a tape recorder, a calculator and a fife, yes … confetti, no

July 18, 2011

Our daughter DD was always a pretty creative kid.  And when she was about 10 years old she surprised me with this little talent I didn’t know she had.

She had been busy up in her room for a while.  Then she came down to the kitchen where I was working, carrying her tape recorder and the hand-carved fife we had bought for her at a local festival.

She plugged in the tape recorder and said, “Listen to this!”  She pushed “Play” on the tape recorder and then put the fife to her lips.  When the song Chariots of Fire started playing, she played along on her fife.

That was very nice, but who was playing the song on the tape recorder and what instrument had they used?

She then told me she had discovered that, because each key on a calculator played a tone, she could play a song on it.  So she used her tape recorder to record herself playing Chariots of Fire on the calculator and then she had the idea to accompany her recording on her fife!  I was much more impressed after I heard that!  What a fun surprise it was that our very young daughter had been so inventive.

DD was a child who loved to treat us to little surprises like this.  I remember another time she came down and asked me to come up to the spare bedroom for a surprise.  When I got upstairs the door was closed.  When I opened it, she “surprised” me by throwing a grocery bad full of tiny pieces of paper she had torn up into the air so that it “rained” confetti.  That surprise ended up not being as much fun for her as she had thought.  After I recovered from the confetti rain, I told her that that was very nice, but she would have to now pick up all the tiny pieces of paper.

When you’re a clever think-outside-the-box little girl, some times when you surprise your family with your creativity are bound to be more successful that others.

I love you DD.  And I loved most of your clever-little-girl surprises, but the confetti, not so much.

Psycho Mom

June 2, 2011

DD and her girls know a family with eight children who enjoy calling their mom Psycho Mom when she gets a little irate about something they are doing.  So DD’s girls now sometimes call her Psycho Mom when she gets a little irate with something they are doing.

Recently DD and her brother, Gunny, had an interesting phone conversation:

DD:  When I want to warn the girls that I think they are getting wayyyy out of line, I will say something like, “Psycho Mom is on her way and we all know you don’t want that!”

Gunny:  Oh, I can picture that!

DD:  I don’t think so.  You couldn’t possibly imagine what Psycho Mom looks like.

Gunny:  Does she look anything like Psycho Sister?

DD:  Oh, yeah, okay maybe you do know what she looks like.

We raised a couple of really funny kids, when they aren’t being “psycho” of course.

Old and New Easter Memories

April 25, 2011

We spent Easter with DD and her girls in Chicago.

We attended a beautiful service at their church.  The music was especially beautiful, as it always is at Easter.  Once again we have been reminded that Christ died for our sins so that, even though we are all sinners and not worthy of Heaven on our own merit, His sacrifice assures us that we can one day live with Him in Heaven.

As we had the traditional, at least in our family, ham dinner, Hubby and I told them stories about our memories of Easters in our childhood.  The girls were a little incredulous that when I was a little girl, I always not only had an Easter dress, but also a hat and sometimes even gloves!  Now you don’t even see grown women in hats on Easter very often.  I miss the hats.

This picture with its obvious cracks is the only picture I could find on my computer where I am wearing a hat.  It was Easter 1967 and I was expecting Gunny in August.  I’ve always loved hats and am really sorry for their demise for both men and women!  (and, no, ball caps don’t count as far as I’m concerned)

So, anyway, it’s always fun for me to try to think of some project or craft I can do with DD’s girls when we are together.  So I took two dozen store-bought sugar cookies and lots of frosting, peeps, and all kinds of sprinkles for us to do some cookie decorating on Saturday afternoon.

It was fun but it was also messy!

All three of the girls really got into the cookie decorating.

But because Mimi is quite a bit younger, she asked for a little extra help.

As Lulu demonstrates, we all ended up wearing some of the frosting!

Coco even got her face involved!

Pre-frosting-on-her-face, Coco was already giving us an innocent look like, “Who me?”

Mimi admiring some of their handiwork.

It was fun to see how creatively they used the decorations I had supplied.

I was especially charmed that they based some of the decorations on the peeps I had taken that I really intended just to be used to cut up to make flowers!  How appropriate that the blue peep has a nest of blue eggs.

So all two dozen of the cookies got done without too much permanent damage (except my sweatshirt may be too stained to be salvageable).

After we cleaned up, the girls and Papa went out on the deck to take a breather.  But apparently, they weren’t too tired to try to make DD and me laugh one more time.  We heard a tap on the glass door and were startled to see this:

Some great new memories for all of us.

You might be surprised at what God is preparing you for!

February 27, 2011

Much of the twenty years Gunny served in the Marines, he was managing (and mentoring) young men in a shop that tested and repaired helicopter parts.  And during that time he got his degree in business and finance with the plan to use his degree to get a job after the Marines.  When he retired after 20 years, he took a job as a manager with a roofing manufacturer, and his favorite part of that job was that he did safety training for employee’s at the company’s plants all over the country.   He really enjoyed that job, but he worked long hours, traveled alot, and he spent almost three hours commuting every day.  So, last year he started looking around for what he could do closer to home.  And when he really thought about it, he realized that what he had enjoyed most in the Marines was working with and teaching young Marines.  And in his civilian job, what he had enjoyed most was training people.  So, he contacted Troops to Teachers and they directed him on the path to getting the training and licensing to become a math (a subject he loves) teacher.  He has just become a high school math teacher in Tulsa and is excited about teaching.  I can imagine that if you had said to that young Marine all those years ago that someday he would be a high school math teacher, he would have said, “No way!”  But apparently God had a plan for him to teach teenagers to not be afraid of math and maybe even come to love it as he does.  And God used his other jobs to prepare him for what I think is going to turn out to be his dream job.

DD was downsized from a very good position as VP of Human Resources with a furniture company last year.  And even though she has diligently sent out resumes and done interviews, she still hasn’t found a job.  But we are proud of how she has handled these trying times.  She is trusting in the Lord to show her what her next job will be.  In the meantime, she is coaching club volleyball, and enjoying it.  Who knows what job is in DD’s future.  But we too are trusting that at some point God will show her the perfect job for her, the one He has prepared her for with all the other jobs and experiences she has had up to now.

A Sweet Surprise

November 20, 2010

Forty-one years ago today:

I had given birth to a beautiful baby girl in the early morning hours.  And now I was too hyped up (and on drugs) to sleep.  Our new baby girl had been a wonderful surprise (back when the sex of the baby was always a surprise) because Hubby and I already had two year old Gunny, so it was exciting to now have a daughter too.  Hubby had gone home to call our parents and then get some sleep.

I didn’t expect to get to tell anyone the news first-hand, but I couldn’t resist calling my mother-in-law to see what she thought, because I knew she was hoping for a girl, since their only two grandchildren so far were little boys, Gunny and his cousin Tim.

Little did I know that Hubby hadn’t been able to reach his parents and had gone to bed for a little much-needed sleep without having told them the good news.

So I called my mother-in-law about 8 a.m.:

Me:  Hi.  How are you?

MIL:  Fine!  How are you doing?

Me:  Oh, I’m fine.  I was just wondering what you thought about having a granddaughter.

MIL:  Ohhh, I think that would be wonderful.  Do you think that’s what you’re going to have?

(Yippee!  I suddenly realized that she didn’t know the news — there was someone I was going to get to tell first!)

Me:  Well, I don’t have to wonder any more — I had a little baby girl this morning!

MIL started yelling, “Art, Art, come here quick!  Sandy had their baby and it’s a girl!!”  Then to me on the phone, still yelling, “That is such wonderful news!  What did you name her?”

Me:  We named her Jennifer Elaine.

There was a moment of silence as MIL absorbed that piece of news.  Hubby and I hadn’t told anyone the names we were considering.  But Hubby’s youngest sister, a late-life baby like me and much adored by the whole family, was 12 year old Elaine, and she was almost more excited than her mom about the prospect of maybe having a little girl in the family. So we knew she would be thrilled to have the baby named after her.

MIL:  (in a suddenly soft, emotional voice) A little girl … named Jennifer Elaine.  That is wonderful.

I’ve always remembered that early morning call I made, because it was so nice to get to be the one to tell my sweet mother-in-law that she now had a granddaughter … and, even better, one named after her much adored youngest child.

So, DD came into this world as a wonderful, early morning surprise to her Grandma H., with whom she went on to have a very special relationship.

Happy Birthday, Daughter Divine.  You have blessed all our lives in so many ways.  We couldn’t have asked for a better daughter.  We love you even more with each passing year.

Love, Mom

Just what the doctor ordered

October 18, 2010

It was perfect timing that at this stressful time in her life, DD was recently invited to be a model in a fashion show co-presented by a women’s fashion store and a hair salon.   It made it even more fun for her that her friend, Sue, did it too.

And she invited her dad and me to come up there that weekend, so that “Papa” could stay with the girls and I could go to the “do” with her.

About a week before, the models had had their hair cut and colored, a manicure and pedicure done, their eyebrows waxed and a trial run done of the make-up that would be done on “the day”.

On that day, DD had to be at the salon where the style show would be held a couple hours early and I tagged along to take some pictures.

It was a very nice salon, but not exactly designed for hosting a fashion show.  When the fashion show began, many of the guests stood in this lobby area, but there were people standing anywhere they could find.  The models came down a wide hall on the right (with people standing along both sides), did a couple of turns in the middle of this area, and then they went down the aisle straight ahead, doing one more twirl about half-way down.  On the left of the aisle are areas that each have three stylists’ work stations. All of those areas were packed with people.  I was very fortunate that Madison, who styled DD’s hair, had the first station right behind that green wall. So when she was done doing DD’s hair, she offered me her chair to sit in for the show — rock star seating!  And I was one of the few who even had a seat!  (Although I found out that sitting there had a down-side — not conducive to getting good pictures. People who were standing without realizing it would naturally step into my line of vision to get a better look.)

Anyway when we arrived, I didn’t have any idea why the models had to be there so early.  But it quickly became obvious why —

— there was a surprisingly long process to making my naturally beautiful daughter style-show ready.

First the make-up artist, Kylie, did DD’s preliminary make-up.

Then hair stylist, Madison did the preliminary hair work.

Who knew that big rollers were still being used?!  When I was a teenager I spent many nights sleeping on rollers just a little smaller than these.  It gave real meaning to the saying, “You have to suffer to be beautiful.”

Then DD went back to Kylie to get the final make-up touch — artificial eyelashes.

I wanted a picture of the eyelashes and DD’s friend Sue, who had already had hers applied, was sitting on a sofa next to me watching Kylie work on DD, so I asked Sue to let me take a picture of her lashes.  I just love how this picture turned out.

There was a window behind Sue’s left shoulder, and I thought the accidental lighting effect made this picture better than just about the artificial lashes.

After Kylie was done, we made one last trip back to Madison.  All the going back and forth was making me a little dizzy, but that’s just me. Who knew “hair and make-up” that sounds so simple, would take a couple hours.  No wonder we had to be there so early!


Then the models went back to get dressed in their first of three outfits.  They then circulated and greeted attendees until the show began.

DD and Sue posed for a picture while circulating.

DD with the “president of her fan club”.

DD “walking the run-way”.

It was so much fun to see DD participate in something like this.  This is an up-in-the-air time in her life, and I think playing the grown-up version of dress-up for an afternoon was just what the doctor ordered.

Well done, Babe. Thanks for taking me along.  It was fun for me too.

I need 28 hours in a day!

June 15, 2010

I started to say, “I need 26 hours in a day!” and then I thought, “What would I do with the extra hours?” and my answer to myself (I do that alot) was, “Sleep!”.  So as long as we are adding extra sleep time, let’s not skimp!

DD’s three girls are here this week and, as much as I enjoy them, they are the reason I would love to have some extra sleep.  I am exhausted!

We picked them up Sunday afternoon, and the speed of our lives immediately increased dramatically.  Yesterday morning, the girls and I shopped for sun dresses for them to wear to the tea room, then they swam and played on the slip and slide and Papa took them for boat rides.  Later we went to Cinema Grille to see Karate Kid and eat dinner with our friends Linda and Doug.  When we got home from there, Coco, Mimi and I went shopping for some extra “stuff” to help us make hats for them to wear to the tea room.  (Lulu had chosen to stay home with Papa.  When we got back from shopping Hubby told me that Lulu had gotten lonesome, and he was here!  Let’s face it, he’s just not as much fun as the rest of us!)

Today, we all go to the science museum first, but then we make hats (Papa is thankful he’s not necessary for this activity).

Hectic, but I wouldn’t miss these times for the world.

Pictures of hat-making to come!

The Shot!

March 7, 2010


DD was in 8th grade and a starter on the girls basketball team at “Central”, her Lutheran grade school.  It was the end of the basketball season and they were in the tournament for the championship of the Lutheran grade school league. 

The team they were playing that Sunday afternoon was their nemesis, Flatrock, a team who always seemed to be able to find a way to beat Central.

And it looked like today wasn’t going to be any different.  Flatrock was up by one point, there were 6 seconds left in the game, and Central had just fouled, so a Flatrock player was at the free throw line.

As the teams lined up on either side of the free throw line preparing for the Flatrock girl to “go through the motions” — after all, even if she missed, Flatrock was still up by one — DD was standing across from her friend, Stacey, who began to cry!  That made DD mad.  She thought, “Stacey’s given up!”  Well, Stacey could be forgiven for “giving up” — after all, things looked pretty bleak!  But, that really stiffened DD’s resolve — she didn’t want to lose to Flatrock in this last game she would ever play against them in her last year at Central, before going on to high school!  So, with adrenalin flowing, she said what happened in the next six seconds felt like it was all in slow motion.

The Flatrock player missed the free throw and the ball bounced off the backboard back toward the free throw line.

DD stepped into the lane and grabbed the ball.

No time to pass to a guard.

DD turned and ran as fast as she could while dribbling the ball (who knew she could run AND dribble — she was a forward!) the length of the court.  She said later that as she ran past the bench she could see her coach, normally calm Mr. Miller, out of the corner of her eye jumping up and down, yelling, “Go, Go, GO!”

When she arrived at the other end she threw up the ball, and immediately the buzzer sounded.

Time was up.

But the ball was still rolling around the rim . . . and then it dropped through.  Score!

Central had beaten Flatrock by one point!

This game, of course, wasn’t played in front of a crowd of “thousands” but the gym bleachers were full of Central and Flatrock fans, so it was a big enough crowd to make it really exciting when the game was over, when the Central fans cheered and all ran down onto the floor to congratulate their team!  At the time I thought, “I wonder if this is a little like what it feels like to win a state championship?!”  It was awesome!

I said to Hubby after the game, “No matter how much basketball DD plays in the future, even if she never plays another game, she will always have this game to remember.”  And so do we.

Fortunately, four years later we did get to find out what it is like to win a state championship!  DD was a starter on her high school basketball team when they won the state basketball championship in front of over 15,000 fans. 

Needless to say, the state title win was wonderful and exciting for all of us, but even so, that miraculous shot that won a Sunday afternoon 8th grade basketball game still holds a special place in our hearts.

Note:  This post was inspired by the fact that Mr. Miller now coaches the local Lutheran high school team which won their first state title last night!  Congratulations, Cadets … and Mr. Miller!

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In the twinkling of an eye …

November 20, 2009



… your baby turns 40!

   Every mother wants to have at least one picture of their daughter with a sumo wrestler, no?

(Readers. is it just me or does 40 look alot younger than it used to?  I know it’s hard to judge, isn’t it, because your eye just keeps being drawn back to that verry interesting guy beside her!)  I’m pretty sure this was taken at the conference she recently attended in San Francisco.

It has always been fun and interesting being your mother, daughter of mine.  Thank you for adding to my life immeasurably.

Happy Birthday, Babe. 

Love, Mom and Dad

Readers, we are going to Chicago for the weekend to help DD celebrate her birthday.  So, no posts for the next two days.  But on Monday I’ll be posting about an interesting event I attended yesterday and it will include a prize you can win.  See you then!

Not just volleyball …

October 15, 2009


… but also a place to learn some of life’s lessons.

Last weekend we went to a volleyball tournament of sixth grade teams in Chicago.  It included two teams from Coco’s school, one of which is coached by DD.  Neither team won it all, but both won some of their games. 

DD says that in fifth and sixth grade, volleyball isn’t about winning.  You are teaching the girls the rules of the game and possibly a love of the game.  Then, if they like it and have an aptitude for it, they can go on to play on competitive teams in the higher grades.  I love that idea.

But, DD and the other coaches at her childrens’ grade school really act out this concept, not just talk it. 

There are eighteen girls in sixth grade who play volleyball, all at varying stages of development of their skills and interest.  That number of girls means that there need to be two teams so that everyone can play.  And, apparently, those two teams are fluid — the girls aren’t always divided up the same way.  I say that because I know that before the Saturday tournament, they were re-divided so that they were as even in talent as possible.  For example, the girls who have developed the skill to serve overhand (including Coco) were divided evenly between the teams.

As we were sitting there watching the teams play it occurred to me that each girl on these teams, no matter what her talent level is, is learning some valuable lessons.  Because the teams aren’t divided as an “A” and “B” team, with the “A” team being the one with all the best players on it, all the girls will experience winning and losing, together and equally. 

In all my years “in the bleachers” I have observed that a team or player who doesn’t have much experience losing, can fall apart if they start losing.  And a team or player who hardly ever wins, may have trouble picturing themselves winning, so sometimes mentally defeat themselves.  But in this grade school’s system all of the players are experiencing the high of winning and the disappointment of losing, and seeing clearly demonstrated that there are time that there are actually more important priorities than winning. 

A great lesson that will hold them in good stead in the future in all areas of their lives, not just volleyball.

Of course, we are proud of Coco, and she is blessed with some natural talent.  But, I am especially proud of our daughter, Coach DD.  When I watch her on the sidelines I see our always competitive daughter very successfully putting her competitiveness aside and just being a great encourager and teacher of young girls who may or may not go on to play the game, but who will hopefully have great memories of their time on her team.