Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Memories

A tray of some of our Christmas treats. Red Velvet mini cupcakes, the famous Sugar Cookies, and Peppermint Meltaways.

I put up 4 trees this year...starting with a miniature tree and growing in size up to the largest one shown here. It is full of ornaments and looked so pretty. I love my Christmas ornaments. They are so personal and bring back special memories. It had grown, though and I now spread it out between 3 trees.

I added this guy to the collection this year. As has become my tradition, I purchase two ornaments for each of my kids each year. As I was looking through the ornaments at Target, I saw this Mr. Potato Head. I LOVED him. He looked so happy I knew as soon as I saw him he was coming home with me!

A friend of mine had family that worked at Hallmark and several years ago, Hallmark had a line of I Love Lucy ornaments. I must have 6 or 7. When Hallmark quit the line, Amy found one made by American Greetings. I hadn't seen another one since...until this year. Once again, I was looking through the ornaments at Kohls and came across this Lucy with her little chicks. I couldn't resist and she came home to hang on the tree too!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This Year's Cookie

The past several years, I've decided to try new cookie recipes at Christmas. Last year I tried a recipe for some very cute "Butter Cookie Snowmen." At least they looked cute in the picture. My attempt at these cookies ended up looking more like ugly white looking rocks. They never made it to the table! I did, however try another recipe for "Cookie Dough Truffles" which were delicious.
This year, the recipe I decided to try was "Peppermint Meltaways." Delicious! A nice, light cookie confection that is a little minty yet sweet. They really do just melt in your mouth. Yep, we have a winner!

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's The Funniest Thing

I purchased this Christmas count-down calendar when Amy was a baby - 23 years ago. It was an Avon special purchase. It has hung in our home every year since then.
When the kids were young, we had to take turns with who got to advance the little mouse each night.
These days there are only two left at home. And even though they are almost 18 and 15, the little mouse still gets moved every day!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Song For His Mother

About 6 years ago, I came across a CD by a group called, "IL Divo." It is a group of 4-5 Italian young men with classical voices. The 2nd song or so on the CD was a song called, "Nella Fantasia." I LOVE this song. It is so lyrical and the melody is so beautiful. I also love the classical male tenor voice singing it and I knew this was a song I wanted to hear Josh sing. I know I told him at the time and several times more over the years but knowing that this is his last year in this school and not knowing where he'll end up next, I'd all but given up hope of ever hearing him sing this song...until Friday night when I looked at the program....and to my surprise saw that it was the final song.

Now I need to stop here and say that I'm glad he waited all these years to sing it. It would have been good before but he has fine-tuned his voice. He's learned breath and control and Friday night he sang as good as I've ever heard him sing.

He asked two of his friends to sing along with him as well as his friend, Jordan who accompanied him the entire evening. Jordan is only 19 and I was so impressed with his piano skills. He had some tough pieces to play. Also playing were a friend on the cello and clarinet.

I'm so glad I recorded this one. I've listened to it several times already. You'll see him turn directly to the camera and smile right before he sings. The smile said, "This one's for you, mom." Once again, I'm getting teary thinking about it. I smiled back at him and mine said, "I know!! and I love you!"

Monday, December 6, 2010

Recital Thoughts & Memories

From the moment I saw the poster's Joshua had printed for his recital, I knew it was going to be something special. Josh has always had an eye for detail and his recital was no exception. Was I was not prepared for, however, was how overwhelmed I would feel by the end of the night. I've been trying to process my thoughts, feelings, and emotions since Friday evening and even now its hard to put into words how the night turned out.

Everything came together beautifully for his reception. I'm amazed at how on a very small budget, we put out a reception that had people asking who catered it. In another post I'll share some of the money-saving things we did. The school provided a beautiful room called, The Meeting Place, and it looked beautiful. The support and encouragement began almost immediately. Josh works as an assistant to the athletic director. He asked if he could borrow the coffee urns they have & she gave him the key to the concession stand and told him to help himself to whatever he needed. Not having to purchase coffee and cups, sugar and creamer saved us lots of money. Several professors stopped by and wished him luck and offered any assistance if needed. It was at this point I was beginning to appreciate the fact that he is in a small school.

The recital was held upstairs in the chapel. The normal attendance for a recital is 50-75 people. We figured he'd have about 100. The people began coming and coming and coming. They had to bring in more chairs downstairs and upstairs in the balcony. In fact, it was standing room only. The president of the college was there as were all the heads of the music department. Josh had no idea of the response until he came into the room. He was blown away by the crowd of almost 300 and when he looked up in the balcony, he saw his high school music teacher had come to surprise him. He was overwhelmed and had to quickly compose himself to begin his first song.

It is an odd and overwhelming feeling to be in a venue like that where all these people gather for your kid and to hear his name talked about in very positive ways. Word got around that we were his parents and they had such kind and encouraging comments about him. One lady gave us a note and had clipped out articles about Josh that had appeared in the local paper. I was brought to tears by their support and encouragement. Cliff sat by a man who was the former head of the music dept at the college. He told Cliff that this was the best recital they've hosted in years and that Josh has brought something back to the music dept. Even as I write this I'm overwhelmed by those sorts of comments.

Sometimes the gift is bigger than the kid...and part of the journey is learning to embrace not only the gift but the Giver of that gift. At one point, Josh fought his gift and he fought the Giver. He thought he would give up music all together and go in a different direction. I knew he couldn't. I've known there is a song in him that always has to come out. It was a difficult time being his mom while he was fighting. He almost lost everything. I'm continually thankful that God, in his grace, has always kept people in his life who have been on his side and fought for him. One of those was his high school music teacher. Another is his current vocal coach...who kept after him even after he totally blew off his first college level vocal competition. At his recital, it was as if he'd come full circle. Musically you can tell he embraced his gift....he works hard at it now....continually honing his voice and it shows. And I know he's made peace with the Giver of his gift. He's at peace. And I'm so very thankful and feeling very, very blessed!

This past Sunday some of the children in our church sang and played their violins and I have a whole new appreciation for the women who work with those kids. That's where my son got his start. His Aunt Elizabeth was his first little choir director. He was given opportunities to sing at a very young age. And what better place than in God's house? God is definately very, very GOOD!!
**Unfortunately, I'm not having success uploading video today. I'll try again tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Recital Preparations

It is customary for the family to provide a reception following the Senior Recital. This came as no surprise to me as Josh and I discussed it last summer.
Most people go with cookies. My son, however, has chosen 3 of his top favorite treats...Red Velvet Cupcakes, Peanut Butter Balls, and Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies. Now, we are expecting no less than 100 people, so since Grandma is the master of the cream cheese spritz cookies she has volunteered to press out dozens and dozens. Emily and I will be working on rolling and dipping dozens and dozens of peanut butter balls, I will be baking the red cupcakes in miniature sizes so those will probably be the easiest to make in bulk and the frosting will be done there. Amy is trying her hand at a new recipe for cake pops.
Tomorrow I have to go shopping for everything and Thursday is the big baking, rolling, dipping day!!
Jacob & Emily have both been chosen to participate in District Honor Choirs on Saturday so we won't even be able to stay for the reception.
I'll try to post again on Monday pictures and hopefully a video or two.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Oh boy am I one proud mom again!!!!!
You can read all the details by clicking HERE.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Losing A Generation

I wrote a few weeks ago about a dear lady in our church who is in a nursing home...Mrs. R. Two weeks ago, her husband, Mr. R. passed away. His funeral was probably one of the saddest ones I've ever been to. I felt so sorry for Mrs. R. because I don't know if she even knew of his passing or could even comprehend it at this point. I felt so sorry for both of them because I don't even know the last time they had seen eachother. They lost the presence of one another and with that, they seemed to have lost their strength. I don't even know that they got to say goodbye to one another.

With Mr. R's passing, comes the stark reminder that an entire generation is passing away and frankly that just makes me sad. Its a generation of women named, Olive, Pearl, and Midge. Men named, Percival, Eugene, and Albert. Quickly passing are first-hand memories of WWII and rationing; full-service gas stations and the art of letter writing.

I find such comfort in older people. Gray-haired ladies who have mastered the art of cooking recipes that have been handed down for generations and men who still wear hats. People who entertain us not with the latest movie but with stories and tales of the good old days.

These are our treasures. Those who remain still have so much to offer. Remember them this holiday season.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

26 Years and Counting

26 years ago, we said our vows and life began. It's been an interesting ride! God has been so good to us. He has kept us in situations where we have continually been surrounded by good friends and family who in one way or another have helped us, encouraged us, given our cars jumps, babysat, listened to us cry, pushed us to try again or to keep going.
I'm guessing I know most of you who read this blog and I just want to tell you how thankful I am for you. You are so special to Cliff & I.
After 26 years, sometimes the romance fades a bit. It's not all Cupid, flowers, and candle-lit
dinners. But thats a good thing...because in its place is a love that runs so much deeper. Something that doesn't needs words most of the time. We just know we are there for eachother. I know that he will make his coffee and pack his lunch every night, get in his truck and drive 40 minutes to drive all night to support our family. I know that he'll support our kids and be there for them anyway he can. I know he'd also do anything for my mom and dad or any member of my family.
He knows that every morning I'll get up and make sure his two kids who still live at home will be taken to school. He knows that there will be food in the fridge & coffee to put in his coffee pot. There will be clean clothes in his closet and things at home will be taken care of. He knows that his children will be well cared for and I'd do anything for his mom or any member of his family.
Comfort, Security, Trust and Love. That's what we have...and its good.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Seussical Video Two

Seussical Video 1

Sorry this is not a complete video. Didn't have time to sort through them good before posting.

Seussical The Musical

Several years ago, our family was on a vacation in GA. Right before we left for home, I came into some extra money. On a stop in Nashville in an outlet mall, I let the kids pick out two CDs for the ride home. The oldest ones, Josh & Amy, actually did the picking and we drove home, listening to the soundtracks of Grease and Seussical the Musical. Little did we know that just a few years later, Amy would be in a high school production of Grease. And we definately did not know that Jacob would be in the production of Seussical.
If you've never seen Seussical, its Dr. Seuss put to music with the main story line being, Horton Hears a Who. The music is fun and entertaining and very kid-friendly. Jacob was Horton the Elephant in this production and having never seen him in any venue like this before, we were not sure how he would handle the pressure and nerves. He did GREAT!!!!!
I wish I could put the entire musical on here but the best I can do is give you a sampling of a high school production of Seussical, where the kids had so much fun presenting it and we, the audience had fun watching.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Random Childhood Memories

It must be the all-too-quickly approaching holiday season that has me waxing nostalgic. Over the past couple days, I've been remembering some various memories from my childhood. There's no rhyme or reason to them:
  • Instead of waiting to take us shoe shopping after school or on a Saturday, my mom would trace an outline of our foot on a piece of paper and take that to the store with her to buy our shoes. (Usually those white canvas tennis shoes)....maybe she didn't want the hassle of us kids in the store with her!
  • Back in the day before everything was packaged in plastic, most liquids came in glass bottles. For some reason I didn't have a thermos so my mom put my kool-aid for my lunch in a small glass bottle. Of course I dropped my lunch that day and there was glass everywhere!
  • Speaking of glass, my mom had a glass tea/coffee pot. One morning as I was getting ready to leave for school, I swung it around and hit the counter with it, spilling the boiling water all over my feet. I had to put my socks & white canvas tennis shoes on my burnt feet!! Somehow I managed to get to the wooden telephone booth at school and call my mom to come and get me because my feet were on fire!! She did!!
  • I used to have the classic red rubber golashes and the plaid lunchbox!
  • When I was a little girl of 5, we lived in a house in a small country town upstate, NY. The house had a big willow tree over the driveway that we spent hours playing under. When it rained, large puddles would form in the driveway (they seemed the size of a pond to my 5-year old imagination) and I was so disappointed to discover you cannot use a tobaggan to set sail in a pond-like puddle.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Operation Christmas Child

For the past 12 years, it has been my privilege to be involved with Operation Christmas Child. Anyone can get involved in helping send Christ's love, packed in a shoebox, to children around the world.
Operation Christmas Child is able to enter into countries that have been affected by war, disease, famine, poverty and the like and give just a little bit of Christmas cheer in the name of Christ to children and their families.
I can hardly watch the videos of kids, so happy to receive a little box with soap, toothpaste & toothbrush, and a few small toys. We, who have so much can certainly takes so little!
This year, I have determined to do more than I have ever done before. My daughter, Emily, is using her birthday money to fill a shoebox.
If you are in the KC area and want to fill a shoebox or need more info, leave me a comment. If you want more info, click on the picture above and it will take you to the website.
For me, its just another way to minister to those who can so easily be forgotten.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Comfort One Another (Especially those who can easily be forgotten)

Ever since I was a child, I've always seemed to have a hard time adjusting to things that mark the passing of time. As I've gotten older, I seem, for the most part, to have an easier time dealing with it.
Yesterday, however, was a tough one. For the past almost 14 years we've been here in KS, there has been a sweet, sweet older couple in our church. This past year, they lost both a son and son-in-law to cancer. Just a few weeks after the death of their son-in-law, this older lady had a major stroke. Because her left side is paralyzed, she's had to be placed in a nursing home.
I went to see her yesterday. Next to saying goodbye to my grandpa in the hospital, this was one of the hardest visits I've ever made. I found her laying in her bed sobbing. All I could think to do was hold her, stroke her hair, wipe her tears and tell her that we love her. Thankfully she fell asleep and I left....and went to the car and cried. This is not the woman I knew. In just a short, short period of time, this self-sufficient, proud woman lies in a bed sobbing tears of hopelessness.
I said all that to say this. As hard as it is, we can't forget these people. In fact, she needs our love and caring more than she ever did. Ever since yesterday, I've been asking God to comfort her in that part of her soul that feels reach down and wrap her in His arms and give her peace. I'm going back at the end of the week and I'm bringing things to comfort her soul. Music CDs and God's Word and prayers.
One day that will be my parents. One day that will be me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Drive By The Lake

We went to the lake to get pictures like this...
and this.
But when a boy ignores a sign like this...

and thinks he can walk down a ramp like this...

You get a picture like this!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Had A Feeling

Call it mother's intuition, call it what you will, but when Amy brought this dog home several months ago I had a feeling he'd end up at my house. Right after she bought him, her hours changed at work and during the week, she works long, late hours. This little guy, Lou, was home alone....alot. And he hasn't done well at home all by himself for long periods of time. In fact, he's been quite naughty.
Amy knew she was going to have to find him a good home and I wished her good luck. Yeah...the joke was on me because my son, Jacob, wouldn't hear of that dog going to another home...especially since Lou had been beaten so badly in his previous home. So, arrangements were made and as much as I don't want or need a 3rd dog, Lou was on his way. As part of the arrangement, Amy had to take one of my cats. Missy, who has been with me for 7 or 8 years. She's a sweet little cat but I've often thought that she'd do great in a home where she was the only animal.
The day of the great exchange, I think both Amy and Lou were a little traumatized (he had been exceptionally bad his last day at home with her.)
She took the cat and I got the dog. And I'm proud to say, he's doing great. He sweet and loving and needed attention and needs a yard where he can run (and potty).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jazz Men

Part of the Fall Festival festivities sponsored by Bethel College, is a Jazz Fest on the green. Under a large tent, the two college jazz band along with a local high-school jazz band performed all afternoon.
I brought along my camera but only snapped about 4 pictures. This was one of them. My nephew, Zack, my son, Josh, and my dad...enjoying the cool sounds of big bands and jazz.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Into The Woods

This year's musical: "Into The Woods." It's a bunch of fairy tales. Josh played the Wolf to Red Riding Hood and Prince Charming to Cinderella. It was GREAT!!!!! In my opinion, he played the sinster wolf part just a little too well :-)

Friday, October 8, 2010

I had a couple books by Stormie Omartian, one of which was,
"The Power of a Praying Parent."
It was a great resource while my kids were young. However, in the last couple years, I really wished there was something out there for parents of adult kids. Because frankly, there are days when I just have no idea what to do or what my role is, when I should say something, when I should be quiet, etc.
Then I found this book and its been incredible! In fact, I offered a book club/small group for mom's of adult kids at our church and the response has been overwhelming. (Apparantly I wasn't the only one who didn't have a clue)!
The author offers sound, scriptural, godly, and practical advice for parents. I've learned alot about my kids and I've learned alot about myself and most important, I'm learning how to more effectively pray for them. Frankly there were some areas where I needed an attitude adjustment.
We are in the process of having another one turn 18. He's already wanting more and more independent. I know the process by now. I don't always like it but I know it and I know how the process ends....another one leaving. This time around, I feel a bit wiser and to his benefit, the first two broke me in. :-)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Uncle Bill

Growing up, some of the most special people in my life were my aunts and uncles. Unfortunately for most of my life, I have lived a pretty good distance away from them. My Uncle Bill and Aunt Sue were probably at the top of the fun charts when I was a kid. They just always had a knack for interacting well with kids.
Much to our sadness, Aunt Sue passed away early in 2009. Her passing leaves an absence in our family that cannot be filled. Even from this distance, I miss her.
It was so very good, to see and spend some time with my Uncle Bill this past weekend. I think, perhaps, one of the coolest things was that my kids got to know him. He's still fun and he still interacts so well with kids. He played games with them and took them to dinner. And they got to see how much alike he and their grandma are!
I admire my Uncle so much. I admire the man of God he is. He's humble, he's quiet, he's godly, and his character and faithfulness through his life speak volumes to me and his great-neices and nephews.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

An afternoon at the Racetrack

So NASCAR came to town last weekend. The track is so close that if you are a fan, it's almost impossible not to feel the excitement. We had talked about going on Friday (Qualifying Day) and at first, both of my kids and my nephew Zack were going to go. Because of school commitments, neither one of the kids ended up going and it turned out to be just Zack and I.
First off, I didn't know Zack was such a fan. We had such a good time and the weather was about as perfect as it could get.

This is the SPEED stage (if you are a racing fan, you know this channel). They were just starting audience warm-ups for the show and we really, really wanted to stay and be on TV and see Jimmie Johnson. We stayed as long as we could before we had to leave to honor a dinner engagement!
This is our favorite driver, Jeff Gordon. This is an actual hood from a car he drove at Talledega. Zack is telling me in this picture he can feel the power!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Creative Kitchen

Inspired by the idea that I seem to make the same stuff over and over for dinner, I ventured forth this past week and tried two new recipes.
I've always wanted to try my hand at making risotto (a creamy Italian rice dish). I found the arborio rice on sale in the grocery this week and that was all the motivation I need to move beyond thought and into action. I felt like a gourmet as I looked into my basket and saw arborio rice, olive oil, onion, and chicken broth. Now, I must admit, this sat on my counter for about a week until I had the time (and nerve) to give it a try. I followed the basic directions for risotto on the side of the rice container but then took creative license as I added parmesan cheese and chopped broccoli. The end result was FULL of FLAVOR and quite good and resulted in a recipe that I plan to make again.
My other culinary adventure was inspired by three small steaks I had in the fridge, the fact that our grill is out of propane, and our local grocery's meat counter. I knew I somehow wanted to make some sort of a "stuffed" steak out of the steaks I had. Emily and I checked out the meat counter and read what they put into their grillers and we chose and Italian griller. Once again, I felt just like Rachel Ray or Julia Child as I selected fresh Italian sausage, fresh mozzerella cheese, and bacon from the meat counter. I took the steaks and butterflied and pounded them thin. I made a stuffing mix of Italian sausage,Italian breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes, parm cheese, and an egg. I spread this inside the steaks, added two thick slices of mozzerella cheese, folded it over and wrapped two slices of thick bacon around it. Seared it on olive oil and finished it in the oven for 20 minutes. They were INCREDIBLE! Full of flavor and I was amazed how for not alot of money, those three little steaks turned into something very substantial.
I did learn a few lessons from all of this. Fresh mozzerella is so much better and flavorful than the pre-grated bags. The same thing was true with the bacon and the sausage. I've always shopped very, very frugally and I'm reaching a point where I still have to be cost-conscious but at the same time, I was good flavor in my meals. By using small amounts I can still stretch the dollars without giving up the flavor.
What a conincidence, my counsin, Gretchen did a post on a vegetarian version of risotto today too!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Picture Week Continues

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this picture!! From left to right, its me, my sister, Elizabeth, our cousin, Bruce, and his brother, Troy. It had to have been taken around 1969 or 1970 as I look to be 4 or 5 years old.
Taken in Great Bend, KS at my grandparent's home. We are in my Aunt Roxie's wagon (she is 10 years older than I) and she would pull all of us...for HOURS in that thing. I remember loving it!!
The picture is actually a slide my sister had scanned and the quality of it after all these years is incredible. Of course, I took some creative license and changed it to sepia.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Just For Fun

Found this one in my picture files.
- Three Little Kittens

They ALWAYS know when its dinnertime!! They are alot like children. Yes, I have to put THREE bowls on the floor!!

Monday, September 13, 2010


Labor Day weekend, we always have a church-wide picnic that includes a simple service outside. I've taken hundreds of pictures of church events...this year I'm trying to focus more on capturing individuals, personalities, and the sense of community we have at Liberty.
I'm having alot of fun doing a bit of editing online. By changing the pictures to sepia, I think I captured the feel of this particular Sunday. It was good, it was sweet, it was unified, and it was just so good to be together for one sole worship God. These are some of my friends....This is my community and I'm blessed to be a part of it.