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Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year Wishes

Grace, Wyatt, and Garett helped me put our new year wishes for each of you on my homemade chalkboard. This hangs on the end of the kitchen cupboards and is visible from the living and dining rooms. Wyatt was pretty excited to learn that 2010 would be gone and replaced by 2011.

This new year promises some wonderful changes for my family: 

Jess and Scott and Bradley have rented a house in a small town about 15 miles from us, and they’ll move in January. While they’ll be missed, I’m so excited for Jessica to have her own home and family to care for. Plus, I’ll still get to see Bradley almost every day.

Greg and I will celebrate 30 years of married bliss. Okay, so it hasn’t all been “bliss”, but it’s been pretty great.

In July I will celebrate my 50th birthday. Yes, I will celebrate. Growing older is a privilege, one that I’m grateful for despite the gray hairs, wrinkles and what seems to be daily new aches and pains.

We will find a church home. Changing churches is hard. We went to services in York on Christmas Eve, and it was nice, but it wasn’t “home”. I cannot feature my daughter’s wedding in another place than Zion, or my future grandchildren being baptized somewhere else. I’m sad that Bradley won’t be in Sunday School or VBS here. Things always happen for a reason, so I’m just trying to be faithful and trust that we’ll find what we need and a place that needs us.

I’ll be doing something new with a job. I don’t know for sure what, but I do know that my tolerance for getting up at 4 a.m. every morning is running low.

It’s exciting to ponder the possibilities inherent in the beginning of the new year. These changes I’ve told you about are some that I know are happening. What about those I’m not aware of yet? How will I take full advantage of them? What new opportunities will I have to  learn? What painful lessons will be taught?

How will I come away from 2011? I’m hoping I’ll be stronger in my faith, healthier, better rested, and ready to take on the next 50 years.


Monday, December 13, 2010

A Little Touch of Christmas

Here we are, almost halfway through December and the Holiday Season is in full swing. I can’t say I’ve been feeling it much, but I have done some crafty things here and there.

The one I’m showing you tonight is this:  11-25-10 007

It’s a decorated glass block. I have several of these blocks out in the garage, gathered a few years ago when lighting and decorating them was the “in” craft on the internet. I finally got around to doing something with one, but I love it so much, I will do more.

First I used a 1/2” ceramic drill bit to put a hole in the back of the block. Now they do sell blocks at the craft store with holes already in them, but this one is heavy and durable and it was in the garage… It took a few days for the inside of the block to dry out after I rinsed the debris from drilling. This is not a quick project.

I used clear silicone caulk to adhere the flat marbles and a few pieces of red stained glass. The pattern just sort of happened as I played around with the marbles and glass. I think it sort of looks like a poinsettia. The caulk needs a few hours to dry, then just pop in some Christmas lights and there you have it.

Hopefully during this week I’ll be able to share a few more Christmas touches around the house (there are only a few). In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful rest-of-the-holiday-season!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Best Wishes

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We’re not hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year and it’s been wonderfully relaxed around here. Don’t get me wrong – I love having a big gathering come feast at my house. It’s just that with a toddler underfoot this year, it’s nice to take the feast elsewhere.

Jess made the pecan pies last night. She’s made pie before, but this was her first pecan. I was surprised and delighted at her offer to help, so I mostly supervised.

She got the two pecans done before Bradley needed her attention, so I made the pumpkins this morning. Just need to make potatoes afterwhile, and a baked artichoke heart recipe I saw last week, and we’ll be set to go.

I’m super grateful to have my kids, Bradley, and Scott all here today to gather at Nanny’s and Poppo’s. We are very blessed.

So enjoy your family, the feasting, and fun, and spend a minute in prayerful thanks for all the love with which you are surrounded. I’m going to.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Why Was I in Trouble? She Said It Was Okay…

This is the story of two little girls, a screen door, a knitting needle, and fly season on a hog farm a long, long, time ago…

A little over two weeks ago, my cousin Debbie passed away, leaving an ache in the hearts of those who loved her. I take comfort in my memories of our time together when we were kids, growing up like sisters. This is one of my earliest memories of us together.

I think it was the summer I turned four years old, but I may have been five. Aunt Sherry and Uncle Jack had moved their family from Nebraska to a farm near Mahaska, Kansas, and I was delivered there to spend a few weeks. I remember the big house and yard, and also walking a dirt/gravel road to Sunday School at a small country church. Barbie was the eldest child, and in charge of us getting there and back.

Anyway, one afternoon I awoke from my nap and found the house empty and quiet. I wandered around looking for any of the family, and finally found Debbie in the back entryway, sitting at the open door. There was a full screen door – one of the old wooden kind on a spring that creaked when it opened and banged when it closed.

Debbie was sitting on the floor in front of that screen door, methodically punching holes in the screen with a knitting needle. We chatted for a minute, and she invited me to have a try at the hole-poking. I questioned the wisdom of this activity, but Debbie assured me it was okay and lots of fun. I was hesitant because I really didn’t think it was a good idea, but she was confident that it was okay. She was older and she lived there and she was quite convincing, so, I took a stab at it, so to speak.

You know what? It was fun! Poking that needle through the screen and seeing a perfect round hole appear was almost like magic!  I was hooked!Debbie ran and got a second knitting needle and we both sat there together and punched holes to our hearts’ delight.

I have no idea how long we did this, but we were running out of screen on the bottom section of the door when Aunt Sherry came walking up. One look at her face and I knew that this was definitely NOT okay. It was summertime on a hog farm. Fly season. We had just opened up the entire bottom half of the screen door.

Oh, Aunt Sherry was mad.

Debbie got spanked first. I remember telling Aunt Sherry that it wasn’t my fault, that Debbie had told me it was okay, and I really was innocent. Yeah, she didn’t care. I got spanked, too. Then we were sent to Debbie’s room.

My memory of this incident ends there, but I have always proclaimed my innocence. They just laughed at me over the years whenever I reminded them of the injustice of my being held liable along with Debbie for this crime.

Here are the three of us about 40 years later:

Sherry, Debbie, & Tammy I will forever be an accessory to screen-door mutilation.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I’ve Been Robbed!

Well, about 36 years ago I was, anyway.  I recently re-lived the experience when I found the evidence tucked away with my scrapbook items.

You know what? I didn’t even know I’d been robbed for a L O N G time after. Not until I found this:

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I don’t remember where I found it, but I do remember finding it, and when I decided it was a keepsake, I dated the back of it “late 1974-early 1975”. I apparently found it in “early 1975”.

Puzzled, I peeled the Scotch tape back and unfurled the following note.

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A ransom note. Obviously pretty old now, but fairly fresh back in the mid-70’s. My thief was very much into rebus (pictures for words).


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Mailbox (obviously…)

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Bank (it was a plastic “safe” from Discovery toys and you had to have the combination to open it up)

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Someone had stolen my piggy bank and wanted a whopping seventy-five cents to give it back. My piggy bank had been gone for a few months, and I hadn’t noticed. I don’t think it even had 75 cents in it, but don’t remember for sure.

There were directions and a map for me to follow when leaving the ransom, and if I didn’t follow them, my bank was going to burn. Thing is, he gave me until 7:00 p.m. that evening. Which evening?

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My thief’s name? The note was signed.

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If you’ve known me for very long, you know this came from one of my brothers. The one who acts all innocent and good, then from out of the blue, becomes “the Villan”. Hmmm… you know that wasn’t Randy. He was just villainous all the time. :o)

That means the “other” brother (the one who left me this other note when I borrowed his gloves for like two minutes) was the bank-napper who stole my it and hid it away, then left me this awesome ransom note. Problem was, it took me so long to find the note and realize my bank was missing, he forgot all about his evil plot. (That is why the date on the back of the note is so ambiguous. Neither of us knew for sure when he wrote it.)

You’ll be happy to know that I got my bank back, unharmed, without paying any ransom. I showed him the note when I found it, and he gave a full confession and returned my property unharmed, without my having to pay anything.

I’m pretty sure he “earned” enough $$ a few years later when he was a busboy and I was a waitress and sometimes my tips would “fall” on the floor while the table was being wiped off. Then that money would be free game for anyone who picked it up. 

I told you. He secretly was the Villan.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Celebrate This Season

I’m living a variety of seasons all at once right now, not the least of which has been an amazing Autumn here on the Great Plains. Autumn is my favorite of the four seasons as the weather cools, the humidity disappears, and nature’s colors are gorgeous.

One day last week as Bradley and I got to the bottom step of the back deck, I spotted a perfect Autumn leaf lying on the sidewalk. It didn’t come from any tree in our yard, rather the wind carried and deposited it there for me to discover.

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I stuck it between the pages of a really thick phone book for a week, and when it seemed sufficiently flat and dried, I matted it onto some scrapbook cardstock and put it in this simple black 5 x 7” frame.

I don’t know where this will hang, probably in the kitchen where I spend a good deal of my time.

Just a simple, sweet reminder of this favorite of seasons.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Light A Candle

Today in Tennessee Debbie’s family is having her Celebration of Life. Many of us in the extended family are unable to be there with them, but in loving memory of Deb, and in prayerful support of her husband, children, grandchildren, mother, and siblings, we will light a candle for her.

Mine is lighted and shining in the window now.

My heart is in Tennessee today.

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"For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. -Ps 18:28"

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Funtime with the Cricut

We recently celebrated Greg’s niece’s birthday and I wanted to give her a little something for her new apartment. I picked up a small, unscented candle and got out the Cricut to personalize it for her.

A capital “H” cut from black vinyl went on first:

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Then I used some lime green, her favorite color, to cut “hannah”:

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Using the transfer tape, I peeled the letters off the vinyl backing

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and they were ready to position onto the candle. I centered the entire name over the capital “H”. Since the letters were on the transfer tape, I was able to reposition without too much trouble – you can see here I got the letters a little on a slant at first.

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When the letters were positioned to my satisfaction, I rubbed over the lettering and then peeled off the transfer tape.

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She seemed to really like it, especially with the lime green letters.

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Yeah, I didn’t get the letters straight after all, but it’s still a fun little candle and a sweet gift that didn’t strain the budget at all.

While we had the vinyl out, I opened up the Cricut Expressions machine I had at home from the library. (I own a small, early version of the Cricut, but am able to check out the awesome Expression and a few cartridges at a time from the local library.) There was a spot on the dining room wall just begging for some kind of quote, and since Thanksgiving is coming up, I chose a line from a popular hymn, “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing”.

The Cricut Expression can cut 12 x 24” shapes, and I picked up a 24” mat at Hobby Lobby several weeks ago, so I was able to cut and transfer the entire quote with one piece of transfer tape.

The steps are the same as with the candle. The quote is cut and excess vinyl removed, then the transfer tape down over the top:

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Here’s the spot on the wall. If you look closely you can see the laser level line so I get the words on the wall straight (yeah, I’m challenged that way…)

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Aligning the text with the laser line, I rub the letters onto the wall, first with my hand, then I go over each letter with a wide craft stick.

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Peel off the transfer tape,

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And there it is – an appropriate sentiment for the Thanksgiving dining room:

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The text is level, the wall hanging above it is not… I said I was challenged that way!

You’ll notice it’s missing an apostrophe in “Lord’s”. I did hand cut one from vinyl and just pop it up on the wall. There was no apostrophe on the cartridge I used to design the quote.

This vinyl is easily removable, though not intended to be reusable. If you order vinyl online, it’s pretty inexpensive, so changing quotes with the season would be very doable. I do like this one for the dining room, though, so it’ll probably stay awhile.


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

To Everything There Is A Season

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" Ecclesiastes 3:1

Yesterday I posted that Bible verse with my status update on Facebook. I was talking about my garden mostly, but heavy on my heart was my cousin Debbie. Just as my garden is at the end of the season of bounty and fruitfulness, Debbie was at the end of her own season, her battle with cancer almost over.

Only 51 years old, mother of three, grandmother of six, wife to the love of her life, daughter, sister, niece, and cousin. Her spirit strong and her body full of fight.

Debbie Sr.

That fight ended this afternoon, and like Cousin Patty told me, “Our family is not the same without her.”

A light has gone out and there is a darkness in our hearts right now. I know that darkness will turn back to light, as we fondly remember her time with us, and take comfort in knowing she’s wrapped in God’s Heavenly arms and cannot hurt any more.

As Debbie’s family, we have been forced into a new season we did not want, but that is the way of it, is it not? We go through this season and into the next, just as happens in my garden. There will be light and blooms and beauty again, because she sowed those seeds in our hearts. Y

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Oh, You Guys

I had such noble intentions to get back to blogging on a regular basis, but the days have sped by in a blur, and here it is several weeks between posts yet again.

Besides the quick videos posted last month, let’s take a look at what Brad-man’s been up to lately:

pumpkin shopping

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having a birthday!

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feeding the goats at the pumpkin patch

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snuggling with Grampy

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playing in his swing

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“helping” in the garden

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dressing up for Halloween (as James T. Kirk – Star Trek – for those of you who cannot tell…)

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trick or treating for the first time

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having his first haircut

before and after

and getting a shampoo Mohawk

bathtime mohawk

He’s a busy boy who keeps me running all day, but what a blessing that we get to spend so much time together. I do know how lucky I am!


Friday, October 08, 2010

Chatting with Bradley

He’s becoming more conversational, even if he does speak his own language.

Sometimes I answer him with the same gibberish and we have a conversation, but about what I don’t know. He’s happy with whatever it is I’m telling him, though.

It’s all part of his speech development and he’s doing great. I look forward to that day when we can have a conversation in my language! :o)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Want “More”?

Once Bradley started sitting in his high chair to eat, I started using the sign for “more” with him. Yesterday he signed to me for more animal cracker (organic from Whole Foods – yum!):

The reason I chose “more” is because it’s easy for him to put his hands together in front of his body. The sign is made by tapping the tips of your fingers together with your hands closed. When he first started mimicking the sign, it was just like “patty-cake”. Now he’s got one hand closed and one open. I don’t correct him, eventually he’ll close that second hand and make the sign correctly. What’s important is that he’s using the sign to communicate. I think this is very exciting! :o)

It’s time to start learning a new sign – I’m thinking “eat” would be a good one.

(You probably noticed the bubbles. Jess purchased an inexpensive bubble machine for Bradley’s birthday party, but forgot to take it. I put bubble solution in it and just let it run on the front porch while we played. Hundreds of bubbles rained down and he loved them.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010


On Friday afternoon my next door neighbor came over and invited Bradley and me to visit her backyard garden. She’d been out watering and discovered the trees were full of Monarch butterflies. Donna knows how much I enjoy the creatures out in the garden and thought I’d like to show the butterflies to Bradley.


He was very serious while watching them flit around and would point to them in the trees.

monarchs closeup

At one point I was able to get one onto my finger and hold it closer to Bradley. It only stayed 2 or 3 seconds, but it was cool to hold it.


I had noticed several Monarchs flying around that morning when I walked down the alley, but didn’t really think anything of it. There is a lot of milkweed around the area and that’s what they feed on, so it’s not out of the ordinary to see a few around the yard.

monarchs5 Of course I had to Google for facts about Monarch migration after seeing this gorgeous display. Here’s a condensed version regarding their migration from

Across the USA monarchs soar and glide in the warm sunshine from March through October (depending where they are born), but what happens in the fall when the brisk cold winds set in and winter looms in the air? Monarchs cannot survive cold winter temperatures of the northern states. So what does a monarch do to keep warm? It MIGRATES south and HIBERNATES! This means that it rests, with a very slow heart rate, just like bears in their hibernation caves. Monarchs east of the Rockies migrate 2500 miles to the Oyamel fir trees of Mexico. Monarchs west of the Rockies migrate to southern California to the eucalyptus trees of Pacific Grove and surrounding areas.

The monarch's flight to Mexico has been compared to the migration habits of birds flying south for the winter. It is the only insect that can fly 2,500 miles to a warmer climate. Their unique wing structure and yearly life cycle makes it possible for the fall generation monarchs to travel thousands of miles (on those amazing little wings) to the warm nesting grounds of Mexico and southern California.”

I am always appreciative and amazed when allowed to witness the wonders of Creation such as this. Hopefully that appreciation is being passed down the generations. Many thanks to Donna for thinking of us and letting us join her in this experience!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Keep on Brushing, Baby

Jessica is doing a fine job of instilling good dental habits in Bradley. He currently has seven teeth and must be working on some more, what with all the drooling going on.

He loves to have his teeth brushed using “training” toothpaste. This toothpaste has no flouride and is safe for him to swallow. He has a couple of toothbrushes – one sent home for him by the dental hygienist the last time I had a check-up.

Tonight he decided he’d brush his own teeth and his mama got a little video (aren’t cell phone cameras convenient?).

(The voice you hear is Jessica.)

Once he got to try brushing his own teeth, he didn’t want to stop, but he was too tired to keep on for long and gladly traded the toothbrush for a bottle. :o)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Walk Down Memory Lane

This title is almost literally what I did one day a few weeks ago. I walked down memory lane in Harrison Park, and I went back, way back to a time of swimming at the pool, running the trails, and Girl Scout day camp near the creek.

Lots has changed in that park since I was a kid. The pool is gone now and you can’t really even tell it was ever there:

09-05-61 029 What seemed like an enormous concrete monument to summer didn’t really take up all that much space. I did get a little ache in my stomach when snapping this photo. So much of my childhood was spent here.

The pool isn’t the only thing that is gone – all of the play equipment up by the former pool entrance is gone, too. There is just a concrete walking path and a bike rack now.

Off to the west side of that path you can still see the trails through the trees, though. As children we ran those trails, playing in that little bit of wild forest available in the prairie.

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Further down the path we come to the one thing that hasn’t really changed about this park, and that is Beaver Creek. Still nasty.

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My brothers used to get in there and fish out the wayward golf balls from the country club golf course just to the west. Then they’d sell them back to the club house. I’m not sure they made enough money to justify the icky water and leeches, but that’s what they did. They also used to catch crawdads and bring them home, asking Mom to make them for supper. Thank goodness Mom always declined!

Down in the bottom of the park there were swings and a merry-go-round. This is where we had Girl Scout day camp each summer, and many a picnic. It’s been renovated now with new play equipment, sand volleyball, and a horseshoes area.

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If you look closely at the left side of the photo, you’ll see the old merry-go-round – same one from when we were kids.

Bradley enjoyed coming along with me on my walk down memory lane. He was tired and ready for a nap, but listened to me babble on about what fun that park was for me when I was a child, and how much fun he was going to get to have there – different fun, but we’ll make great memories just the same.

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