Sunday, June 29, 2008

They're here! :)

Shelby returned safe and sound from her mission trip today. Other than picking her up, the only thing I have done all day is play with my sweet babies. I'll post again soon! :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

They are on the way! Are we ready????

Jimmy, Tiffanie, and my grand-twins are arriving today! :)

Here is the warning photo that Tiff sent yesterday.

I’m not worried. As long as Jim and Tiff are bringing their cages and extra liners we should be just fine!

Ah well, it should just add to the zoo-like atmosphere we have going around here. I’m talking about the joys of remodeling. This is what the main bathroom looks like right now. Everybody will be using the bathroom attached to our bedroom. Oh joy!

The timing of all this was not my idea, remember? Dang probate, anyway. (grumble.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Joy Comes in the Morning ...

…is the title of the post made by Marsha over at Breathings of the Heart the day after she and Kent were married. Her post so hit home with me, because that is the best description of how I felt the morning after our wedding. Today we are celebrating our "morning after" anniversary. (Arthur and I find any excuse to celebrate something, but I'll save that for another post!)

We have one picture from “the morning after,” and like most of my photos there is a story behind it.

When Art and I left the reception to head to a “romantic getaway,” it didn’t occur to us to pack an overnight bag. In the morning, after the joyful fog lifted for a moment, we found ourselves with no clothes other than our wedding attire. He donned his tux bottoms just long enough to go search his car. Fortunately, there was the outfit I had worn to the chapel before I changed into my wedding dress. The only clothing for Arthur was a pair of scrub bottoms and an old paint shirt!

We had to return to my place to relieve Aunt Paula from babysitting. (The kids were due to be delivered at camp later in the day, and then we scheduled to leave on our honeymoon.)

Paula took this shot of us, and even in the unusual outfit you can see from our expressions that joy truly does come in the morning! :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Happy 4th Anniversary to us! :)

Today is our the actual date of our 4th anniversary. Annie and Rob are also celebrating their anniversary today, so happy anniversary to them!

Today we are not only celebrating 4 years of marriage, but also 37 years of friendship. My biggest fear when our romance began was that we might ruin our friendship in the process, but I'm glad we took the risk!

Back in 1972 Arthur introduced me to the writings of Kahlil Gibran. In fact, I still remember him reading passages from "The Prophet" to me on lazy afternoons when we would hang out at his place! For this reason, we chose a bit of Gibran for one of the readings we used at our wedding. Although the subject of marriage is addressed in The Prophet, we selected the essay about Friendship for our wedding. Here are some photo memories from over the years along with the essay:

On Friendship
Kahlil Gibran

And a youth said, Speak to us of Friendship.

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay."

And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.

When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain
to the climber is clearer from the plain.

And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Happy anniversary to my love, my friend.

*Photos: 1972, 1971, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1994, 2004

Wedding memories: Click here

Monday, June 23, 2008

Out with the old, in with the new.

Does anybody need a new hot water heater? We know a great heater company, if there is a distributor in your town!

Our old hot water tank was manufactured by a company named A.O. Smith . It was the original tank that was installed in this house when it was built in the 1970’s, and it was working right up to the time we unplugged it to put in a new one. Unfortunately, back when it was installed, city code didn’t require it to be on a stand. Over the years moisture from the floor rusted out the bottom of the tank.

The nearest distributor is over 200 miles away so we had to get a different brand. I sure hope the new one works as well as the old one did.

So… goodbye Mr. A.O. Smith.

Welcome Mr. Bradford White! :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Anniversary Month

Our 4th wedding anniversary is rapidly approaching. Our church has a little blessing and renewal of marriage vows once a month so, along with the other June couples, this month was our turn.

It’s a bit different for us than the first time we made our vows to each other, though. Back then we headed for a big celebration, then on to a romantic getaway. Today we are renting a van to pick up a tub and two toilets! Does that mean our love is in the toilet? (groan!)

In reality, the wedding, the reception, and honeymoon were wonderful. But this is where the real love is, in enjoying the mundane, everyday things together. I am still so grateful to have this man with me for better or for worse, through painting and plumbing….!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A quick update

Our remodeling work has been on hold the past couple of days because Shelby is preparing to go on the Catholic Heart mission trip. We are saying lots of prayers for the group to stay safe in New Orleans. I have to take Shel to the bus tomorrow at an hour that makes me feel some mild un-Christian like emotion, but I will be better by noon!

We are in “hurry up and wait” mode with the installers. All the materials have been ordered and paid for, but now we have to wait for phone calls to set installation times. I guess it could be worse; at least we are living in the cell phone age. Remember the days when we had to sit home to wait all day for a call that might never come?

Perhaps I should think about getting to bed soon. Since my vacation started I forgot that 5:30 doesn’t only come in the afternoon. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

This is how the fun begins!

It's rather difficult to photograph macaroni on the ceiling. It's almost as difficult to figure out why the macaroni is there in the first place. :)

The kids finally broke down laughing and 'fessed up. It seems that when a cook needs to find out if the pasta is fully cooked, all he has to do is throw a piece of macaroni on the ceiling. If it sticks, it's ready!

I have been so preocupied recently that I didn't even notice the new overhead pasta decor until we began preparing the kitchen and dining room for a new paint job. Although we are having professionals install the new sink, ceramic tile and countertops, we are fully capable of doing the painting ourselves. (I think.)

Um, John? I think the paint goes on the ceiling, not on you.

We have finished 3/4 of the painting. All we have left to do is apply the contrasting color. Yes, I helped! You don't seriously believe those three would let me get away with just taking pictures of them while they work, do you?

Tune in later this week for the next installment of "Adventures in Paint and Macaroni!"

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Melancholy Relief

Today brought an end to all of the financial and legal dealings. My soul is completely worn out, but relieved as well. Arthur bought into this house, we finished up the transaction at the title company, and he and I are now co-owners. Both of us are sinking a good sum of money into remodeling during the next month.

The kids and I started moving and removing some of our old stuff to prepare for the remodel. There is one thing that has been frozen in time since Andy went to the hospital for emergency surgery in November of 2001. He had received a Louis L’Amour wall calendar the previous Christmas from Doug and Marilyn. I hung it on the dining room wall near his hospital bed and we changed it each month to the next piece of Western art. But from November on, time went into suspension. I brought him home from the hospital the following February, he died three days later, and I never changed the page.

This afternoon I finally took down the dusty calendar set on the month of November 2001, along with the dried flowers from some of his funeral arrangements, and it will never be placed on the wall again. I don’t know why it took me so long to do it. I also don’t know why there are days it feels to me like it's still November of 2001.

P.S. I didn't read the quotation on the page until after I published this post the first time. It seems almost like a message:

We must not lose touch with what we were, what we had been, nor must we allow the well of our history to dry up, for a child without tradition is a child crippled before the world. Tradition can also be an anchor of stability and a shield to guard one from irresponsibility and hasty decision.

It really is important to keep alive the history and tradition in our family, as well as to embrace the new blessings in our lives.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

It's Father's Day...

…and here is a memory of a wonderful husband and father.

An interesting thing happened this morning. The phone rang at 8:00. Arthur answered and it was my stepdaughter Frances, Andy’s oldest daughter.

“Happy Father’s Day, Arthur!” she said. “You are the only dad I have now, and you’re stuck with me I guess. So I had to call you!”

This crazy blended family of mine never ceases to amaze me!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hair of the Dog

Our dog Tommie Girl is just about the perfect pet, except for one thing. She sheds. And, she sheds. And she SHEDS!

Tommie is half Newfoundland and half Blue Heeler. It wasn’t my idea to get her, but Andy was in need of a new service dog after the death of his magnificent Sheba. He found her photo on a rescue shelter web site called Pets and People. When Andy showed me the photo I burst out laughing at the gangly 10 month old pup.

“Honey, that is the UGLIEST dog I’ve ever seen!”

He insisted that was the dog he wanted.

So, just before Andy’s birthday in the year 1999, I went down to Pets and People and adopted her. The dog was a great birthday gift, and I am really glad I did that for him.

Even though Tommie grew into a much prettier dog than I expected, she is very high maintenance as far as grooming is concerned. Because of the Newfoundland in her she always sheds a huge amount of undercoat this time of year, so I was quite pleased yesterday when John took it upon himself to brush her without being asked.

I happened to walk into the den to find PILES of dog hair all over the room. I very nicely asked John to please clean up the hair. A short while later he was playing video games, so I asked him if he had picked up the dog hair.

So much like his dad, John gave me a sly grin and said, “Go check it out!”

This is what I found:

That boy is enough to make me tear my OWN hair out!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wow! My blog was selected for the Arte y Pico Award! :)

I am amazed and humbly thankful to be nominated for a blogger's award! My writings about the people that I love are from my heart, and I'm happy to know that there are readers who connect with my heart's emotions.

A very big "Thank You!" goes to "Go_go Yubari," (Lisa) the author of Nothing Good about Grief. (Her blog, filled with her beautiful doll creations along with tales of life, is among my favorites too!)

But, now that I am the recipient of an award that I am required to pass on to five other bloggers, how in the world do I select only FIVE??? I have at least fifteen favorites, and each one is favored for different reasons.

Well, I guess I will try to narrow it down, but this is really difficult. Here in no particular order are five of my top fifteen.

The first is among my online widow buddies, but Laura's blog began before widowhood. Then after the unthinkable happened, she continued documenting her journey. Laura's Zoo up North, with Bears, Moose and Wolves

Tanja, another widow buddy, is noted for her candor and often brutal honesty about herself and widowhood, and for continuing to pick herself up and dust herself off after being knocked down time and time again. Dutch Delights

My third selection is one that I discovered on Blogger's "Blogs of Note." It caught my interest because this young lady is about my Shelby's age. I don't know how this baking, crafty whiz kid finds time to sleep! Scroll through the blog to see Kelsie's beautiful creations that look so good you can almost taste them! Cakes by Kelsie

Number four is a "can't miss" for me. Rants by Ronni has the backdrop of widowhood, but deals more with the life of Ronni, an actress/costume designer of a local theater group. A great read, and the costume photos are wonderful!

My final selection is perhaps a bit more narrow interest, but I really have to mention this one. The Warrendale (Detroit) Blog by Frank Nemecek is all about the sweet little working class neighborhood where Arthur grew up and his parents still live. Frank's blog is helping to revitalize the area, and shows how a community struggling to survive the woes of a large city can still be beautiful. Check out his "Cool Warrendale thing of the Week" posts!

My love and thanks to these writers for providing such beauty and entertainment to the blogosphere!

The rules for accepting and passing on this award are as follows:

1. Pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language.

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog.

3. Each award winner (upon acceptance) should show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award.

4. Link to the Arte y pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5. Show these rules.

I hate to end this because I still have several more blogs that I really want to mention! But, rules is rules I guess. :)

Happy Holly Days???

My holly bush has berries in June! It doesn't get berries very often, but I thought this was supposed to be a winter time phenomenom.

I guess my bush prefers the company of daisies to that of the snow.

So... Happy Holly Days to all my friends!! :)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Another page from Grandma's Brag book. :)

Here is a typical morning in the life of two babies. I am really starting to dig on this grandma thing. I can enjoy the little sweeties, but the cleanup duty belongs to their parents. Jimmy, Tiffanie and the babies are coming from Maine to visit us in three weeks so I may get to help a bit in that department very soon. However, when I get tired of it I can give them back!

Tiff just sent these photos today. It's nice to get pictures, but it will be so much better when I can hold them, and squeeze them and kiss on them! Naturally they are the cutest twins in the world. (Sorry Arthur and Allen!)

Needless to say, this grandma can't wait 'til they get here.

First we make a BIG mess. :)

Then we get a good bath!

It's good to have a friend who always has your back.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

"Don't forget to make the Kool-aid!"

Yes, that’s what I said while I was on my way out the door to attend my weekly Weight Watcher’s meeting.

There is nothing profound about that request, especially since I had supper ready to serve our expected guests when I returned. It really wasn’t too much to expect of Arthur, was it?

But the words stopped me cold. Arthur gave me the strangest look.

You see, I haven’t had Kool-aid in this house for many years. We drink juice, soda, or water these days.

My train of thought had totally jumped the tracks. It was a trip over six years back in time. Andy loved Kool-aid, and between the two of us we must have mixed up enough to quench the thirst of a large continent. How many times had I said those words, so common yet at the same time a personal little ritual of ours?

When I gave Arthur the explanation about my odd comment, he lost the blank look and flashed me a grin of understanding.

Oh, how I love that man.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The end of probate brings memories

After all the anxiety caused by having to go through probate, the completion of it was barely a blip on the radar screen. I wasn’t even required to appear in court. Basically, all of this turned out to be merely a costly formality. However, it had to be completed before I could sell or refinance the house.

I was able to pick up the papers the day after the proceedings. I took them to my car to read them in relative privacy, and it was a good thing that I did. When I saw this legal statement regarding Andy’s will, I dissolved into the type of tears that I haven’t cried for several years.

The Court finds and orders that the estate shall be distributed as provided by the last will and testament of deceased Clarence Andrew as follows:

“I hereby give, devisee and bequeath all of my property, real or personal, of every kind and wherever situated, whether vested or contingent at the time of my death to Stephanie…”

The day we signed our wills over twenty years ago, we knew that we were doing the right thing in protecting each other, but we could then put death far out of our minds.

I remember our last detailed conversation, three days before Andy died. As much as we communicated about most things it was so hard for us to discuss his impending death.

“Honey… I know you are fighting as hard as you can, but what if nothing works?”

He gave me his standard reply: “I’m not going anywhere.”

Usually I wouldn’t press further, but today was different. “But what if you do? What if this time you don’t make it? What will I do without you?”

Ever my comforter, he put his arm around me and said, “Don’t worry Honey, you’ll be all right. I signed that paper (an advanced directive) and we have our wills… you and the kids will be taken care of.”

“But that’s not what I mean! You are my world! How will I make it without you? I love you so! If you can, will you be our angel and stay with us?”

He looked worried, like he didn’t want to make a promise that he couldn’t keep.

I continued, “…only if you can, Sweetheart.”

He said he would.

Andy was right. All the legal things have fallen into place, some sooner than others. The kids and I have survived and found that joy is still possible.

Whether real or just our memory of him, our angel is still with us.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My Mom is 80 years young today

Happy 80th birthday to Mom! (Photo taken with my grandma in 1928.)

I hope I share those particular genes that will grant me a long life! :)

We are heading out to see her in a little while, but the big party is planned for the end of the month. Jimmy, Tiffanie and the babies are coming to Oklahoma, and everybody thought it would be really neat to have a combined 80th Birthday Bash for Mom along with a celebration for Andy and Stevie's first birthday. So that's the plan.

But still, today is special. Happy Birthday Mom. We love you.