Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Time to bang on the truck....

Lately I have had so much on my mind, and so much in my life, and way too much to do. So, I really enjoyed church yesterday because we had a great lesson about priorities and balance in our lives and how that affects our families. Our friend, Seth, gave the lesson and did a great job. He used the jar filled with rocks and rice. I've seen that before...but he took it a couple of steps further which really made me think. He made the point that we can't wait until all the little things (rice) are done and then think there is time and room for all the big things (rocks). That part I understood. But then, he said, that sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we just can't fit in all the things we'd like to. At that point.....we just have to resolve to do less. (Really?? We can DO that?) And his last point was different than anything I'd heard about the rocks and rice before. I have usually heard, do the big things first (rocks) and then there will be plenty of room for the little things (rice). But, Seth said, balance, balance, balance. Make a plan and stick to it. Make room for the big things...interspersed with the little things...and all will fit. Cool. But it was the point about sometimes we just have to do less that really stuck with me.
Because lately....I feel like I'm driving through life in a one ton panel truck, but am carrying two tons of birds in that truck. So....every little while....I've got to get out of my truck and bang on the sides....to keep at least half of those birdies flapping in the air, because if they all land at the same time, my truck is going to bust an axle.
Another analogy (humor me, ok?) Have you ever felt like your day was like one of the little silver balls in a game of pinball? You've got to make it jump all around, for as long as you can, hitting the important things, before that little guy disappears down the drain. Every morning, I pull back on the plunger and put that little ball into play. It goes straight while traveling down the launch lane...but then...even if I have a plan...it seems to have a mind of its own. I'm hitting the flippers like crazy, and that little ball is all over the place. Where's Tommy when you need him? "Who?" you ask. (OK...that was two references for anyone who remembers 1969-1974) Yep....my own little Pinball Wizard.
Maybe I should leave the darn bird truck and go looking for Tommy. Or dump some of the rice. Whatever. I will figure it out.....hopefully before I'm sitting at the side of the road, with a broken axle and covered with bird poo.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Soon, very very soon.....

We have been enjoying yellow squash, zucchini and cucumbers from our garden for a couple of weeks now. But....the tomatoes and green peppers are taking their time. The peppers are what you could call "cute" now....little baby green peppers. But I don't think "cute" necessarily means "tasty". So we continue to wait. We DID have one small red tomato last night. So, to celebrate, I sauteed some fresh crimini mushrooms, garlic, zucchini, and the prized chopped up tomato in olive oil. After adding some sea salt, freshly ground pepper and a touch of basil, I tossed it all with some angel hair pasta, and topped it with fresh parmesan. Yum. Garden goodies. It's worth the work out in the heat. But....we need more tomatoes. And some green pepper that have "grown up". I bet I'll be thinking differently in a couple of weeks, when Kelly goes out every morning at the crack of dawn and brings in the bounty (his favorite part of the whole thing) and puts it on the counter. Then it becomes...what am I going to do with all this??? And the answer is always the same....make it for dinner, can it, or give it away. Usually all three. I'll call you when the tomatoes are ripe and red and juicy. We can share one of summer's great delights.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Office Flowers after the Rain

From the previous post, you can see the magnitude of our hard rain and wind, yet in walking around our office building after the storm, I noticed the flowers and grasses didn't show any wear and tear. Just happy for the drink.

Afternoon storms and broken branches....

This afternoon at 3pm or so, a little thundershower turned into a raging summer storm. Kelly and I were working hard in our insurance agency. Suddenly, it darkened and the sounds of the storm were almost deafening. Our office building was built in 1890 as a private residence. It is known as the Bowman Homestead Estate. The metal roof was just replaced over the last month or so. We occupy these upstairs offices and heard every pounding thud of the work. Metal seems to intensify every sound. But....what fun during a crazy storm like today! It was like we were smack dab in the middle of a fierce waterfall, only we weren't getting wet.
Afterward, I went outside to explore. I love to do that after a big rain. The plants and grass and trees seem to be grateful for their long-awaited drink. But, this poor tree, next to the driveway into the office didn't fare so well. It seems to lose a big branch every single year in a storm. But...it's interesting...the hole is obvious for awhile, then the tree somehow adapts and is even more beautiful, and the empty space is something of the past. I like this tree. Perhaps I feel a kinship with it because it teaches me something. When you get broken (and you will) ..... be strong, adapt and keep reaching for the sun.....and keep giving shade to others.
Man, I love a summer storm.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My Buckeye kids.....

I just finished talking with Laurie on the phone. She is in Columbus at her apartment, waiting for Jessie, Ammon and Noah to get there from North Carolina. I wish I was with her, too. She and Jeremy moved back to Columbus in February, and I really miss them. I am excited about Jeremy's new job with Verizon which he started this week. I know they are excited, too. Laurie loves working with the elderly as a CNA and plans on going to nursing school to get her RN degree soon.
(this picture was taken at Outer Banks, NC, on their honeymoon in October of 2005)
It was Jeremy's birthday a week ago today. I would have loved to make them a nice dinner, have some cake, and play games. They love to get silly and play Apples to Apples or other board games together.
Anyway.....just missing my Ohio kids today. Love you both!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I love being Nana......

What a great time I had last Thursday through Saturday!!! I drove to Mt. Airy, North Carolina, to visit Jessie, Ammon and Noah for a few days. The weather was perfect and every hill I drove over and every curve I came around gave me another view of this amazing corner of the world. I turned up some old not-so-well-known James Taylor and Jimmy Buffett tunes and truly enjoyed my ride. But, when I got there, Noah was sitting in his high chair, eating Goldfish, and gave me a big toothy grin. Now THAT'S something to get excited about! I brought Jessie some belated birthday presents and Noah had such a great time with the ribbons and paper. He is a smart, lovable little boy. He loves to stay on his routine and goes to bed so easily...just like his mama did. Friday, Jess and Ammon went to the Raleigh temple with Ammon's folks, so it was just Nana and Noah for most the day. We had so much fun! He loves watching the cars and trucks go by, so we sat out on the lawn for awhile. He also loves my cell phone, as you can see. The best part of the day was when I got down on all fours and he crawled all around the apartment and I followed him. He kept looking back to make sure I was there, then he'd chuckle and keep going. He'd stop and pick something up and hand it to me to show me. Then...we'd be off again. Under the table, around a chair, under the computer desk, wherever he wanted to show me. It was his favorite game....showing Nana his world. His knees seemed fine, but mine were a little sore when we got finished! Jessie and I got to sew a little, we finished a couple of pillows to match the quilt she and I made last fall. We also cooked together, which is always fun. And...I got to watch "So you think you can Dance", which I'd never seen before. Saturday, we drove into Winston-Salem to show the house they are trying to sell. It was Noah's first ride in his big new car seat and the first time he faced forward. He thought it was all pretty darn cool.
I drove home Saturday evening. Josh got home Saturday from a week of Boy Scout camp. By the time I got home, he had all his laundry done. He was so anxious to go visit Michelle and Andrew in Georgia. So....after church on Sunday, and after our home teachers came, and the Goodman's brought an early birthday present for Josh (Harry Potter's new book!) and after Drew stopped by just to say hi and show Josh and Megan something on the guitar, it was back in the car for another drive. Josh and I had a fun ride. We talked for a long time, then he began to read. He's trying to finish Harry Potter #5 & 6 so he can get into the new book soon. We listened to Trace Bundy and it was so peaceful.
We got to Jessie's about 10 pm and Michelle, Toby, and her neice Rudi were already there. I was SO excited to see Toby. He has grown just since graduation. He stands up from a sitting position in the middle of the floor now....not holding on to anything. He loves to give kisses and snuggle. We found out he loves lemonade. I mean loves it. I was so glad he was still awake, and I enjoyed just watching him. He is babbling away...trying so hard to talk. And I got to hold him awhile as he was sleeping. He is so tall now. And to think how small he was when he came into the world three weeks early. I wish I would have taken a picture of him while he was there. I ended up spending the night, and left about 7:45 am on Monday. All the way home, I thought about my wonderful grandkids.....Kimmi, Alli, Toby and Noah....and thanked Heavenly Father for this time in my life when I can be Nana and watch my children as they are parents. Good stuff....definitely good stuff.

Scraps of Love

We had a great activity last night at our Young Women meeting. We put the final touches on the beautiful quilt Tresa put together for one of our dear friends who is fighting cancer. I love this quilt. Tresa and her daughter, Elizabeth, picked out the pattern and all the fabric. It has different hues of all the Young Women Value colors. We also got creative with stickers, stamps, markers, ribbon, etc. and made some cards. The girls did a great job and I had a super time with them.
As we were working on the quilt, I was reminded of the last few lines from the movie "How to Make an American Quilt". It is a quote that I had written down and saved. I fished it out of my mountains of quotes ...and it goes like this.....

"As Anna says about making a quilt,
you have to choose your combination carefully.
The right choices will enhance your quilt.
The wrong choices will dull the colors,
hide their original beauty.

There are no rules you can follow.
You have to go by your instinct.
And you have to be brave."

Our friend, you are fighting with grace and bravery.
And we love you.

Monday, July 23, 2007

OK, I admit it......I love this old coot.

Happy Birthday to Kelly!
It was on the 20th and I missed it because I was in North Carolina, so he waited until yesterday to open presents. I thought I'd put up this picture from a while ago and acknowledge the big day.
54 years old! (are we officially old now?)
Right now, I hear him tinkering away in the hall bathroom. Well, I guess it's more than "tinkering". He has the toilet completely apart. Not sure what will come of that....but he gets points for trying. Also, in the last week, among other things, he helped me at the treatment center and was very supportive and patient, he was lots of fun as we drove to Scout Camp and then he helped me with my 30 minute nose bleed. (Yeah, THAT was fun....and perhaps needs its very own blog) He worked on my van because it's been running so badly. He put in new plugs and wires one night (with the help of a great friend and his lit-up garage) He also put new brake pads on it very early one morning. He took care of things while I was gone for a few days and he took care of the dogs a lot since Josh has been away. He worked in the yard...mowing, trimming and hauling branches AND made sure the yellow squash and zucchini got into the house before they grew as big as "Bam-Bam's bat". (that's a Flintstones reference for you young'ns out there) Oh, and he has been working long, long hours trying to make ends meet. Through it all, he smiles, he jokes around, and he is always ready to help. I am grateful for my husband. This last year has been really rough...in lots of ways...but his determination has never wavered. He has his own health battles he fights every day but he is a strong, faithful, loving man and I feel blessed to be his wife. I think we have grown to know that we are both just doing our very best and everyone needs a soft place to land. And that place should be home.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pumping Iron

Yesterday, I saw Dr. Brian Robinson, a hemotologist at the RMH Cancer Center. The goal was to find out why I keep losing so much blood and why I keep needing so many transfusions. The surgeon sent me there to make sure I was producing red blood cells. He wants to make sure before he does surgery.
Well, I loved Dr. Robinson. Kelly and I were there for about four hours. They took blood, evaluated it, and then he looked at it under the microscope. We got quite the health lesson. What it boils down to, though, is he wants me to go ahead with the surgery, but make sure I am pumped up with blood and iron beforehand, then they will evaluate more afterwards. He showed Kelly and I pictures of my "innards" and explained how serious this is that I get this fixed. He called the pictures "impressive". Interesting word, I thought. Glad my innards can impress somebody. :)
So....as part of yesterday's visit, I sat in the Cancer Chemo Center, and got an IV of iron. Rust being put directly into my vein, it seemed like. They gave me a bunch of Benadryl and hydrocortisone to help with any reaction, since I had a reaction when I had four of these infusions last year. After a number of sticks, the IV was finally started. I am constantly amazed at the miracles of modern medicine and grateful that I live in this day and age. As I sat there, there were others in the same room, receiving treatments. I wondered about their stories, and prayed that they would feel hope and comfort. The nurses were so kind to everyone. Afterwards, I was pretty tired from the medicine. But, I'll be feeling great with all this blood and iron I've been getting. I just have to stop losing it....and I think we are on our way. Also, my red blood cells are teeny-tiny, he said. So....we need to pump them up. Those little boogers like their iron, I guess.
I saw an associate of ours there. We haven't seen her for awhile and she was diagnosed with cancer in May and is going through treatment. It was nice talking with her and I will pray for her. I also saw Mallory there, who is studying to be a nurse. She was compassionate and sweet. She is Ben William's girlfriend, and it was great to see her.
And how grateful I am for all those who have been praying for me. I have the absolute best family and friends. Thanks, y'all!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Two Years into Eternity.........

Happy Anniversary Jessie and Ammon!!!

Wow...two years already. How can that be?
I hope you have a great day....have fun together!
I love the black and white picture...and how it shows off your eyes...both of you. Full of future, promise and love.
Hugs and love for both of you today.

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The last of the Pioneer Pics....

Just a couple more pioneer pictures. The first one is of Josh and Marinda L. They have been friends for seven years and go to church and school together. They were in the same family for the trek. The next one is of Josh and his buddy Mark L. They have been terrific buds since we moved to Virginia and Mark has spent a lot of time here over the years. Mark is like another son to me, and I always call him Marco. The last picture...well... says it all. He and Dianna F. rode in the back seat of Deb's van on the way home, and after a stop at Burger King, this is pretty much what was most important. When we got home, Josh took a long shower, played with Sloopy a few minutes, and then took a five-hour nap.

The "Purple Cartwrights" Arrive!

I wanted to share these pictures, too. Josh lucked out with his "Ma and Pa". They were Raymond and Brenda Wright from our ward. They are terrific and fun people. They brought a purple bandana for everyone in their family, and they were known as the "Purple Cartwrights". Josh really enjoyed being in their family. There were seven family groups, each one having 13 children. I'm glad I got a Cartwright family picture. Each of them had an adjective in front of their name. I guess Josh was known as "Jamaican Josh". Somehow, it fits his personality. Each of the handcarts weighed between 400 - 500 pounds and it was up to the "children" to keep the handcart moving. They had some rough terrain and steep hills and they all felt a real sense of accomplishment. But, after hugs, laughter and pictures, and a couple bottles of cold water, all they could think about was a shower, some food, and a nap in their own bed.

Arriving in Zion....or Hume, VA

I rode up to Hume, VA with Deb F. on Saturday to pick up our "pioneers" who had been on a three day pioneer trek with their handcart. This took place at the Marriott Ranch, an unbelievably beautiful spot on this earth. It's rather close to DC, but if you ignore a telephone pole here and there, you could almost believe it was the mid 1800's. There were quite a few families that came to "welcome them into Zion". As far as those of us waiting for them, many of the children were dressed as pioneers as well as quite a few of the adults. We waited for almost an hour... the children playing pioneer games and the adults renewing friendships. Then we saw them coming over the hill. They were in their "family" groups. We cheered them on. When they came in, Josh's family was the first to arrive. If you look closely at the family coming in, Josh is right behind the boy on the left, although you can't see Josh's face in this picture. (you can always click on the picture to make them bigger)

They were tired, hot, and glad to be back. We began hearing stories right away of challenges and blessings they encountered on the trek. I really thought about this.... how they were welcomed home by loved ones, and so glad to be back, but grateful for their journey and what they had learned. They felt a kinship to those pioneers who traveled west by way of handcart in a way they never had before. But.... it was much more. Blessings and challenges along the way... the importance of the family unit... the thrill of "coming home", and the knowledge gained along the way. Kind of makes my "trek" through his part of my life make a little more sense. There IS a bigger picture. I can handle a blister or two.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dog Day Afternoon

I think you've got the right idea, Sloopy.
Mind if I join you?
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Pushing Handcarts in 2007

The youth going on the Pioneer Trek met at church this morning at 7:15. I think Josh looked super. It was wonderful weather and should be nice the whole time they are gone.....maybe a little rain tomorrow. Six of our Young Women that were going ended up not going at the last minute...for one reason or another, including Megan. I wish she could have gone. I really wanted Josh to be able to share ONE youth conference with a sibling and I know she'll miss out on some great stuff, too. But her knee is still bothering her from her wreck last week, and the trek is just so strenuous, she didn't think it would be a good idea to push it. They are going to the Marriott Ranch, about an hour and 15 minutes northwest of here. I can't wait to hear all about it!
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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Some late night reading with Josh....

I am finally going to bed. My plan was to hit the sack rather early tonight. I'm trying hard to exercise some each day, even if it's just gardening and puttering around the yard. I am also making sure I''m eating mostly healthy foods including skim milk and fresh fruit and veggies. Part of the plan is to get a little more rest, too. Also, I'm popping some potassium, calcium, and a JuicePlus capsule that Deb C. says will hit my circulatory system. (in good ways). I figure that if I have to keep having blood transfusions and they're not sure why, I might as well try and do my part to be healthier. The part of this plan I'm having the most difficult time with is the "more rest". I just have too much I want to do. For example.....tonight I was just about ready to go to bed, but thought I'd put another load in the wash. (We had stripped some of the beds today) I was in the utility room when Josh said, "Hey, Mom....wanna help me put sheets on my bed?" "Sure." "Wanna read in my room?" (ears perk up) "Read?.....sure!" So...after helping him put his "formula" of six different sheets/mattress pads, etc. on his bed in a particular order (he says it makes it perfectly comfortable.......I say it makes for a lot of laundry), we settle in to read.

We have this thing down. We've been doing it since he was just a little guy. Back then, he'd climb up on my bed and we'd read together. He would listen to me read whatever book he had picked out with great interest and attention. It was great, because with him being the youngest of six, it was a quiet time I could spend with just Josh....(not to mention the fact that I could lay down!) This has gone on ever since.....sometimes we'd read almost every night....but lately, it's every 3 weeks or so. Nowadays I get comfy in the overstuffed old chair in the corner of his room, then he covers me up because I'm always cold and fixes the lamp so I can see my book. Then he climbs in his bed, covers up with his down comforter, calls Sloopy to jump up on the bed with him....and then....all is quiet. We just enjoy being together, each reading silently. Every once in awhile, he'll say something about something....and we will talk a little. Or a lot. And sometimes, there's that moment....late at night, when I get the tidbits. The stuff you have to listen hard to hear. Especially when your son is almost 14. And then, sometime later, we are both nodding off, and I know it's time to come upstairs, and wait for the next time.
And I'll be ready, Josh....no matter what time it is.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Happy 4th.....from Georgia

Michelle married her high school sweetheart, Andrew, and they now live in Griffin, GA. They were finally blessed with their little miracle last June when Toby came into the world. Michelle wasn't sure how he'd do with the fireworks...but he actually loved them. As long as he could watch them all snuggled with his mommy (see bottom row, third picture). He is so sweet, and his smile and eyes are addicting. His Nana misses him so much. These are great pictures Michelle sent.....and I'm so glad Toby enjoyed the celebration. He especially liked waving the flags. Way to go....my Yankee Doodle Boy.

Monday, July 9, 2007

what a "crack"-up!

I just had to share.....
About two weeks ago Jessie made this collage of pictures of her little boy. Jessie is married to her best friend, Ammon, and lives in Mt. Airy, NC. Noah will be a year old in September. Such a handsome and fun little guy. His Nana is crazy about him.
I love these pictures....of him naked and playing with his car. (so cute when he's 10 months old....in 15 years or so, him being out playing with his car...naked....well......maybe not so much.)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

bonnets, aprons and chocolate....

Yesterday I went over to Deb F.'s house, as she was working on clothes for the Pioneer Trek the youth of the Church are going on this week. I brought the things I've been working on with my group of girls so we could work together. She has been sewing her little fingers off for a few days along with some of the girls from her branch and their mom. I was working on pinning the pleats on Megan's apron.....for the moment alone in her sewing room...and in walks Deb. She puts a cold bottle of flavored water on the table in front of me....and this chocolate bar from Belgium. Now I know these are like gold to her...and she gave it to me. Yay! (she's shared her chocolate with me on several occasions before, too!) Anyway, biting into this particular truffle was nothing short of amazing. Not like anything you'd buy on "this side of the pond". A party in my mouth, that's for sure. I lingered over each bite, letting the sweetness melt slowly into every corner of my mouth, and simply enjoyed creating and working with my friend. Thanks, Deb....for everything. .......and I hope your hubby brings you some more chocolate from his trip to Antwerp. By the way.....ummmm......when does he get home???
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Friday, July 6, 2007

I remember.....

I heard something this morning and can't seem to get it out of my mind. Just a little blurb on the morning radio....yet so much more.

"It was on this day in 1942...that Anne Frank and her family took refuge in a secret section of an Amsterdam warehouse and hid from the Nazis for two years."
What they didn't say is when they were finally discovered, they were all arrested and shipped off to concentration camps. Seven months later, Anne contracted typhus. She died, but her diary lived on.
Besides her diary, during the time she was in hiding, from ages 13 to 15, Anne also wrote short stories, fairy tales, essays and even the beginnings of a novel. All while going through the normal craziness of those early teenage years. I am so grateful to her proud papa, Otto Frank, who was instrumental in her diary being published.
I remember my mom talking about how things used to be....WWII, rations, the Nazis, concentration camps, Hitler, victory gardens, goodbyes and homecomings, how so few young men were seen out and about here at home during the war, President Roosevelt, Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Death March, and how her dad, my grandfather, had to be gone so much as she was younger...overseas to help battle for our freedom. And so much more. It seemed like it had happened such a long time ago. BUT....my mom and dad turned 13 years old the year that Anne and her family were discovered in hiding. They REMEMBER that year. Just like I remember the year I turned 13....and Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. That was MY 13th year to remember. That still doesn't seem that very long ago. So, it really had been so recently that Anne was in hiding when I first read about her. So recently that men had lost their hearts and treated other human beings worse than rodents.
In sixth grade, at Binns Elementary in Columbus, Ohio, Mrs. Hampson introduced us to Anne Frank's Diary. I remember reading it that same day when we went to Mombo and Chic's house (my paternal grandparents). I sat in the cool shade under their grape arbor and read while my brothers played ball in the big back yard. I remember the beauties of their corner of the world....of the fruit trees calling to be climbed, of the pears we would bite into before they were ripe every year and convince ourselves they tasted great. And of the grapes themselves, hanging like bunches of promises from lacy leaves and twisted and curled vines. Of Chic's colorful and orderly flower garden at the side of the gravel driveway, of the old well pump that I knew didn't work anymore but I always tried it anyway. Of the big stone fire stove that sat in the northwest corner of her backyard. How I loved to be outside there. I thought that it must have been horrible to NEVER step out the door.....to smell the air after it rained, the grass after it's mowed or the big white soft snowballs of viburnum blossoms Chic and Mombo would always let me pick. I felt so bad she didn't get to enjoy nature like that.
I couldn't stop reading. Things I had heard my mom talk about were right there....in the every day world of this girl half a world and 25 years away. Yet, I felt like I was in the hidden attic apartment with her....with all of them. History came alive....and so did something else. I recognized some of her feelings.....growing pains, some would call them, and also, the grand desire to get it down on paper. The joy of the writing. I understood that. I understood another thing, too. I understood that we can decide to never give up. That we can choose to keep going, to keep on growing.
Books are treasures and friends to me, and I have known and loved many. But, The Diary of Anne Frank is on the very short list of those books that live in my heart. Yes, Anne Frank has inspired my life. Perhaps this book should be required reading for ALL students in this country... and any adults who haven't read it. Lest we forget.
I remember something she wrote....I guess I've remembered it for just about 40 years now. She said, "Whoever is happy will make others happy, too." It really IS our choice, isn't it?
And of course, her well-known wish of "I want to go on living after I die".
You have, Annie. You have.

Just a blurb on the radio.....