Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Cards

A few days ago, I sat down at my desk
 with my faithful address book
and sent out Christmas greetings
 to family & friends.
It is a tradition that I have always enjoyed..
despite what my daughter thinks!
(Love ya, Karen!)

It is a running family joke that I love
 to "X" off names on my list
IF I don't receive a card from ones I sent.
Not true!

Well...maybe a little bit true.
Evidently at some point I got carried away
 with my red "x-ing" pen!

I've kept this Christmas list book since 1988.
Throughout the pages are lots of address changes,
notes of loved ones no longer on this earth,
and some names of friends we have lost track of.
It has sort of become a history book
of family & friends.

But it is also a tradition I am seeing fade away.
I don't receive as many cards in the mail these days.
No doubt the Internet has something to do with it...
making contact through the keyboard a convenience,
plus a way to cut back on money spent.

I'll store my little old red address book away
 for another year.
I just hope I can remember where I put it!

Merry Christmas to you...
if I didn't get a card in the mail to you!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grieving for Newtown

December, 2012:

 I know we are all grieving over the loss of the precious little children & their teachers in Connecticut.  I cannot get over the horror of what those little ones went through, along with the ones that remain.  

After we got home from church this evening, I received a text from my daughter.  A young friend had sent this poem to her and as I read it out loud to my husband, the tears flowed!  Yes!  Those precious souls are now with their Savior and no longer have to know what a very wicked world we live in.  Please pass this on. . .

T’was Eleven Days Before Christmas

T’was 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
When 20 beautiful children stormed through Heaven's gate.
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air,
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
They were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
"Where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"This is Heaven," declared a small boy. We're spending Christmas at God's house."
When what to their wondering eyes did appear, but Jesus, their Savior,
the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
And in that moment was joy, that only Heaven can bring,
Those children all flew into the arms of their King.
And as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
One small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
And as if He could read all the questions she had,
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."
Then He looked down on Earth, the world far below,
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe,
Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let my power and presence re-enter this land!"
"May this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"Come now my children, let me show you around."
Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Village

It was just a little over a week ago
when my daughter told Paige,
"Isn't there something you need to ask Grandma?"

she replied.
"Grandma, do you have a Village?",
she asked excitedly.

Well...I knew where that was going . . .

I don't even remember the last time I dragged my Dickens Village pieces out;
evidently a lot longer than I imagined
as the grandchildren have no memory of seeing this.
Paige has seen a village set up in some store
& thought it was amazing.
And that is when Karen came up with the bright idea to have her ask me about it.
She knew I couldn't turn down that snaggle toothed smile!

For several years, pieces to this set was what I requested for Christmas.
I remember going to our local gift shop & trying to decide which piece I would ask for.
I loved them all!

I've never had a good display area, so over the years, I just left them packed away
in their boxes, thinking I would "gift" them away someday.
Finally, I figured out how to hide their cords & place them on different levels.
Hubby actually even got involved in setting it up, helping me figure out how to get it all plugged in.

The Whittlesbourne Church
is one of my favorite pieces.
It's so old England...& I can imagine attending
Christmas services in this grand building.

Hidden behind the tree is "Fagen's Hideaway".
It makes me want to belt out in song . . .
(only if no one else is around)
"I'm reviewing the situation!
Can a fella be a villain all his life?
All the trials and tribulations...
better settle down and get myself a wife!"
And a wife would cook and sew for me,
And come for me, and go for me,
The fingers, she will wag at me.
The money she will take me.

A misery, she'll make from me...  
I think I"d better think it out again!"

(Anyone else an "Oliver" fan?)

Now we may have a new tradition
until I tire of packing & unpacking these pieces.

What the kids don't know is...
Grandpa has a Snow Village that he used 
to display in his car shop.
It has a 50's diner, a Coca Cola Building,
a hospital, and several other piece.

Wouldn't the grandkids love that?
Maybe another year. . .

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's beginning to look like Christmas . . .

In the midst of all of the mess of storage totes & boxes,
bit by bit I am beginning to find Christmas.

Years of never throwing anything away...
because one of these days I will use it...
has finally overwhelmed me.
Slowly, I am going through my "stuff"'
and choosing carefully
what I want to keep.

For the first time that I remember,
I decorated the tree
for me-
the way I wanted it-
pretty & sparkly-
without red!
just whites & greens
silver & mercury glass
glass & glitter-
different that ever before.

In the morning I plan on decorating a little tree 
just for the grandchildren-
with their special Disney ornaments and
my cute ornaments with all of the kids names of them,
gifts given to me most years from my children.
There will be snowmen
& gingerbread men,
& an angel or two.

Who knows what else is waiting in the mountain of totes
now sitting in our garage.
I'm just too sentimental to get rid of my treasures.

Happy decorating!
Hopefully you have more done than I do!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Decade for Parker

You have probably heard this story before...
but it happened 10 years ago today
so I think I'll tell it again!
This may take a minute. . .

There was a time in our lives when there was much sadness
because Mom was  diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
and we were more than convinced that Dad needed heart surgery.
Living over 500 miles from my parents, I wasn't quite sure how I would deal with it,
but thanks to Southwest Airlines & trips with my hubby,
I made it back & forth to Kansas almost every 4 weeks.

And then one day, Karen surprised me with the news that I was going to be grandma!
Sunshine began to come back into my life.
It also brought joy to my Mom to know that she had another great-grandchild coming
and I think it gave her the drive to fight to live just a little longer to get to see him,
along with enjoying those she already had.

I needed to see her in September.
Karen's doctors assured me that there was noooooo way she would deliver early.
I traveled out on the 17th to find Mom not doing well with her chemotherapy.
To top it off, Dad did a little too much fishing the next afternoon
and came home with chest pains,
stretched out on the couch
and asked for a nitroglycerin!
My sister, being a nurse, tried to convince him to go get checked out
but he wouldn't hear to it.

And then early on the morning of the 19th,
the phone rang.
Immediately I saw it was my daughter calling
and alarm bells when screeching through my head.
She had just finished her 12 hour shift at our local hospital,
when she felt a sudden signal that Baby W was on his way...
Uniform still on, they plopped her in a wheelchair
and took her on a fast ride to the OB floor.

I'll never forget that feeling of helplessness...
feeling torn about whether to stay with my Mom who really needed special attention,
not wanting all of the responsibility to be left with my sister
who worked full time and had 3 kids of her own;
about my Dad who was still popping nitros under his tongue every little bit,
and my daughter, who was over 500 miles from me
with signs that I wasn't going to be there for my firstborn grandchild.
Phone calls were made & a little after lunch time, I was on a plane,
headed for Indy, via Chicago, where there was a line of severe weather
causing chaos that I didn't even know about.
She wanted to wait, but Parker decided to enter this world while I was standing
in Kansas City International Airport,
waiting to board a plane.
It was 2002 & security was tight.
I had my bag thoroughly gone through at check-in
because I was a last minute flyer.
I even got frisked!
I remember standing there listening to Bob telling me via my cell phone
that Parker was here, healthy & beautiful,
and I wanted to shout it to the world...
and there was no one I could tell.
Much to my aggravation, I couldn't get a direct flight,
so had to land in Chicago & change planes.
It was storming like crazy & announcements kept being made of delays.
Finally, we were allowed to board, but for some reason
they had to change airplanes.
I finally arrived in Indianapolis,
over seven hours since Parker had been born,
only to find out all of our luggage was missing!
So we headed 40 miles south, homeward, storms all around,
me stressed to the limit, and starved to pieces!
(A quick trip through McD's solved that dilemma.)
...and in the wee hours of the morning,
the airline did deliver my missing luggage!...

We finally pulled in to our local hospital & I was so anxious to finally
get to see our new grandson.
I had thought of it all day long...
thought about how sweet it would be...
how it would just be our little family getting to know each other for a while...
when with the opening of  the door to Karen's room
revealed a room overflowing with people!
They were all waiting to see my reaction at my first glimpse of Parker!
There were new aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and more friends,
people I didn't even know
and some I wondered where they came from.
I'm not kidding.
There were a minimum of 20 people.

But I survived.
And I got there before the other Grandma!
They too went out of state...
since we still had two weeks to wait!
and they were out of cell phone range and didn't find out until
the following morning that they were grandparents again.
That was the time that the tornadoes ripped through our area
and the highways were a mess.
Grandma W has a story of her own to tell.
Karen was chomping at the bit to go home,
(being the patient nurse that she is!)
and had it all arranged that she would be out the door ASAP.
Bags were packed, newborn photos were taken,
and when the other grandparents arrived...late that afternoon,
we loaded up and took new Mommy & Baby Parker home!

I'll never forget it.
At least I don't think I will, but now I have it in written form
to remind me and the rest of my family.

You can believe that we made a trip to Kansas for Mom to see her new
great-grandson as soon as we could.
Of course she thought he was as sweet as could be.
One of her last requests was to see Parker again.
When he was seven months old,
I traveled back to Kansas with Parker & his Mommy & Daddy.
She held him a little, smiled as she watched him play at her feet the night that we got there,
and later that night she took a turn for the worse
and was gone the next evening.
She was waiting for us. 
Dad got to enjoy him too, along with Carter, Jeff's son.
Parker says that he remembers his Grandpa Brown
but I'm not sure if it is that
or memory of us talking about him.
Dad loved to rock those babies!

Another Grandpa has been made happy with his little buddy.
He loves his grandchildren.

Parker has brought lots of laughs into our lives.
He loves life and isn't afraid to express his love to
his family.  We all love his hugs!

He makes a great "big brother"!
Peyton is always in his shadow
and Parker is Paige's hero & protector.

Parker is quite the gentleman.
He is polite and always gentle to older people...including me!  Hehe...

He is his Daddy's son in his love of sports.
They have spent long hours together listening to their favorite teams
via the radio or Internet.
And Daddy has spent many long summer hours taking his boys to Little League games.

Happy 10th birthday Parker Man!!!
I cannot believe how quickly this decade has gone
and am so proud of the young guy you are becoming.

Someday you will be able to tell a family of your own
how you caused such so much comotion when you were born!
We sure have made a bunch of good memories together.
And I expect many more to come.

We love you ...a bushel and a peck! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Part of the family. . .

While rummaging around through some old photos,
I found this one of Bob,
taken quite a few years ago
for a photo shoot for Late Great Chevy magazine.
I had forgotten we even had it.

Anyway...it took me back a few years.
We dated in this car.
I remember Bob racing it down a dragstrip
on one of our dates...
me waiting on the sidelines 
as he didn't want the extra weight!
We took it on our honeymoon...to Branson!
Bob used to drive it down to the railroad yards
where he worked for Rock Island.
I even took it to the Milgram's to get groceries once in a while.
For several years, it was our "family car".

Little by little, Bob began doing things to the car
to improve it.
The time came when the car was deemed too nice to drive to work.
It was put on the far side of the garage 
& only driven once in a while to church---
IF the sun was shining.
It's dark "candy apple red" paint now gleams in the sunshine
and the diamond tufted interior still smells of new leather.
Just getting inside it & sitting next to Bob
takes me back to our "cruising" years.

When it is  driven to church on Sunday,
the grand kids all want a ride home with Grandpa.
And if he takes the back road, behind Walmart,
the road less traveled,
Grandpa thrills the kids when he stomps the gas pedal
& roars down the road to the stop sign.
They love it!

I'm thinking if anything would ever happen to this old car,
we would all be heart broken.
After all of these years,
the '62 Impala 
has become part of the family. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Friends. . .

Do you have a life long friend...
a friend from your childhood?
My husband does.
And even though they now live miles apart,
Bob & Frank have somehow kept in touch.

Their friendship started when Bob's family
moved from Indiana to the mountains
of West Virginia to pastor a church.
It just happened that Frank's family lived
next door to the parsonage.
Soon after moving in,
Bob & Frank became friends.

Bob attended his first 8 years of school
in Beckley.  The summer before his
high school years, the family moved
to Kansas so the Thompson kids
could attend the Bible School,
leaving behind all of those childhood friendships.

Bob & Frank became pen pals.
Frank was always part of Bob's childhood memories.
I learned of Frank while we were dating
and heard the stories of riding the
West Virginia turnpike in Frank's GTO
at 130 mph!

I remember Bob getting a letter from Frank
after we were married,
telling that he was being discharged from the Army
as they found he had diabetes.
Bob worried about him.

After a few years,
we went out East to see him
while he was living in the Washington D.C. area.

During the past 45 years, 
we have seen Frank 3 or 4 times.
And it always seems as if it has just been a short while
& they take off with their friendship
like they still lived next door.
Bob can rattle off their childhood antics
and Frank laughs like he has never heard them before.

Last fall we traveled to Virginia to visit with
Frank & Donita.
It was the peak of autumn colors & a
trip I will never forget.
Last week they came to see us!

Frank's first new car was a '65 GTO.
He went crazy when he saw Bob's car collection
& fell in love with Bob's GTO, also a '65.
I think the guys would have spent the weekend
in the car shop if we would have let them!
  I realized this time the reason that they 
have always been such good friends.
Both guys are car nuts!

 Donita &I found plenty to talk about!
We had more in common than we imagined
& enjoyed our time together.
Besides that...we both love to shop!
Before the weekend was over
we had shared family stories of good times & bad,
 & decided we were "kindred spirits".

We let the guys go their separate way
for a day of car gazing.
I gladly took Donita to Hobby Lobby,
which, unbelievably, they do not have
in Roanoke, VA.!

The years have been good to them.
And now, in our ever so shrinking world,
thanks to the Internet,
Bob & Frank can still be pen pals...
or email friends.
I think I even caught them texting!

Friends are priceless.
It would take a gold mine to keep these guys apart!

Who knows when we will see them again.
But I am pretty sure one or the other will
get online one of these days & work something out.

Ya'll come back now, ya hear?

Monday, July 30, 2012


 My ears perked up early this morning when I heard my local DJ say
"It's National Cheesecake Day"!
Good thing I had already had my breakfast
or I might have had to raid the freezer for slice of heaven.

I'll never forget my first taste of cheesecake.
It was on one of those Sunday afternoons 
when my cousin Olga & I begged her Mom
to let me go home with them for Sunday dinner.
Well, maybe we didn't have to beg.
We loved taking turns going home with each other on Sunday's
& it must have been my time to go to her house.

What we had for Sunday dinner is not a memory for me.
Except the dessert.
Cousin Carlene asked if I had ever had "cheesecake".
Noooo...I answered, with apprehension as I am not a big cheese lover,
thinking it might be some kind of pie 
with grated cheese baked in it.
I wasn't too thrilled with the idea.

Being too bashful (oh, I've outgrown that phase!),
I accepted the slice of cheese/pie
which happened to be topped with sugared strawberries.
Well, you can imagine my delight at my first taste of  "real" cheesecake.
This was the authentic, the kind you bake in the oven 
in a waterbath cheesecake,
not the cheesecake in a mix.
And it was heaven.

My daughter and two granddaughters have developed a love for the dessert too.
Karen prefers hers plain or the "creme brulee" flavor from our favorite place to have a slice. The rest of us don't seem to care, just so it's cheesecake.

It is probably a good thing the nearest Cheesecake Factory is over 33 miles from here.
I seldom go there, but if I am in the area & it's a special occasion,
Cheescake Factory is my choice for lunch.
But I have discovered that I can race down the hill,
just a mile away,
& in the freezer case at our local Sam's Club
is a variety of cheesecakes.
There are usually ate least one or two
in my deep freezer waiting for company.
Or me.
No wonder I waddle!

Have I made you hungry yet?
It's mid-morning & I'm already thinking of reasons I need
to check my freezer to see what I'm having for dessert tonight.
Join me for a slice & let's celebrate
National Cheesecake Day!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Ugly Truth About Gardening

This is a summer of record breaking heat & almost no rain.
The last few days have brought a little relief-but it is still hot!
This is not the actual temperature,
but shows how hot it gets outside my kitchen window late in the afternoon.
I made a trip in town and on my way home saw a reading of 99 degrees
when the weather man only predicted no higher than 91.
Does it really make much difference?

I had to drop something off this afternoon
and this dear, sweet lady was apologizing for the condition
of her flowers.
I just wanted her to know...
she doesn't win the prize for flowers that are droopy & in
need of a haircut!

Talk about deadheading!
I just cleaned these daylilies out 2 weeks ago
& they are an absolute mess.

Everything is overgrown, thanks to our irrigation system.
And most things are finished blooming for the summer.
Then there is that baptisia that some insect is having a feast on!
(Where's my bottle of "Sevin"?)
And the Japanese beetles haven't even appeared yet.

Something is getting in my pots behind the fountain at night
& digging for all he is worth &  making the biggest mess!

I am almost positive that it's a chipmunk doing the damage.
He has even tunneled in the sand between the stones.
He will soon get to go for a joy ride down the hill!

Our neighbors tulip poplar is in distress &  dropping leaves like crazy.
We benefit from this tree &  I really hate to see the drought affect it.
I have been watering a trees in my back yard,
hoping that we don't lose anymore of them.
When I went to move the sprinkle head this afternoon,
I saw something moving under the mulch...in a slithering motion...
& I headed to the house!

Lawns are turning brown.
Thankfully, we do get to water & ours is looking good compared
to the ones who can't water.

Of course we always leave town at the hottest time of the year.
And of course, we are heading south!
I have a few things that I hope survive while I'm gone for just a few days.
Tonight, I will pull my wagons near a sprinkler head & hope for the best.

When I drive down our county roads &  see the conditions of some of the crops,
I realize that many of our farmers are hurting.
I can buy more flowers later in the season to replace the ones I loose.
Or I can just let it all go until next year.
But the farmers need their crops to survive.
So we will be praying for cooler temperatures...
and rain -
just not torrents of it!

It looks like I win the prize for needing to do the most work in my gardens!
And I didn't even let you see some of the worst of it....no way!
Whenever the cooler weather comes our way, I'll be waiting with my weeder.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Blessings of a Shower!

I don't know why in the world it took so long . . .
but after years of arm twisting, begging, whimpering, 
& maybe even some foot stomping . . .
I now have a shower in my bathroom!

Our home was built in 1979.
After fighting a leaky shower in our other house,
and with 2 small children,
I opted to not have a shower put in our main bathroom.
Big mistake!!!

At the time, garden tubs were the big thing
& I thought my bathroom was beautiful with the step in tub.
(No whirlpool jets in this one.)
The kids grew up splishing & splashing in this big tank
& loved every minute of it.
In the past few years, I've even thrown a few dirty grandkids
in for a good sudsing up,
& they too swam like little fish in my wall to wall bath.

Finally, something clicked.
(Maybe something about me not being a spring chicken anymore
might have had a little to do with Hubby's decision to tackle the job.)
All he had to do was say the word & I was off to the tile store!

Good grief...
that is ugly paint
and we found uglier than that vinyl floor
when he took up our ceramic tile.
I thought that was pretty?

Out went the tub--the cultured marble counter top--
the very distressed because we used it for 33 years vanity
and the not too old ceramic tile that was never very pretty.
And no more wallpaper or border in here!


For some reason, we never sealed the grout
& I would have to get on my hands & knees
every few months & clean the grout lines
with a "Magic Eraser" sponge.
Yuck!  And Ouch!

Plans were to begin this project before Christmas.
It didn't happen.
I agreed to wait until after the Holidays
but had no idea we would be delayed by 6 months.
But Bob knew he wanted only this tile installer,
so patiently (aHem...) we waited.
BTW...those blocks in the back wall are for our grab bar.
No way will I be able to yank it off that wall!

Tracey showed up & worked hard for 4 days.
He installed the Durock, squared up the walls,
bedded in the cement base for the shower floor,
did a beautiful job on laying the floor tile,
and the shower walls & floor.
I'm so glad we waited for him.

Margie, my tile designer, convinced me to have the
floor tiles layed on the diagonal.
I wasn't too sure about the idea but was very pleased
with how it turned out.
Margie also recommended a very dark brown for the walls.
We ended up using "Cobble Brown" from Sherwin Williams.

This room is long & narrow but the shower is much roomier
(is that a word?)
than it appears.
It actually is 4 feet by 5 feet
& is very comfortable!
(I know...I couldn't wait & tried it out before the shower doors got here!)

On the left is the water valves & a hand held attachment.
On the right end is the shower head & 2 cubbies for soaps & shampoo.

Shower floor tiles are 2 inch squares.
The grout is stain resistant, & mildew resistant.
Our installer said we will be so glad we paid the extra
money for the best grout!

One row of Venetian bronze accent medallions were added for accent.

Our installer used an artist brush to detail the grout around
these accent tiles.
It made it look 3 demensional!

And I was so happy with the way my new vanity turned out!
With a print out of a picture from a Pottery Barn ad,
Andy our cabinet man custom built the vanity.
I wanted a single bowl so I could have more counter top space
& also wanted a couple of drawers.
It's beautiful!

The drawers are perfect for what little primping I do.
Andy used Sherwin Williams "Snowbound" for the paint
& at my request,
he slightly distressed the drawers & cabinet legs.

We used the Venetian bronze faucet that we already had
& added Venetian bronze knobs to the cabinet.

I ordered the large baskets from Pottery Barn
& they are fastened to the slide out shelf.
Left basket is for towels & right basket
is for wash clothes, hand towels, tp & necessities!

The counter top is Corian "Bisque"
with an ogee edge
& the largest sink they make!

Yesterday, the glass doors were installed.
Early this morning, Tracey came by to install the grab bar
& hanger for the hand held sprayer.
Thanks for such a beautiful job, Mr. Gibson!

On a side note...
Bob has used Tracey for several of his houses
and had no idea that he is our
daughter-in-laws uncle!
Small world!!!

Shower doors are "frameless"
with only a header railing & door handle.
It also has a water resistant coat on
the inside of the doors to repell water spots.
Hope that cuts down on the cleaning!
(Coating by "Cardinal Showers" out of Louisville)

We also used our framless plate glass mirror
that is original with the house.
It was cut down a few inches
& Andy made a beautiful frame for it!
He also custom made baseboard for this room
& painted it to match the vanity.
Makes the wall color pop!

I found a Nancy Noel print in the closet
& decided to use it in here.

There are no windows in this bathroom ~
Only a skylight which brings in plenty of light,
but makes for poor lighting for photography.

I also was able to use the canvas floral print that I already had
& it looks so much better on this wall color!
(Taken from reflection in mirror...)
Purchased with gift card from April & Jeff & I loved it
& wanted to keep using it.
(Hobby Lobby)

I am jumping up and down happy about how our project turned out!!!
Now, when we have a house full of company,
we won't all have to be taking a number & waiting on the only shower we had in the house.

It is my "shower of blessing"!