Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy Campers

A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year. — Paul Sweeney

Last night we jointly celebrated Judy’s birthday and our anniversary. We laughed, reminisced, commiserated, planned, and laughed some more.

At times it seems if Bob and I have been together all of our lives. Other times, it seems as if we are just beginning. I still learn new things about my hubby—things that I never knew before. How could it possibly be our thirteenth anniversary?

We are content this year to celebrate quietly. Just mentioning that we would do all of this again and again is enough.

Bob's gifted me with a sweet silver bracelot. My gift to him? An outside project—cleaning the deck chairs—that means more to him than a real gift.

A happy marriage has much to do with keeping priorities straight. We need to love God and let the rest fall into place always mindful that God walks with us.

Not that we have attained this. At this moment, we are journeying together with a sense of peace, contentment, joy and thankfulness.

The fear of the LORD leads to life:
Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

Proverbs 19:23 (NIV)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I love the reddish coloring . . . and a lot more!

I loved my first husband.

Because my children have his name,
some of his qualities,
some of his looks,

I want to embrace Dale’s past and everyone that includes.

Six of the seven living siblings from his father's generation came together for a summer reunion. Lots of their children and grandchildren and even greats were gathered as well.

Cousin Tim and Dale looked like brothers when they were young. I wonder, "Would Dale still resemble Tim?"

I identify with the other “outlaws” like me . . . Lucy on my left and Kathy above with her hubby cousin Tim.

On the right of me is another red head, cousin Karen, from Virginia.

Below is Aunt Marge and Cousin Jeri up from Texas.

I like seeing how Dale's uncles and aunts have graciously aged — the oldest daughter, Ina, to the youngest son, Wayne.

Family characteristics and coloring follow into the third generation.

I can imagine Dale in these settings, so proud of his mom, laughing at a story and contributing his own.

This family brings me smiles,
points me to God,
causes me to give praise,
rejoices in my second husband,
makes me proud,
reminds me
of the blessing of a good heritage.
Thank you, dear in-law family,
for staying in touch,
for staying in love.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Soaked to the Skin!

Scream! It really helps!

Forgotten photo from our Grandma Day.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Duplo-cate Tower of Babel

Engineered by Grif

As tall as Seamus if you count the Lego man on top

Slave Laborers

That's how it came to be called Babel,
because their language turned into "babble."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cousin Blessings

Cousin to cousin we’ll always be,
Special friends from the same family tree.

As a child, I always had cousins to help celebrate every event and holiday. After a family gathering when I was a young girl, I told my mother that I hoped I could have ten kids. I wanted to have as many kids as Grandpa and Grandpa Rupp so my kids could have lots of cousins. I could not understand when Mother laughed.

Count your many cousins, name them one by one,
Count your cousins, see what God hath done!
Count your cousins, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Below is a picture that I created of my first cousins in 1955. I am not sure why most of the boys wore bow ties? Seven more cousins joined this group—the youngest was born in 1969.

I am on the left side of the photo with bangs and a missing tooth. Above me is my sister, Lou and beside me is my sister, Donna—also a blogger. Below me in this photo is the baby of our immediate family, my brother Lowell.

In honor of our Grandparents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary, our mothers diligently lined us up on the platform at Grandpa and Grandma's church in 1958 and directed us to sing Count Your Blessings.

The photo above must be from around 1962. It has become a favorite family tradition to sing at least a verse or two of Count Your Blessings at family reunions.

In Nashville in 2006 at a girl cousin gathering we even got to sing the hymn in Minnie Pearl’s home.

And Saturday we joyfully, passionately, with great gusto sang again . . .

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

. . . because we are aware that we are so incredibly blessed!

For more on this, read what sweet cousin Lynn posted on her blog and my sister Donna's blog.

Friday, June 19, 2009

As Good As It Gets

“Awesome!” was Morgan’s word for our time together.

I agree.

Wednesday afternoon, Morgan posed for a few customary Cantigny photos.

And some adorable and clever photos.

Then she said, “Let’s do some pictures of us together.”

I was honored.

At the Arboretum, we checked out the tadpoles.

They are quicker now and fewer.

Morgan caught a few that still had tails but that also had legs.

Then she discovered some very tiny but completely developed toads. So cute!

I was pleased by her willingness to hold and examine the little animals.

Most of our time, all day Thursday, was spent at Six Flags Great America.

It was Morgan’s first visit.

I was privileged to be the first to take her.

After studying the map, we headed for the Giant Drop.

Now here is my important tip for Grandmas:

I never used L when my sons were born. When it started feeling like a good idea, I was offered an epidural which was miraculous and wonderful and negated my need for L.
However, my lessons were not wasted.
I have used L many times since then.

It became part of my working MO when I had teens.
Imagine this,
A young 16 year old son driver newly licensed
The setting: An unwise mother gives permission for that individual to transport a friend to his home.
The crisis: A rapid developing, tornado like storm.

Here is the procedure.
Focus on the cross.
Breathe: Hee, hee, hee, hee, hoo

Since I had plenty of opportunities to fine tune this technique, it returns quite easily and naturally when something scary and potentially painful is about to happen. The process is calming and gets me through.

The Giant Drop was quite scary as well for Morgan. She had done one before at a County Fair but it was not so high.

I have found that my bravado is best early in the day right after arrival so I headed for Superman: Ultimate Flight. On this ride you are fipped on your stomach before you take off then you "soar head-first through a twisted steel track."

Morgan said, “I don’t like roller coasters.”

I convinced her that we needed to protect our reputation among brothers and cousins and friends. After this one ride, we did not need to go on any more roller coasters. I thought we should get it over and out of the way. My plan for her was not to watch it before we rode. We ran up and got right on because there was no line yet. I thought my advice to her was age appropriate, “Close your eyes and scream! It will be over before you know it. This coaster is a short ride.”

And guess what? She liked it! Really! I was surprised!

We rode it four more times!

We spent most of the afternoon in Hurricane Harbor, the water park. This is extremely unusual for me.

I never let anyone see me in a swim suit except grandchildren. And then, I keep my cover up—which really is a cover up—not a see through black lacey piece of fabric—close by. I keep it on until I jump in the water and stay in the water until we are done playing and then watch for the best opportunity to jump out of the water and into my cover up as quickly as possible all in one motion as much as possible.

But I really bonded with Morgan.

We changed suits in the car—saving a locker rental. I tried renting a locker when Steven and I went to Great America last summer and was unsuccessful and lost money and lots of time. The car was much more efficient.

I walked around with Morgan for 4-5 hours in my swim suit with no cover up! We went on many water slides, tubing around Castaway Creek, the lazy river ride at least three times and playing in the wave pool—lots of times! We did not run into anyone that I knew. I have no photos. Morgan did look cute. I left my camera in the car for safe keeping as we played. I have already ruined one camera by dropping it in the water.

There was a water slide that looked very scary to me. Morgan said, “You made me go on Superman so I am going to make you go on this slide.”

I owed her one and so I went.

Guess what? It was fun! Not even scary enough for L.

Before dinner, we took a few more fun photos.

After dinner the evening was fun.

Both Morgan and I like rides that go around—like the swings that we did three times.

We like rides that go around and up and down, sometimes fast. We did several of those, several times.

Morgan likes rides that go around and up and down and upside down.

I don’t . . . so I did The Orbit one time . . . but then Morgan agreed to go alone the second time.

After The Carousel and cotton candy, I convinced Morgan that it was time to go home. My legs only worked when going in the direction of the car.

On the way home, Morgan said, “I am not really good at screaming.”

Morgan screams very well when she is not actually scared. But when she is really scared the sound does not come out.

I understood.

I told her that I am not very good at laughing. When something is really funny to me, the sound does not come out well. I would love to have a better belly laugh or a good giggle.

Morgan mused. “It is kind of sad that this awesome day is done. I had so much fun and now there will probably never be another Grandma Day that will be as good as this.”

I gave a pep talk on how many things there are still to do that are so fun. I was not completely convincing.

But I understood.

I have had those feelings before. (I said something similar to Bob after our wedding, "No other day could ever be as special as this.")

For now, I am reveling in the wonderful time Morgan and I spent together.

We are blessed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Gisels Girls Gladly "Deal With It"

The Gisel Girl Cousins retreated this week to Chimney Corner Resort near Frankfort, MI on Crystal Lake.

There is something breathtaking, peaceful, and restorative, in viewing the wide panoramic span of water.

Betti, our organizer and hostess, tried to pull off a “Hello Dolly” theme for our 2009 gathering beginning with a clever welcome song accompanied by kazoos.

Lavonne brought a special treat for all of us, just in case during this somewhat rustic experience, we experienced any untouchables. The spider catchers were not needed but like insurance, they provided peace of mind—and a good laugh!

It is tough impossible to control my strong willed cousins but Betti tried a new motto —“Deal With It!”

This was useful as we were assigned our sleeping locations—either in the small private cabin or the larger group house and as we talked about sharing three bathrooms for 15 of us. Deal With It!

We also bantered back and forth as we discussed temperature—in cars and for sleeping. Deal With It!

If someone hoped for another excursion, and wondered where and when we would eat? Or wanted to ride in a different car? Just Deal With It!

As always there were many highlights. My sister, Donna, posted her photos and listed some highlights. Here are a few more:
  • Visiting Gwen Frostic Prints in Benzonia, Michigan The shopkeeper quizzically asked, “Did you come on a bus?” We proudly informed her that we were 15 cousins—to the chagrin of some in our group.


  • Eating at the Cherry Hut in Benzonia, MI

More cherries!

The only thing that is not quite accurate on this sign is that none of us were for sale—although on second thought, we might be willing to make a deal on one or two.

  • At the Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor, we sampled and bought: chocolate covered cherries, dried cherries, cherry salsa, cherry barbeque sauce, cherry balsamic vinaigrette dressing, cherry trail mix, cherry wines and cherry sodas and more.

And more cherries!

  • Most of us savored every bite of a salad with cherries and walnuts and incredible cherry vinagrette dressing at the Manitou Restaurant in Frankfort.

  • I am not sure if it was shock, dismay or fear that we saw on the face of our greeter at Little Eden as we approached en masse for an impromptu “quick tour” of this private camp and vacation spot for many of our relatives.

  • Betti surrendered the box and all of the responsibilities to the new keepers—Cousin Mary and Cousin Barb.

  • Betti was given a black licorice toast for her incredible job of organizing and hostessing this gathering in addition to being the Keeper of the Box and sole possessor of all of our heritage keepsakes. (A universal Gisel trait is the love of licorice candy.)

  • The sunset was not as stunning as we had hoped but it was an appropriate peaceful happy ending.

  • A few of us positioned ourselves for a Last Stand on the lighthouse, waiting for nightfall.

  • Finally, everyone was convinced to go back to our cabin— or walk. All good things must end. Deal with it!

What I remember most when I think of our gatherings is the laughter. There was lots of laughter. There is always laughter. That is why it is easy — a pleasure and privilege to Deal With It!