About me...

Pop the lid on my Mason Jar and meet my family. Jim {Jimma} and I have four kids, Creston (Ashley), Jami (Matt), Brandon and Chance. Our grandkids, Cade, Kirby, Eisley, Beck and Reed bring us more joy than any Mason Jar could ever hold. I am counting my blessings over and over and thanking God for His amazing love and grace.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oops!

Last Tuesday we rode over to spend some time with Creston, Ashley and the kids. They were so excited to see Chance and after playing a little while, they took him for a walk to show him the pond behind their house. Creston had put up a swing and built them a platform to swing off of. Cade explained to Chance how he and Creston swing together. Creston swings off the platform over the pond. When he swings back to the platform, Cade jumps on his back and swings with him. Chance was ready to try their stunt. He and Cade climbed up on the platform and I got my camera ready so I could video the two of them. When Chance swung back to the platform, Cade only got one arm around his neck and was barely hanging on. It scared me so bad that I completley missed the main action, where Chance is reaching behind his back with one arm, holding on to Cade as they swing out over the pond. It's still a cute video and we laugh every time we watch it.
video

Jim's Decorating Attitude Changes!

After many years of seeing Jim get extremely agitated over the simple task of putting a Christmas tree in a stand, I came to the conclusion that the kids and I needed to decorate the tree when he was out of the house. From that point on we waited until Jim was MIA to put up our tree and Christmas became more enjoyable. Problem solved. The “Christmas tree stress” no longer existed, the kids and I had fun, and Jim was happy as a clam to come home and find the task completed without his involvement.

The first year we moved to our current house, our neighbor decorated her entire yard with Christmas lights and decorations. Other than a tree I had never put up any decorations and decided that I was going to string lights on my fence and decorate my yard the next year. My neighbor was more than willing to help and she gave me a garland for my gate and helped me wrap lights around the columns on my porch. I was so elated to finally have outside decorations and absolutely loved my yard. Every year after that one, I put up more lights and got a little more creative with my decorations. Through the years I’ve had a friend and neighbors help me out at different times with my decorations. Other than asking Jim to hold the ladder for me and tell me if my lights were evenly spaced on the columns, I’ve left him alone, knowing he has zero tolerance when it comes to decorating.

When I found out that Chance was coming home for Christmas, I wanted to put up a sign with red, white and blue lights around it, some American flags and some yellow ribbons around the oak trees. When I got ready to put the sign on the fence, I ask Jim if he would give me just a few minutes of his time. Much to my surprise he said he would, and even helped with the rest of the decorations, staying with me until everything was perfect. This happens to be the one and only time I can remember that he willingly helped out with a decoration involving Christmas lights! I think he was so caught up in the excitement of Chance coming home that he would have done just about anything at that point, with no complaining! Here’s the end result -

That night when we were waiting to pick Chance up from the airport, we were surprised when my niece walked up. She was there waiting on a friend's flight. I gave her my camera and asked if she would take a couple of pictures for us. I'm so glad she was there and captured a couple of priceless moments for me. Can you tell I didn't want to let go when I saw Chance?
There were lots of tears and smiles that night - and still are!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Learning to Let Go

Wednesday afternoon we anxiously stayed near the phone waiting for the call from Chance letting us know his flight had landed and he was back in the states, after a six-month deployment. I hurriedly grabbed the phone when it rang and instead of hearing Chance’s voice on the other end, it was Creston asking if I had heard the news about my dad. He and Mom had gone to the post office to pick up a package and when Dad went to get the truck, he tripped on the sidewalk and fell flat on his face. Mom walked out to hear his cries for help and see his face a bloody mess. Some kind lady had already called for an ambulance and another couple stayed with Mom until my brother picked her up and drove her to the hospital. After several tests and getting his face stitched up, Dad was released from the hospital. He has to follow up with a plastic surgeon Tuesday because the bones around his eye aren’t “lined up right.” (mom’s words)

Two hours after we were supposed to hear from Chance, we finally got the phone call that we had been waiting on. He was in Baltimore for a layover and would be back on his base the next day. Two phone calls in one afternoon, both with completely different reactions, left me full of emotions. I had concern over Dad’s condition, compassion for Mom, and sweet relief that Chance was back from Afghanistan.

This afternoon was the first opportunity I had to go visit Mom and Dad and check on them since he fell. Dad is all bruised and sore and has a nice shiner on his right eye. With all that and not being able to wear his glasses, he looked a lot different than I’m used to seeing him. Other than being a little more confused than usual, he seemed to be his old cheery self, greeting me with a smile. I wasn’t surprised at all. That is my Dad. Take what life gives you and move on with a smile. And Mom? She was just as I knew she would be - wrecked with nervousness, worry and anxiety. No big surprise there either.

I sat today in the living room with Mom and Dad and realized that her world is slowly falling apart and she is in no way prepared. She has spent her life living in a “what if” world and not coping well when faced with a situation out of her control. This has been a way of life for her and the older she gets the worse she gets. I can’t remember my Mom going through a difficult time that she was not overcome with worry, stress and anxiety. I guess it was only inevitable that my life would be strongly influenced by her need for control and her worry issues. The older I get the more I see what it’s done to her and the more determined I am to not be like her. As I told Jim tonight, “At the end of the day I want God to look at me and say, ‘Good job Molly in trusting Me.’” I know there are many days that I fall short, but I’m also more aware than ever, that if I want peace I have to let go of the “what if’s” and place my trust in God. If “knowing” is half the battle, then the victory is mine!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

White Trash

This is one of my favorite Christmas recipes to make, and to eat. It's so super easy and one of those recipes that I just can't resist. Christmas just isn't Christmas without some "White Trash!"

White Trash

5 cups Cheerios
5 cups Corn Chex
1 cup mini pretzels, broken into pieces
1 can salted peanuts
½ of a large bag of plain M&M’s
1 24 oz. package vanilla flavored almond bark
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Combine cereals, pretzels and nuts in bowl. Melt almond bark with oil in microwave until melted, stirring occasionally. Pour over mixture. Add in M&M’s. Pour onto wax paper. Let cool. Break into pieces.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Celebrating Two Years

Today marks a two year anniversary for our son Brandon and someone I have only briefly met, his friend Angie. The anniversary they celebrate is one that connected them in a very special way and forever bonded them together.

Brandon asked me to fly to Dallas to meet Angie and be a part of the big event. Angie and her family were anxious to meet me and asked Brandon if they could take us to dinner. Brandon and I met them at a restaurant and spent a wonderful evening getting acquainted. Everyone was interested in knowing mine and Jim’s feelings about the situation and seemed relieved to know we were supportive of what Brandon was doing. We all left excited, nervous and full of anticipation for the next day, making plans where and what time we would be meeting.

In 1995 Angie was diagnosed with kidney reflux, a degenerative disorder on her right kidney. With the diagnosis came the news that her left kidney wasn’t functioning. Angie struggled with medication to combat the kidney reflux with no success. Eleven years later in November 2006, Angie’s physician gave her the choice of dialysis or a transplant. After watching her parents go through dialysis and pass away, a kidney transplant was the only option Angie would consider.

At the time Angie was employed at Baylor as the manager in the Transplant Business Unit of Central Services. When Angie explained her condition to her co-workers, three of them including Brandon, offered to be tested for compatibility to give her a kidney. Several of Angie’s family members went through testing and only one was a match. He backed out and Brandon once again made his offer to Angie. This time she reluctantly accepted. Brandon went through testing and it turned out he was a perfect donor match for Angie.

Brandon and Angie went through months of testing and counseling prior to surgery. I’m sure there were times Angie was more than a little concerned that Brandon might back out. Knowing his character and what a giving, selfless person he is, the thought never crossed my mind. Backing out of a situation that could save someone’s life wouldn’t be an option for Brandon.

The morning of the surgery I was in Pre-Op with Brandon when Angie and her husband came back to spend a few minutes with him. I’ll always remember her husband telling Brandon how sorry he was for all he was going to endure for his wife. Their hearts were full of gratitude and appreciation for the gift of life Brandon was giving Angie.

Angie’s family cried tears of relief and rejoiced with me when Brandon’s surgery was over and the surgeon gave us a good report. With the relief also came nervous anticipation waiting for Angie’s surgery to be over. When the surgeon came out and gave us a good report on Angie, there were hugs and tears of relief, happiness and rejoicing. Both were out of surgery, the two surgeries were successful and all had gone well.

I went back to recovery to see Brandon and his first question was, “How’s Angie?” Angie’s first question in recovery was “How’s Brandon.” Their concern was not for themselves, but for each other. Within hours Angie was already feeling the benefits of having a healthy kidney functioning in her body, ridding it of toxins.

Neither Brandon nor Angie had any complications from the surgery. He was out of work until the beginning of January and she was able to return to work the end of January. Shortly after, Brandon called to give us incredible news. Where most new kidney transplants function between 40 and 60 percent, Angie’s was functioning at 83 percent, which was remarkable!

Two years later both Brandon and Angie are doing well, celebrating their anniversary by having a family dinner. Brandon is very close to Angie’s family and they think of him as one of their own. I guess it’s only fitting since she will always carry a part of him wherever she goes.

Brandon was home recently and we had some special time to just sit and talk. We talked about the transplant and about Angie. He said that one of the reasons he felt so strongly about donating a kidney to her was that she is the most giving person he had ever met. And, he just couldn’t imagine a “world without Angie.”

Happy Anniversary guys! Here’s to many more!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Horrible Days

This morning as I reflected on my last post, I realized that I didn’t really explain why I used the description “horrible days” for some of Tammy’s days. The word “bad” just wasn’t bad enough to describe her life on those days. Maybe “horrendous” would be a more appropriate description? I’m truly at a loss for a word that fits the anguish, suffering and misery she’s experiencing.

On the “horrible days” Tammy begs and pleads for help. Many times I’ll walk in her room and hear her putting all the effort she can to talk over her trach calling out, “Help!” That cry for help tears at my heart and overwhelms me with a sense of sadness for her.

”“What do you need help with?” I’ll ask.

“Help me.”

“What do you need me to do?” The response is usually one of two answers. Sometimes she says, “Help me get out of here.” And other times she asks for me or Vicki to take “this off of me” meaning the machines she is hooked up to.

I have spent an entire hour listening to Tammy beg for help, asking for me and any nurses that are in the room to get her out of there. When she’s like that, you can’t carry on a conversation or pray with her because she constantly interrupts with “Help” and the whole “Help you what?” begins all over again. There is no calming her or stopping her. She reminds me of a two year old that can’t understand why you won’t grant her request. The difference is that you tell a two year old “No” because it’s what is best for them. You have to tell her “No” because it’s not possible to do what she’s asking. Oh, the helplessness of the situation!

Many times Tammy has said, “I’m so miserable.” I cannot even begin to imagine how miserable she is and what she is going through. The other day she kept asking me and Vicki to remove her shoes. We would pretend to take off the nonexistent shoes and she would ask us again to remove her shoes. Several times we told her we had removed them, lifting her bare feet so she could see there were no shoes. That would calm her for a minute and then she would plead again to have her shoes removed.

Tammy asks for help getting out of bed, help sitting up, and for help walking. Vicki and I have heard her say, “Put my legs over the side of the bed. Put my feet on the floor. Help me stand up.” In her mind, if we’ll do these simple tasks for her she will get up and walk out of the hospital. On several occasions she has said to me, “I can walk.” with sincere belief as she gazes into my eyes. If only the body could follow where the mind wills it to go.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a look of deep sadness as she mouths the words, “I’ve lost my voice.” Sometimes I can read her lips and other times, no matter how hard I try, I can’t figure out what she’s trying to say. What impresses me the most is she never loses patience with me when I can’t figure out what she’s trying to say.

The other day Tammy told me she had lost her arms and legs. “No, they’re right here.” I told her and lifted them so she could see them.

“They cut them off.” was the reply.

“Tam, no one has cut them off, they’re here.”

“I know, but they cut them off.” In her mind “they” had cut them off and there was no convincing her otherwise.

When I leave on days such as these, I feel a sense of loss and sadness. This is her life and I can’t make it better for her. I can’t help but wonder what good my visits are to her when she’s like this? Her incessant begging and pleading are for things that are outside of the realm of reality for her. I’m not sure I’m offering her any comfort or solitude when I have to say “No” to everything she asks me to do. But then again, maybe her not being alone in her room when she’s the most distressed and miserable, is a way I can help her.

I can honestly say, the good times have more than made up for the bad ones and my life has been enriched and transformed by knowing Tammy. I will continue to be here for her, with my love, support and prayers.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tears

(My September 18th post, "Out of My Comfort Zone" explain's Tammy's situation, tells about her and how I came to know her. You might want to read it before you read this post.)

It’s not unusual for me to cry when I visit Tammy in the hospital. There have been tears of joy, tears of wonder and tears of sadness. Today I cried when visiting her and I mean to say I cried! It was to the point that the nurse told me to leave the room for a while and then come back. She wasn’t rude, just matter of fact. She knew better than I, that it was best for me and for Tammy that I leave her room. I left thinking I wouldn’t go back today. I was emotionally drained.

I have been visiting Tammy since the end of August. I never know what she’ll be like when I walk into her room. If she’s having a good day, her face will light up when I walk in and she’ll say, “I love you.” More than likely we’ll spend our time talking about hopes and dreams, God and Heaven. The visits are uplifting for me and leave us both with smiles on our faces.

There’s the not so good days when I visit and she’s in a deep sleep. Sometimes I can wake her enough to say hello and then she quickly drifts right back to sleep. Those are the days that leave me longing for more.

And then there’s the horrible days, which are becoming more and more frequent. The visits on those days put me in deep thought where I ponder her situation, questioning God and wondering the purpose of her pain, suffering and misery.

Today was one of the horrible days and with it came a bucket of tears. Even though Tammy can’t “talk” she can mouth her words and get your attention. When I walked in the room today she mouthed “Water.” In the CCU the nurses would let me get a wash cloth, ring it out until it was almost bone dry and let her suck what little water she could out of it. Now she’s on the main floor and today there were no wash cloths. When I ask the nurse for one and told her why I needed it she said Tammy could not have ANY water, not a drop. Tammy began begging me repeatedly for water and became very upset with me because I couldn’t give her any. Then she looked at me and said, “I don’t like you.” This was a first, but completely understood by me. I can’t imagine begging someone for a drop of water and being refused, especially in her situation where she is completely helpless.

Tammy’s dry parched mouth and my not being able to help her, were causing her to become more and more frustrated and irritable. I was handling it pretty well until she said she wanted me to take her for a walk. I started to cry and then she asked me to get her dressed. I don’t know what it was, but that was the straw that broke this camel’s back. Maybe it’s because I walk every day and her request made me even more aware of the reality of her situation. Maybe it’s because there’s nothing I’d rather do than get her dressed and take her for a walk. It hit me hard knowing this will never happen. I began to pray over her, asking God to show His mercy on her and that’s when the tears poured.

I left in tears and came home in tears. I’ve thought about Tammy all day and keep wondering why she has to endure so much. Why can’t she just close her eyes and be with Jesus? Then I’m reminded that God sees the big picture. He sees the end from the beginning, has a plan and it is perfect. He is in the midst of our trials, troubles and tribulations working out His sovereign will. It is for me to trust in His infinite wisdom.

Tonight I just had to go back to the hospital and check on Tammy. When I walked in, she smiled and said she was so glad to see me. Then she asked me to please help her up and get her a glass of water. I told her I was sorry, but I could not give her any water. She told me how thirsty she was and the begging for a drink started all over again. This time I thought of something I wished I had thought of this morning. I began praying specifically for God to quench her thirst. The prayer calmed her and she started to drift off to sleep. I told her I loved her and left. Tammy was relaxed and sleeping as I walked out the door and my heart was a little lighter.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Flying

For as long as I can remember, my mom has refused to fly on an airplane. In July of 1981, my brother and his wife asked her if she would fly to Dallas to give them some help after the birth of their third child. Knowing how she felt about flying, we were all surprised that she accepted his invitation and committed to her first plane trip, by herself no less! Little did we know that Ruth had some tricks up her sleeve. The day she was supposed to leave, Dad came home to drive her to the airport and found her MIA with a note left behind. A neighbor had taken her to the Greyhound Station and she was headed to Dallas on a bus. She had never been on an airplane and had no intention of getting on one. The trip that would have taken Mom less than three hours, took her about 30 hours. But she was happy. She was traveling by bus and not on a plane.

Mom was super content to ride the Greyhound back to Florida, but Dad messed up those plans. He flew to Dallas just so she would have a “flying partner” for the trip back. From what I understand, she was pretty much left without a choice and was not a happy camper on the flight home. Other than say she didn’t like it, she wouldn’t talk about the plane ride and I knew better than ask. That was her only trip to Texas and the first and last time I’ve known of her to do something against her will. I’m sure Dad learned a valuable lesson by the time their plane landed.

Like my mother, I hate flying. Wonder why??? I blame it on her and the way she’s always been about flying. Maybe if she had earned those “frequent flyer” miles and had been a world traveler I wouldn’t be so scarred for life?

Several years ago I figured out that my aversion to flying is more about control issues than anything else. Truth be known, it’s the same reason Ruth refuses to fly. We both have control issues and getting on a plane is putting us in a situation that is completely out of our control. When it comes to traveling I prefer to be in a car where you have options rather than on a plane. You can always stop a car at any given moment, whereas on a plane, there’s no stopping the trip. You have no clue what the flight is going to be like or what you might encounter. It doesn’t matter, you are stuck on that plane for the duration of the ride with no options. You have no control

I’d like to say that I’ve reached the point where flying doesn’t bother me, but it still does. In the past I would be a nervous wreck for days before the flight, have to take lots of meds for the trip and wouldn’t fly alone. Now I get antsy the day before, take very little medication and fly by myself. Each trip has gotten a little easier for me, but I still don’t like to fly.

Just when I had gotten past a lot of my flying “anxieties” I hit a new challenge. Jami asked me if I’d fly out of the Orlando Airport to Dallas and fly back with her and the kids. Just like Mom did years ago, I accepted the invitation, made the commitment and then wondered what I’ve gotten myself into. I’ve never been to the Orlando Airport, but I’ve heard enough to be intimidated by it. Ignorance truly is bliss!

I leave tomorrow and have to admit there has been some anxiety over this trip. I’m working hard to keep it under control. If I dwell on a situation, my mind will take me places I don’t want to go and it can get the best of me. I’m not allowing myself to think about this trip in any way other than it’s going to be an adventure, with the end result being nothing short of an awesome time. I’m keeping my focus on the “carrot” at the end of the trip, fun times with Jami, Matt, the kiddos and Brandon. To top it off, I'm going to get to visit with one of my favorite childhood friends that I haven’t seen in over 38 years!

Most of all, I’ve figured out the best cure for the jitters. Greyhound Bus= 30 hours. American Airlines=3 hours. Unlike Mom, Greyhound is not a consideration!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Amazing Answer to Prayer!

When Chance told us last Friday he wouldn’t be able to chat for a few days, we knew he was going on a mission. I began praying for a hedge of protection around him, his JTAC and the guys with him, and that no weapon formed against them would prosper.

When I was at church Sunday I went to the altar for prayer and ask a friend to pray with me for the mission Chance was on. She asked God to put a bullet proof hedge of protection around Chance and the troops. She also prayed the same prayer I had been praying “that no weapon formed against them would prosper.” I asked several other friends that pray for him to lift him up in prayer for the mission he was on.

Monday night when we got home there was a message from Chance on our answering machine telling us that he was back on his base and everything was OK. Tuesday morning we were able to chat with him on the computer and he was able to share a little about the mission. He said they encountered a very complex attack with no cover. The guys who had been in that area before said it was the worst attack they had ever experienced there.

Chance said that there were some things that should have hit them, but didn’t. Rockets that hit right in front of them should have caused major damage. Instead of exploding where they landed, they skipped into the air and blew up. At one point he and five other guys were alone on a hill where most of the fire was concentrated. They all escaped without injury. He posted a picture of a rucksack with bullet holes in it. Prior to getting hit, he was in the area where the rucksack was.

Chance knows that there are a lot of people praying for his safe return and even more so when he leaves for a mission. He said the first thing he thought about after the attack was that prayers had been answered. By having our prayers answered in such miraculous ways, it strengthened our faith, Chance’s faith and the faith of the people praying for the mission. Seems there was a bullet proof hedge of protection around the troops on that mission and no weapons formed against them prospered. Praise God!

Isaiah 54:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Breakfast Cheesecake

This is my number one most requested recipe. I've yet to take it somewhere that someone hasn't asked for the recipe. It's simple, quick and delicious. Enjoy!

Breakfast Cheesecake

2 (8 ounce) cans Crescent Roll Dough
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese - softened
1 1/2 cup sugar - divided
1 large egg - separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup chopped nuts

Spread one can of Crescent Roll dough in bottom of 13"x9" pan, pressing perforations together to seal. Combine the cream cheese, one cup of sugar., egg yolk and vanilla. Spread on top of dough. Place second can of Crescent Roll dough on top of cream cheese mixture. Beat egg white until foamy and brush on top of dough. Mix remaining sugar and nuts and sprinkle on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until cold, then serve.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sourdough Bread Recipe - Yummy!

My adventure with baking bread started 24 years ago, shortly after Chance was born. My cousin gave me some bread starter and the recipe to go with it. I always said that Sherry’s bread had to be the easiest bread you could make. If I could keep the “starter” going and bake bread with a colicky baby and three older kids in the house, anybody could. I baked the bread for several years, grew tired of baking it and let my starter die.

I always managed to find someone willing to share their starter with me and baked bread off and on through the years. Two years ago I thought it’d be fun to bake the bread again, only I couldn’t find anyone with the starter. I experimented with several starter recipes, trying diligently to get one going with no success. Last summer a friend happened upon a starter recipe that I had never tried, along with the bread recipe in a craft magazine. Since the bread recipe was the same as the one I used to make, I gave the starter recipe a try and it worked! I was thrilled knowing if I lost my starter or decided to stop baking for a while, I could always get it going again.

Since then I have given “starters” to several of the young mothers at church. They’ve all been impressed over the ease of the recipe and are now making “bread” memories with their little ones. For anyone interested in baking bread, this is the perfect recipe. All the steps are done according to when you have time to do them. Even if you’re new at kneading dough, this recipe is very forgiving and will be a perfect beginner’s recipe for you. Very little kneading is required, making it that much easier.

The recipe might seem a little overwhelming, but once you read through it and make your first batch, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how easy and fun it is to make. Each batch of dough makes three loaves of bread and can be used for anything that you use store-bought bread for. We’ve enjoyed French toast, cinnamon toast, grilled cheese, garlic toast, buttered bread with jelly, PB&J and barbecued chicken sandwiches made with the bread. A friend made a bread bowl with hers and filled it with a thick cheddar potato soup.

To begin the process, you’ll need to get a “starter” going. I learned that the secret to success with your starter is to feed it three times before making bread. You’ll need to pour any starter in excess of 1 and 1/4 to 1 and 1/3 cup off the first three times.

Important notes before starting:
*Other than the bread pans you use to bake in, don’t use any metal spoons or containers with the recipe.
*Bread flour can be found in the flour section of your grocery store.
*To make wheat bread, use 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 5 cups of bread flour.
*Shiny aluminum bread pans bake up best. I found mine at a Dollar Tree!

Starter Recipe
3 packages of active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees Fahrenheit)

Mix the yeast and the warm water in a small bowl. Put into a plastic container, seal and refrigerate for 3 to 5 days.

Starter Feed
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. instant potatoes
1 cup warm water -105-115 degrees Fahrenheit
Combine the sugar, potatoes and water in a small bowl. Stir and add to the starter. Put in a container with a hole in the lid so it can breathe. (I use a plastic pitcher with the lid popped up and cover it with cheesecloth.) Let stand at room temperature 8-12 hours. The mixture will be bubbly. Stir the starter and take out one cup to make the bread . Refrigerate the remaining starter. Feed again after 3 -5 days. If not making bread after feeding the starter, throw away 1 cup to avoid depleting the starter.


Sour Dough Bread
Simply put - Dump in large plastic bowl:
6 cups Bread Flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
Stir and form a well in the center. Pour in:
1 cup starter
½ cup corn oil
1 ½ cup warm water
Mix with hands until well blended. Place in large greased plastic bowl. Spray top of dough with Pam. Cover with wax paper or freezer wrap and a clean dish towel. Let sit all day or all night, (8-12 hours) depending on when you started the process.

Have three greased loaf pans ready. Place dough on floured surface. Knead a few times and divide into thirds. Knead each piece 6-8 times or until smooth. Place in greased loaf pans, spray with Pam, and cover with wax paper or freezer wrap and dish towel. Let sit until ready to bake, 5-6 hours or all day or all night. I prefer at least 8 hours for mine. The longer it sits, the higher your loaves. Bake 350 degrees for 22-30 minutes, until golden brown.


Cinnamon Rolls - Yummy!
Instead of dividing the dough in thirds for bread loaves, divide it in half to make cinnamon rolls.

Melt 1/3 cup margarine and ½ cup brown sugar in microwave until butter is melted. Pour in a 13x9 inch pan. Sprinkle chopped pecans as desired, over mixture. Repeat with a second pan. Set both pans aside.

Knead each half of dough a few times and roll it into a rectangle shape about ½ inch thick. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Roll up jelly roll fashion from the long side. Cut roll into 12 even portions. A simple way to do this is to take unflavored dental floss, put it under the dough, pull it up over the top, criss cross the two pices and pull until it slices through the dough. Place the rolls in the pecan mixture. Repeat for second pan. Cover lightly and let rise 6-12 hours. Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

If desired, you can glaze with Icing:
1/3 cup margarine
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners sugar
½ cup milk
Cream the margarine with vanilla. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar and milk. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over warm cinnamon rolls.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bottled Moments

I spent the afternoon with Mom and Dad yesterday. Or should I say I spent the afternoon with Mom. It was a typical visit, just like all the others. Dad stayed outside in the hot, humid heat and Mom and I stayed inside in the air-conditioned house.

My mom has a large china cabinet in her dining room. Most people would have china in theirs, but not Mom. Her china cabinet is crammed with a vast collection of assorted pieces of glassware, some of them very old and some not. There are saucers and plates, goblets, various little glass dishes, dessert cups, pitchers, vases of varying shapes and sizes, among all the other items filling the spaces on the shelves.

As many times as I’ve seen the china cabinet I always go back to it, picking up the various pieces and looking at them with Mom. I only wish she knew the history behind the older pieces. Some of those dishes have been with her for so many years that all hope of figuring out where they came from is gone. Other than a couple of dishes from Granny Essie, the rest remain a mystery to her and to me. I couldn’t help but think yesterday that if only those dishes could talk, I’m sure they would have some interesting stories to tell.

After the china cabinet we usually navigate to the photo albums. Today we followed the same ritual. Both of us grabbed one and sat in the recliners pouring over the pictures. I love to hear Mom reminisce about the people who were once such a big part of her life and those who still are. So much of her life and mine are contained within the pages of those albums.

When putting away the photo albums, Mom asked me if I wanted a whiskey bottle! OK, there are two facts I can swear by when it comes to my mother. One, she never throws stuff away. If someone gives her something she can’t use, she’ll keep it until she can find someone who can. And two, my mom as well as my dad are anti-alcohol and alcohol is forbidden in their house. That being said, I was more than surprised by her question.

Before I could give her an answer, she walked over to a hutch in the corner and picked up a whiskey bottle hidden among the other stuff on top. I watched in curiosity as she turned it over, found a “key” and wound it up. The “whiskey bottle” turned out to be a music box that plays the tune “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” Another one of those items that someone was getting rid of it and Mom gave it a home until she can find someone who wants it. This particular “find” of hers might just be there a long time waiting for a new home. Looking at it, I got the crazy idea that one day I’m going to see some lucky person on the “Antiques Road Show” finding out it’s worth a fortune. Maybe I should rethink her offer?

As I started to leave, I noticed a giant “hopper” (as Cade calls them) munching away on one of Dad’s plants. Before I knew what was happening, Mom reached for the hopper and tried to catch it with her fingers! She missed, tried again and grabbed the hopper, threw it on the ground and stomped it. That poor hopper didn’t stand a chance! All I could think of is that I NEVER would have wanted to, much less made an attempt, to catch a hopper with my fingers.

The hopper incident brought back memories of a delightful morning spent with Mom and Cade about six years ago. We took Cade to the little springs behind her house to catch tadpoles. I tried over and over and could not catch the first tadpole. Yet every time Mom scooped the net into the water, she caught several. I remember sitting there soaking up every moment, trying to hold on to every detail in my mind so I could keep that morning forever in my memory. As I watched the two of them, I thought how wonderful life would be if we could simply bottle our favorite moments and relive them over.

When I went to tell Dad goodbye, he was sitting on the porch watching some wild turkeys walking around the pond. I usually have to hunt him down when I leave and it was nice to see him soaking up the view from the porch. I’m sure if the grass had needed to be mowed, he would have been on the mower, or if there was weeding to be done, he would have been in the flower gardens.

I have to say that yesterday turned out to be a perfect afternoon for all three of us as we took some time to relax and enjoy life. Moments like these I'd sure like to bottle!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Out of my Comfort Zone

Several weeks ago a close friend of mine called and told me of a ministry she thought I might be interested in. Someone asked her to visit a lady who is in a local hospital. This mom of two had been in a horrific automobile accident, leaving her a quadriplegic on a ventilator. It seems her family lives out of town, so visitors were few and far apart. Vicki had started visiting Tammy and asked if I would go with her one day. I was hesitant, but told Vicki to call me the next time she was going and I would go.

Shortly after the phone call with Vicki, another friend called to chat with me. I told her that I had just made a commitment to do something I did not want to do. I went through all my reasons why this was not a good thing for me to get involved in. It helped soothe my guilty conscience that this friend completely understood my reasons and she suggested I share my reasons with Vicki.

Suffice to say, this hesitancy to visit a quadriplegic in the hospital struck a raw nerve in me. I have a heart of compassion and find it meaningful to be an encourager and supporter to someone going through a difficult time. I struggled to understand my feelings and figure out what was holding me back in not wanting to visit Tammy. It was equally as hard to justify my feelings since the hospital is less than three blocks from my house, easily accessible with a five minute walk.

The reasons resounded in my head. I don’t like hospitals. I’ve never been around a quadriplegic and felt uncomfortable thinking about it. What hope can I give someone who is paralyzed from the neck down? What if she tries to communicate and I can’t understand her? How upsetting will that be? How uncomfortable will it be to see someone like this? What should I talk about? What if I say the wrong thing? Will I know if I say something that’s upsetting to her? Just what do you do when you visit someone in Tammy’s situation? All my reasoning convinced me that I wasn’t the “perfect” person for the job. Plain and simple, I did not want to be around someone in Tammy’s condition.

Vicki called when she was on her way to the hospital to see if I was available to go with her. I had been going over all my reasons why I didn’t want to go and was ready to bail on my commitment. I begin sharing my hesitations, and true to Vicki’s kind, sweet nature she didn’t argue with me. She just listened and said it was all right, that she knew it would be hard. Vicki’s understanding made it that much harder to say “no,” so I caved in and told her to come pick me up. Then I ask if she had told Tammy I would be a regular visitor because “the last thing this lady needs is to get her hopes up only to have them shattered.” This was a polite way of letting Vicki know this would be a one time visit for me.

When we walked in Tammy’s room, she was asleep. Vicki softly spoke to Tammy letting her know we were there and Tammy barely opened her eyes. Our visit lasted all of about three minutes. I was relieved, the visit was over and I had fulfilled my obligation. On the way home Vicki and I talked briefly. Not really wanting to, I committed to yet another visit. I made it clear that I would only go with her, since I did not feel comfortable going by myself.

For the next visit I met Vicki at the hospital. I can’t remember why, but we weren’t able to go in to visit with Tammy. Sweet relief. I had fulfilled my obligation and could go on my merry little way. Yet something was stirring in me and I was confused as to why I was feeling the way I did. Even though I had tried to pull away, something inside me had been awakened. As much as I wanted to, I could not just put my thoughts on a shelf, walk away and forget about Tammy.

About a week later I found myself walking past the hospital on my morning walk. I felt compelled to go in and see Tammy even though I was by myself, and didn’t have a clue what to say or do. I walked in and Tammy was barely awake. I spoke to her and told her who I was. She opened her eyes and looked at me then closed them again. I softly said “good bye” and walked out relieved that Tammy wasn’t alert. A few days later I had a desire to go visit Tammy again. This time she was asleep. The nurse said to speak quietly and see if she would wake up, but not to try to wake her. That was good enough for me. I spoke, no response and I hurried out the door.

Something interesting started happening. I found myself missing Tammy and felt drawn to go back and visit her. A couple of days later I walked down for a visit and she was awake and alert. How awkward can this be I wondered? Not knowing what to say, I asked if she would like for me to tell her about my life. She nodded as best as she could and I started sharing different aspects of my life with her. I enjoyed the visit and much to my surprise, I promised Tammy that I would come back to see her.

That visit was a turning point for me. I realized the visits with Tammy were brightening my day. I needed those visits as much, if not more than Tammy did. Now I try to go every day and visit with her. I’m learning things that make her smile, such as holding a photo album up and flipping through it so she can see pictures of her family. She likes to have her hair combed and a moisturizer put on her dry, parched lips. Tammy likes for me to read to her, share my favorite Bible verses and pray with her. I talk to her about Heaven and how one day we’ll be there together. I can envision her with a new body, one that is whole and complete. I like to think that she’ll be jumping up and down, running and singing all over Heaven. She’ll remember me as one of the people who cared enough to come and visit her.

I never leave the hospital that I don’t think about Tammy and the situation she is in. I cannot imagine being trapped in my body, not able to move or speak, and to have lost the ability to openly communicate my thoughts, feeling and needs. At best Tammy can slowly mouth a few words. She is completely at the mercy of the people taking care of her and the few visitors who stop in to see her. The scenery in her world never changes, it’s the same four walls day after day, night after night. The things that are so commonplace to us, such as taking a shower, going for a walk or eating are our favorite foods are no longer an option for Tammy. I can’t begin to fathom what she is going through and what she is thinking. I am more aware than ever that at any given moment that could be me, or someone I love in her situation.

I have gone from making every excuse in the world as to why I can’t visit Tammy to taking every opportunity I can to go visit with her. I am in awe at the transformation that has taken place in my heart and I’m loving it! When I walk into the doors of the hospital, I never know if Tammy is going to be alert or unresponsive to me. No longer do I hope that she’s asleep. I want her wide awake so that I can talk with her and let her know what an inspiration she is to me.

In the beginning I could not understand how Vicki could be so compassionate over someone she had just met, especially someone who could barely communicate with her. When she talked about Tammy, she had tears in her eyes. I just didn’t get “it.” Well, now I do and more often than not, there are tears in my eyes when I talk about Tammy. I’m so thankful that I listened to that still, small voice that urged me to visit Tammy. I’m learning one of life’s invaluable lessons, that it is in giving of one’s self that we are so richly blessed. Stepping out of my comfort zone has taken me on a journey of self discovery, which for me has been a good place to be.

“So we fix our eyes on not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary and what is unseen in eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Buttons to Push

Sometimes a little mishap can turn an ordinary day into one that’s brimming with smiles.

Jim and I were chatting with Chance on the Internet yesterday. I heard what sounded like a phone ringing and received an error message on the chat window that the video had ended. Puzzled, I asked Chance if he had done anything different and he said maybe he hit the wrong button. I decided to start exploring the different buttons and hit one to see what would happen. Imagine my surprise when Chance typed, "I can see you!" At that point I was smiling so much you would have thought he was seeing us in person. Even though Chance wasn't on a computer with a camera, he could see us and get a little bit of home in Afghanistan. And that's almost as good as it gets.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Little Hope, Encouragement and Faith

On December 22, I will be a 14 year breast cancer survivor and on January 31, 2010 Jim will be a five year colon cancer survivor. Having been both the one fighting the monster called “cancer” and the one watching their spouse fight the disease, I’d like to share some things that helped me, as well as some encouragement to someone taking this path.

Unless you go through a cancer diagnosis, you can’t imagine how emotional it can be. It is a difficult journey to say the least, a road of constant uncertainty. The best way to describe it is that you’re on an emotional roller coaster. You get good news, bad news. You feel like you’re coping, than feel like you’re not coping at all. You wonder if you’ll ever look and feel normal again. Even on a day when you’re feeling better, you look sick, which makes you feel sick. You want definite answers, but rarely get them. It seems that cancer occupies your every thought, and there is no escaping those thoughts. You wonder if the time will ever come when you won't be invaded with those thoughts. I will never forget the initial fears I had, wondering if I would be all right. Going through chemotherapy, all the side effects, and endless doctor appointments, was exhausting, mentally and physically. There were times when I questioned God, and wondered where He was. Looking back, I can see that God was with me every moment, and sent me encouragement and help just when I needed it the most. He never left me. He was, and always will be, the only constant we have in life.

When I was going through my diagnosis and chemotherapy, Jim often said he felt like it was harder to be in his shoes, than it was mine. I was the one fighting for my life, while he had to stand by helplessly watching me. I didn’t fully understand the truth of his words, until he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Yes, he could make me comfortable and try to cheer me on, but other than that, the battle was between me and the disease.

I must say I learned from the best when it comes to being a supportive spouse. Jim’s love, support and encouragement made a huge difference during this difficult time of my life. Jim called me every chance he could when he was away from home and stopped by every time he was in the area. There were several times I wanted to throw in the towel, but Jim refused to let me quit. He spent endless hours at the hospital and doctor’s appointments, and never once complained, nor did he criticize me for my feelings and emotions. He tried every way he possibly could to be understanding and supportive. The physical changes that came with breast cancer and chemotherapy, losing my breast and my hair, were such a struggle for me. Jim made it so much better than I ever could have imagined. It was as though he couldn’t see those changes, he looked right past them. I began to appreciate Jim more than I ever had, and we grew closer together than we had ever been.

There were some things that helped with my recovery and instilled in me that I was winning the battle with cancer. I believed that every negative aspect I could turn around, was a victory for me, and a defeat for cancer. Shortly after I was diagnosed, I decided to quit claiming cancer with the word, “my” and begin to refer to it as “the” cancer. I reminded myself on numerous occasions that a doctor’s prognosis was not always the same as what God had planned for my life. Only God sees the big picture. I refused to let the doctors, or other people’s experiences be the gauge that I measured my outcome by.

While going through treatments, and during recovery, I put myself in relaxing and calm environments as often as possible. Countless hours were spent in a swing listening to wind chimes, sometimes reading “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books. I only watched pleasant shows on television, no horror or suspense movies for me. Not only did I journal about my experience, I studied the book of Job and journaled about the passages I read. I put as much positive influence into life as I could, believing this was one more way of beating the diseases.

I printed Bible verses and words of encouragement and put them all over the house. I made a wish list and titled it “Molly’s Wish List.” It was a list of simple things I wanted, or wanted to do and I posted it on the refrigerator for everybody to read. Some were simple wishes, some were wishes that wouldn’t happen for a very long time, such as my wish for grandkids. It was a way to think positive, to believe that I was going to beat cancer, and be here to see my wishes happen. My family loved my list and really enjoyed making my wishes come true. I’ll always remember Chance, coming to me one afternoon with a frozen turkey. He wanted to know how to cook it, so he and Brandon could fix dinner that night, and make a wish come true.

Creston and Jami were grown and married, but Chance and Brandon were still at home. They figured out that colored pencils dipped in water made cool tattoos. We had a fun afternoon letting them tattoo my bald head, and we took pictures. This was a way I could turn something very unpleasant into something fun. Even more than a memory, I like to think this was a life lesson for them, making something negative become something positive. From soccer, to school functions, to church, I did everything in my power to keep our lives as normal as I possibly could. Not only was this important for Chance and Brandon, it was important for me. I didn’t want cancer to rob me of one precious moment in life.

Chemotherapy robbed me of my energy, so I had to learn to accept help! It was so hard for me to let people come over and clean my house, do my laundry or bring us dinner. I came to realize this was one way that friends could contribute to my recovery and help us through this time. Their help made my days so much better, letting me save my energy to do things with my family. Even when Jim was going through chemotherapy, friends came over and did stuff to help out. They helped with things I could have done, but their help lightened my load and gave me more time to spend with him.

A cancer diagnosis, treatments and recovery are a tough time for kids. Pay close attention to the way they are responding and acting. Even if they seem to be doing great with all of this, you never know the thoughts and fears they have. We ended up seeking some counseling from a wonderful Christian counselor, to give the boys someone to open up to, and help them through everything. You can’t begin to know how hard this is for your family members. After my diagnosis, it seemed that every time I called my mom, she would start crying. One day I told her she had to get a grip on things, I was coping and she had to cope. She asked me how I would feel if it were my daughter going through this. It was then that I understood her tears, and why she was struggling so much. I realized that I needed to find ways to encourage her and help her cope. It seems unfair, but sometimes you have to be the one to pull everybody else up. The better you handle all of this, the better all those around you will.

My most important advice is the advice the doctors gave me on my first visit, and also told Jim on his. Listen to your body! If you feel tired, rest. Don’t push yourself like you did before treatment. Chemotherapy is hard physically, the diagnosis is hard mentally. Rest and let your body heal. If you don’t have the energy to do something, don’t do it. Rest instead. This will be a key factor in how fast you recover. Don’t get discouraged if recovery isn’t happening as fast as you want it to. Use the slow times to reflect on the many blessings you have. Soak up every moment.

The day Jim finished his last chemotherapy in September, 2005, I had some tests come back that presented some serious health concerns. After more tests and a DNC, I had a hysterectomy in November. From the first procedure until after the hysterectomy, I was in a constant period of waiting on tests and pathology reports. I had some fears and concerns to say the least. One day I was stressed and voiced my concerns to Jim. He put it all in perspective for me when he asked, “Knowing I couldn’t change anything, did I want to waste precious moments in worry while waiting for the test results? Or did I want to live with no regrets, savoring every moment life gave me?” This was a huge turning point in my life. No matter how difficult it gets, you can’t change any of it by worrying. So try and live for the moment, and trust God for the future.

Take the “what if’s “ out of your thinking. They lend themselves to fear. God wants you to trust Him, and let go of the fears you have. Your feelings will take you places you shouldn’t go, your beliefs will keep you where you should be, grounded and focused on God. Keep reminding yourself that God did not create us to walk by feelings, he created us to walk by faith. It’s so easy to be positive and upbeat when things are going good. But to do so during our trials is a true testimony to God’s power in our life. Two weeks after Jim’s surgery for colon cancer, he was back in surgery with an infected wound, and came home from the hospital with a wound vac. Being a diabetic and on chemotherapy, he had a slow healing time, and numerous medical problems. I became more aware than ever, how important it was for people to see me trusting God, and to be a testimony for the difference God can make in one’s life. I wanted them to look at me and say, “Wow, look at all she’s going through. What gives her the ability to cope with it all?” What we went through was extremely difficult, to say the least. It was painful, miserable, and downright aggravating at times. Looking back if I could change anything, I would
have trusted God more, and worried less. Had I done that, things would have been so much better.

Jim and I can see so many blessings that came from our journey with cancer. We learned not to stress over the little things. And the big things? All the worry in the world won’t change them. We learned that in the midst all the lab results, biopsies, and numerous doctors’ appointments, there is only one constant in our life and that is God. He never wavers. We learned to look for the silver lining in the ominous dark clouds. We learned that everyone has problems, some of them much bigger than ours. Many people would gladly trade places with us. Instead of looking at what we didn’t have or how bad it was, we tried to focus on what we did have, and what Gold had blessed us with. We learned that no matter what is going on in our life, there is always something to be grateful for. No matter how hard it is right now, try and appreciate life, savor each moment and count your blessings. Most importantly, know that there are blessings in everything you go through in life. Some of those blessings you won’t even realize until you reflect back on what you went through. Then you’ll really be in awe of God and how He takes care of every little detail in your life.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yummy Recipes

We had a family dinner at my parent’s house on Saturday to celebrate Dad’s birthday. Thought I’d share a couple of the recipes I made on Saturday and the Chocolate Cherry Cake recipe I made for Mom’s birthday this past July. For Dad’s birthday I made a recipe that his mom, “Essie T” used to make. One of my favorite childhood memories is seeing this fruit salad on her counter when we went to visit. It was the bomb!

Granny Essie’s Fruit Salad
Combine the following:
2 small red apples, core and chop
1 can crushed pineapple in it’s own juice, drained
1 small jar Maraschino cherries, drained
1 small pack of miniature marshmallows

In top of double boiler, whisk together and cook until thickened:
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar

Cool and set aside.

Whip 8 oz. of whipping cream until stiff. Fold the egg mixture into the whipping cream and then coat the fruit salad mixture with it. I like to add 1 Tbsp. sugar to the salad. Chill an hour before serving.

I promise you won’t taste the vinegar/egg mixture in this recipe. The whipping cream tones it down and balances it out, making a delightful fluffy fruit salad.


Mexican Lasagna
1 lb ground beef
½ cup chopped green pepper
½ cup chopped onion
2/3 cup water
1 package Taco Seasoning Packet
1 can black beans (drained)
1 can Mexi-corn (do not drain)
1 can Mexican diced tomatoes (I used Rotel - mild flavor)
1 can refried beans
3 cups cheese - I use a Mexican blend
6 (8 inch) flour tortillas

Brown the ground beef, green pepper and onion. Drain. Add the water and Taco Seasoning packet. Simmer for 2 minutes and add the black beans, Mexi-corn and diced tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes. Spray a 13x9 inch pan with Pam. Put 2 tortillas in bottom of a pan. Then spread ½ can refried beans on tortillas and top with ½ the beef mixture, then 1 cup cheese. Repeat layers. Top with 2 flour tortillas and 1 cup of cheese. Spray tin foil with Pam (to keep cheese from sticking) and cover casserole. Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

This recipe fills a 9x13 pan to the top. It’s a delicious casserole that’s simple to make and feeds a lot of people.


Chocolate Cherry Cake
1 box Devils Food Cake Mix
1 can cherry pie filling
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of almond extract
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup evaporated milk
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350. In a large bowl, beat the cake mix, cherry pie filling, eggs and almond extract until blended. Pour in a greased 13x9 pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Ice cake while warm

Icing
Boil sugar, butter and evaporated milk for one minute. Stir in chocolate chips. Immediately pour over cake.

If you love chocolate covered cherries, you’ll love this cake! Try serving with vanilla ice cream. Yummy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Father

My dad was such a strong encourager and support for me during my battle with breast cancer. He found a simple way to help me look at four rounds of agressive chemotherapy in a more positive way. After my first treatment, he told me to think of it as running bases, and three more would put me on home base. After each treatment he would remind me how close I was to stepping on home base. I was so excited when I reached third base knowing the next treatment put me on home base. There was something comforting to me about the words "home base." Those two little words spoke of safety to me. And believe me I could NOT wait to reach home base. On August 31, my dad will be 84 years old. I found this letter I wrote him for his birthday in 1998. I wanted to express my appreciation to him for being such an incredible dad. Reading back over it is a reminder of the great childhood I had growing up and his inspiration in my adult life. The following is part of the letter I sent him.

Thanks for being such a great Dad when we were growing up. Thanks ~
for coaching all of us in ball,
for holding my hand and skipping with me while singing songs,
for writing me letters when I was a little girl in the hospital,
for picking up puppies and kittens that people had dumped and bringing them home for us to take care of,
for buying me purses when I didn’t need them
for building me a playhouse that gave me so much fun and joy,
for taking me to work with you when I was little (what a special memory),
for always making Valentine’s Day special by giving me a box of candy,
for your patience during the teenage years,
for working hard in the in the garden so we could have fresh vegetables and fruit,
for taking us to church every Sunday,
for taking us on great picnics and fishing trips,
for putting up with four kids on those long vacation trips to Florida and Texas,
for making the best milkshakes in the world,
for teaching us morals and values that are so important today,
for setting an example for us to follow in raising our families,
for all the precious memories I have of growing up in a secure and loving family.

Thanks for being such a great Dad now that we’re grown up. Thanks ~
for your patience with me and Mom as we moved furniture back and forth,
for being the best Grandpa in the whole wide world,
for still working hard in the garden so we can have fresh vegetables and fruit,
for your patience with my endless projects,
for fixing things and making them look brand new,
for making me flower beds that people come by just to look at,
for your patience with me and Mom as you made the flower beds and we supervised,
for the water slide, swings and neat stuff you fixed for the grandkids to have fun with,
for your strong faith in God,
for your concern, care and prayers during the past two and a half years,
for never letting me see the fear you had during this difficult time of my life,
for being positive and encouraging me to hang in there when I didn’t feel I could,
for instilling in me the strength I needed to win the battle against cancer,
And for always being there with a strong shoulder to lean on.


The other day I found a card I made on June 27, 2004, that I mailed to family and friends that know my father. I thought I’d share it as well. Here’s some of what I wrote:

“Knowing Dad as you do, I know you’ll smile at his words of wisdom he gave me on Father’s Day. I wanted to get some Moss Rose from where Granny Essie’s trailer used to be and Dad offered to go with me. The weather was kind of “iffy” before we ventured out and by the time we got to her old homestead it was thundering and lightning all over the place. I told Dad we really should go back home. He ignored my warnings and just kept right on talking and showing me flowers. About the third time I told him my concerns about the lightning, he looked at me with exasperation and said, “If it hits you, it won’t matter ‘cause you won’t know it anyway.”

When we got back to the house, I told Mom that I was scared stiff out there with him. Dad just smiled and said, “It’s appointed unto man once to die and if it ain’t your time, you’ don’t have to worry about it.”

I took the picture of Cade and “Pa” going to the watermelon patch June 15, 2004 to check out the watermelons. It has to be one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken. I have such special memories of holding Dad’s hand and walking beside him as a little girl. I felt truly blessed watching Cade walk beside him, hand in hand. God has been so good to me and these blessings I am so truly thankful for.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Life Well Lived

If one could enjoy a celebration of someone’s life, then I would have to say I enjoyed the celebration of John Schweer’s life. Rather than have a funeral, Liz chose a celebration for John’s service. And what a celebration it turned out to be!

Liz had put the word out, and even included it in the obituary that there was a dress code for this event - lively colors. It would be safe to say that I have never seen so many bright colors as there was at John’s service. The setting for the service was beyond beautiful. The service was held outdoors on a pavilion behind the church, overlooking the gulf coast. It had just rained a couple of hours before. The weather was perfect and the skies were beautiful blue. Huge black oscillating fans circulated the breeze blowing in from the ocean. The music was incredibly uplifting and the pastor’s message was phenomenal. Not only did he talk about John’s personal life, he touched on John’s spiritual life as well. Matt’s sister read the poem “Success” by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Matt read a very touching letter that he wrote Eisley and Beck about their Opa.

If you weren’t well acquainted with John before the service, you were able to get a glimpse into his life and know what a special person he was by the time you left. The reception hall was decorated to reflect his life. The family made a display of memorabilia representing who John was, along with writings telling about him. From his hobbies, to his collections, to his volunteer work, one was able to gain insight into the wonderful life we were celebrating. Liz wrote a beautiful letter to John that was posted for all to read. I loved finding out that years ago she and John planted 500 Christmas tree saplings in the shape of an “S” in the middle of a Nebraska cornfield.

Mary arranged branches from the fruit trees and flowers that John had planted in vases and in Mason Jars to decorate the table where the food was placed. Knowing John loved to put up pickles, the Mason Jars were the perfect containers for some of the arrangements. Matt created a beautiful slide show with music that Liz picked out. At one point during the reception I glanced up and saw Liz standing alone watching the slide show, while people were milling around her. She had the most beautiful smile on her face, a smile that reflected contentment over a life well lived. What a testament to their love and her belief that one day they will be reunited in Heaven. John would have been so proud of her.

I couldn’t help but think how great it would have been if we could have had the service before John’s death. He would have enjoyed every minute of it. I’m sure if he were able to look down from Heaven, he gave a big nod of approval. The service could not have been any more meaningful and appropriate as a way to celebrate his life. My thoughts are that with his passing, Heaven just got a little bit sweeter. I look forward to seeing John again one day and spending eternity with him in Heaven.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Grocery Cart Madness

All that’s left for our trip is packing the suitcase. Today was spent baking, running errands and getting everything together that I don’t want to forget. I made a pound cake batter, baked it in some sweet flower muffin pans that Jami gave me, tied them up in cellophane with ribbons, attached Bible verses and put them in a basket to take to the Schweers. Cookies were baked and some are on their way to Chance, some given to friends and the rest are packed to take to Port St. Joe.

Time to rest, relax and smile.

Thought it would be a good time to blog a little about Chance's Scrapbook. I seem to have kept more of Chance’s school papers than the other kids. Maybe I had more space to pack school keepsakes by the time he was in school than I did with the other kids? Most of his papers had the date on them making it even more fun, when putting a scrapbook together for his high school graduation. I’m sure I enjoyed making the scrapbook way more than he enjoyed getting it. Lots of sweet memories are in that book. The following is one of the entries.

October 3, 1995, Chance wrote: “ I was really embarrassed when I was in Winn Dixie. I was driving the grocery cart and I was not paying attention. Then I ran into an aisle of pickle relish. That was the most embarrassing thing in my life.”

On May 23, 3004, I wrote: “You were embarrassed??? Can you begin to imagine how I felt? The story goes that your Dad and I were grocery shopping with you and Brandon. You were on your stomach on the bottom of the grocery cart, with your arms outstretched, paddling them as you would a boat, making the cart careen down the isle. I yelled, “Stop Chance” at least three times before you CRASHED the cart into a six-foot high display of jars of pickle relish. The entire tower crashed. Thankfully you weren’t hurt. Since you were on the bottom of the car, you were protected. The jars broke and rolled all over the place, even as far as the meat department. Your dad snatched you and Brandon up and ran out the door leaving me standing there by myself. There I stood all alone as people from all over the store ran to see what the commotion was about.”

At a later date, I’ll post about the fire extinguisher incident. It was just as bad, if not worse.

Pacing

Jim and I are planning to go to Port St Joe tomorrow to be with Jami and Matt and to attend a celebration of John’s life on Thursday. This visit will be bittersweet to say the least. As much as I look forward to seeing Jami and her family, as well as the Schweers, I wish it were for a different reason that we were going.

There are some things we need to take care of before we leave, which puts me in a waiting mode, something I’m not very good at doing. I tend to get nervous and anxious and pace a lot, making lists so that I don’t forget anything and starting tasks that I never can find time for. The problem is I find it harder to concentrate as my mind is filled with endless thoughts.

It’s during times like these that I search for stuff to do that makes me smile and lifts my spirits. Yesterday I sorted through a bunch of pictures and put them in a photo album. Lots of fun memories there. When putting the photo album away, I pulled out a scrapbook I made for Chance when he graduated from high school. I couldn’t help but smile reading through the pages. Most of his writing in elementary school revolved around surfing and soccer. Some of the pages are way too funny and will be posted at a later date.

After more pacing and more things checked off my “to do list” I picked up a devotional journal that I finished a couple of days ago and flipped through the pages. I am in awe of all the answered prayers, many of which I had forgotten about. The answered prayers strengthen my faith for the yet unanswered ones and give me an awareness of the immeasurable value that comes from writing out and dating our prayers. The pages reflect how God is taking care of every detail of my life, both the big details and the little ones. October 27, 2008 I wrote, “Thank you God for a new day, a fresh start. Thank you for Your mercy and unfailing love. Thank you for sending Your people to minister to me just when I needed them.” That weekend four different people from our church had called me on the phone to let me know they were praying for me about something we were going through. I went on to write, “I have come to accept that Your ways are not my ways and You are working all this out for my good and Your glory.” There’s an entry I need to be constantly reminded of.

There are a lot of verses from Psalms in my journal. One of my favorite passages is Psalm 19: 1-6: “The Heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes it circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.”

Between errands, cooking, packing and doing other things necessary to leave, the pacing continues. More things will get accomplished than in a usual day. I’m sure I’ll be back on here at some point with some extra time on my hands, using up the minutes before we leave for our trip.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Our hearts are full of sadness...

Even as early as high school, my daughter Jami has been an inspiration to me in her walk with God. On numerous occasions I have called her in tears and she has been the one to comfort me, assuring me that God is taking care of my hurts, fears, concerns, and problems and that He has it all under control. More than once, she has said, “Mom, you have to let go of this and trust God.” I have watched her with a sense of pride at her ability to remain calm and steadfast in her faith, in the midst of a storm.

So, when the phone rang yesterday afternoon and I heard the shakiness in her voice as she said, “Mom” I sensed that something horrible had happened. I asked if something was wrong and waited in fear for her answer. I could barely understand what she said, for the tears in her voice. “Yes,” she said, “ Matt’s daddy died.” Hoping I had not heard her right, I asked if she had just said Matt’s daddy had died. “Yes” was her heart wrenching answer. She had just found out that her father-in-law, John had died of a heart attack. Matt was at school preparing for the start of the school year and she was alone with the two kids when the call came. I felt so helpless in that I am over a thousand miles away from her and could not rush to be by her side. The only solace I could offer was my love and prayers.

Jim and I met Matt’s parents, Liz and John shortly after Jami and Matt started dating and we liked them right away. Liz and John had a very unique and special relationship. Their love for each other was evident and written all over their lives. They enjoyed riding on a tandem bike and in a convertible with the top down. They went to church, the beach, swam together, volunteered, picnicked, gardened, canned vegetables, cooked together, wrote the best Christmas letters ever and even dressed alike. Liz and John had the unique ability to make the simplest of things fun, and the big celebrations in life simple so they would be more fun.

We considered Liz and John as part of our family and invited them for holidays and other events. We loved having them with us and always had more fun when they came. I told Matt this summer that I envied his parents. He asked, “How’s that?” I told him that I have never seen two people who enjoy life as much as his Mom and Dad. They soak up every moment, squeezing it for all it’s worth. Talking with Matt that afternoon made me realize I wanted to be more like his parents, never letting a moment of fun pass me by.

I’ve often told Liz and John how much I love Matt, but realized today that I never thanked them for doing such an incredible job of parenting. Among many other things, they set an example of love and faith for their children. I can honestly say that the lives of our family have been enriched by knowing Liz and John and we are all saddened by his loss. As I told Jami yesterday, they had a relationship like no other. With any unexpected loss, you become more aware of how fragile life is and how in an instant lives are forever changed. My heart aches for Liz as she has lost her soul mate. I ache for Jami, Matt and the rest of the family who knew what a special person John was and loved him so dearly. My sorrow is for my grandchildren as well. They are too young to remember their Opa and will never know what a remarkable, kind, faith living, loving and fun person he was. My prayers, sympathy and love go out to this family. Thank you John for giving us our incredible son-in-law that has so many of your attributes. There’s not a guy out there that I’d rather have married to my daughter and be the father of her children than Matthew.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Veggie Burgers Anyone?

Who would have thought veggie burgers could cause so much stress? I am not a meat eater and only eat fish, seafood and chicken on rare occasions. Other than that, I don’t even like to look at meat or be around when it’s being cooked. Therefore, I am always trying to find ways to get more protein in my diet. One day last June I was in a wholesale warehouse and they were passing out samples of veggie burgers. I tried one and really liked it, checked the label and was thrilled to see they are loaded with PROTEIN. Sign me up people, I have found something that I like, that is quick and easy to cook and has PROTEIN! I walked out of the store with two bags in hand.

When I like something I can eat it over and over and never get tired of it. I started eating the veggie burgers every day, sometimes twice a day for about five weeks. I even packed them in an ice chest and took them on a trip to the Keys. That’s the extent I liked them. After we came back from the Keys, Jami was at my house getting ready to fly back to Dallas. I fixed a veggie burger and let Eisley taste it. She liked them and Jami asked what was in them. All I knew is they had to be healthy since they were made from vegetables and started reading off the list of ingredients. I was horrified when I read the word “soy” in the list. What have I done?

Twelve years prior to this I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer that was hormone positive. The doctors told me to stay away from any form of soy, because it could adversely affect my hormone levels and increase my chances of reoccurrence. Ever since my initial diagnosis I have been extremely careful to avoid all soy products in any form. You can imagine my thoughts when I realized that I had been loading my body with soy for five straight weeks.

I called the doctor Monday morning and explained my situation to the nurse. She spoke with the doctor and said he wanted to see me the next day for a consultation and lab work. That’s the point when I realized the seriousness of the situation and became unbelievably upset. I cannot recall a time when I’ve ever been so mad at me. To say I was infuriated, would be an understatement. I simply could not get pass the fact that I made such a huge mistake, one that could potentially cause me some serious problems. I ranted and raved and threw a tantrum. I am the type of person who likes to be prepared, who is constantly making lists to be sure everything is taken care of, who likes to cover the bases in their life. Realizing something of this magnitude had slipped by me, was sending me over the edge. I ended up calling a wonderful Christian counselor who helped me see the situation from a different perspective. As much as anything else, the perfectionist in me was not coping with the fact I made a big mistake. Knowing the reason behind my anger helped. Then she pointed out how God takes such good care of us. Had I not given Eisley the veggie burger and Jami asked what was in them, I would have continued eating them and who knows what the final outcome would have been. Yes, I made a mistake, but God protected me from continuing in that mistake.

The next day Dr. Marks went over everything with me and told me his strategy. He was going to monitor my estrogen levels closely. I would have to come back in a month, then every six months for a year. Depending on the lab results at that point would determine the next course of action. The once a year check ups that I dreaded would now become way too frequent.

Which brings me back to today. Today was my six months follow up appointment from the last appointment. I never go to the oncologist that I don’t cry at some point. It’s either before I leave, on the way, in the parking lot, in the waiting room, in the exam room or when I leave. At some point it a given, I’m going to cry. My doctor has assured me I’m not the only patient who cries and it’s completely normal, which helps me feel a little less stressed about my crying

Today the crying started a few miles from the Cancer Center. I was thinking about how much I hate going to the oncologist. I hate every aspect of the appointment. I hate driving to downtown Jacksonville, the traffic, the drive and merging in the different lanes on the interstate to get to the Cancer Center. I hate waiting in the lab waiting area for my turn. I absolutely hate the needle stick. This is something that started with chemo and has never stopped. I hate going into the waiting room and seeing the people with drawn faces who are desperately fighting for their lives. I hate waiting for the doctor to come in and watching him as he reads through my chart. I hate when he walks out to get the lab results, while I sit and wonder what he’s going to say when he comes back into the room.

While driving and crying and thinking how much I hate every aspect of my oncology appointment, I wondered how I could find peace for the moment. The answer came way too quickly - an attitude of gratitude. I thought how God must sit and wonder what was going on with all the complaining and no thankfulness. I started thanking him for every thing I could think of about my appointment. Thank you God that I’m going for a cancer check up and not a cancer treatment. Thank you God for a sunny pretty day, so I don’t have to do all this driving and merging in the rain.

The list continued as I walked into the Cancer Center. As I got off the elevator two elderly ladies were coming from the lab. One of them gave me the biggest smile. Thank you God for the beautiful lady that smiled at me putting a smile on my face. Thank you God that I’m not sitting in the “Wolfson Children’s Hospital Surgery Family Waiting Room” that’s right down the hall from the waiting area for the lab. Thank you God they were able to get my lab work with one needle stick. Thank you God that it’s me having a check up and not one of my kids, grandkids, or anybody that I love so much in my life. Thank you God that I am alive and can go for a check up 13 years and 8 months after my diagnosis. When I started thinking of all my blessings, my heart became lighter and I started to feel better right away. It's amazing what a difference it makes when you focus on your blessings and not the situation. Being thankful truly is food for the soul.

The nurse came in to check my vitals and said she remembers me as the lady who ate the veggie burgers. Dr. Marks came in and asked how I was doing. When I told him wonderful, he smiled and said that was the first time he had heard that all day. Hmm, that attitude of gratitude was paying off, both the doctor and I were smiling. When he looked over my chart he made a comment about me and the veggie burgers. Guess I’ll always be known as the veggie burger patient. Dr. Marks said that the results of my lab work should be back next week. If the estrogen level is low enough, I can start back with once a year visits. Regardless, I think I’ll do much better on my next visit and maybe even bypass the crying.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dad's Diagnosis

My dad has Alzheimers. I found out Friday night when Mom called to give me the test results of his MRI. This came as no big surprise to me, but it’s still unsettling to say the least. It’s one thing to suspect something, but once it’s confirmed, you lose all hope that your suspicions were wrong and then you have to face the reality of the situation. My initial thought was “one thing at a time Lord. This is bad timing on your part. I have enough going on in my life right now. I don’t want to go down this path you're taking me.” I am more aware than ever that of such options, we have no choices.

Dad will be celebrating his 84th birthday the end of this month. Physically he is in great shape. Dad is a very high energy person for someone his age. He might take a nap during the day, but the rest of his time is spent doing busy work. Rare is the time you go to their house that he is not outside working in the yard, pulling weeds or mowing. And if he’s not outside, more than likely he’s in his workshop, painting pictures or making picture frames. If you’re a first time guest at my parent’s house, you can bet you won’t leave without one of dad’s pictures that he’s so very proud of.

Mom just celebrated her 83rd birthday last month. She is also in excellent physical health for her age. Where Dad stays busy all the time, mom does what little housework and cooking there is for two people then spends the remainder of her time sitting in a chair reading or watching TV. Rare is the time I have gone to visit and not found her sitting in "her" chair. When we're there for family gatherings, Mom will supervise what is going on in the kitchen from her chair, calling out to us, asking if we need help and telling us where the pots and pans are, etc. There's one thing you can always bet on, Mom is keeping a close eye on Dad. She checks on him constantly, worrying and fretting over him.

Physically I have not noticed any changes in Mom or Dad, but have gradually seen changes in their state of mind. Where Mom has become very forgetful, Dad seems to imagine things that just aren’t happening. The Saturday before Mother’s Day I called Mom that morning to tell her I wanted to come spend the afternoon with her and bring her dinner. I wanted to make sure she would be home and not planning to cook. I asked if she needed me to bring anything. She needed her prescription picked up in Palatka, but said she had plenty to last a few days and would pick it up Monday when doing errands.

When I arrived at Mom’s the truck was gone and the house was locked. I was a little concerned, knowing she was expecting me. I called Creston to see if he knew where Mom and Dad were, but he had no clue. I was fixing to go to my brother’s house to see if he knew where they might be when they drove up. They had gone to Palatka to pick up her medicine. She didn’t remember me telling her that I was coming to her house or that I had offered to pick up her prescription. Dad asked me how the little boy was doing that came with me. I was by myself.

I have suspected Dad has Dementia for a while now, but was hoping that Dementia would be all there was to his confusion. The results are in and the questions play out in my mind. When Mom told me about Dad’s diagnosis, she seemed amazingly calm, especially since she’s such a worrier. I have to wonder, "Does she have any comprehension of what this means?" I ache for her. I know how much she loves him and even more how much she needs him in her life. Does Mom realize that as things progress she won’t have him? It will get to the point he won’t know her or his surroundings. She will have him in her life, yet not have him. She will lose this person that she so desperately needs in her life.

How long do we have before Dad is entombed in a state of confusion? Does this vary from person to person. Will the medicine they gave him make a difference, or could this escalate rapidly? Jami and Matt are coming home for Thanksgiving. Knowing the uncertainty of the situation, she’s thankful they made plans to come home. Surely we have a few months? Dad cries every time he sees a picture of Chance in his uniform or there is something said about him being in the war. Will he know Chance in January when he comes home? Even more, will Mom’s state of mind be where she can continue to keep a watch over Dad?

Where is this journey taking me? My mind goes in all different directions and is filled with endless questions. Then I remind myself that the uncertainty of a future is not for me to worry about. I have to put the questions to rest. As with everything else in my life, I’m to let go and trust God, knowing His ways are not my ways., but His ways are always right. He sees the big picture and everything will unfold according to His master plan and what will bring Him glory. It is through adversity that I will become dependent on God and that’s right where He wants me.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Mom's Birthday

Saturday was Mom’s 83rd birthday. I thought it would be cool if we all showed up at her house with food for dinner and surprised her. Note to self: When planning a surprise birthday party, make sure the person being surprised is going to be home. My brother and I arrived at 3:00 loaded with food to find an empty house. Creston and his family came a little later, then Sandy and her kids showed up. Everybody asked me where the “birthday girl” was and I had to tell them I was clueless. You can imagine as time ticked away, I was teased about my “surprise birthday planning” skills. We all sat around the house wondering where Mom and Dad had gone and how long they would be gone. For two hours we sat, while the food got cold and the kids got hungry. Had it not been for the chips and dip I brought, I doubt there would have been any food left by the time the birthday girl arrived.

Finally Mom and Dad drove up, loaded with Wal-Mart bags. She was surprised all right. The house was full of people sitting around and kids running all over the place. She and Dad had almost stopped to eat on their way home. I’m so glad they didn’t ‘cause I’m sure I would have gotten the third degree from Creston and Jack on that one.

After dinner, we all went outside and let the kids have a water balloon war. The two biggest kids having the most fun were Creston and Jack. No big surprise there. After playing with Silly String, and a game of dodge ball the kids had a blast swimming in the pond. We filled more water balloons and they threw them back and forth in the pond. If the balloons didn’t pop, they would float in the pond. They loved chasing down the floating balloons. Creston held Jonas (my niece's little boy) by his feet over the water so he could pick up the balloons floating near the dock. Since Jonas can't swim he spent most of his time throwing water balloons off the dock. He got pretty sneaky with his attack plan. He would hide a balloon behind his back and call his sister to come close to the dock so he could throw his balloon at her.

I can’t imagine having a better birthday than Mom had. Even more than the nice dinner and yummy chocolate cherry cake and ice cream, she spent the afternoon sitting in a chair on her porch, watching four of her great grandkids laughing and playing. What a perfect place to be in life.

Mom and Dad's wedding anniversary is in April. On my way home from her birthday party, I thought about the phone call I received from her on July 4th. Mom woke up early that morning to go to the bathroom. When she got back in bed, Dad rolled over and said, “Happy Anniversary.” She told him it was the 4th of July, not their anniversary. He said, “Well, I knew we were supposed to be celebrating something.”

Saturday, July 25, 2009

~ Daisy Dukes ~

Ashley and I made plans to meet at the beach Wednesday. I invited Jim, but he turned down my invitation. Besides a doctor's office, the beach is his least favorite place to be. When I was getting ready I called Cade to ask him a question. Assuming Jim was going, Cade said to remind him not to forget the fishing poles. When I gave Jim Cade's message, he said "Well, I guess I’m stuck now and have no option but to go to the beach."

Jim never wears shorts. Before we left for the beach, I made the decision that he needed some cut-offs to wear to the beach. He fought me on this, but I insisted he’d be way more comfortable in shorts, and he finally caved in. He had on an old pair of jeans and told me to cut them off while they were on him. He put his finger on the side of the jeans and told me to cut them right where his finger was. I cut a slit to mark the place and had him take the jeans off, knowing I couldn’t make a straight cut with them on him. I cut them right by his marking. I guess they had fell down some on him when he showed me where to cut. When I finished, they were about six inches long from the crotch to the bottom of the shorts. Thinking they would still look OK on him, I had him try them on. I started ROTFL, it was hysterical. They were super short and his legs were so white. He informed me that he was not going to wear "daisy dukes" to the beach. I swear I cut them right where he said, but he accused me of cutting them shorter. Needless to say those wouldn't work, so he found an old pair of shorts and off we went.


We all loaded up on the sunscreen. All but one of us. Jim turned down my offer of sunscreen. I should have insisted, but didn’t give it a second thought. I decided to grab a bite to eat before swimming and looked for the plastic knives for the mustard and mayo. I could not find them them anywhere. I searched the bags a second time with no success. Thinking I had left them in the car, I treked back to the car. I was shocked when I walked up to my car. Not only was the door unlocked, it wasn't completely closed and my purse was on the front seat. I can honestly not recall a time in my life when I have left my car unlocked and my purse in plain view. What made this worse was that our our was parked on the other side of the boardwalk, completely out of our view. I looked all through the car, but the knives weren't there either. I locked it up and went back to the beach. One more search and I found them in a bag I had already searched. God's ways never cease to amaze me. Had I not overlooked the knives in the bag, my purse would have been easily accessible to anyone passing by my car. A little annoyance became a big blessing.

When we got ready to leave, I looked at Jim sitting in his chair and noticed his knee was bright red and I mean bright! I said "oh no, look at your knee, you are sunburned." To which he replied, "no I’m not, it’s red because I was resting my hand there." He refused to believe that he was sunburned. Funny thing, when we got home, it was still red! Turns out it wasn’t just his knee that was red, His other knee, the front of his legs and his feet are all cooked! The icing on the cake, Cade was more interested in catching critters and little fish in the rocks, than he was fishing with Jim. Jim spent most of his beach time sitting in a chair in pure misery baking in the sun.

Kirby and I had a blast playing and jumping in the waves. We came in for a few minutes, loaded up on sunscreen, grabbed her mask and went back to the waves. On the way she said to me, "I love Molly at the beach." Her bathing suit had stretched and her bottoms kept slipping down when the waves hit. At one point she said, "oh no, I almost lost my drawers." I asked her what we would do if she lost them, thinking she would say something like "have to get mom to bring me a towel to wrap up in." She replied, "Go search for them." She always has the cutest way of expressing herself.

On the way home from the beach we decided to play "Hang Man." Cade went first and hung us quickly. It was a four letter word and the only letter Jim, Kirby and I guessed was "e" and there were two of them in the middle. We kept guessing, even after we hung the man and couldn’t figure the word out. The word? ‘Beer!" So Cade went a second time and it was a five letter word. We tried and tried and hanged the man again. This time his word was "drunk!" So Kirby took a turn and we guessed her word. It was "wine!" Then Cade took a turn and his word was "crazy." All this from two kids who are rarely, if ever around alcohol. I called Ashley to share the "alcohol" hang man words Cade and Kirby used. She said Creston bought them two fizzy drinks the night before and they started saying they were drinking beer and getting drunk. Ashley told them they couldn’t use those words. They substitued the word "crazy" for "drunk." Guess that explains Cade’s "crazy" word on hang man.

Wednesday night was the first night Kirby would stay with us since getting home from Texas. Every time we ask her to spend the night, she says, "only if mommy can come." I had to bribe her with sugar cookies to get her to come, but she did and never once cried or ask for Ashley. Last night She found a website on Disney where you can create your own fairies. She had so much fun designing the size, clothes, hair color, hair style, eyes, accessories, etc. of her fairies. She named her first fairy, "Glory morningflower." After you design your fairy, you can take them to places in the forest and make fairy friends.

The next morning Kirby and I were playing with her fairies on the internet and Cade came in the office to see what we were doing. He had just woke up and was still in his underwear. He sat in my lap and was watching the fairies. All of a sudden with a panicky voice, he asked, "Can those fairies see me in my underwear?" Priceless!

When Jim came downstairs that morning I was shocked as to how bad his sunburn was. Never letting an "I told you so" moment pass me by, I had to remind him that I offered him sunscreen. He never ceases to amaze me in how he tries to turn the blame back on me. He said, "it’s all your fault for insisting I wear shorts to the beach. If you had just left me alone I would have worn my jeans and none of this would have happened." While putting aloe on the sunburn, I commented on how bad it is. He told me that he's "microwaved to the bone.""