Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Testing the dry ice with Nancy for a Christmas Tea table. It surprised us by bubbling much higher than we expected.
A phone call on the answering machine from Ryan—“Thank you for this and thank you for these” in a sweet hoarse little voice.
A phone call from Kent and David—Kent was babysitting while Kevin and Patti were at a meeting. Kent was bored and David wanted to know if it would be okay to take a Tylenol for a finger that he jammed.
Nicole’s very cute blog about a conversation with Lilly. Check it out.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Personally, we have not lost bees to CCD. We did lose quite a few hives last year. We aren’t sure if it was poor beekeeping skills or weather—probably a little of both. You would think since beekeeping is such a very old science that there would be a tried and true recipe book. Follow this and you will have healthy bees and lots of honey. Like everything in life, it just is not that simple. New predicaments appear just as answers are found for last year’s dilemmas. Our honey crop was much smaller this year—around 600 pounds compared to 1200 pounds last year. Bob keeps reading, studying and learning. He just ordered some insulated boxes for keeping the bees from getting too cold this winter. He is mixing and cooking and feeding the bees now so hopefully we will have healthy hives that winter well. Meanwhile my advice to the rest of you is from Proverbs 24:13, Eat honey, my son/daughter, for it is good; sweet to the soul and health to the bones.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
God sets the lonely in families, Psalm 68:6
One of the Sunday School teachers told me that he was doing a contest at the end of his class. When one of his 4th grade girls didn’t know an answer, she whipped out her cell phone to text message a friend, saying, “Can I use a life line?”
Susan told me that Grif was being reprimanded for not turning off his light after his time was up for reading in bed. Grif said, “Well, I didn’t realize what time it was. . . this watch doesn’t have an audible alarm.”
Saturday, October 27, 2007
My mother-in-law is a good woman, full of the Holy Spirit and faith—like Barnabas, an encourager. I am so proud of her and so happy to call her Mom. She is smart, too! She does the crossword puzzles in the newspaper and gets every answer. She knows more about geography than anyone else I know. You cannot fool her on a question about where places are located—capital cities, or obscure countries. I am sure that if we could get her on the show, Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?—She could prove that she is smarter. But she is quiet—she never needs to prove to anyone that she knows something. She lets others feel good about themselves. She is a great listener.
I love a story that D’Ann tells about Mom. D’Ann says that when she was first married, she would sometimes complain to Mom about her husband, Paul. Mom would quietly listen and then her response would be a simple, “I see.”
The Rowells love to find a good birthday card that says just what they want to say. Then they underline words to emphasize them. Three underlines under the same word means that you really agree. Judy’s card gets the gold star for today. She found one that best describes Mom. I will spare you some of the underlines that I would do on this card for Mom. There would be a lot of triple underlines! Here is what it said:
Mom, You’re a blessing to our family!
How blessed are those who have a faithful mother
Who prays for them and loves the Lord so much.
She is her children’s source of inspiration.
Within her life, they see God’s loving touch.
Her goodness is a blessing to her family.
Her actions are compassionate and wise.
They hear God’s voice in all her words of kindness.
They see His love reflected in her eyes.
She teaches—not by sermon—but example,
To choose those things which have eternal worth.
Through all her caring ways she shows her family
A little piece of heaven here on earth.
God bless you, Mom! I love you very much!
Friday, October 26, 2007
One of my early encounters with my friend, Dottie, was at a neighborhood gathering. She told me that if her son ran into our mailbox with his car, she would sue us because our mailbox was not a breakaway. I went home and told Bob and we promptly got a new mailbox. That experience left me feeling cautious about Dottie.
I am no longer cautious. I have learned so much more about Dottie since that initial encounter. She is loyal, helpful, and soft hearted. She loves animals and has four dogs of her own. She likes crafts. Dottie gives many hours to volunteer work, particularly 4‑H but also with other groups. Dottie prints out new neighborhood lists whenever someone new moves into our neighborhood. She is a good cook and types out the recipes of our neighborhood gatherings for all of us. From time to time she surprises me with a card or candle or something to let me know she is thinking of me. For the past six years she has contributed to our neighborhood Christmas Tea table.
Dottie’s life has been difficult. She is married to man that has been manic depressive for most of their married life. Dottie raised five children. In 1999, her husband had a stroke and has been on disability since. He spends his days in his bedroom or study and does not leave their home. His stroke caused memory loss which continues to deteriorate. He refuses to eat most foods and this summer got down to 120 pounds. He also has a heart condition and has been hospitalized several times with congestive heart failure. Being his caretaker for such an extended time has taken a toll on Dottie. I am thankful that recently she hired a caretaker for several hours each day. Dottie is a great example to me. She does what needs to be done. She does not complain and rarely talks about her difficulties.
Dottie has been on my heart and mind this week. I pray for her. I wish her joy.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
It is time to sign up for the 10th annual WBC Christmas Tea. The Tea will be held on four nights at the end of November. Each night there are 60 tables decorated by 60 different women with a plethora of themes—not all Christmas. There are around 600 women that attend the Tea each evening. The program is the same on all four nights but there are different people that attend and decorate tables.
The first three years, I used my holly and candy canes Christmas dishes as inspiration for my Christmas Tea table. Lacking some creativity but wanting to be consistent, I used holly and candy canes in my centerpieces and in my hostess gifts. One year Monica’s niece, Melissa, was learning to decorate cookies professionally so the hostess gifts as well as some of the decorations were beautiful candy cane and holly cookies.
SPA TABLEIt is hard to see but it is a bathtub planter.
In 2001, my neighbors began helping me decorate the Christmas Tea table. The quality and creativity vastly improved! Susie makes homemade soaps and graciously offered them as hostess gifts so we decided to go with a spa theme. We found a bathtub planter to use with white poinsettias for the centerpiece. We had white bath towels on the chairs, and used white washcloths for napkins. Hairclips worked nicely for placecard holders. We used Cindy’s goblets, and thought our table looked quite elegant. Our verse was Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow from Psalm 51:7.
In 2002, we used a bee theme. Since Bob is a beekeeper, we could use honey for hostess gifts. Mary found skeps (straw beehives) to use in the centerpiece. Dottie picked up decorative bees and helped make our verse banner. Monica made cute bee candies for the plates. We had jars of honey to use as the hostess gifts. The verse that we used was “Bee”hold . . . Unto you is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. from Luke 1:11
In 2003, I think that Mary suggested a beach theme. She had been moved by the poem Footprints in the Sand. It was an easy table to do with brightly colored wash cloths as placemats (from Monica), and beach towels tied on the chairs with flip flops. We had shovels and sand pails filled with goodies for hostess gifts. We used little umbrellas, multi-colored straws, plastic fish and shells to decorate. In the center of the table we used a large vase that had live gold fish and an artificial palm on top of it. Dottie typed out the poem for each of us and we used this verse from Matthew 4:19 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."
In 2004, Kris saw a fun little pot at Halloween that had flames that blew up and thought it would make a cute s’mores table. She had a bear that was dressed for winter and we gave him a marshmallow to roast over the pot on a log firepit. My green rimmed plates and cups looked great on chocolate brown placemats and Monica made very cute place card holders with a graham cracker, brown foam piece and marshmallow with paper clip. I bought s’mores ornaments for our hostess gifts. The verse that we used was Mark 12:33, To love God with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself s’more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.
In 2005, Kris was inspired to do a table in only one color. Someone else had done a stunning lemon table using only yellow. Monica suggested a pink princess table. Everything on our table was pink: the tablecloth, napkins (made by Kris), plates (Dottie decoupaged clear plates with pink tissue on the bottom), and round pink placemats. We found a pink Christmas tree at Hobby Lobby for the centerpiece. We tied little glass slippers (Party City) on the tree as ornaments. Our hostess gifts were the tiaras and the ornaments. Our verse was from 1 John 3:1, What Love! That we should be called Daughters of the King!
Last year, 2006 was our cutest table. Mary had suggested in 2005 that we should do a table using frogs from her collection! She suggested using the acronym Fully Rely On God. We found green clear plates and blue round placemats with a lily in the center at Penney’s on sale at the end of the summer. Mary has adorable frog cups. Mary also suggested using goblets upside down for our candles. I added geranium leaves and pink scrunchies to make them look like lily pads. I used the same material and made napkins. We thought a mirror in the center would make it look like water but since none of us had a mirror, my oblong silver tray worked great. Dottie provided adorable little frogs for under the candles. Mary found cute pot sitter frogs as hostess gifts. We put them on pots that Dottie painted and filled with pink candy kisses. Along with the acronym for FROG, we also used the verse, Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; from Proverbs 3: 5.
There will not be a WBC Christmas Tea in 2008. Ten years seems like a good stopping place. We had better get busy on our last table.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
We found really cute brown and pink purse invitations at Party City which also were the colors that we had decided to use at the shower.
For decorations, Beth Thomson arranged a flower centerpiece in three purses.
On the food table and around the house, we had little signs that said things like: Sale, Buy One Get One Free, Priced to Go, etc.
For the game, we played Price is Right. I got pictures of items from 6 different stores. Some I was able to take with my camera and some of the pictures I took off of the internet. From Toys R Us, I chose items that Krista probably played with as a little girl such as a Barbie doll and My Little Pony. From Dick’s Sporting Goods, I chose mostly softball items. From Wheaton College bookstore, I got items that related to Krista’s education and occupation. From Victoria’s Secret, I got some cute sexy items. (Krista could keep most of the items in this bag as most of them were not pictures.) From Kohl’s, I got items that Krista might take on her honeymoon. And from Home Depot, I got items that Krista and Ryan might need while moving in to their new home. I made a receipt for the packages for each shower guest to fill in their guess on the packages as each package was opened. While they were deciding on their answer, Krista had to answer a few questions. With the Toys R Us bag, she answered questions about her childhood and growing up. As the Dick’s bag was opened, the questions were about her hobbies and interests. As the Wheaton College bag was opened, she answered questions about college and her job. When the Victoria Secret’s bag was opened, the questions were about how she and Ryan met, their first date, first kiss, proposal and engagement. When the Kohl’s bag was opened, she was asked about her honeymoon. And finally when the Home Depot bag was opened, she was asked about their home, color scheme and future plans.
We had six prizes—one for each bag that were $5 gift certificates to places like Starbuck’s, Barnes and Nobles, Jamba Juice, etc. The shower guest who got closest to the cost of the items in the bags without going over won that round.
The party favors were American Express Card chocolate candy bars. We tied a little bow around the bars and put a tag on them that said, Priceless, Krista and Ryan, October 19, 2007. (I know—Priceless goes with another credit card company but we had American Express candy bars.)
Margit did a devotional on God’s priceless gifts to us and made it specific for Krista and Ryan. My desire is that Krista and Ryan will have a long, happy life together and that together they will grow in love for each other and God. Now that is truly priceless.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
After dinner was the train shuttle ride to the International Terminal. The trains come and go quickly. Half of the group—Matt and his luggage cart, D’Ann, Caleb and Geoff, Luke and Brenda, made it onto the first train. When we got off, we realized first of all that Paul and his cart, Anne, Kelly, Katy, Meghan and Jaden did not make the first train. Secondly we were reprimanded by airport personnel for taking a cart on the train and then noticed all of the signs around that clearly stated, “No carts allowed on trains”. We really were grateful though that we had not noticed the signs because we would have obeyed but it would have been hard. The others made the next train with their cart and no reprimand and we thought we were on our way. And we were . . . except for the one hour wait in line for boarding passes. Finally at the counter when we thought all signals were” go”, there was another snafu. Matt was told that he owed $140 that he had already paid in Phoenix. So back went Matt to America West in Terminal 2 to get that settled. Meanwhile Kelly and children and all of the rest of us settled onto a floor in the hallway with two luggage carts near security. Matt meanwhile discovered that no one was at the America West counter. It was closed for the night. After 30 minutes and back at the Royal Jordanian Airlines counter, I knew things were looking up when the person checking Matt in said, “I’ll tell you what I will do.. .” and he did not charge Matt again. Thankfully, there was no wait for the security line, and we watched while Matt and Kelly unloaded both carts, took off their shoes and all of their kids shoes, took off belts and put toiletries out in their plastic bags and removed the computer. We watched until they were all assembled again—shoes on, carts loaded and they walked out of sight--probably the plane was loading by the time they got to the gate.
Here is what impressed me about the kids.
Katy (10 years old): quiet, responsible, helpful, and mature for her age
Meghan (7 years): busy, affectionate, good at coloring, desiring to investigate every plant and quite naturally fixated on Jordan. (i.e. Are we in Jordan now? Do you live in Jordan? Is this restaurant in Jordan?)
Luke (will be 4 next week): loves cars, sweet, unusually patient for his age, and curious that I should have such a great last name. I felt like I totally disappointed him with my answers. (i.e. What is your name? What is your other name? Do you live at McDonalds? Do you work at McDonalds?)
Jaden (22 months): mostly happy but has a loud scream, likes to throw, loves to run very fast. (Caleb and Jaden are one week apart in age and act just alike.)
Here is what impressed me about Matt and Kelly:
God has called them to go and they are excited about the opportunity.
They do not need sympathy nor do they need to be put on a pedestal.
This is a lot of work.
They are well prepared.
They were unflappable in the midst of a trying traveling experience.
I envy the surety they have of their calling. I respect their obedience.
I am convinced that they will have much joy and be blessed in unimaginable ways.
Here is what impressed me about Joy (Matt’s mom) when I called her to tell her the kids were on their way:
There was not a trace of self-pity. Joy clearly is happy that Matt and Kelly are doing what has been on their heart to do for many years and obeying their call.
Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it." Luke 11:28
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
On Sunday, Bob said, “The parking committee is the nicest group of people at WBC.”
Last night, while hugging Judy, Ruth said, “The Treasured Promises/Divorce Care has the nicest people.
Looking at the ten or so people that were serving the dinner last night made me sooo proud of our Adult Community and I thought, “I love those people. They are the nicest people.”
I have heard Cindy say, “The nicest people volunteer for GEMS.”
Mary is coming for coffee today and I had such a good time at Bunco on Wednesday. I have the nicest neighbors.
Now my head is spinning and I could go on and on. We are so blessed with nicest!
Sunday, October 14, 2007
My first husband, Dale, died at age 39 on May 4, 1988. It will soon be 20 years since that terrible event that changed the course of my life.
On a Saturday morning in May 1989, one of my sisters-in-law called to talk. In the course of conversation she unwittingly said, “I suppose you are pretty much over it [Dale’s death] now.” I was stunned and mumbled some answer and our conversation soon ended. No, I was not “over it.”
On June 29, 1996, I married Bob, a widower. We are thankful and blessed to have another special love relationship. No one was more surprised than I. We are happy and enjoy each other very much. Even so, a week does not go by without some mention of Dale or Dee or both. We are not over our losses. It is hard to explain.
Here is an illustration that works for me. Suppose someone had their arm amputated. Suppose she got a prosthesis that looked good. Suppose she became efficient at using that arm. Perhaps she became an accomplished pianist, artist, or basketball player. Would we ask that person, “Are you over it?”- meaning the loss of her arm. A prosthesis is bothersome. It needs to be taken care of differently than an arm. Sometimes the stump gets irritated. A spouse that dies leaves a wound with scars. Even after time, we still miss that part of us that died. We don’t fully recover, ever. Yes, we have happy days and joy in our life again but in some part of us, we still feel the loss.
I will tell of two recent experiences of grief for my first husband. Last month we attended a Beatles concert at Ravinia. We were there with three other couples. As the songs began (i.e. I Want To Hold Your Hand) I started feeling sad, even a little angry. I wanted Dale. He was the person that I shared memories with of those songs. That blue feeling lasted a few days before I was able to shed it.
My son, Andy became father to his second son, Jacob, born on September 16th. What a privilege it was for me to go to Andy and Amy’s home and help for eleven days following the birth. I thought of Dale often while with them in North Carolina. I got a lump in my throat as I watched how much Ryan (Jacob’s big brother) loves Grandpa Dale’s toy tractors. I remember when our sons were young, Dale and I would go and admire them often after they fell asleep at night. We would commend each other on how cute, how sweet, and how precious they were. It was such fun and sweet camaraderie to love them together. At Andy and Amy’s home, I could not help but get a few tears at night as I held that dear baby, Jacob—wishing so much to be able to share with Dale.
So Reneé, this is for you. You ask, “Will my crying ever stop? Will I ever get over this? Will I ever be happy again?” Your tears will almost dry up. No, you will never get over it. Yes, you will have happy days again. Blessings, my friend.
In celebration of each grandchild’s birthday—but not on his/her birthday, I like to have the grandchild spend a Grandma Day with me. I usually try to pick up the child before dinner, have them spend the night and then take them home right after dinner the following evening.
Yesterday evening and today, Hale and I had a Grandma Day in honor of his 7th birthday. Our Friday activities included: playing at Kelly Park, dinner at Chili’s, shopping for a Webkinz, a rental movie and popcorn. Today, our main event was at Cantigny Park. We had a great time climbing on the tanks, playing with marshmallow blasters, seeing the museum and floating objects on the little stream. We also ate lunch at the All Aboard Diner and finished the evening celebrating David’s 10th birthday with more family.
Here is what I learned about Hale today:
* He is learning to read.
* It is worthwhile to introduce him to new activities even when he is sure he will not like them. (He was adamant that he did not want to go to Cantigny because he could not remember ever being there and knew it would not be fun. We both had a great time!)
* He will still hold my hand in the parking lots and when crossing streets.
* He told me that he is the best peacemaker in his class and he gets kids and even his teacher to stop arguing because he can argue the best. (Hmm? How does that work?)
* He can go a long time without needing a bathroom.
Tonight at dinner, Kathi had some trivia questions from the show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? One question, "What was the first name of President Hays (1877-1881)?" I knew the answer was "Rutherford". Kent, who did not know the answer, responded, “Well, Grandma probably knew him.” I tell you—you can’t win by knowing the answer or by not knowing!
I just looked up a quote that I remembered hearing:
My grandkids believe I'm the oldest thing in the world. And after two or three hours with them, I believe it, too. ~Gene Perret