Friday, November 28, 2008

All in a Thanksgivng Day . . .

There are thoughts running through my head for too many posts. And so, I will just touch on several topics in this one post.

Thanksgiving reminds me of how inadequate I am at expressing my gratefulness. I am overwhelmed with all the good gifts and benefits so undeserved that I enjoy. My heart is full! It has paralyzed me from writing anything at all because I am so blessed.

I am thankful for Jesus, for grace, for prayer, for God’s word, for family, for health, for a home and much more. Many of you would echo the exact same blessings.

I am thankful for the life example of my sweet, faithful Christ—follower, Dad. He loved and was loved.

Turkey Trot

I am thankful for doctors, that God causes bones to heal and that I can walk.

I am thankful that my supportive hubby agreed to walk with me when other activities and responsibilities prevented my walking partner from attending the Turkey Trot.

I praised God for a beautiful day.

Right at 9:05 am following God Bless America, The Lima Lima Flying Group flew over the Turkey Trot in the “Missing Man” formation reminding us to thank God for our freedom and to pray for the families of the people that have given their lives for our country.

Thanksgiving celebration

I am thankful that I did not need to make the turkey for our family dinner.

I am thankful for sweet grandchildren who spontaneously—at the kid’s table—told things that they were thankful for.

Gingerbread houses

Each year the grandkids are more creative. This is such a fun family event!

You can never be too careful.
Seamus included a gun launcher on his house.

Christmas preparation

I am thankful for Christmas—for all of the best reasons. How can we thank Jesus for his sacrifice and love? He came and humbled himself even unto death so that we might have eternal life. Philippians 2:5-8

I am also thankful . . .
  • And excited that I will see all of my children and grandchildren this season.
  • That my prelit Christmas tree lit for the third year in a row.
  • That my Christmas card—however feeble—is basically done.
  • That Bob does the outside lights. When I married Bob, I was aghast to discover that he was against outdoor decorations. Not easily deterred, I forged ahead and persistently decorated, okay, placed lights outside around shrubs at Thanksgiving time—for nine years. Then three years ago, my hubby being of sound mind, reasoned, “If you can’t dissuade her, do it right.” I was thrilled. They are evenly placed and mostly stay lit and look so pretty!
  • That Bob is still working and that I can have the privilege of giving gifts.Not everyone is so blessed.

I feel almost guilty because of my happiness. The news today weighs on my heart and makes me conflicted. I do not know how to respond. I know that I must pray, remembering others and praising with a thankful heart.

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray.
Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.

James 5:13

Monday, November 24, 2008

So, what was your high, Grandpa?

After “flush and brush”, part of the “tuck” routine with Lilly and Jackson includes talking about the favorite part of their day. I thought that Lilly’s response was somewhat of a diversionary delay tactic as she rolled around and giggled, “I can’t decide.” But then again, maybe not--sometimes, it is just all good.

Certainly one highlight for me was when Jackson decided to teach Grandpa how to play Wii golf. Now, Grandpa has never played any video game—ever. (Not that I am much more experienced with my two tries.) He has never operated a joy stick--never tried a Gameboy. However, he is experienced with the TV remote. Grandpa did grow up golfing and so was way ahead of me in the knowledge of the game. It was so sweet to see Jackson patiently, very patiently, explain how the Wii game operated. Eventually, finally, it was fun to hear them discussing what kind of club to use and other golf strategies. Then what a treat to hear them encourage each other—“Great job, Grandpa!” “Nice drive, Jackson!”

Following golf, we all bowled. Jackson, of course, wiped us out but Grandpa and I tied with a higher score than I have ever bowled before. I knew the Wii made a hit when Grandpa said, “Where do you buy this game?—at Best Buy?” He seemed to take it all in when the response was, “Yes, and everywhere—Wal-Mart, Target.”

And then Grandpa asked, “Do all of the Wiis have those games?”

So now I am considering asking Santa for a Wii—for Grandpa, of course.

And there was more—at least for me. I got to practice a tiny bit of Guitar Hero. Maybe with more practice, I could play without getting booed. Lois told me this morning that lots of old people buy Wii games for themselves. It could open up a whole new world! I bet it wards off Alzheimer and other age related dementias, too.

Dad and Jackson showed me how it is really done!

Brad and Nicole honor us by allowing us to look good in their children’s eyes. As we headed out to Red Robin on Friday evening with Jackson and Lilly, Brad handed Bob a baggie of quarters and whispered, “We never let the children play video games at Red Robin—it will be a special treat for them.” Not only was it a treat for the children, it was a treat for us to see them cooperate so sweetly. Grandpa asked Jackson to help Lilly race a car. He quickly responded, “Sure.” Then Jackson showed Lilly where to insert the quarters, helped her select her driver and car and told her to push “Start.” Observing that Lilly couldn’t reach the gas pedal because her legs were too short, he dove under the video game, and on his tummy, called up, “I will push the gas pedal for you.” which he did for the entire race. Lilly quickly gave an unprompted, “Thanks, Jackson!”

The children are generous with hugs, kisses, cuddles, and our hearts are captivated by their irresistible, natural, impetuous affection.

It was fun to decorate a few gingerbread houses. I had taken four little houses. From other experiences, I have noted that when adults also decorate a house the project lasts much longer than if it is a children-only project. However, I made the frosting a bit too stiff, so Nicole and I were needed as squeezers. This is some pretty intense decorating that required lots of concentration.

With two extra houses, we were able to invite a couple of neighbors to join the decorating party and Brad soon was involved as well. It was such fun to see their creativity and sweeter still to hear the compliments given freely by the children back and forth across the table.

Nicole made us such yummy food—meatballs, Thai pizza, nacho dip, and even though their football team was sorely defeated, the party was wonderful.

The kids were so darling riding in the car with us after church as they serenaded us with songs from school. How can anyone not love this sweet little voice!

So on the plane coming home as we settled in and looked at each other, Grandpa and I both just had to say, “I can't decide. It was all good—every bit!”

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bone Cold

It was one of those days! With temperatures in the low forties and constant sideways rain turning to snow, we tried to be tough. After all, it was the only day in the near future when all of us could assemble to do some barn cleaning. We had the remarkable Dean (who helped us in May) and his mighty bobcat available. The only obstacle was unfavorable weather and we thought we could prevail. Effort was not the issue. We donned hats and gloves and boots and went to work.

Just to show that I am not exaggerating, notice all of the wet clothing. It shows up particularly well on Donna and Rog’s clothes. The rest of us were as wet but the rain had soaked to our skin.

Donna and Lynn provided a warming house with a heavy duty heater. Lou and Donna provided yummy soup and sandwiches and hot cider and coffee. That energizing fuel usually does the trick. But, our kneecaps were numb, our toes were numb, our fingers were numb and we had to keep blinking to keep our eyeballs from freezing in place. My usually uncomplaining hubby whispered, “This is insanity!” We surrendered and called it quits.

We were an unsightly crew as we tramped into McDonalds for nine hot chocolates and a brief where-to go-from-here meeting.

As we plow ahead, Dad’s training is still guiding us and bringing us together. His name comes up in every conversation. We love to talk of Dad’s grit and wisdom and some quirkiness, too. We thank God for his influence!

God-loyal people, (like my Dad) living honest lives, make it much easier for their children.
Proverbs 20:6 [The Message]

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Little Moments with Little Brothers

This week it was my delight to watch Jacob (Jakie, Jake, or J) toddle around. He is at that high maintenance—amazing learning—baby stage. His baby steps give him new freedom. He is moving quickly to greater accomplishments as he hoists his little chubby leg up, seeing what new heights he can climb. Once up, he has discovered that beds and sofas are great fun for bouncing and dancing and diving.

Who could resist his giggles and sweet chatter as Jakie experiments with sounds? More often than not his gibberish has meaning such as da-da-da-da-da-da (definitely daddy and sometimes other adults as well) or na-na (banana or any food) or unt-dat, unt-dat (I think this is his first sentence—I want that.)

Jacob protests boundaries, and tests what repetition and increasing volume will get him. But then he takes a few moments to lay his sweet little head on your shoulder for a bit of cuddle time. Unlike his brother, who does not like messy, Jacob doesn’t seem to mind sticky fingers, food in his hair and anything on his face. In fact he delights in rubbing it around. Not long ago he experimented with a whole tube of Vaseline. He loves books, balls, food, imitating his big brother, playing peek-a-boo and dancing. He is quite aware that kisses and smacks bring laughs.

Jacob is at an in-between stage of one nap or two naps. His clock still thinks that the time change has not yet occurred and so he cheerfully wakes up to play by 5:30 a.m. Living life to the fullest every moment, this joyful little Jacob, keeps mom and dad hopping during the day and ready for bed at night.

Big brother Ryan, is serious and careful. He loves playing with little figures and can hold more in his little hands than you would believe is humanly possible. He still likes construction vehicles and animals but right now, Ryan is particularly into dinosaurs. He likes that some are dangerous and scary like T-Rex but he also likes the friendly nice dinosaurs. “Little Purple Dinosaur” is a particularly good and loyal friend. Ryan has been admiring a couple of dinosaurs at a local children’s museum gift shop on recent visits but wisely his parents don’t buy toys regularly. Wondering if Grandma could buy him a toy, he asked, “Do you have a lot of money?” We asked the lady at the museum to cut off the tags so when Ryan questioned me about the new dinosaurs and what they did, I didn’t know. I said, “Maybe we could ask Daddy to look them up and read about them to us on the computer. What do you think about that?” I supposed that Ryan had some prior experience with Daddy’s complete study habits as he astutely replied, “Only if there are not too many words.”

Ryan has a great imagination and we played pretend during almost all of his waking moments. The animals and people talk and have conflicts and some need “protection" or just do regular things like go to the store and ride in play vehicles. Ryan has a darling little stuffed fox, ‘Fanny’, that sleeps with him and rides in the family car on every trip whether to church or the library or wherever. One day, I asked about taking another stuffed animal instead. I said, “What about ‘Deer’? Don’t you think that Deer would like to go this time?” Ryan informed me, “Grandma, Deer isn’t even real.” Of course, I should have recognized that.

“Soon I am going to grow up and be a big man!” My response, “Oh, Ryan, please don’t grow up too soon! I will miss you being a little boy!” Comfortingly and with a sweet little smile, he responded, “It’s okay, I will still like to play with you even when I am a big man.”

Before I went for my visit, Ryan phoned to request that I bring a few of my toys from my house that he could play with. He wanted an army vehicle with treads, some GI Joes, the boats and some animals. Doing my best to please, I gathered a few toys together. Ryan was excited and pleased and happy to examine each toy. He inquired, “Why did you bring all these bad guys?” I told him that I was sorry, but I couldn’t tell very well if they were good guys or bad guys. He said, “You just look at their faces. If they look mad, they are a bad guy.” And then added, “Actually, I like some of the bad guys.” Whew! He generously informed me, “Even though you didn’t bring the right toys, that’s okay.” Keep in mind that Ryan is three years old and has not been to my home for almost one year. He went on to enlighten me about the tank he really likes. I am impressed by his memory and am hoping that I can locate it for his visit in December! Talk about pressure. Actually, I can’t wait! How about tomorrow?

I can't resist posting a few more pictures. Andy and Amy were able to paint their shed to match their home during my visit. It looks cute—like a little play house.

The boys were ready for naps when we got home from church on Sunday but they looked so cute that I had to try for a photo—such sweet little men. Notice in Ryan's little paw is Fanny, purple dinosaur, giraffe and a new dinosaur that I cannot remember the name. Deer also made this picture.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Any reason at all will do

Never wanting to miss a party, I convinced my hubby that this would be a good weekend to go to Ohio and bring home our Gisel Gold honey bees. My dad died in June and we are preparing sometime—hopefully—when farm prices improve—to sell his farm. We are not assuming that the next owner will want to be a beekeeper so we needed to bring the bees to our place. It is a bit sad to end this chapter.

The party part was that my sister was going out with cousins to celebrate her retirement and I knew there would be lots of laughing and camaraderie and I wanted to experience it rather than just hear about it. Plus as Carol reminds us, “If you don’t come, we’ll talk about you.” By the way, even though four or five of us walk with a limp, that is not why we had our picture taken with the handicapped sign.

Donna even brought party favors—wonderful delicious apples from their orchard!

My husband did not act surprised, when in dismay, I told him that I lost my camera again. He was as usual sypathetic--possibly because if I did not find it, we would soon be buying a new camera. He graciously drove into town where I woke Cousin Ruth just as the sun was coming up. She was gracious to look in her car and find my favorite item to lose. It is so good that I do not have little children anymore! Ruth bravely placed her hand on top of the screened bees so that hubby could show her the heat that the bees were generating.

The trees are in front of the home where Dad lived in town. It was such a lovely day to travel!

So Bob dropped me off in Fort Wayne and then went on to Ohio to pack up the bees. The hives were heavy. The bees are healthy with a good supply of honey for the winter. Bob has a hive lifter that is a very helpful tool for getting the hives in the car. For some of you that wonder about riding with the bees. It was totally uneventful. Somehow about a half dozen happened to escape but they were content to hang around the back window.

On our return to Illinois, son Kevin, rescued me and helped hubby carry the hives to their launching pads. That accomplished, we decided that we might as well party again, German style—with family at Schnizel Plaz in Glendale Heights. The sauerbraten with dumplings, rotkohl, and hausgemachte spätzle made a hit! Bob loved the leberknödle suppe, which in English is called liver noodle soup. I was saving room for hausgemachte gulaschsuppe which is homemade goulash. Two men, Bob and Hank, dressed in appropriate, I think, German attire entertained us with singing and yodeling, playing the accordion, trumpet and other instruments that I can’t tell you the names. I was sad that none of us had room for dessert. We should have at least had Helda bring out the tray for a look.

Donna worked for 44 years as a nurse! And regarding Donna’s retirement, her hubby waited one day and then bought her two new pairs of work gloves. They went to work mowing, trimming and pulling weeds around the buildings at the farm. Dad would have been so proud to see it looking so good. Donna embraced the sweat. What a trouper!

I am sad to miss out today as my siblings are having a burn day at the farm. I will be there in two weeks when we have another work day on the barn. Hubby wonders about the point of all of this work? Part of it might be the party aspect. It is a Gisel trait from our father that I love to promote.