Shades of Jay

March 31, 2009


I don’t take as many pictures of Jay as I do of his sister Nikki, mainly because he isn’t crazy about having his picture taken.  But,  I do have a few I’d like to share, in gray tones.

100_4831f   I took this picture and the next one when we visited them in Tulsa in January.

 100_4839fe   Nikki is just a year older than Jay and they’ve always had a great relationship.  This picture of him sitting on her lap would be funnier if I had been across the room, so that you could see his long legs.  He is about 6″ taller than Nikki.

Jay is a fairly quiet, serious kid.  But, he can be funny when the mood strikes him.

p10009871   One day while Jay and Nikki were here for spring break, I was in the kitchen cooking and Jay was sitting at the island.  When I turned around, he was “wearing” this big rubber band that had been laying on the island.  It took some persuading to get him to leave it on long enough for me to get a picture.

 p10100751   In the car when we were taking them half-way home, I told Jay to sit in the front seat with Grandpa.  Then, during the trip, it occurred to me that I hadn’t taken many pictures of him during the week, and here they were going home!  So, I told him to turn aound so that I could take some pictures before it was too late! 

p10100761   This must be his studious look.  He is a good student.

p10100701    At one point,  Jay did this and kept us entertained for quite a while.  He had his straw from lunch on his teeth, ala “braces”, which made him talk really funny.  He got a kick out of the fact that every time he talked this way, Nikki and I would giggle.  So, of course, he kept talking! 

p101008021  Jay and Gunny, when we had lunch at the half-way point.

We had a great time with Jay and Nikki the week of their spring break, and I’m glad I at least thought to take a few pictures!

The Weight of Respect

March 30, 2009


Parenting is much different now than when we were raising our children.  And, even when Hubby and I were doing that, we certainly weren’t experts, so I definitely can’t claim to be an authority on the way you should parent today.  But, there is a life lesson I learned when I was a young married, before having children, that I hope might be of value to those of you still raising yours.

When we were first married, I worked downtown for a large insurance company.  And, in a rare show of frugality for my 19 year old self, I carpooled to work.

Mary Lou was a small, slim single mom of two pre-teen boys who appreciated getting a rider to help pay for her gas.  It was a perfect arrangement because I was right on her way to work.  So, for the next couple years Mary Lou and I had the rides to and from work to learn about each other and share our lives.

And  by the time my rides with Mary Lou ended (I was expecting Gunny and quitting my job) I felt I had learned one very important parenting lesson:  Get your child’s respect before they get bigger than you!

Mary Lou’s ex-husband wasn’t very involved in her boys’ lives, so she was mostly on her own.  And even to my young eyes, I could see that she pretty much parented by spoiling them.

When I started riding with Mary Lou, her spoiled boys were just mildly irritating to her.  And, when they really got out of hand, she would just physically make them do what she had told them to do.

The problem is, that I could see a change in how her way of doing things was working as the boys got bigger.  By the time I quit riding with Mary Lou, the boys were both bigger than her, and by that time they were telling her what they would and wouldn’t do!  And, because they were then bigger and stronger than her, she didn’t have a way of making them do anything!

I didn’t keep in touch with Mary Lou, so I don’t know how the rest of her child raising years went, but I’m guessing it wasn’t fun to be mom to those two boys through their high school years.  But, I’m also hoping that they turned out fine once they got out on their own and the world taught them some of the lessons and boundaries their mom didn’t. 

When you teach your children the lessons they need to learn, like respect, you do it with love.  The world isn’t nearly as “loving” when it teaches your children the lessons you didn’t teach them! 

May God give you patience, wisdom and perseverance in your parenting.  I believe it is the hardest, but most important job, we will ever do.

Thanking Him in All Circumstances

March 29, 2009



Dear God:

I want to thank you for what you have already done. I am not going to wait until I see results or receive rewards; I am thanking you right now.  I am not going to wait until I feel better or things look better; I am thanking you right now.  I am not going to wait until people say they are sorry or until they stop talking about me; I am thanking you right now. 

I am not going to wait until the pain in my body disappears; I am thanking you right now.  I am not going to wait until my financial situation improves; I am going to thank you right now.  I am not going to wait until the children are asleep and the house is quiet; I am going to thank you right now. 

I am not going to wait until I get promoted at work or until I get the job; I am going to thank you right now.  I am not going to wait until I understand every experience in my life that has caused me pain or grief; I am thanking you right now.  I am not going to wait until the journey gets easier or the challenges are removed; I am thanking you right now.

I am thanking you because I am alive.  I am thanking you because I made it through the day’s difficulties.  I am thanking you because I have walked around the obstacles.  I am thanking you because I have the ability and the opportunity to do more and do better.

I’m thanking you because FATHER, YOU haven’t given up on me.

God is just so good, and he’s good all the time. THANK HIM.


My blogging friend, Dawn at A New Day Dawns posted this recently.  She had gotten it from an internet e-mail (no author given)  and if I’ve seen it before, I’ve forgotten, so I asked her permission to share its powerful message here too.  The reminder it gives us to thank Him in all circumstances seems particularly appropriate in these uncertain times. 

Dawn also had another post recently that touched my heart.  It’s her personal thoughts about waiting for God’s decision about something you (or your child) really want.


On this Sunday, may you be especially blessed and inspired by the faith of others!

Drawers, Drawers . . .

March 28, 2009


. . . wonderful drawers.  They organize the “stuff” behind cupboard doors!

When we moved to this house, my friend Candy made a suggestion that I thought was a good one about organizing storage space.

So, I bought plastic drawers to organize space in several places in the house.

100_1037   In a cabinet in the kitchen.  The large drawer on the second shelf holds spices.  The two smaller drawers on the third shelf hold baking supplies.  (btw, I know the tops of the smaller drawers look like they’re drooping, but they just have rounded fronts that make them look that way in the picture.)

100_1039   Even though it’s not a drawer, this is a little two-shelf unit I also added in the space at the bottom of that cabinet to hold wraps and bags.  One of my sisters-in-law likes to tease me about my life-time supply of these products.  It’s true.  I get to the grocery and forget which ones I might need, so I buy some, just in case. 

p10101471   In a cupboard in the bathroom, we have three large drawers.  I’ve never had a bathroom cabinet that wasn’t perpetually messy, but the drawers corral the messiness and make it easier to find things!

p10101331   So, this week,  in my slow, slow progress in spring cleaning, I took on the space under my sink.

p1010134    I had already decided that I would apply the “drawer technique” in this area now.  So I bought two small drawers, because they had to be low enough to fit under the pipes. (I do think I’ll keep my eye out for a large, flat drawer that could replace these two — better use of the space, and more substantial.  I can always find somewhere else to use these two, if I find one.)

  p10101361   When I tried them, I could tell that they were probably going to slide around, so …

p10101381   I looked around for items I could use to stabilize them.  I had a small blue basket that had been used for storage in this space before, so I put it in the back to discourage them from sliding backwards.  Then, I also needed something in the bottom to help keep them in place.  What I decided I needed was some of that rubbery, waffley stuff, but I didn’t have any on hand.  But, I did have this mat that was made out of it in the fruit drawer in the refrigerator!  So, I used that.  I’ll get another one for the frig next time I think of it — it was needed worse in here right then!

p10101421  And then I put eveything back.  Done.  Better!

By the way, I talked to Candy the day after I did this and told her I had been mentally thanking her for suggesting using plastic drawers for organizing things when we moved here.  She acted surprised and said actually what she had been talking about was a metal system with drawers that replaces shelves in a cupboard.  Hmmm.  Well, Candy, you still get the credit, because this is what I thought you meant!

And now, on to the closet! (Do you sense I’m putting off the closet?  You’re right.)


March 27, 2009


 100_2119e1   I’m sure a hard-working farm dog has to grab 20 winks whenever and wherever he can!

I’ve discovered a blog I enjoy through Hilary at The Smitten Image. (I love how that works — when you “meet” someone new through a blog roll.  It’s like being introduced to a new, interesting person at a party!)

The new (to me) site is by Carmi at Written Inc.  He regularly puts forth  a subject as he did a few days ago with “drab”,  and then invites readers to link to a picture they have taken that relates to that subject.  What a neat idea!

I’ve forwarded pictures a couple times, and I like the way his subject prods me to remember a picture I’ve taken that fits.

So, when I thought about “drab” I remembered this picture I took at The Gourd  Barn  last fall.

Although, somehow I feel I’m being disrespectful to this sweet, sleeping dog to call it “drab” so maybe we should just call it “mono-chromatic”.

Thanks for putting me on to Carmi’s site, Hilary.  And thanks for giving me a reason to remember a favorite picture, Carmi!

Spring in Black and White

March 26, 2009





A High Standard for”Grandmothering”

March 25, 2009


p1000297111  Daddy’s mother.

You may be surprised when I tell you that the person who I try to emulate as a grandma is someone I never met.  She was my father’s mother and she died a year before I was born.  But, she has had a tremendous impact on my life through the stories I’ve heard about her.

She was born in Prussia, but she was raised in Texas and Oklahoma. 

She dated the son of an Indian Chief before she fell in love with and married a charming Irishman.  

When her charming Irishman spent a large portion of his wages from the railroad on his “weakness for the bottle”, she didn’t feel sorry for herself, she just continued to love him (and he did adore her too) and she got a job to help support their family which eventually included two sons and two daughters.

When her younger son, Ruhl, married Rose, a young girl who hadn’t learned much about being a housewife and mother from her own un-domestic mother, she took her new daughter-in-law under her wing and loved her and taught her as if she was her own.

Ruhl and Rose were my parents.  I know that Daddy adored his mother but it was Mama who most often  told me wonderful, always loving, stories about Grandma.

When Betty Rose, Mama and Daddy’s first child (and grandma’s first grandchild) was born, Grandma asked Mama to bring her to the dry cleaning plant where she worked so that she could show her off to her co-workers.  Mama told me the story many times about her taking Betty Rose to the plant where, even though it was early spring time, it was already incredibly hot around all the pressing machines, and Grandma and her co-workers, all hot and sweaty from their pressing work, stopped for a few minutes and came to the door so that Grandma could show her friends her adored first grandchild.

Grandma loved baseball.  They lived in Kansas City, so she followed the Blues.  Usually Grandma was all about her grandchildren and always had time for them, except when a baseball game was on the radio.  They said that when a ballgame was on, no one talked at all in the front room where Grandma would be sitting in front of the big console radio listening to the game, leaning forward, so as not to miss a single word of the announcer calling the game.

When my four older siblings were children, she would sometimes take all four of them with her on the street car, across town to the ball park to see a game.

My siblings all told me numerous times about the greeting they frequently received from Grandma.  She would grab you, wrap her arms tightly around you and pound you on the back, declaring that she was going to squeeze you so tight that you would break in two and she would have two of you to love! 

When my siblings were little, she wanted to be there when they got up on Christmas morning so that she could watch them open their gifts from Santa.  So for quite a few years, she would make Grandpa get up very, very early on Christmas morning so that they could be at Mama and Daddy’s house by 5 a.m., to be sure that they were there before the kids got up.

I was also told she had a great sense of humor and a contagious laugh.

One of Mama’s favorite funny stories about her:  

Grandma helped Mama pick out wallpaper for her kitchen.  And she told Mama that she would help her put it up.  Apparently back then they sometimes put wallpaper on the ceilng too.  So, Grandma (who was a rotund lady) was standing on the kitchen table putting a strip of wallpaper on the ceiling.  But, all of a sudden one end came loose and the whole strip of wallpaper, heavy with thick paste, fell down over her.  Mama said she and Grandma started laughing so hard that Grandma couldn’t do anything to get the paper off of herself or to get down from the table until they stopped.  Mama said Grandma, standing on the table after the disaster with the paste-soaked wallpaper draped over her head, looked like a mound of wallpaper and paste shaking with laughter.

Grandma taught Mama many things and one of those was an example of how to be a good grandma.  And Mama learned that lesson well.  So, she was a very special grandma to her grandchildren too.

And, because of all the stories I heard of my much beloved Grandma, and because of the great example Mama was, I am now trying to live up to the high standard for “grandmothering” those two represented.

And, someday, when I meet Grandma for the first time in Heaven, I look forward to her grabbing me and squeezing me tightly, and telling me that she’s going to squeeze me in two, so that there will be two of me to love.

Making Memories . . .

March 24, 2009


. . . that sometimes look  just like cake balls!

Nikki and Jay were here last week for spring break.  Jay spent most of his time, big surprise, with Grandpa.  But, Nikki and I did several fun things together.

She decided she wanted to get her hair cut so, with her mom’s permission, I took her to get a haircut.


p10009701    The hair stylist put more curl in it than Nikki will herself, but her and I both liked the cut, and it looks cute even when she just washes it and blows it dry straight.

p1010009   One day Nikki and I went to the Peony Tea House.  Notice the pretty tea cozie that covers her teapot in the foreground.

p10009971   The tea cups are all old ones, but I thought the one Nikki used was especially pretty.

p1000998  All the silverware is old and mismatched too.  Nikki is showing me the tiny little spoon that was part of her placesetting. 

We had a great time at the Tea Room.

On two afternoons, Nikki and I worked on making cake balls.  (If you want to try them, there is all kinds of information about making them on Pioneer Woman’s Cooking portion of her blog.)

There were lots of variables like the optimum temperature of the “naked” cake balls and the melted coating, that we had to learn the hard way — lots of mess and lots of less than perfectly finished cake balls, but we really enjoyed making them.

p10101291   I had this container that we used to “corral” all the “stuff” we needed, like the two little ceramic bowls to melt chocolate in (although we used some other bowls too), a couple of plastic bottles that are especially made to melt chocolate in, and some different tools we experimented with to see what was best to use for dipping the balls.

p1010130   Besides just straight- forward cake balls, we wanted to try some that look like cupcakes too.  And, in this case, we found out that price really does matter.  We originally used the candy molds like the one here on the right to pour chocolate into, press a cake ball down into the soft coating, so that it would come up around the sides of the ball, and when it hardens, pop them out and dip the top of the cake ball in another color coating.  With some sprinkles on top, they looked alot like tiny cupcakes.  But, the second time we did it, we used the candy mold on the left that we bought at a candy supply store.  Those molds were made of heavier material and were bigger.  They worked much better.

p101001411  We made two kinds of cake balls, strawberry and chocolate.

p10100161    For a few balls, just to try something different, I formed some of the chocolate cake around a strawberry cake ball.  They were good, but I think we liked the one-flavor ones the best.

 p10100401   I think the ones that look like cupcakes came out kind of cute.

p101001211    One thing we found out was that if the cake balls are dark chocolate, light colored coating doesn’t work well with one coat.  We had to let these yellow ones dry after the first dipping and then dip them again, to get better coverage.

p10100411    After we had coated all the cake balls, the ones without sprinkles looked plain so I attempted to decorate them with frosting in the squeeze bottles.  I found this to be a very inexact science (or maybe it’s that I just wasn’t very good at it).  It was hard to get the frosting just the right thickness to be able to decorate with it.  That’s my excuse and I’m stickig to it!

When we were all done and cleaned up the huge mess we had made of the kitchen, I got out this little tiered serving tray (and a pretty table cloth for “background”), and Nikki arranged our “results” on it.



p10100381   We were pleasantly surprised at how nice we thought these looked once we put them on the tray.  And they really are very good tasting!

Nikki and I had a great time, and we even did things “once in a while” with Grandpa and Jay, like going to Cinema Grille for dinner and a movie.  But, much of the time they were off doing “guy stuff”.  Grandpa was very pleased to find out that Jay has a talent as well as an interest in Grandpa’s favorite sport, target shooting!

Grandkids really are the frosting on the cake, or maybe in this case, I should say the frosting on the cake balls!

A Rainy Day Makes You Appreciate When The Sun Shines!

March 23, 2009


You know how you will have a spell of rainy, gloomy weather, and then one morning you will get up, the sun is shining brightly and your heart just sings because of the contrast?

Well, that’s me this morning.

I have had serious computer problems (that have kept me from writing on my blog, among other things) for about three days and I was so frustrated last evening that I told Hubby, I didn’t think I was going to be able to sleep because I was so overwhelmed with what seemed like everything going wrong with the computer.  I was especially bummed that it was the weekend and I was sure I couldn’t get any help with a fix until at least Monday morning.  Definitely an emotional “rain cloud” over my head.

But, then I remembered that my nail tech had given me the card of an IT guy who does her computer maintenance, and she really liked him.  So, I thought, “What the heck.  I’ll call him, and see if I can make an appointment for him to come over first thing tomorrow morning. That will give me a little peace that the stupid computer will at least be fixed sometime in the near future.”

I called “Ron” and introduced myself and tried not to sound too pathetic when I told him all the problems I was encountering, and asked if he could possibly come over tomorrow and fix it.  He said, yes, but if I wanted him to, he could come over right then! … at 7:30 p.m. on a Sunday evening!  (Maybe I sounded a little more pathetic than I thought.) Hooray!  I loved him before I even saw him!

He was here from 8 to 11 p.m. working on getting rid of the viruses and Trojan that I had somehow allowed into my computer.  And then he came back at 8 a.m. this morning and spent another hour finishing up.  If he had happened to look back as he walked to his car, he might have seen me doing my “happy dance”!  Relief is an understatement.

My computer is all defragged (do they still use that term?) … anyway, it’s all clean and germ-free.  And I am one “happy camper”.

My computer had a couple “rainy days” but now my computer “sun” is shining … and the contrast is wonderful.

May your Monday be as happy as mine is starting out!

A Dare Devil Child

March 20, 2009


You know, blogging has given me so much more reason to look through old pictures, and once in a while I make a fun discovery.

The other day, I pulled this picture of two year old Gunny out of a stack, and laughed out loud as soon as I saw it.

steve-2-years-old-1  In case you can’t tell, he isn’t just looking at the grass.  He is preparing to leap off my parent’s back step.  As soon as I saw this picture, I remembered him doing this and how we laughed every time he did it!

But, we had already had an experience that should have warned us that this kid was a dare devil. 

steve-18-months-1  At 18 months.  (I had written on the back of this picture, “This is rare.  Usually he is carrying the bike.”)

At 18 months, when my back was turned, he (surprisingly quickly) climbed onto his high chair, reached for a glass on the near-by counter, knocked it on the floor where it broke, and then fell out of the high chair into the glass, almost severing his left thumb.  He required 2 1/2 hours of surgery to fix his hand.

Again, when he was about two, a friend of Hubby’s was sitting in the living room at our first house, waiting for Hubby to come downstairs so they could go somewhere.  (We were all upstairs.  Hubby getting ready; me taking care of baby DD; Gunny just being Gunny.)  The visitor was sitting on the sofa, facing the stairs that came down the opposite side  of the living room.  He said he suddenly saw two year old Gunny, wearing one of Hubby’s cowboy hats pulled way down over his whole head, walking precariously down the steps.  The guy said he was afraid to say anything for fear of scaring Gunny and guaranteeing he would fall.  So, he just watched and prayed, and Gunny finally made it to the bottom, took off the hat and gave him a big smile like, “See what I did!”.

When DD was born, Gunny was two years and two months, and still sleeping in the baby bed, but now we needed that bed for her, so we put him into a regular double bed (because we already had one of those and money was tight).  His room was small, so all it really had room for was the relatively big bed against one wall and the dresser and mirror on the opposite wall, with about 12 inches between the two.  When I would put him to bed for a nap, sometimes (usually!) he wasn’t really interested in sleeping, so he would “entertain” himself by jumping back and forth between the dresser and the bed.  I quickly came to recognize what this sounded like from downstairs, and would go up and stop him and make him lay back down and tell him to sleep!  (The curtain rod in his room drooped badly, because he would hold on to the curtain to aid in his jumping!) 

One time when I thought (the foundationless hope of a sleep-deprived young mother of an infant and an active toddler, who would have loved a nap herself!) he was sleeping, he suddenly came down the stairs holding out his hands and, in a really guilty-sounding little voice, saying, “Mommy”.  I looked up from the clothes I was folding and could see something white on his hands.  I said, “What is that?”.  He said, “Paint”.  I immediately guessed what paint, but couldn’t believe he had been able to get to it.  We had just re-done his room at the same time he got the “big boy” bed, painting the walls white, and installing dark blue and green tweedy indoor/outdoor carpet.  The remainder of the can of paint was still in his closet.  While he was supposed to be sleeping, he had opened the closet door (which I didn’t know he could do), and then knocked the can of paint over and the lid popped off, spilling the white paint onto the new dark blue carpet right in front of the closet door.  Then, being a resourceful little guy (and motivated, I’m guessing, by the potential “wrath of mommy”) he had tried to use his hands to put the paint back in the can! 

I ran upstairs and saw the paint on the new carpet; it was kind of laying on top of the carpet in a pile (luckily, washable paint, not enamel paint).  I quickly tried to think of something I could use to scoop the paint up with, and ran to get the snow shovel (any port in a storm, right?).  For the next few minutes, I frantically scooped paint.  Actually, the shovel worked pretty well.  After I had scooped as much as I could, I used bath towels to soak the spot on the carpet with water and then used dry towels to soak it back up.  I vividly remember as I ran back and forth between his bedroom and the bathroom, little Gunny running along behind me saying over and over again, “I love you, Mommy” in such a sweet, contrite little voice that how could I not forgive him, especially after the white paint miraculously came out of that dark carpet (How fortunate that it was the tough, indoor/outdoor type and that it was new!). 

I guess you could say Gunny just had an aversion to naps.  But, “hope springs eternal” so I had always tried.  One time, when he was about a year old, when he was supposed to be napping, he scooted his baby bed over to the chest of drawers, opened a drawer, found a bottle of baby aspirin, and ate some (before baby-proof caps).  When I found him a few minutes later playing with the open bottle of aspirin in his bed (which was now in front of the chest of drawers), I freaked out!  I immediately call the doctor’s office.  After they had me estimate how many he had eaten, they weren’t too concerned, but said I could give him OJ mixed with milk to see if I could make him throw them up.  And, if he went to sleep, I shouldn’t let him sleep too long.  

I gave him the OJ/Milk mix, which I tasted and it was awful.  He drank it.  Never threw up.  And, didn’t even take a nap that day.

Just the beginning of a very exciting childhood for our “dare devil” child who would cause us to be on the “frequent flyer plan” with the local ambulance service and probably have people who worked in the emergency room saying, “Here they come again!”.