Thursday, January 26, 2012


~ Emolyn says the darndest things ~ 
in which I will occasionally post about under the title "emolysms"

While mending a Princess dress for Emolyn, I realized I had run out of thread in the bobbin and yelled out "Oh no, I've been sewing without thread in the bobbin!" Emolyn yelled back from the kitchen "It's ok Mimi, everyone makes mistakes! Just don't give up!" Oh my gosh, she's 3!

Emolyn wants to be a singer like Taylor Swift when she grows up. So the other day I said "Just think Emolyn, someday you could have Elsie on stage with you either dancing or singing with you". She immediately replied "No Mimi, Elsie's going to be a waitress." Elsie's 1.

When you ask Emolyn what color her eyes are, she says "basil". How cute is that! Because quite frankly, they really are more basil than hazel. ha!

When Emolyn's mommy asked Emolyn how she decorated the picture frame she made at Family Camp over the summer, Emolyn says "with a hot air balloon gun". Omg, too funny!

The other day Emolyn was helping Elsie say Miranda ~ "elsie, say MIR- WANDA". ha!

Emolyn is spending the night with her Mimi & Pop pop tonight. She loved sleeping in her Fairy House last week when she spent the night. Oh and she now pretends she has a boyfriend, rather than a husband. On the way to our house after preschool last week, she told me that her boyfriend and his 5 sisters were also going to spend the night at our house. Oh and just so you know, her boyfriend is 5. This girl cracks me up!

Emolyn loves to pretend that she is hosting a cooking show in our backyard.
Seriously, the girl can talk food. She's like a little Rachael Ray. And she knows her herbs and spices like nobodies business. But then again, she happens to have parents that are excellent cooks.
Ok, so I'm thinking I need to get a little YouTube video of her cooking ~ and just you watch ~ it will go viral and she will be discovered and you can say you saw it here first. ha!

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    events indelibly remembered

    "Where were you when you heard... "

    Have you ever been asked that question? Or maybe something triggers a memory... and you can vividly recall the details of that moment. Maybe it impacted you with such intensity that you took a snapshot in your mind so as to forever mark the moment.

    Well, last week I put together such a list. My random list happens to be in the order in which those events happened.

    I know where I was when I heard about ~

    President Kennedy's assassination (1963) ~ I was in the 1st grade in a one-room school, with one teacher, grades 1st- 6th, 5 girls and 15 boys. Our bus (station wagon) driver Beth Moe walked in and whispered something to Mr. Hanson. I remember the look of shock on his face as he told us the President had been shot and that we needed to go home right away.

    Close to You by the Carpenters (1970) ~  I had finished my 7th grade year and vaguely remember hearing the song on the radio on the way to Eau Claire. But I vividly remember hearing it for the 2nd time at my friend Naomi's party in her backyard screened-in porch. I was wearing this brown and orange flowered skort (skirt with built-in shorts) that I had made especially for the party, along with a bright orange knit shell (that's what we called sleeveless tops). The 45 rpm of Close to You was played on the record player that night and I will never forget how that song made me feel. I knew in an instant that I would be a Karen Carpenter fan for life.

    Grandpa's died 24 hours apart (1970) ~ I was in the 8th grade and awoke one morning to my Dad talking real loud on the phone downstairs. He was saying that my Mom's Dad had died. Then, exactly 24 hours later I awoke to my Dad on the phone again, only this time he was saying that his Pa had died. Very surreal. I thought I was dreaming.

    Dan Blocker (1972) ~ Dan Blocker played Hoss Cartwright on the television series Bonanza. It was the end of my freshman year of high school. I was in the car driving over the railroad tracks in Black River Falls, WI when I heard the news of his death on the radio. The show ended a year later... having run for 14 years and 430 episodes. My husband happens to own every single episode and he watches an episode most every day. And I kid you not, I have relayed that story to my husband and kids every single time we have crossed those railroad tracks ever since.

    Elvis (1977) ~ After completing Cosmetology School in 1976, I got a job working at Nadine's Beauty Shop in downtown Eau Claire, WI. I was living in an old house with two roommates, when I got the phone call that Elvis had died. I was 6 weeks away from moving to Phoenix, Arizona, so needless to say, I was a little distracted, but clearly remember that day.

    Keith Green (1982) ~  Two months after our son Shawn was born, Keith Green was killed in a plane crash. Randy & I were in the living room of our tiny rental home, Shawn was in my arms and Good Morning America was on the television. They announced that Keith Green was killed in a plane crash... and they actually showed the airplane in pieces. I was in shock, especially knowing his two children (ages 2 and 3) were with him. As a brand new Mom, all I could think of was Keith's wife, the mother of those two children, with another child at home and another on the way. Heartbreaking beyond words.

    Oklahoma City Bombing (1995) ~ I will never forget, I was in the kitchen with the radio on and they broke in with breaking news of a report that there was an explosion at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building and that half of the building was reportedly sheared off. I remember shaking with fear. My sister Kathy worked in downtown Oklahoma City. Nothing like this had ever happened on US soil. And nothing would ever be the same after that moment.

    My nephew's basketball accident (1997) ~ It was Day Two of my kid's spring break. We had decided to paint Miranda's bedroom furniture that she (12) was given when she turned 2, that her Aunt Patty had while growing up. Miranda never knew her Aunt Patty (my husband's sister) because she was killed in a car accident when she was 18. I got an early morning phone call that Tuesday morning from my sister-in-law Debbie, saying that our nephew Noel (19) had fallen hard during a city-league basketball game. He had fractured his skull and they needed to remove a portion of his brain to relieve the swelling. His Mom, my sister Kathy, was on her way to WI to be with her son. And thankfully my sister Ginny was with him. I was paralyzed with fear. What should I do? I had not planned on going to Bible Study that morning because my kids were home, but in my state of fear and shock, I got off the phone and reached for my Bible Study material. And what verse do you suppose was on my list to look up ~ Psalm 39:4... He knows the numbers of our days. I was instantly flooded with peace and assurance that God was in control... no matter what happened. Noel died 5 days later and while it was heartbreaking, I am forever grateful he in with Jesus.

    Twin Towers (2001) ~ I will never forget hearing Alan Jackson's song Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning), live on the CMA show a month after 9/11. Because come on, there is not a one of us that does not remember where we were when we heard about the Twin Towers, or for that matter, when we saw the 2nd plane crash into the 2nd Tower live on TV. Sheer horror. The unimaginable.
    Again, it was another Tuesday morning before Bible Study. I'm in the kitchen with the radio on and it is being reported that a plane has crashed into one of the Twin Towers. Our daughter runs from her bedroom and tells us to turn on the TV. It quickly becomes apparent that we're not talking about a twin-engine plane... but a commercial airliner filled with people. I woke up Randy and we turned on the bedroom TV and watched in horror as the 2nd airliner hit the 2nd Tower. Soon we would hear about the Pentagon and Pennsylvania... and our lives would be changed forever.

    Michael Jackson (2009) ~ I was working as the receptionist at our church, with plans to go over to Shawn & Nicole's to see our granddaughter Emolyn after work. Just before leaving we heard on the radio that there were reports that EMT's were transporting Michael Jackson to a hospital and that he was not breathing. I never totally believe what we are being told on the news, so thinking it was just reporters sensationalizing, I dismissed it and headed out the door, only to later hear that it was true. He had died.

    My twin grand-babies (2011) ~ OK, so on a lighter note ~ how could I forget the day I heard that my son and daughter-in-law were expecting TWINS! Randy & I were at a Marriage Retreat up north and we had decided not to go out to dinner with the rest of the teaching team. We were at a new location and wanted to be on hand in case any of the couples arrived early. I will never forget, we were sitting out on this gorgeous deck overlooking this breathtaking scenery, when Randy's cell phone goes off. Mind you, in all the years of marriage retreats, this was going to be the first retreat that we would have cell phone coverage and would need to remind the couples that cell phones were off limit. So needless to say, I was a little startled to hear Randy's phone go off. He answered and immediately handed me the phone. It was Shawn, and he said Nicole had something to tell me ~
    "We have something to tell you... we're pregnant... and we got pregnant with an IUD... and it will need to be surgically removed... and when I had an ultrasound to determine the location of the IUD, they saw that it was twins."
    Oh my gosh! I could barely comprehend what I had just heard. I mean, that's a lot to hear. But I found myself saying out loud "This is totally a God thing! These babies are undeniably gifts from God!" And I was instantly flooded with peace and a whole lot of tears.

    *** Ok, so I want you to know that there may be other events and moments worth mentioning... it's just that for whatever reason, I'm not recalling them at the moment. This is just my random list.

    *** But now it's your turn! Please share a vivid "Where were you..." moment that you recall.

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    under-sink trash can

    In designing my new kitchen, I was pretty emphatic that I did NOT want a designated cabinet for my trash, even though I had many tell me that was their favorite feature in their new kitchen. But I was unwilling to sacrifice cabinet place that could otherwise be used for other things.
    Here's the deal, every time I ask where someone's trash is, they have to take the time to specifically tell me or actually show me. It's so much easier to just say 'under the sink'. And that's the most convenient location anyway. But I was also pretty emphatic that I wanted a quality under-the-sink pull-out trash can. Well, this under-the-sink pull-out trash can at Trash Cans and More came highly recommended.

    I actually wrote that post back in April, 2010 just weeks before the completion of our kitchen remodel. But it was never posted. Because there was no room under my sink for it. I was so disappointed... and then found out that it would cost way too much to justify returning it. So I kept it, thinking someday I will either have it installed in one of my kid's homes or an office cabinet. Well, this weekend it was installed in my husband's office desk that we found at my new favorite thrift store.
    Yes, I have a new favorite thrift store. The Humane Society Thrift store now resides where Tiedamanns  was. I could not be more pleased and supportive of this little thrift store. And it happens to be where we FINALLY found the cabinets to go under the counter tops that I found on Craig's List to replace the banquet tables that Randy has been using in his new office/ recording studio.
    Always in the back of my mind I wanted to find cabinets that had drawers (which Randy requested) and a cabinet for this pull-out trash can. And we seriously looked for months and months.

    But all the while I had my eye on this desk at the new Humane Society Thrift store and finally took Randy on Saturday to check it out... and saw that it was a quality piece of furniture... and bought it for $50.00. We removed the door so Randy would have easy access to the pull-out trash can and installed the counter tops to give Randy ample space for his printers and scanners. He is thrilled with all the drawers... and I'm thrilled to have my two banquet tables back just in time for an upcoming scrapbooking day in a couple weeks. YEH!

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Scandinavian-themed mantel

    my new Scandinavian-themed mantel
    I'm going to share something that recently came to my attention ~ I have never changed my mantel decor in the 17 years we've lived here.

    And here's the creepy part, it never occurred to me that I could or should.
    And then Layla @ The Lettered Cottage started hosting these seasonal mantel makeovers... and while I thought her mantels were beautiful and all, it never occurred to me to join the mantel mania craze. 

    You see, I don't think I ever made the connection that my woodstove mantel was on the same caliber as a fireplace mantel. Oh, I'd change my mantel for Christmas, but only as a place to hang stockings and stuff.

    But I would quickly find out there's a whole genre of bloggers out there that change out their mantels like I change out my blog banner! Which, incidentally, is seasonally.

    So this year as I took down my Christmas decor, I got my first ever hankering to makeover my mantel. And it came to me in an instant ~
    a Scandinavian-themed mantel.
    I already owned several pieces from Norway and Sweden that I found over the years at yard sales, thrift stores and Ikea 'as is', but had never put out on display.

    So once the Scandinavian theme was underway, I could hardly wait to dig out my Norwegian Nordstrikk sweater and put it on Mrs. McGillicutty! Check out the hardware! Found this sweater years ago for a couple dollars at a yard sale. And found the exact same one today on eBay HERE.

    The red wooden candelabra ($10.00) and the two red candle holders ($1.00 each) were IKEA "as is" finds. The rosemaling wooden heart was made in Norway ~ paid 25 cents.
    My sister Ginny gave me my favorite Carl Larsson print many years ago ~
    "Brita with Candles and Apple". 
    Ginny encouraged me to spray paint the frame and layer it with the mirror. Love the look!
    The pewter plate... omg, now wait just a minute... 
    I grabbed the pewter plate off the mantel, turned it over, wrote down the name of the artist,
    and googled it ~

    The Astri Holthe's 1974 Second Edition
    Norwegian Pewter Christmas plate depicts "Julen." 
    " Christmas in Telemark"

    OH MY GOSH! The Buy it now price on eBay is $350.00!!
    Now mine doesn't have the original box but seriously WHO KNEW!!!
    I paid a dollar for the plate several years ago.

    Then I grabbed the pewter Viking Ship w/spoon salt cellar off the mantel and googled that and that's going for $30.00 on eBay. I think I paid a quarter.

    I've had more fun doing my mantel makeover and the best part ~ it didn't cost me a dime. In fact, quite the opposite ~ I find out that my Scandinavian decor is worth a pretty penny!

    I'm linking up to ~

    Monday, January 09, 2012

    friends gathering

    We start out each new year with a gathering of friends at Rand & Michelle's in Waddell, Arizona. It's heaven out there, like we're out in the country, when really we're only about an hour west of Tempe.

    It's almost like elsie's yelling "Hey, I'm here! Let's get this party started!"

    Emolyn loved entertaining Elsie & Cadence.

    And the horses next door were a big hit with the grandkids.

    Love taking pictures during the golden hour.

     As the sun was setting over the White Tanks, we gathered together for the annual group shot. Nancy's daughter Amy, who came all the way from LA, and happens to be a professional photographer, helped set up the group shot and I couldn't be more delighted with the love pouring out from each and every face. We have done life together for over 30 years and I can't think of a better tradition than a Forever Friends reunion at the start of each year. And when it's time to eat, you can bet it's always a hardy smorgasbord of soups, salads, breads and desserts. My favorite kind of meal.

    My husband is always one of the first to head out back to get the bonfire started...

    ... and what a bonfire it was!
    Thanks Nancy for capturing these great night images.

    When we left hours later ~ our hearts were full ~ and better able to face the new year with a renewed sense of hope ~ anticipating what lies ahead ~ with faith as a mustard seed.
    But you know what? That's all God wants from us. (Matthew 17:20)

    Friday, January 06, 2012

    my FAITHful friend

    Yesterday I had my girlfriend over. And while I knew it would be everything and more than I could have ever imagined... it was even better than that!

    Chris is my kindred-spirit, Christ-loving, faithful friend... and I was about to hear her life story that would inspire me in ways that only God could have known I needed to hear.

    After a delicious lunch that she insisted on bringing, we sat like this for 6 hours. I'm not even kidding you. Ok, so we occasionally ran to the bathroom because of all the lemonade we had consumed. And yes, I actually set the camera timer and ran back for this photo op, so I would remember, and never forget how this moment made me feel.

    And just as Chris was leaving she showed me these vintage Valentine postcards she got on Etsy, that she will make into a banner to hang across her mantle. Seriously, some of these postcards are dated at the turn of the century, with one-cent stamps, along with the sweetest personal handwritten notes.
    I was going wild with questions about how I could order some myself, when she whips out my very own set wrapped in pink ribbon. I cried again... and then hugged her.

    These are the banners we're planning to make, by hanging our vintage postcards on ribbon or string with tiny clothes pins... so as to not compromise the integrity of these precious treasures. 

    Oh and if that wasn't enough, Chris gives me this necklace. Oh my gosh.

    This will now be my word for 2012 ~ Faith

    And on the back of the necklace are the words ~ Courageous Attention

    When I googled those three words I found this ~

    James 3:2-3 tells us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 
    because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” 

    Through this Scripture, we know that God allows trials and tribulations in our lives to strengthen our faith and to develop perseverance. Think over the trials you have been through lately in your life. Consider the following reasons that God may be taking you through that trial and think about whether you are facing the trial courageously, strengthening your faith, and developing perseverance.

    Faith trials draw our attention to Him. Sometimes worldly pursuits coerce us to drift away from Jesus. If we encounter a situation for which we have no solution, our focus comes back to Him as we begin to pray and look for a way out of the trial.

    Faith trials teach endurance. We develop the stamina to bear up under heavy loads without discouragement because we trust that God will see us through. He increases our capacity by applying slight pressure. When we prove we can handle a little, He adds more, constantly working on our witness until we shine brightly for Him.

    Faith trials train us for higher service. We must endure and keep our attention on Him so that we are prepared to work anywhere in His kingdom. God designs opportunities for every believer, shifting us to more responsible areas of service as we grow in faith.

    Faith trials glorify God. The greatest praise we can give to our heavenly Father is to walk hopefully through a dark valley. It is then that we are a living example of His faithfulness and trustworthiness for everyone to see.

    Wow, maybe trials aren't so bad :) And get this, we are studying James this semester in our Tuesday morning Bible Study at our church. We're using the Beth Moore video and study materials and I know God is going to use it powerfully in this season of my life... along with FAITHful friends that I let come along side me in my journey.

    Monday, January 02, 2012

    A Vietnam Welcome Home

    The Vietnam War ended in 1975, the year I graduated from high school. But in all honesty, I knew very little about the timeline of that war. Oh I have memories of watching war footage played out on the nightly news and needing to know the nightly body count each night. But as a kid, it just seemed unreal, like watching scenes from The Bridge on the River Kwai. You see, up to that point, no war had ever been televised in realtime before.

    So, the other night I watched Vietnam in HD, the six-hour miniseries on the History Channel. This documentary was the result of a nationwide search of home movies taken by soldiers during the Vietnam War. And seriously, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. In fact, my husband watched it in his office and I watched it in our bedroom, and often times we would meet halfway during commercials and just hug... for I knew how painful this was for him to watch. He had two brothers enlist in the Air Force during Vietnam and they saw more than we will ever know. And had the draft not ceased, Randy's number would have been called up next. This could have been his story.

    So that got me thinking about another childhood memory... the year my Dad welcomed home two neighboring farm boys from active duty in Vietnam. The year was 1968, and as you will read from the article, my Dad just got the notion to welcome home two young soldiers, similar to what he saw on a hillside at Staten Island, New York when he returned home from World War II.

    My Dad chose a slopping 20 acre field on his Dad's farm, and with his tractor and hay mower, he mowed out the words "Welcome Home Don & Larry". The letters were 50 feet high and a single mower swath wide. Please take a moment to read the story (click to enlarge) that was published alongside the aerial photo. I have yet to read it without bringing me to tears. My Dad is truly the most patriotic man I know.

    Ok, so there's a funny story to go along with that memorable day. It seems my brothers Ron & Gary had gone along with Dad to their Grandpa's farm that day, and were playing on a nearby hill. Btw, Wisconsin is very hilly. My brother Gary said they began to see that Dad was mowing some sort of message... and from what they could tell at a slant from their hillside, it looked like Dad was sending them the message ~ Walk Home Ron & Gary. So they were going to walk home! How funny is that! But soon Dad had finished mowing the message, loaded the boys back in the tractor and drove them to another hill on the way home so he could show them what he had done. That is when they saw the entire message.

    But we sure have laughed over the years imagining those boys wondering why in the heck their Dad would go to so much trouble just to tell them to walk home. ha!

    Sunday, January 01, 2012

    Welcome 2012

    Did you know that our fall in Phoenix is in December and January? Yup.
    And this year was the first year that Emolyn really got into the whole playing in the leaves.
    Her Uncle Tyler could hardly wait to rake up a big pile of leaves for the girls to jump in.

    So a few days before Christmas, Emolyn came over and they did just that ~
    they raked and raked and raked...

    ... and then Emolyn jumped in the leaves ~ and she jumped and jumped and jumped!

    And then on Christmas Eve day, Elsie joined in on the fun.
    Ok, so maybe she did more watching than joining in. But she had fun watching her sister.

    Happy New Year to all my favorite blog readers!