Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last of the Hodgepodgery for 2014

Seeing as how I've already posted ONCE today so that I wouldn't forget precious Christmas memories, I'm going to make this HP short.

As in 31 words or fewer per answer.   I resolve to use fewer words...ahem.

So excited for Joyce (our faithful hostess) and her family as their daughter ties the proverbial knot this weekend. Somehow Joyce managed to squeak out not only the questions but also some thoughtful answers. Read mine, then hers, by clicking this cute button.

1. Share a favorite moment from your Christmas holiday celebration.

Read the previous post. It's there.  Another was my youngest boy's hilarious impression of me whenever someone used a knife to open a gift. The scared face. The warbling voice.

2. What would you say has been the biggest news event during your life so far?


3. The Pantone Color of the Year for 2015 is Marsala. What say you-like or no like? Would I find this color anywhere in your home or wardrobe? Will you add something in this shade to either? 

I like it, but not sure I LOVE it. Yes, it's in my home's decor in small doses.   think if it's got some pink undertones, it would work in my wardrobe.

4. Would you rather meet your ancestors or your great grandchildren? Explain why.

Ancestors.  I would thank the ones who prayed me into a relationship with Jesus.  

5. Share one life lesson learned in 2014?

Cancer strikes people closer to my heart all the time. This year it claimed Andrey (a family friend) and has struck my friend Renee'.  Don't take friendships for granted.

6. What was your best or favorite purchase made in 2014?

Airlines tickets to Kansas!

7. What is one thing you're looking forward to in the new year?

Remodeling the kitchen. Well, having it DONE, not actually DOING it or living through it.  

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

I'll be visiting my 101 in 1001 soon, and seeing progress (or lack thereof) rather than making any actual resolutions. I'm a goal setter and that works.

Not our Typical Christmas, For Sure

Nothing was ordinary or typical about our Christmas celebration this year.  We did things differently.

Some things were within our control, and some were not. But in the end, it all worked out, and I'm looking back fondly on what initially caused me some consternation.

Isn't that a good word, consternation?

First, instead of bemoaning the fact that my parents don't celebrate Christmas anymore (and haven't for about a decade), I embraced giving, Hanukkah style.  I decided to give them eight little Hanukkah gifts and deliver them at odd times to their porch each day of Hanukkah (which, this year was Dec 17-24). My MO was to "drop and run".

The only time I stayed was on night one, and only because my sister and baby niece were there. That baby is irresistible.

Eight days of drop-and-run was my plan, anyway, until I got the flu. Or rather, it got me.

I was much too sick by the time the eighth day came.

We were all sick.  Too sick to even have our adult kids over for Christmas Eve, too sick to go to a service, too sick to cook or bake or anything typical of Christmas Eve here.  We rescheduled for Saturday.

My friend Bonnie came over on Christmas Eve night to deliver her annual plate of homemade cookies. She also gave me a tube of "Beautiful Day" hand lotion and told me that I'm her beautiful day. She said it very seriously, that every day of being friends is a beautiful day.  I can't tell you how much that meant.

Since I was sick, I kept my distance, but Bonnie said she really wanted a hug before she left. That part was very typical. It's how we roll.  But when I opened the door to say goodbye (and chat more, of course), the cold air set off a coughing jag.

Then my mom called and begged me not to come over with a gift, but rather stay in and get well. She said they were having so much fun finding my gifts on the porch and were very touched, but to please don't venture out in the bone-chilling air.

I told her I had planned not to come that day, much as I wanted.    (Secretly what I wanted was for her to bring me some of her famous potato soup that she always fixed when we were little and recovering from illness. But since she has a hard time being on her feet, I didn't ask.  I also secretly wanted my dad to bring over some cough drops, not because we were out of them, but because he used to work for a pharmacy as a delivery man when he was going to seminary in 1974. He would bring us Sucrets throat lozenges, like candy.  I guess I was craving nostalgia and TLC from my mama and daddy.)

Next day--Christmas Day--what happens? They call and ask what we need. I say cough medicine. She says, "Got lunch plans?" and I think I mumbled "canned soup."  She heard everyone coughing in the background and said, "Okay, I won't keep you. We'll be over with lunch."

Lo and behold, they dropped off some of Mama's homemade potato soup AND vegetable soup, plus Robitussin, cough drops, Gatorade, Whoppers candy, and other stuff.

God knew. Jehovah-Jireh ("he sees and provides") .  He saw my wants and my needs.  He provided therapies in a special way: He used sickness to unite me with my parents on December 25th, a day that has, for 10 years, divided us .  I was overcome with gratitude. It was the beginning of healing in more ways than one.

Then Saturday finally came and we got to celebrate with the kids. They said they actually liked it better this time, not cramming in Christmas eve service, meal, gift exchange, two families, their own Christmas AND my daughter-in-law's mother's wedding (which is TODAY!).  They appreciated the relaxed pace and low expectations--and the gifts, of course.

Her little brother did a painting in art class, and the teacher had artwork printed on mugs and other keepsakes. My daughter was surprised that it made her cry to receive such a personal gift from him.

If the boys don't come to you for pictures, you have to go to them. Xbox One was a new gift and they couldn't get enough.

My three favorite girls.   
(Photo credit: Hubby, who didn't feel well enough to pose.)

And finally, my favorite photo.  Steve (in brown) had been trying to find a place for his hand. Her hip?Her waist? Her shoulder? His side?   "I never know what to do with my hand. It just sort of hangs there awkwardly."
To which Ben (tall guy) says, "What hangs there awkwardly?"


They lost all composure and then finally, almost,  regained it. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

28th on the 28th

Paul and I have been married 28 years today.   Anniversaries are always a good time for reflecting on the past and looking ahead to the future.  It seems a bonus to me that we get to do this at the end of the calendar year as well as the end of another year of marriage.

I'm sure a wedding just three days after Christmas didn't seem like a bonus in 1986 to my parents, but I promised it would never happen again.  (The bonus was the son-in-law whom they adore.)

In the kind sovereignty of God, we celebrated our anniversary last weekend because our married sons had given us tickets to a Phil Keaggy concert in Pennsylvania, so we went away Saturday (the 20th) and came back Sunday night.  Our daughter came to the house to watch her "baby brother" and the dog for us.  They're wonderful kids; they really spoil us.

The timing was perfect to be celebrating because on Monday we both got sick. Worst coughs we have had in years. Fever, aches, fatigue.  It was so bad that we had to cancel all plans with our grown kids for Christmas Eve.  We're much better now, but not up to venturing out for an "on the day" dinner as I always wish for.

Rather than write a new post, I'll just copy and paste what's been on my heart today, and what I posted to Facebook this morning:

28 on the 28th. 

We took our vows seriously on that candlelit, slightly snowy night in December of 1986, but boy, were we ever clueless! 

We had God, each other, supportive families and friends, a dinky apartment, and 8 million dreams for happily ever after. 

I didn't understand that marriage actually took work and sacrifice. (My parents had made it look it so easy.) 

I didn't realize that being parents ourselves would be the hardest and best joint venture of our lives. 

I never pictured being injured in childbirth in a way that would make me wholly dependent on his strength, untrained nursing skills, and uncanny fatherly ways with a newborn. 

In 28 years, I have never once doubted Paul's faithfulness, even when I've been the ugliest, hardest person on earth to live with.

I have never feared for our finances because he is a competent provider and wise money manager. His guitar playing brings me comfort and joy. 

His handy skills make me hot for him. (Sorry, kids. Mom still has hormones.) 

But most of all, in 28 years of being married to my Paul, I have learned firsthand that God knows what He's doing when he brings together two stubborn donkeys who say those two little-but-loaded words, "I do." I love you, Paul... and always will.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Catching Some Z's in the Hodgepodge

Lots to do before the ta-da, so I'll make this quick. I like the Hodgepodge and the chance to keep a pleasant routine in the midst of everything that's so un-routine right now. Thanks, Joyce, for gracing us with this fun meme in the midst of YOUR very un-routine December! 

1. Time magazine has selected The Ebola Fighters as their person of the year for 2014. Do you agree, and if so who would you say is a close second? If you disagree with their choice, who do you think should have been chosen? 

Anyone who fights any enemy that intrudes a person, place, or thing deserves hero status.

2. This question comes to you courtesy of Susan who blogs over at Stew Mama Says. She knows we have a wedding happening any minute now, and she asks, 'What's your favorite-something old? something new? something borrowed? something blue in your home?  Be sure you hop over and say hi to Susan today! 

...old--my husband
... new--my haircut that I got yesterday
...borrowed --a tube pan from my friend
---blue--a navy sweater with a bit of bling on the front

3. Fudge-yay or nay? Your favorite flavor? Do you make it yourself? With nuts or without?  

I have to be in the mood, and that mood doesn't hit more than a couple times a year.  When I was working at the beach one summer during college, one of my THREE jobs (I worked 18 hours a day)
was at the Candy Kitchen on the boardwalk.  The smell of all that sugar and chocolate and peanut butter and other junk really turned me off for a decade.   If I eat it, I like just a one-inch square of chocolate with nuts. I've never made it and never will.

4. December 17th is Wright Brothers Day, commemorating the first successful flights made by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  How old were you when you made your first flight? Do you like to fly? Have you ever been to Kitty Hawk or other parts of the North Carolina Outer Banks? 

I made my first flight when I was 26.   My hubby had won an all-expenses paid trip for two to Tampa, Florida.  I love to fly. Yes, we went to Kitty Hawk about 10 years ago when vacationing in Corolla Light in the Outer Banks.  

5. Do the people in your family tend to follow a particular career path, and if so what's the path?

Teaching--me, my daughter, daughter-in-law, nephew and his wife.  In two counties and across one state border,  the classrooms have (or have had) five  Mrs. Z's, one Mr. Z, and a Ms. Z.  Two of my sisters were also teachers at one point.

Financial services/insurance--hubby and two sons

Law enforcement--two nephews and a brother-in-law .

For a while we thought our second son would be a 3rd-generation pastor.  He might still become one, but for now the Lord has him doing another type of work he's passionate about.  He has a blog called the Gradual Millionaire, which I'm sure he wouldn't be writing if he were a pastor.  Ha.

6. What is one thing you absolutely, positively must accomplish today?

I already did it.  I bought the last of the Christmas gifts on my list.  ( I think.)

7. This Christmas I hope  there is no drama. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I'm having fun being Hanukkah Zoannakkuh.  My parents enjoyed finding their surprise gift bag which I dropped off at their door yesterday.  I made a set of four Hanukkah placemats for their little kitchen table.  I'd show pictures, but I haven't uploaded them and I'm curled up in bed for a long winter's nap  short afternoon nap.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hanukkah Zoannakkah

I'm here. I haven't forgotten my peeps in blogland.

But I have been uber busy, as you all have, I'm sure. I mean, it IS almost Christmas time and we all know that Mrs. Claus does the lion's share of the prep work. That doesn't seem to change with the seasons of life.

However, I am making a change and it's not Christmas-related, but yet it is. It's about the peace on earth part. To quote an old song, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me." 

I've decided to change something in my heart to make for a merrier holiday. It actually means MORE work, but that's okay. Love means commitment, and commitment involves work.  

What's the heart change all about?  It's about Hanukkah.  I'm going to do more than acknowledge Hanukkah; I'm going to help my parents celebrate in a small, meaningful way. 

In previous years, I have resisted for reasons that don't need the worldwide web to know. Let's just say that to be raised Christian by these very same parents,  with Christmas as a highlight of the year, only to have my parents reject December 25th  as "pagan" about 10 years ago,  has been a very painful thing for me to accept.  I've dealt with my pain childishly--throwing temper tantrums, not wanting to be together on their terms this time of year, circling the wagons with my own offspring,  and so forth.  Bitter, bitter, bitter. 

What peace on earth is there to that kind of thinking and behavior? 

Why not, I asked myself, try to build bridges this year instead of burn them? Why make it all about me and what I want? Why not embrace something they feel is important, even if  Hanukkah had no place in our family celebrations as good ole Southern Baptists!

I've heard counselors say that you should not wait for the feelings to come before changing if you want a changed relationship. Start doing the deeds and then the feelings will follow. It might take time, but the heart has a way of lining up with the hands. 

There are eight nights of Hanukkah, one for each night a candle is lit to remember the miracle of the eight nights of olive oil being provided by God to light the menorah in the rebuilt Temple. There was only enough oil for one night, according to what the Maccabees found, but God is in the business of miracles.

So, I'm going to deliver eight little gifts, one per night, to my parents' door. They live about 15 minutes away, so it's an easy sleigh ride. To mix holiday metaphors.

I don't know what to call a Jewish Secret Santa.  I guess I'm Hanukkah Zoannakkuh.

My gifts: 

Tuesday night--2 matching Hanukkah placemats  (making them today)
Wednesday night--8 cloth napkins  (making)
Thursday night--a mug with my son's own artwork on it (a school fundraiser too)
Friday night--donuts (Hanukkah is all about the donuts)
Saturday night--a gift card to some place they eat (they eat out a lot, like most retirees!) 
Sunday night--hot, fresh rolls (they love the ones I make) and some Sandhill Plum jelly made by  my friend Barb in Kansas. (Sandhill plum jelly is one of my dad's nostalgic treats from his days growing up in KS)
Monday night--framed photos from Daddy's 80th birthday which we celebrated on Thanksgiving 
Tuesday- tea and burnt cookies. My mom loves Bedtime Blend  tea ever since I brought her some during a recovery from surgery.   And of course burnt cookies for Daddy.  Yes, burnt cookies, his favorite. Type isn't as important as "flavor". 

I missed the Wednesday Hodgepodge last week, but hope I can squeeze it in this week. Might be one of my super short (like 8 words for each answer) ones. 

Toodles from 
Hanukkah Zoannakkuh ! 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Mince Alors! It's the 200th Hodgepodge!

1. What is something in your life right now that feels a little 'hodgepodge'?

Our meal "plan". When I had six people to feed every night, I usually had a plan and we all ate the same thing.  A 9x13  was the regular size dish I used. Or a full crockpot. Or my 12" skillet. But now that there are just three of us, we typically have leftovers and my guys are easy to please. What's for dinner, you ask? Lasagna, chicken and dumplings, and crab soup, that's what. Sometimes I'll even say, "We're hodgepodging it tonight." And I watch my son reach for the
cereal, my hubby for yesterday's meatloaf, and me for the eggs and
pancake mix.

2. What does 'peace on earth, goodwill to men' mean to you?

Oh, boy, this is a PhD question at 7 a.m. and my brain is still in kindergarten. Can I give the kindergarten answer? "Peace on earth means everybody just gets along, and goodwill to men is the cheap store my dad shops at on Super Saturday for two-dollar shirts."  

 But my PhD answers includes the fact that peace is not contrived on earth, is not the absence of conflict, but Jesus is our Prince of Peace. He is Peace and he gives it through forgiveness of our sins, through simple prayers we pray for peace in our struggles, through scripture that assures us that he will never leave us nor forsake us. It is from that peace that goodwill to men actually flows. If you have peace, you won't fret, fuss, fear, demand your own way, insist on being right. Rather, you will desire the good of everyone, the blessings and not the curses for them.

3. Which edible treat you are most looking forward to sampling this December?

The cookies that my friend Bonnie and her girls drop off every year to neighbors. 

As a trio, they spend hours and hours making sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies,  and peanut butter cookies, and then deliver them on cute plates with homemade cards. It's always a surprise which night they arrive, and the cookies never last long

4. It's that most wonderful time of the you agree, and if so why is it so wonderful?  If not, what would you say is the most wonderful time of the year?

It's wonderful when circumstances in one's life are wonderful, but for many people Christmas is like a neon sign whose message blinks "Sadness Here," or "Lonely, Party of One," or "Dysfunction Junction."   

I am going to say something here that I told my sister, which probably won't sit well with everyone. But even as a Christian, I have come to believe that Christmas is not nearly so much about celebrating the birth of Christ as much as it is an emphasis on gift-giving.  When people have money and can buy gifts because they want to, or to save face, or because they'll be receiving gifts, they feel okay. But when hard times hit or the family dynamics are terrible and no one can or wants to give gifts, the "wonderful" is nowhere to be found.  When Christmas reminds us of the people we've lost, where's the wonderful? On a personal level, it hurts that my parents stopped celebrating Christmas a long time ago and decided to go with Hanukkah, which I don't celebrate. It's complicated, and not so wonderful.

Besides, the day after Christmas often is a let-down. 

I personally like Easter better.  While Christmas puts the focus on Christ's birth, it doesn't mean much without knowing that Jesus came to die--and to be resurrected--as the only way for us to have peace with God.  To celebrate the risen Lord with other believers is the absolute best. No letdown the day after Easter. 

5. What was the last word you looked up in a dictionary 

(actual or online) and why?

Mince alors. Why? Because I posted on Facebook that I had checked out at Home Depot in a self-checkout lane , and for fun I used the French language button.  When my friend Glen in Belgium read that, he wrote "Mince alors..." for my brave attempt.

 "Mince alors" literally means "thin then" which is senseless, so I looked for another translation . It also means "wow."  

6. Besides a Christmas tree, what is your favorite thing to decorate this time of year?

Are you assuming I like to decorate my tree? No, I like having it done, but not doing it since the chore has turned into a solo venture.

What I do enjoy decorating all my myself is my dining room table.  I love a pretty centerpiece, nice dishes, sparkling silverware, flickering candles, cloth napkins, the whole bit.

7. Share one thing you've learned (about yourself, people, or anything at all) in the Wednesday Hodgepodge, or through blogging in general.

One thing? Mince alors, it's hard to narrow it down to just one. But I'll say I've learned that I find myself truly caring about a handful of bloggers whom I regard as friends.  To share their joys and sorrows, to pray for them, to enjoy their posts and pictures, to read their comments, to get their opinions, advice, or perspectives on things I need help with--those are all things I enjoy about my "real life" relationships.  I would sincerely miss and be saddened by the loss of any of my blogging friends.

FYI this is Blog Post 2025 for A Penchant of Pens which began in 2005.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I posted last week in the morning that the search for my daughter's friend's sister  Jessica (33) was still on .She had disappeared on Friday, Nov 21.   I am beyond sick and grieved to report that Jessica Padgett was found dead Wednesday the 26th--which happens to be MY sister's birthday, so it affected me even more, the day before Thanksgiving. Jessica's stepfather confessed to raping and murdering her and then burying her body under the shed.    What a sick and evil man!

Every single day, many times  a day, my thoughts go to the family, my prayers for her husband, three kids, her mom and dad, her stepmom, her sister and brother, her best friends, her daycare co-workers and children who loved her.  It is in times like these I have to cling to my Prince of Peace and trust that vengeance is His.

I didn't want to end on a down note, but the reality is that I can't fathom what every day, and every holiday, and every birthday (December 15th), will feel like for Jessica's family.
Please pray right now before popping over to someone else's HP.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt Link-up

For the first time ever, I'm doing a mystery quilt and it's also my first Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt.

It's a virtual sew-along, in which we (all quilters everywhere) can join, for free and for fun.  All the chatter is invigorating, the fabric selections that people show nearly intoxicating.  The link is here to visit other Grand Illusion quilt bloggers.

Bonnie's inspiration came from her visit to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan.  Please treat yourself to her pictures of this beautiful place. They make me yearn to go there myself--not this winter, of course, but on a gorgeous day in July. 

She was inspired by the yellow awnings, the diamond shaped black and white tile floors, the cool aqua ceilings, the velvety green sofa, and the pink geraniums that are the classic hallmark --or should I say "hall marks" (since the geranium-abundant carpet really does mark the halls of the hotel)? 

Bonnie Hunter has designed a quilt for  which she will give us one clue each week for many weeks. To plan,she gave us the colors  about a month ago. I made a fun trip to Lowe's for the color cards, and I just LOVE the colors. They are the ones you'll find in my sewing room!

(I'm holding up  100 some-odd HSTs I sewed together before realizing I had mismeasured.   After all the warnings!  The grand illusion going on here is that I am good at following directions.)

I had to buy pinks and more turquoises. Oh,the drudgery of fabric shopping (she says, tongue firmly planted in cheek)!   I measured, washed the fabric, ironed it all, and labeled it all with sticky dots telling me the amount needed and amount of each piece. Then I waited.  Waited for the first clue the morning after Thanksgiving.

Bright and early, 6:30 on a Friday, I read all about it and charged forward. Just wish I'd kept a printed copy or the computer in front of me. I should know better than to go from memory.

Anyway, the triangles have to be redone, but at least I cut the black and yellow fabrics correctly.
We will try not to notice that black and yellow together live dangerously in this house. We are Ravens fan, not Steelers fans!

I ordered the Easy Angle ruler AFTER my big mess-up.  I hope it gets here by Friday.
I can only wait.  Meanwhile, I'll go check out a whole bunch of other blogs to see progress made, dreams dreamed, mistakes made (to comfort myself) and to be inspired all over again.