I was saying in my last post, the place in which these photos were taken was part of an answer to many  fervent prayers for our son and his bride.  The first choice place became unworkable at the last minute . (In wedding lingo, "last minute" is within the last two weeks.)

Ambrey was heartbroken. Photos meant more to her than she could express. She wanted her First Look pictures outdoors-- pictures with old, stone, "vintagey" backdrops and lots of shade trees.

Oh, yes, and within fifteen minutes of the church, at most.

They called half a dozen venues.
The answer? No.
Six times no equals no.

But  then God intervened.

The seventh place was a mansion built more than 200 years ago, high on a hill, overlooking a pastoral setting, canopied in trees. Knowing very little else about the place or the people in charge of it (owner? curator? tenant?), Ambrey didn't have much to go on. Beaten down with stress and with six negatives in a row, she summoned courage and help from God. Then, she picked up the phone and called to inquire about having their First Look pictures taken there.  The woman on the other end of the phone answered with an exuberant "Yes! We would love that! In fact, we have been praying about starting a business, making our place a wedding venue. Would you  and the groom be willing to have your photos used in our first advertisement?"

Ambrey got off the phone, crying. Tears of joy. Sheer relief. Deep gratitude for God's kindness.

Her mother,  also a woman of prayer and great faith, could barely contain herself.

Let's recount:

Pros of their first choice: 

old stone mill, some shade trees, five minutes from the church

Cons: no air conditioning, not many flowers, picnic benches for seating (if they weren't taken or birdypooped on ), soggy and rough terrain (being in the valley after many rains), maybe a bathroom but definitely Porta-Potties, open to the public--and in the case of wedding day itself, there would now be a Civil War re-enactment taking place.

Pros of their "last minute" place:

old stone mansion overlooking a lush valley,  lots of sprawling oak trees, six minutes from the church, paved parking lot, smooth stone pathways leading to the home,  level ground with short-cropped grass, a pretty bathroom,  padded chairs in  an ice-cold, air-conditioned chapel to keep cool guys cool...

     and a hot guy hot cool...

and their flowers cool, too.

This place even  had a  piano for someone's entertainment. He could play away his junior-groomsman jitters.  Music is  in his blood.

But wait! There's more! Look at them thar pillers!  Pillars that match your bridal bouquet and pillows that match your mom's dress!

Not to mention  flourishing ferns,

heirloom hydrangeas,

 and  cascading castle-ivy.  (By the way, I adore the picture above. The ringbearer kept reaching for Steve's hand but Steve had been looking elsewhere. Wonder where? Hmm.   I finally got his attention. "Steve. He wants to hold your hand."  (Little guy was overwhelmed and Steve has a calming, fatherly way about him.)

After all those answers to prayers for a few simple pleasures--trees, stones, history-- God gave us so much more.

So very much more. He had prepared a place for us that was ours for the asking.


None.  Not even a pretend war.

How amazing is God that He answers prayers on every level.

He is a loving Heavenly Father, who delights in blessing his children with more than they can ask for or even imagine.


Tuesday, July 09, 2013

An Answered Prayer

Every wedding plan has its share of problems, things unexpected that can really turn a bride and her mom upsidedown.

Or force them to their knees in prayer, as the case may be here.

Two weeks before our son's wedding, we found out that the place Steve and Ambrey had originally chosen  (last fall) for First Look pictures was now NOT going to work.  The place was an old historical mill--five minutes from the church-- and that particular Saturday there would be a Civil War re-enactment.    Symbolism aside, there were other major challenges.  We could  still go, but at $7 per person admission.  And the traffic would be "a whole 'nother thing."

I personally was not looking forward to trying to maneuver--in nice shoes and long gown--on the rocky, soggy terrain.   (Thank you, abundant  June rains.)   The mill sits in a valley near a stream, for obvious reasons, and is an ideal setting for photographs otherwise.

But I kept my mouth shut. It wasn't my wedding.

The bride, her mom, and we began to ask God for Plan B. The photos were of utmost importance , and a beautiful, old stone place with lots of shade trees and natural beauty were exactly what Ambrey had her heart set on. But where besides the mill --within 15 minutes of the church--would fit the bill?

She asked on Facebook and it was my daughter, actually, who thought of this place. It sits high on a hill overlooking a beautiful landscape.  The grand stone home was built in the late 1700s, surrounded by a canopy of century-old oak trees. And, for the sake of all of us in heels and long gowns, plenty of flagstone paths and a parking lot adjacent.

God has a way of giving us our heart's desire--and then some.

Stay tuned.

Monday, July 08, 2013

The Start of a Baby Quilt

My sister doesn't read my blog, so I can freely show pictures of my progress on her baby girl's quilt.

I prayed for inspiration, for a quilt theme that would mean a lot to my sister.  She miscarried her first baby, and a few months later was in St. Thomas visiting a friend, when they saw this plaque in a little shop.

"If I ever have another baby," she told her friend tearfully, "I want this to be in my nursery."

Her friend remembered, and sent her the plaque as a gift to open at the Gender Reveal Party.

I had forgotten about that plaque until shopping in Joann's. A quilt magazine (Better Homes) featured this small wall-hanging called "Feathered Friends."  Voila! Thank you, Lord! With a few tweaks, I would enlarge this pattern to a crib size quilt.

(Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Ha!  I never cease to amaze myself with my ability to believe illusions.)

Step one: Change the colors to suit her baby's rooms (greens, pinks, cream, and brown). Choose bright batiks for the birds and beaks. 

Trace 137   patterns for leaves, flowers, birds, and beaks onto freezer paper.  
Label them all. 
Press them, shiny side of paper down, onto wrong side of fabric.

Spray some starch into a dish (the daisy plate is from Goodwill, $1.50,  to match my new craft room which I have yet to completely photograph, let alone blog about. It's coming folks, I promise!)

Cut out the applique.

Take a Q-tip, dip it in starch, rub starch onto the edge of fabric, 
then press it down carefully with a hot, dry iron.

 Repeat this process for each applique
until you want to declare this is last time you'll ever do an applique' quilt.

Instead you persevere, saying,  "She's worth it.  My sister is worth it. My niece is worth it." :)

Can I show you my handy-dandy ironing board?
I can stay seated in my comfy chair while doing the undesirable job of pressing.   

My daughter's old Ikea night tables slide under my sewing table when not being used... 

and slide out when I need extra surface area. I cover one with thick fabric for padding when I iron.

Here are some leaves and strips already pressed and ready for the next step.

                                             The birds are bright and make me smile, but  I think I have to redo the red guy. My cutting wasn't precise and I tried to remedy it with the iron.   (FAIL.  I mean, LEARNING EXPERIENCE.)

                                                   In the middle of things, I decided to teach my son to make
a pincushion.  I needed one and he needed diversion from video games. Win-win.  He loved "driving" the machine and was pretty proud of his project.

Band-aid needed. Guess why? :(

 Perhaps with his mad piecing skills he will help me finish the baby quilt by July 20th, or August 10th, or before the wee child is born. 

Friday, July 05, 2013

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I haven't done one of these  Daybooks in awhile. Lea's post reminded me. Thanks, Lea.  It's particularly a good prompt when you've got writer's block or a wholelottathisnthat swirling 'round in your head and need a place to drop some of it.  Link up over at The Simple Woman blog if you'd like to share--and please leave me a comment. I love those, you know!


Outside my window... it's a muggy, buggy night


I am thinking... of joining a local quilting guild.  There's so much I could learn from other women, and I really need a social outlet.  

I am thankful... for our new daughter-in-law.  ( Wedding pictures posted the last few days and more are coming. This shot was taken as part of the "first look" shoot, which is why our son's wedding ring isn't on his finger. The ceremony was a couple hours later.) 

In the kitchen... I made one of my favorite dishes in  the CrockPot (and taught my youngest son how).   I used 4 pork chops, a heaping 1/4 cup of apple butter, 1/2 can of jellied cranberry sauce, some salt and pepper, and 4 garlic cloves (minced). Put that on HIGH for 4 hours. Yum.  I was going to serve it with leftover baked potatoes which just needed to be heated, but a 4-legged friend about table height snatched them  off the counter while I was upstairs sewing. How about tomorrow we have Golden Retriever Stew?

I am wearing... a sleeveless white V-neck top and a ruffled, multi-colored (mostly mint green) skirt. 

I am creating...  a baby quilt and a pinwheel pillow.

I am going... crazy in my house with no vacation plans made yet.  

I am wondering... if anyone would notice if I boarded a jet and took my own vacation without telling them. Who needs plans, anyway?  I have luggage, a credit card, and estrogen, and I know how to use all three. At once. 

I am reading... the end of Child of the Holocaust. Yes, I'm slow, and yes I read lots of things but seldom from cover-to-cover quickly. 

I am hoping... to get our family library re-organized over the next week  or two, giving away not 10% but at least 20% of our books.  Trying to keep in mind that it's just stuff. It's a burden to keep stuff, even books I have no intention of rereading or referring to again.  But I have yet to get completely over the idea that books are in a semi-sacred category. They're not. They. are.paper.with.binding.  Binding and bondage are similar words.

I am looking forward to... my friend's reaction when I give her her birthday present. 

I am learning... to heed the advice of Elisabeth Eliot about trying to appreciate the 80% of the things that your man does right rather than harp on the 20% you wish were different.  

Around the house... I miss my big family.  The manger is cleaner, but I did love having the three older "animals" in these stalls. 

I am pondering...  why my parents really want to move again at their age.  

A favorite quote for today... from my 11-year-old son, as he played ball with the mutt:  "Mom, the definition of this dog is 'fast as 'furrious.' " 

One of my favorite things... playing a game with my kid, even if he beats me fair and square. Twice. 

A few plans for the rest of the week:  get out of the house!

A peek into my day... I tried this and think I just found my new favorite. 

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Collars, Zippers, and Parents on Wedding Day

The 22nd of June finally came,
 and hearts were all a-flutter. 

The father, silver-haired since his thirties but more handsome than ever, in his wife's eyes, 
 tied his second son's tie,  straightened  his collar, 
 and brushed the imaginary lint off his shoulders, 
perhaps for the last time. 

Was the father recalling a vague memory 
of when he first taught this son
how to tie a Windsor knot after graduating from clip-on ties? 
Or maybe, much longer ago, when he taught  him how to tie his shoes? 

Step by step, this father helped his sons grow from young boys to young men. 

The father had grown mellow, even sentimental, these past several
months as, one by one, his three eldest fledglings left the nest.

Standing behind his son, the father's rosy cheeks betray his attempts at being stalwart.

Crying is for mothers or for fathers of the bride, he'd always thought. 
So why was it so hard to keep the tears at bay? 

The mother, upstairs, remained the stalwart one. As relaxed as  
a groom's mom can be, four hours before the ceremony, 
she took a seat
near a sunny  bedroom window,
while her first daughter-in-law worked magic on her forty-something face. 

No crying allowed.  Both makeup and mood must remain light. 

  Her sons make her proud and happy. 

and so does her only daughter, who assists the son's bride in the fun of getting ready to
say "I do".

More makeup,  but this time, no magic needed.  
A beautiful, youthful face needs no wands or fairy dust. 

Her mother had always wanted to zip her only daughter's wedding dress.  No one else should do that. 
To her it was, I suppose, like the groom's father tying the tie. A privilege. An honor.  A chance to recount a flash of memories as the zipper goes up, up, up. 

Putting someone else together on the outside
while you fall apart on the inside?  

That's a mother's gift.  

But, even as the tears sting your own eyes,  there is joy and comfort in watching your  little girl's dream come true before hers.

New Blog Look

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Happy Birthday, Happy Honeymooning, Happy Hodgepodge

Happy birthday to my older  sister today. 
Happy birthday to our nation tomorrow. 
Happy birthday to my dear friend Bonnie the day after tomorrow. 

Happy birthday to anyone in the Hodgepodge Lodge today. If you're among them, please let me know! I will personally come wish you--via blog comment, of course!--the best on your big day. 

1. What's one simple small pleasure on your summer 'to-do' list? 

Hold my new niece, on or about August 10th, when she is due.

Although the baby will be small (as all babies are in comparison to, well, larger human beings), the pleasure will be great. And while the baby is small and the pleasure great, a baby is not simple, but rather very complex.  Ah, the mystery and wonder and beauty of God's handiwork once again.

2. Do you have strong feelings or opinions regarding the immigration debate in your home country? Feel free to share your thoughts, but please play nice.

Yes, I sure do have strong feelings, not so much on the debate as on the whole issue of immigration. I have no problem with legal immigration.  After all, what American (besides Native Americans) would be here had it not been for someone in their lineage doing the immigration thing? But by all means, I say if you're born on the other side of the hoop and you want to enjoy all the privileges of living on this side of the hoop, then you gotta jump through the Immigration Hoop.

Is it easy? Why, no, of course not. Most things worth having aren't easy.

My "beef" is with illegals who live and work here tax-free.  It's with illegals getting a free college education while our kids have not had a single break financially to earn their degrees. It's with the culture putting Spanish on every sign, in every phone message, on every package , making English hard to find for the rest of us. I wouldn't move to Italy expecting not to learn Italian or abide by her laws or pay her taxes. I think the root of what I despise, is this feeling of entitlement that comes with being an American. That feeling that says, "In America I can do whatever I darn well please, and everyone should cater to me, no matter what paperwork I have or don't have to prove I belong here."


3.  What's something in your home or wardrobe that could be described as 'star spangled'?

Beside the obvious flag on the porch, which I fly nearly every sunny day? Um, let's see, I have a child's painting of " A Starry Night" by Van Gogh.  I also have some vintage bicentennial fabric in my stash that's begging to be transformed into something adorable.

4.  Is your house set up for a party?

As in , this very moment decorated patriotically, perhaps? No. As in, big enough and presentable for company to come in and have  a good time? Yes. I have decorations at the ready in the dining room server.

I would love to have the kids over for a 4th of July  crab feast tomorrow, but feel like I need to walk delicately on the whole topic of How to Do Holidays  now that we are in-laws for the second time.  I am terrible at being rejected; what if I invited them but the daughters-in-law would rather spend time with their side of the family or with their hubby alone?  Does it stir conflict in their young marriages? What if they do want to come over and I haven't invited anyone?  On the other hand, I am proud of my sons whenever they have said things like, "Mom, we want to create some distance between us and you guys."  I swallow hard at first and then realize he is doing the "leaving and cleaving" diplomatically.

I think I need to read up on how to be a really good MIL.   Any advice from you experienced MILs out there?

5. What one never-before-visited city in America, would you most like to see?

NYC.  Tell me why I live four hours from it, yet have never seen Times Square, Central Park, Broadway or any other thing in the Big Apple? It's baffling, I say. Baffling!

6. Your favorite red food? White food? Blue food?

A Maryland blue crab, which turns red when steamed, and has juicy white meat inside.  How's that for an all-in-one favorite red, white, and blue food?

7. What freedom do you value the most, and why?

Speech. Because I'm fond of speaking.      Most of the other freedoms that I can think of would be compromised or removed if freedom of speech were taken away.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

My son and his wife just got back from their honeymoon on Saturday. I waited till I heard from one of them before touching base. After Steve texted with a gift-related question, I felt the freedom of speech to call Ambrey. I  left a message:  "Hello, Mrs. Zubrowski. How do you like being called that?"  She texted me back later. "Haha. I love being called by my new name! It's so exciting!"    

Well, here they are, the new Mr. and Mrs.  

(His Facebook status on this picture said, "Can you tell I'm in love with my wife?")

Would you like to see a few hundred more photos?  Check back soon. I'm still editing.  (A small, simple pleasure, but time-consuming, considering I have some 814 to go through, more or less.)


Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Pre-Wedding Pictures: The Groomsmen Luncheon

Being a typical guy, my son (the groom) sent me a text a week before the wedding, "Sorry, Mom. I forgot to tell you, but the guys are coming over to our house to get ready. About 9:30. Can you pick up subs or something non-messy for lunch?"

On any other day, I would have thought, "Sure!"  That day, however, it seemed like a big deal.  After all, every day had its own tight agenda a week before Wedding Day. Kind of  a big deal day on which added guests and added food need more than a week's notice.  Besides, I had my hair appointment at 9:15.  I wouldn't  even be home to serve them. What kind of hostess disappears from her guests?

I stared at the text. In my mind, the event had gone from "subs for the guys" to "groomsmen luncheon" in three seconds flat. 

In my mind.

That's where I get tangled. 

My mind makes bigger deals out of things than necessary. 

Especially when it comes to guys.

Having raised two and a half men, you'd think I'd "get it"  by now, that when they say "pick up subs" it means "pick up subs" and "we'll eat them off their wrappers at the kitchen table."  If they even use a table. Napkins? Optional. That's why God made sleeves, they tell me.

But not being a guy, I went ahead and coordinated the table setting with the wedding colors: white tablecloth, grey square paper plates, grey cups, and purple napkins.

And flowers, of course. No table is complete without flowers, and I was feeling nostalgic,  wishing my Kansas grandparents were alive to be at Steve's wedding, wishing my girlhood-and-lifelong friend Barb from Kansas could be here, so I bought a bouquet of sunflowers, the Kansas state flower.

Sunflower Bouquet

The Groomsmen Luncheon would be nice, I told myself, even if I weren't here to serve the guys.  Even if they didn't appreciate my girly touches. In the end, I told myself (or maybe my husband told me?)  I was doing this for me. It was, after all, a Big Deal Day. And I am all over Big Deal Days.

The night before, at the rehearsal dinner,  I asked Eric (Steve's best friend) if BLTs would be okay or should I take individual orders?  He said, "Miss Zoanna, we're guys. If a BLT isn't okay with a guy, you should take his man card away."    He laughed his infectious, hearty laugh which put me instantly at ease. 

Pleasing guys is so much easier than pleasing girls.  

So how did the Groomsmen Luncheon turn out? Just fine.  I set the table the night before and left a note on my camera for Eric's girlfriend to please take pictures of them getting ready.  She had her own camera, but I wanted some on mine.  She didn't see the "max 15" note along the edge, I suppose, and took around 70. Many including him, naturally. 

I would be at my 9:15 hair appointment.  My husband  took point on getting subs. The guys would have food sticking to their ribs all day.  

And take a look at these ribs!

The guys were feeling every ounce of their manliness in the 94 degree heat and decided a shirtless photo shoot was in order. 

Eric's girlfriend gladly obliged them.

Can you pick out  the civil engineering intern?  The computer programmer? The Chick-Fil-A manager?  The landscaper?  The defense contractor? (I put those in random order.)  

Anyway, as I was saying about the groomsen luncheon...

I set it all up the night before, but did I take any pictures of the classy plates, napkins, and sweet sunflowers? No!  I was crazy tired and having a meltdown after the rehearsal dinner because five things hadn't gone right and I took it personally. I was running around my house screeching, "I will NEVER EVER do another rehearsal dinner ever again! EVER! And how could I have NOT PACKED the SEATING ARRANGEMENT that I worked TWO HOURS ON?  Two hours for 27 peeeeeeooooopppllle."   Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Moms parting with their children can be hot messes.

I had to apologize the next day for my irrational behavior. 

Did the guys even use one plate? I'm not sure.  I think they wolfed down their subs off their wrappers. (Does that make them "subwolfers"?)  Were the cups even opened? Nope. But were they happy and well-fed? It appeared so. 

In the middle of the chaos of eight men getting fed and dressed--in the kitchen and family room, no privacy needed since no girls were present-- Steve read a card that Ambrey had written the night before.  How she could hardly wait to be called his wife.  To be Mrs. Zubrowski, yada yada, sweet, sweet. Normally she gets ultra creative with her cards, making them of pretty scrapbook paper and themed stickers (girl after my own heart), but she was beyond exhausted and just wrote on plain white paper. She called it a "ghetto card."  :)   He was delighted. She also gave him a brand new watch. He was equally delighted, but it needed a couple links taken out, so he and some of the  guys ran to the jeweler to have that done.

They had time to kill because they didn't have to sit for hair and makeup. 

 All Steve wanted was for 3:30 pm to come so that He and She would be pronounced Husband & Wife.