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.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

You're never too old to learn something...

Jim and I love school holidays as they mean more time with Cade and Kirby. Since they were out of school Monday, they came up Sunday afternoon, spent the night and all day with us. They brought their Wal-Mart gift cards that were burning a hole in their pockets and Jim and I promised them a shopping trip. They started posing the big “When?” question shortly after they woke up Monday morning. I had some things to take care of first and told them it would be after lunch.

After lunch I was taking an important phone call when Cade walked into the room. He held up the following note he had written:

That sweet little note was all it took for me to put everything on the back burner. I hung up the phone, told him and Kirby to get ready and tell Jim we were ready to hit the road.

Jim and Cade made it to the car a few minutes ahead of me and Kirby. No big surprise there! While waiting on us, Jim and Cade got into a discussion as to why it takes women/girls longer to get ready than it does guys. Cade told Jim he knew the answer. “ Women are cold blooded and that’s why they are so slow. Other than that, they just don’t care.” Pretty smart thinking for a nine year old.

After a fun shopping trip we went back to the house and started dinner. Creston and Ashley came up and asked if I wanted to go appliance shopping with them. Creston wasn’t feeling well and he thought I might be of some help negotiating prices. Ashley suggested we walk in separately, and shop as if we didn’t know each other, then compare deals. Since we were short on time, we went for Plan B. Get the best deal on a washer and dryer and then ask if they would get a better deal if they bought a dishwasher.

I felt pretty confident of my shopping strategies until the sales clerk gave Creston her final price. I looked at Marsha and asked if she give them a better deal if they bought a dishwasher. “No, that was as low as they could go.” I took her at her word, but my wise son knew better. He and Ashley picked out a dishwasher. Creston ask for the bottom line price of the three appliances. After reviewing those, he got tough with his negotiating and asked for a lower price. Marsha talked with her boss and came back with a lower price. He still had some tricks up his sleeve and told her he was leaving to go check prices other places. We walked out of the store. At this point I realized that I didn’t get such a good deal on the two appliances I purchased a couple of months ago. I took the first offer, thinking it was the best offer. WRONG!

Creston had the perfect plan, pulled out the big guns and called Jami. She went to work researching prices on the internet. While he ran in to grab some food, he asked me to call her back and see what she had came up with. Jami answered the phone with “Price Line Hot Line!” She found the same washer and dryer for less, but couldn’t find the dishwasher for a lower price. Armed with that information we went back to the store.

When Creston walked in Marsha said, “We were hoping you would come back, we can offer you lower prices. “ Geez!, Couldn’t she have done that before he walked out??? After she gave him the bottom line prices, Creston gave her the prices Jami had found and got $147 more off the washer and dryer. Now that’s smart shopping. And to think Creston thought he needed my help. HA!

While we were shopping Jim, Cade and Kirby watched “Babe: Pig in the City.” In the movie there is a little crippled dog that has a brace on his back two legs with wheels on it, so he can move around. The dog was chasing a bad guy and grabbed a rag hanging out of the door of the truck so he could go faster. All was going well, until the truck turned a corner. The little dog was thrown into the street, landed on his side and appeared to be dead.

All of a sudden Kirby belted out in a hysterical cry and begin squalling. It startled Jim and he thought something had happened to her. (Just like a guy to be clueless as to why a girl is crying while watching a movie.) He asked what was wrong and before she could answer, an annoyed Cade said, “Aw, Jim the dog died.” Jim started to explain the dog wasn’t dead when Babe pushed the dog back up on his wheels and the dog took off. Simultaneously Kirby’s crying stopped. Cade looked at Jim and said, “She does that all the time.”

Jim and I received a little bit of education Monday from the younger generations. I learned that appliance shopping is just about as intense as car shopping. You need to be informed, have a partner in front of a computer, and be prepared to fight for the best deal. (Next time I’m taking Creston and having Jami manning the phones,) Jim learned why women are the last out the door. It's safe to say that he still hasn’t figured out the emotional reactions women/girls have when it comes to movies and he probably never will!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Neighbor

Other than having more than the usual amount of stuff surrounding her house and in her carport, it’s been nice having Clara living across the street. You name it and you can bet Clara has it and what’s more, she’s willing to give you anything she has. I can’t decide if she would be considered a hoarder or is she just a thrifty person? I read that hoarders acquire possession that are of limited value and they are reluctant to part with them. Clara’s generosity is possibly what keeps her out of the “hoarder” category.

The first time I went in Clara’s house I was looking all over the place, wanting to take it all in, yet trying not to be obvious. I had NEVER seen so much stuff in so many places and piled so high, as it is in Clara’s house. Indescribable! All I could think about was pictures. This was all too darn interesting not to document with pictures. I wondered how a person could go about asking someone to let them take pictures of the inside of their house??? If only I knew the answer to that one.

Nothing is ever wasted at Clara’s house. She takes every juice bottle, milk bottle or any other plastic drink container that she’s used, and fills it half full with water. She leaves the bottles on her table for a few days, pours the water on her plants and puts the container in her recycle bin. Every piece of rotten fruit, vegetable or egg shell is thrown around her plants for fertilizer. Once she told me that she puts the hair out of her hairbrush on her roses. I know, that's just too much information!

Summer before last, I needed some extra jars for the Monarch caterpillars I was collecting. Clara had all I needed and then some left over. This summer when I needed jars I knew right where to go. Clara doesn’t throw a glass jar away because “you never know when somebody might need one.” True, I’ve needed them two years in a row and she’s had plenty. No doubt her inventory of jars will be replenished by next summer and if I need some, I’ll be knocking on her door and know I won’t be disappointed.

When I mentioned to Clara that I was going to buy some clay pots she showed me the stash she had rescued out of someone’s garbage. She said to take all I wanted. If I need a postage stamp, Clara has them in every denomination they come in and will give me one or sell me how many I need. If I mention someone is having a birthday, she is quick to ask if I need a card to send. She has boxes of them for every occasion and little Valentines as well. She even has a vast assortment of stickers that she likes to fancy up her envelopes with, and has offered those to me as well

Come yard sale time, Clara has the neatest little fold-up table that she loans me. It’s a perfect size and very light weight, making it easy for me to tote to my house. The trick is getting it out of her shed. It takes both of us to move enough stuff so we can get the table out. I don’t dare try to put it back by myself. I prop it by the shed and in time it disappears. I know it’s back in its proper place because that’s how she keeps order with the chaos. As much stuff/junk as she has, she knows where everything is and it is always put back where it belongs.

Not just for all she has that she will give or loan to me so freely, but for all she so willingly takes off my hands, makes it wonderful having Clara for a neighbor. I used to set stuff by the curb in case someone wanted it. The item would magically disappear within the hour and reappear under Clara’s carport or in her yard. After this happened a few times,I thought I’d make it convenient for her and started taking my unwanted items over to her house. Clara has never turned anything down, and says that if she can’t use it she’ll find someone who can. Even so, she doesn’t strike me as a matchmaker for her treasures so I’m not sure how often she actually goes looking for someone who can use what I give her. I think once an object reaches its destination in her house, it stays there.

An old couch no one wanted and I needed out of my house was toted to Clara’s. When we replaced our mattress set, Clara took the old one. Old shelves, a dining table, assorted mismatched dishes, Christmas mugs, a large plastic tub, old toys and other odds and ends have all ended up in her possession. It doesn’t matter if something is broken, Clara will take it. I recently sat an old broken wicker chair out by the curb for the garbage man to haul off. Within the hour Clara was looking at the chair. Broken beyond repair and not safe to sit in, she still wanted it and there it sits by her carport.

If you could define someone's personality by their garbage can, mine would say that I’m an “if you don’t need it, toss it” kind of person. (Watch out Jim! HA HA!) Clara’s would say, ”use it or keep it until you can find a use for it.” On rare occasions when we have company or forget to put our garbage out, we end up with a can that’s overflowing. That’s when it really comes in handy having Clara for a neighbor. There’s always plenty of room in Clara’s can and she graciously allows me to share the space with her. Just one more perk to living across the street from a hoarder/thrifty person.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


At the suggestion of his doctor, Mom took my dad to see a “brain” doctor (as she calls him) a couple of weeks ago. I met them at the neurologist’s office for Dad’s first appointment. After going over Dad’s symptoms, Dr. Quick is of the opinion that Dad does not have Alzheimer’s. He thinks the problem stems from some medications Dad was taking and the recent fall in December. We’ve noticed a drastic change in Dad since his accident. Dr. Quick recommended Mom take Dad off a couple of prescriptions and scheduled him to have an EEC.

Yesterday I met Mom and Dad at Dr. Quick’s office to get the results of the EEC. The EEC showed some irregular brain waves in the area of the concussion. Dr. Quick wants a follow up EEC repeated in six weeks and feels he’ll know more at the point. Dr. Quick explained because of Dad’s age, it’s likely that his brain will not fully recover from the concussion. Quiet possibly he’ll be talking nonsense the rest of his life.

When we left Dr. Quick’s office I offered to sit in the truck with Dad while Mom went to have some lab work done at her doctor’s office. I don’t know when the last time was that Dad and I talked and he was held captive. Today was a rare occasion and I left in tears for what I’m losing and with a heart of gratitude for what I have.

What I learned sitting in the truck with Dad: He asked me if I want a Rat Terrier. He seems to have one that I can have. His parents always had Rat Terriers and they are better at catching a rat than a cat is. Dad has too many dogs and the grocery bill is too high to feed them. If it wasn’t for the chickens, he doesn’t know what they would do. His big black and white dog is missing. The missing dog is in the nursing home and mom needs to hurry so they can go check on his dog. He has lots of kittens and needs to get home and check on them. He’s been miserable day and night checking on all the puppies. There are no pigs because it’s too cold to take care of them. His mom and dad moved to Florida but the pay wasn’t enough so his dad went back to work for the railroad.

Dad was commenting on vehicles as they rode by when a truck went by with a sign on it that said, “CB1 since 1925.” Dad read it out loud and said to me, “CB1 what? A tail hole?” (Oh, if my mom had heard that, the trouble he would have gotten into! I don’t think the concussion could have rescued him out of that one!) Then he told me he was born in 1925. (True) He talked about the trees in the distance and said there was a cedar tree way off. Not content to sit idle and do nothing, Dad was starting to get frustrated waiting on Mom. He looked at me and said, “My gosh, they’re going to be serving supper before long!” We both thought that was hysterical and burst out in laughter. About that time a man came out to get in his car and Dad opened his truck door. “Where are you going?” I asked. He answered, “I’m going to see about going with him. It looks like a pretty good ‘go’ and Grandpa’s going to hitch a ride.” I told him to close the door, he wasn’t going anywhere.

Mom walked up just before Dad took off with the stranger parked beside us. When I got out, she thanked me for coming and for sitting with him. “Is there anything I can do for you?” She asked. “Just take him to the nursing home to check on his dog.” I told her. She hugged me and we both started crying. “We might as well laugh” she said and I walked away in tears.

I sat in my car a few minutes before driving off, thinking about the situation. The Bible verse “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16) came to mind. There is so much to be thankful for, with Dad’s situation. Even though he talks a lot of gibberish, there is some connection to his life in everything he says. Like a child, he is content to carry on conversations about people, places and things, only the people, places and things are a little jumbled in his mind. He’s happy, still has a sense of humor, knows his surroundings and who we are. That in of itself, is a blessing to be thankful for.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Oh So Typical

As much as I am an organizer and a list maker, my system seems to fail me when I’m going out of town. Whether it's going on an overnight trip or an afternoon at my parents’ house, more than likely I’m going to forget something. Several times we’ve made it a few blocks from the house only to turn around and come back to retrieve a forgotten item. Today I found a journal entry I wrote after such an incident this past August. Since it's so typical of me and the way Jim reacts to me, I thought I'd post it on my blog.

August 19, 2009
The car is packed, the house alarm is set, the door is locked and Jim and I get in the car to leave for our trip. As Jim is backing the car out of the driveway he asks, “Did you remember the directions?” Hmmm, let me think. I check the notebook where I had put them and nope, they weren't there. Jim pulls back up to the house. I unlock the door, run inside, turn off the alarm, find the directions, reset the alarm, lock the door, run back to the car and off we go.

Less than two miles from the house I reach for the car charger to the phone only to realize it’s not where I keep it. We pull off the side of the road , search the car and there’s no charger to be found. Back to the house we go and the whole “unlock door, alarm scenario” is repeated.

Knowing where the spare charger is kept, I send Jim to unlock the door, turn off the alarm and grab it, while I keep searching the car for the missing one, simply because I can’t stand to misplace something. After the door is locked and the alarm is set for the third time today, I thought I would lighten the mood that was going south fast. Pretending to find the charger, I said, “Guess what I just found!” As he backed the car out of the driveway, he looked at me in total frustration and said, “I don’t care if you forgot your lung machine, we’re not going back again.”

It never fails when I do something I think is funny and Jim doesn’t see the humor in it, the situation becomes even funnier to me. The more I laugh the more aggravated he becomes. Today I realized this might be a good habit to break. I’m just hoping he doesn’t find the missing phone charger when we unpack the car.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy ending 2009, Happy beginning 2010!

Even though we felt the financial crunch as did many others, reflecting back I would have to say 2009 was one of the best years of my life. It was a year filled with blessings, the kind you just can’t put a price tag on. Among other things, we stayed healthy, rejoiced over the birth of a new grandson, had a lot of special family time, and stretched our faith. For me, 2009 was a year of positive changes, self-discovery and spiritual growth. Some of this was brought about by faith, some by tragedy and some by a chance encounter with a total stranger.

In May I traveled to Dallas and had the delightful experience of being at the hospital for the birth of Jami and Matt’s son, Benjamin Beck. When Chance deployed the end of June, Jami and Matt met us in Kentucky with their two little ones in tow, and we had a wonderful time together. In November Jami and the kids came for a two week stay and Matt and Brandon followed a few days later for a week long visit. Having three out of four kids and all four grandkids home for Thanksgiving, made for a very thankful day. Chance made it home just in time for Christmas making the day a lot more merry and bright.

Jim and I enjoyed two seasons of watching Cade and Kirby play baseball. Jim and Cade bonded through endless hours of fishing this summer. There were some priceless moments sitting under the bridge watching the two of them making memories. Kirby, never being one to spend the night away from home, stayed several nights with me, giving us some fun bonding time as well. I’ve learned baking sugar cookies seems to be the temptation that will get her to leave home for a night.

We knew at the beginning of 2009 that Chance would be deploying to Afghanistan sometime in the summer. I knew this was going to be a difficult time for me and it was “sink or swim.” I could either let go and trust God, or spend the time being a nervous wreck. I chose “trust.” It wasn’t always easy and there were some setbacks, but I did much better than I ever thought I would. Learning to trust God, and the faithful prayers of many friends brought me peace beyond understanding.

Matt’s father passed away unexpectedly in August. Even though I had known John for sixteen years, I knew more about him after I attended the celebration of his life. Not only did he live life to the fullest, he gave of his life to others. I realized that day I wanted more purpose and meaning in my life and set out to make some positive changes and find a way to give of myself. Little did I know how God would bring it all about.

In September a friend introduced me to Tammy. Tammy had been in a horrific car accident and neither her seat belt held, nor her air bag deployed, leaving her a quadriplegic on a ventilator. She had been transferred to a hospital less than two blocks from my house. After visiting Tammy a few times, I became aware the visits with her were changing my life. She was inspiring me with her faith, her ability to find joy in the midst of her circumstances and her heart of gratitude for any little kindness shown to her. Now I find myself looking at my problems from a different perspective and I’m learning to be more appreciative of all things in life. I never walk out of the hospital that I’m not aware of how blessed I am, just by being able to walk out the door.

One Friday night in September Jim and I took Cade fishing at the city pier near our house. People are so friendly on the pier that it was no surprise when a couple spoke to us as they walked to the end of the pier. On their way back, they stopped again. One thing led to another and we ended up sharing a little about our lives. The wife happened to mention that she volunteers at an OB clinic in Green Cove Springs for women who can’t afford health care. The clinic is open one day a week and is staffed by volunteers. Was I dreaming or what? I love newborn babies and pregnant women. Here was an opportunity for me to be around both, with hours that work around my schedule and at a location less than two miles from my house! I was so excited about the prospect of volunteering I showed up the next Thursday at the clinic and have been back every week since.

I love, love. love every minute I spend at the clinic, as do the other volunteers. We often talk about why we enjoy it so much and think it’s because it’s not a job where we have to work, it’s a job where we volunteer to work. Not only that, we have the sweetest patients ever! They walk in with grateful hearts and when they leave, we feel like we’re the ones that were blessed. I think it can all be summed up by a statement “Dr. D” said the other day. “This is my therapy!”

Looking back I know that chance encounter on the pier wasn’t really a “chance” encounter after all. God orchestrated all the little details so we would be sitting on the pier just at the right time that night, and Mary and Matt would stop and talk with us. Arranged by Him to fulfill a purpose, I gained a new friend that night and found a meaningful way to give back in life.

2009 has been a year where I feel like I found myself, I’m happy with who I am, what I’m doing, and where I’m going. I look forward to seeing what God has in store for me in the coming year. Here’s wishing you a 2010 that takes you places you never imagined and gives you experiences that transform your life, bringing you immeasurable blessings.