Sunday, April 30, 2017

Linen Therapy

Do you ever engage in linen therapy?  Or is it just me?

Hi there.  It's been a LONG time since I posted here.  Much has changed in the last 9 months.  We have two new grandchildren, but I have not personally met either one of them, so I can't officially introduce you to either of them here yet.  Hopefully that will get remedied in the coming week or so, at which point I will introduce you to the latest A-man and K-man.  (We now have two of each - two A-men, two O-man and two K-men....I am going to have to figure out how to distinguish them here IF I keep blogging!)  But I digress.  G acquired his CDL, so he is now driving a truck.  And I've been working more hours than I like to think about on the new job with MP.  MP is now live on SAP, but I would not say it's "pretty and smooth sailing from here on out."  I don't think we are quite the Titanic, but we are still sailing some rough seas and working long hours to avoid icebergs.

All of that to say, I haven't had the brain power or time to try and share anything here with anyone.  Nor have I been baking.  At.  All.  I get it if you've given up on me ever being a "real" blogger much less a "real" food blogger.  You would probably be right about that.  I haven't really even taken many pictures lately, so obviously, I will never "think" like a "real" blogger.  Sigh...

Other than a few days around Christmas, this weekend has been the first time "off" I've had.  My sister, J, came in town for the first time in at least two years, since she hadn't gotten to meet Lady L before now.  So A, B and C also came in town.  But did I get a whole bunch of pictures?  Nope.  All I got was this least there are three cuties in this pic, and you can see a couple of Mickey Mouse pancakes on plates, so I can still recognize "cuteness" when I see it, and I almost "baked" again this weekend, right?  And yes, Lady L made sure that the pic was all about her shoe.  Her daddy and her Auntie PK would be so proud.

But then everyone left a little while ago.  After three rainy days in this rather small house with two to three toddlers, not much sleep, lots of new experiences with cousins, a few toddler meltdowns and a whole lot of hugs and kisses, everyone left.  And the house was quiet again.  Back to too quiet again perhaps.

Which takes me to linen therapy.  I bought some new towels a couple of days ago.  I like new towels, soft, thick towels - the nicest I feel like I can afford.  Plus I bought some new kitchen linens.  I'd put all of the new towels through laundry, but I had not necessarily put the kitchen towels away.  I'd just laid them around on the sides of baskets for the weekend, but with everyone gone, I sat down in front of the kitchen cabinet where I keep kitchen linens and sorted things out.

And it was therapeutic.

I saw the Christmas kitchen towels and hot pads that came from Grandma N when she broke up housekeeping to move into the retirement villa.

I saw the old trivet that used to be on my mom's table.

I saw the hot pads that were made for us by Grandpa R's father, both of whom are now gone.

I saw the dish cloths crocheted for us by the widow of one of G's cousins. J is a sweet lady, who loves to make these cloths and give them to people.  The last ones she gave us, she handed to us at the end of Aunt M's memorial service.  Since we lost G's Aunt M a couple of years ago, we haven't been back to Southern Illinois, so I'm not sure if/when we will see J again.  But I have a few linens to make me think of her when we use them.

I saw the towel that a friend from VJ embroidered for me with "Deb's Kitchen" on it along with the sweet card she gave me at the time.  I know I'm supposed to use this towel, but it's so pretty, I can't quite bring myself to use it for anything other than decorating a basket or something like that.

I, of course, also saw cloths that needed to be turned into dust rags or whatever, and there is a certain therapy that comes from just straightening a cabinet or closet, But the real therapy came from holding and touching things given to me/us through the years by others who have either passed on or that I do not see regularly any more.  And I cried a little.  I cry again as I type this.

Cause time moves on.  Life doesn't last forever this side of heaven.  And visits are short.  And people are the best gifts we get here on earth.

Crazy what a few linens can make a lady think about....

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Happy! Happy! Birthday Boy K!

This handsome fellow turns 30 today!

K has been in our lives for about 6-ish years.  I forget exactly when he came into our lives, but S&K have been married for almost 5 years now. They were together at least a year before that wonderful day, but K fits so nicely into our family that I forget when he first joined.  And that's a good thing!  A very good thing indeed!  

We love you K!  Here are 5 things that you have taught me - and it's hard to choose only 5, since you have taught me quite a bit!

5 - Find the fun and humor in everything.  And I do mean everything.  

Whether that is recalling that Jacks in the Box are everywhere...

...or tending bar with a special panache and  flair...

4 - How to build a train.  Or at least how to build a cake that looks like a train.

That was such fun!  Here is a link to that progress story...good times!

3 - Remember the "good ol' days".

Trains.  Preserving military vehicles.  Restoring cars.  Old guns.  The list is way longer than phone booths.  History.  Remember it.

2 - When your wife needs a farmhouse table to seat "everyone", build it for her.

And # 1 - Teach.  K isn't "officially" a teacher of anyone or any subject.  Doesn't matter.  K is a natural.  And he is always teaching simply by living and sharing.  K has a love for learning that runs deep.  And it is contagious, because he makes learning FUN!  I have lost count of the number of times K has devoted free weekends to attending historical events, re-enactments, festivals and parades to share living history with anyone who will listen, learn and experience.  And I have no doubt that all who have taken the time to interact with K have gained much in knowledge and joy and fun.  And that - my friends - is the sign of a true teacher.

Yep, we love you K!  We hope you have a WONDERFUL birthday, and we look forward to sharing your 30's with you!  Happy!  Happy!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Endings and Beginnings

I have been writing the last few pages of a chapter in my life the last couple of weeks.  This has been a long chapter, lasting almost 18 years.  That's pretty much a lifetime - birth to graduating from high school type lifetime years.

As of about 3pm tomorrow, I will no longer be an employee of VJ.  I will be short of 18 years by 12 days when I walk out of the exit interview tomorrow. 

That has felt so surreal since I made the decision last Monday.

I have accepted a new position with a company I will heretofore call MP in Chesterfield to help them with their SAP implementation.  They are going live in January with the latest version of SAP, so this is a wonderful learning opportunity. 

It is also a scary opportunity.  It is a chance for me to spread my wings and take what I've learned at VJ and apply it someplace else. 

I may fly. 

I may flop.

But I won't know if I don't try.  And I don't want to get to the end of my career and look back and wonder if I could have done it.  So I'm trying to move past the fear - with God's help and the help of wonderful encouraging words from so many - and starting at a new company on Monday. 

This is good news!  I know it is good news! 

Yet at the same time... tears.  I was crying big time when I wrote out my letter of resignation.  I could not have spoken what I wanted to say to the two men who saw something in me that I didn't see in myself.  These two men changed my life, and the opportunity I have before me now would not be possible without the two of them.  Thinking of that now brings the tears again.  How do you thank people for changing your life for the good?  Somehow the coconut cream pie and pumpkin swirl cheesecake that I brought them as peace offerings just didn't seem to suffice.

And then I was fine with the tears. 

Until today.

When wonderful people surprised me with a "This Is Your VJ Life" party.

When I heard voices I hadn't heard in years.

When I heard stories of dead fish and emails and crashing the system and work associates who have become friends.

When I listened to words of appreciation from folks I've worked closely enough with that they know where the bodies are buried and could have told those stories but chose not to. 

When I hugged the receptionist that holds the building and all of us together and who may never decide to retire.

Yep, endings.  Closing a chapter.  Turning the page and starting to write a new one. 

I simply want to acknowledge this moment.  So many people have taught me so much as I wrote this last chapter.  More than I could ever thank, but to whom I will always be grateful. 

And who I will always treasure.

You know who you are.  Thank you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Happy! Happy! Birthday Girl Aunt FB!

This beautiful lady is celebrating her birthday today!

If you read this post from June when my Aunt R had a birthday, you may recall two things:
  • We do not reveal a lady's age
  • I did the math to at least say that Aunt R was turning "something north of 70"
Now since Aunt FB is two years older than Aunt R, we can therefore say that Aunt FB is turning something north of 70 + 2.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.
Aunt FB is one of The Original Eight.  She is the lady standing third from the left, between my mother and Aunt R.  I miss the faces in this photo....
We had a GREAT visit with these two aunts and many of their kiddos and grand kiddos last month!  It was so good to see everyone and capture some of their stories. 
So today, I get to share with you 5 things that I have learned from Aunt FB.  I'm not sure that she will even know that I posted it to be able to read it, but hopefully someone will read it to her somewhere, someway, someday...
So here they are - 5 things that I have learned Aunt FB.
5) Embrace the nickname!  No shame!  Even if the nickname ceased to truly apply past toddlerhood. 

4) Oreos make the world go round.  Always have.  Always will.
(And if I recall correctly, I believe that Aunt FB has received at least one birthday "cake" made of Oreos similar to this pic.)
3) Create beauty.  My Aunt FB loves to create beauty wherever she can.  I’m not sure that she does this any longer, but when I was growing up, every family bride was given some painted china.  It might be a cup; it might be a plate or a saucer, but it was hand-painted by Aunt FB.  Each one individual.  Each one special.  Each one beautiful.  Each one fragile – not only because of the medium, but because of the time and creativity and love from the giver.  This cross was done by Aunt FB for my daughter, B.  One of a kind.
2) Write.  I think at least part of my love to write comes from my Aunt FB.  Tell stories.  Don’t worry about being “good enough.”  Just write.  The very, regular practice will make me better.  (And THAT’S the part I struggle with the most!  Sigh…)
1) Teach.  Share your knowledge and experience with others.  I’m not sure if she is still teaching every week or not, but I know she was teaching from the Bible every week (except vacations and illness) well into her “something north of 70 + 2”.  And teaching well.  Aunt FB has touched many lives through the years with her words of teaching, wisdom, love and compassion.  Her reward will be great in Heaven.
Happy!  Happy!  Aunt FB!!  We love you and hope you have had a wonderful birthday full of love and laughter and fun and Oreos!!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Happy! Happy! Birthday Girl C!

It's C's birthday today - of C&D fame!  Happy!  Happy!

While I haven't known C all that long, I've learned at least these 5 things from her...hope these bring a smile, Miss C!
5) Sponge Bob.  Cause Sponge Bob.  I couldn't find a pic of the SB cake I made last year for B's 2nd birthday to show you here...too many changes with laptops and files and whatnot...but I've learned a bit about SB just from making him on a cake.
4) Live in pajamas every chance you get.  (I don’t get many chances, but when I do – like working from home on snow days – I get it.)

3) PBJ’s and chili go together like grilled cheese and tomato soup or hot dogs and mac & cheese.  I haven’t tried the PBJ-Chili combo platter yet, but C&D swear by it.  And they are apparently not alone if this blog is any indication… 

2) Love unconditionally.  It won’t always be reciprocated.  Love unconditionally anyway.

1) Motherhood is the most honorable profession and privilege, regardless of the circumstances.  Certain situations make it harder than others, but choosing to give the gift of life is always worth it.
Happy!  Happy!  C!  We hope you've had a wonderful birthday and that we get to see everyone again soon!

We love you!


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Happy! Happy! Birthday Girl K!

It's K's birthday!!  Yep, the gorgeous lady in this pic is celebrating her birth today!!  Happy!  Happy!
So you know what that means!  Yep, I get to share 5 things that I have learned from K in hopes of bringing her a smile and reminding her how much we love her.  It didn't work out for us to hug her neck and have a good visit this year's birthday, but hopefully we will make that happen very soon.  We love you, K!
Alright, so here are 5 things I have learned from K...
5) Avocados make the world go round. 

E thinks that bacon makes the world go round.  So I suppose an avocado BLT is just about the perfect signature sandwich to represent their marriage.

If we could combine avocados, bacon and strawberry pie into one, that could be the signature food item to represent their family.  But that's another story for another blog post.

4) Sparkles are not good.  Wait?  What?  Sparkles are not good?  Yep, that's right.  They aren't good.  They are DA BEST!!!  Decorate with them every chance you get whether that is in your home or on your person!!  (Even if you're an "old" person like me!)
3) Compliment.  Tell people - especially older women - that they look nice that day. (Even if there are things that they could have improved that day.) A kind, complimentary word does so much for the hearer's heart and soul.  And K is generous with compliments for me every time I see her.  It makes me want to see her even more!  <insert heart emojis here...>

2) Listen to little ones.  That usually means slowing down, giving them your full attention, and giving them the time they need to find their words.  But the end result is always worth it.  (And if Dad can toss in a funny face along with it, then everybody smiles and feels the love!)

1) When life doesn't quite turn out as planned, make a new plan.  K has experienced this often in her life.  I could list a few of these, but I don't want this to turn into a DDD (Deb Dissertation Downer).  I want to celebrate that K continues to find a new plan and embrace it despite how hard that might be.  I have a great deal of respect for that sort of fortitude and positivity.  I was so excited to see that this "little" announcement was made yesterday, because this is just another example of how K seeks God and makes a new plan when life doesn't turn out quite as originally planned.  We can't wait to meet this grandchild and cheer this plan on every step of the way!!!

Happy!  Happy!  We love you and hope your birthday has been totally wonderful K!  We hope to see you all very soon!!!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Happy! Happy! Birthday Girl Aunt R!

Ready for one more birthday post?  I promise I have plans to post something that isn't birthday next week, but this beautiful lady is having a birthday today! 

She has been my aunt my whole life, which means that she is turning something north of 70 today.  I am well aware that you are never supposed to say a woman's age, so I'm not going to commit that sin in this post.  While I know her age today, let's just simply say that I know my age, and Aunt R would have at least been older than 20 when I was born, so she must be something north of 70 but not quite 100 today.  Regardless of the actual number, she is worth celebrating plus she has taught me a few things through the years. 

Beyond that?  Aunt R is one of only two left from this generation of The Original Eight.

I'm not sure if anyone else in our family calls these particular eight individuals "The Original Eight," but this is my pet name for them.  You may not realize it, but this picture shows eight people from The Greatest Generation, so declared by Tom Brokaw.  To my knowledge, all four of the men above served overseas in World War II.  I believe all served in Europe rather than in the Pacific, but I can't guarantee that particular fact is accurate.  And I'm pretty sure that all four couples married either during or just after WWII ended.  Yep, these Original Eight gave birth to 17 Baby Boomers, 16 of whom lived to adulthood. 

Who are they?  Well the man on the left in red, is my Uncle L.  He was the oldest of my mother's siblings. The lady behind him was his wife, Aunt S.  Uncle L. only had sisters, so that makes the three ladies to her left my mother (2nd born), Aunt FB (which does NOT stand for "FaceBook", but her real birth certificate name combined with her nickname, the only name anyone in the family ever calls her), and finally our birthday girl, the baby of the family, Aunt R.  Since they were seated and standing as couples, that makes the man in front of my mother my father, followed by Uncle O and Uncle B.  The Original Eight.  And of those eight?  Only two are still around on this side of heaven - my Aunt FB and our lovely birthday girl, Aunt R.  Therefore, she gets a birthday post about 5 of things she has taught me!

But before I start with that, one more thing about that pic above.  It was taken at a family reunion in the Duncan Cabin at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center in Oklahoma in the early 1980's.  (I never knew anybody who ever called it anything other than "Falls Creek", but Google says it's full name is that mouthful I typed up there.)  This below pic was taken at that same reunion of the grandkids born at that time, and I am fairly certain almost all, if not all, are now parents themselves.  I think I can only name about six of these little guys, but I bet Aunt R can name all of them!

Time.  It marches. So feel free to take your best guess as to our birthday girl's age today, but this is more about remembering The Original Eight and the...

...5 things that Aunt R has taught me at one time or another.

5 - Think outside the box about home.  Or at least marry someone who does.  Aunt R and Uncle B had the coolest house in Duncan, OK, when I would get to visit as a kid.  It was a two-story that was not particularly fancy (except for the dining room and living room), but to a kid, it was fascinating!  For one thing, when you walked into the house from the car port, you entered the den.  (Do people still call rooms "dens" any more?)  To your right was the kitchen, and right in front of you was the everyday table.  And just beyond that was the TV.  Pretty normal stuff, right?  EXCEPT!  The TV was sorta magical, because it sat like "in" the wall - or really a cool hole in the wall between the den and Aunt R and Uncle B's bedroom.  Cause see...the TV was on rollers and could be turned around to be watched in either room!  How cool is that?  Keep in mind that this was back in the days when a TV was a piece of furniture, like a table, and people didn't necessarily have 7.35 TVs in their house as a common thing.

But as cool as the TV Hole was, you wanna know the coolest thing at that house?  Aunt R and Uncle B gave birth to three boys and one girl.  My cousin, B, the girl, had a pretty girl's room on the first floor.  But the boys had rooms upstairs.  And I'm not sure exactly which one of the boys was the train enthusiast, and I only saw this live and in person once or twice, but the model trains were setup in one of the boys' rooms upstairs.  Not necessarily a big deal, right?  EXCEPT!  The trains and tracks and village buildings were all set up on a large wood table without legs.  I don't know the exact size, but this train table looked to be almost the size of the entire room.  It hung from the ceiling and could be raised and lowered via a pulley system.  Genius, right?!  So yes, think outside the box about home.

4 - Use pecans.  Cause...pecans.  And if you coat them in butter and sugar, then really use them.

 3 - Love generously.  I have personally benefited from Aunt R's generosity more than once.  Aunt R seems to believe family people like me are worth it.

2 - Stay on mission.  Know your life's mission and stay on it, long after you may be something north of 70.

1 - Love your sister well.  Especially when she's the only one you may have left this side of heaven.

Happy!  Happy!  Aunt R!  Hope your birthday is wonderful, and I'm looking forward to seeing you and Aunt FB again very soon!!!  Love you!