Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Greatest Forces in the World

At the beginning of the twentieth century,  F. M. Bareham wrote:

A century ago men were following with bated breath the march of Napoleon, and waiting with feverish impatience for news of the wars. And all the while, in their own homes, babies were born. But who could think about babies? Everybody was thinking about battles.”

"In one year, midway between Trafalgar and Waterloo, there stole into the world a host of heroes. Gladstone was born in Liverpool, Tennyson at the Somersby Rectory, and Oliver Wendell Holmes in Massachusetts; and the very same day of that same year Charles Darwin made his debut at Shrewsbury, and Abraham Lincoln drew his first breath in old Kentucky. Music was enriched by the advent of Felix Mendelssohn at Hamburg”

"But nobody though of babies; everybody was thinking of battles. Yet which of the battles of 1809 mattered more than the babies of 1809. We fancy that God can only manage His world with big battalions when all the while He is doing it by beautiful babies. When a wrong wants righting, or a truth wants preaching, or a continent wants opening, God sends a baby into the world …perhaps in a simple home and of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother's heart, and she puts it into the baby's mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies."

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thought Provoking

I recently ran across this video.
I thought you might be interested in it, too.

Here's to good health!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Baking in Boots

Mommas don't let your babies grow up to bake in hot pink boots.
Snow boots at that.

This is my little girl- enjoying her own sense of fashion, as usual.
Polo shirt- check.
Shorts- check.
Apron- check.
Hot pink snow boots begged for and bought for $1.50 on clearance at Walmart- check.

Chocolate Chip Cookies fresh from the oven and served by an adorable little daughter: 

Gotta love her reflection while she's waiting.

(Completely ignore the dirty oven window.  It's what happens in a home where children bake.  And it's  been cleaned since then.)

And this: 
This little girl, with her unique sense of self. 

 She's mine.  All mine.  And you can't have her.  : )

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


                                  Our Kit Kat Extravaganza
                                  birthday cake we created.

Around here, we have birthdays quite frequently.
Each child looks forward to their next number in life, hoping the current year will pass quickly.

I remind them that childhood goes by way too fast, that they should enjoy the age they are.

I remember my grandmother telling me the same thing when I was eight or nine and couldn't wait to be twelve.  Twelve was grown up to me.

I was just as impatient to reach each new milestone as my children are.    

So I try to soak up and enjoy the fleeting time of each new age.

My little girl just turned eleven.  I was finally getting used to her being ten!
Here she is, now on the brink of young womanhood.  

Ladies (and Gentlemen), if you have little ones at home, drop what you are doing and go kiss and play with them.
  Let them show you rocks and bugs and ask all the questions they want.
Ooh and aah over every drawing, let them help you cook in the kitchen, let them help you clean and don't redo their work afterward.  
Look into their eyes, breathe them in, hold their little bodies and feel the soft skin and hair.  

Because babies don't last.  And neither do toddlers or preschoolers or children in general.

Here are pictures from my daughter's day:

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Tribute to Mothers

The month of May celebrates mothers everywhere.

I would like to celebrate a few mothers- my own and those who have helped to create and shape our family.

My Grandmother, Faye Emeryl-
(Who will be 80 years young this Fall!)

                    (At age 15, taken at a carnival and carried in my grandfather's wallet for 43 years)

                                                              (with my brother)

                                                (With her sister)

She is one creative lady.    A wonderful artist, her drawings and paintings are coveted within our family.    When we were young, she would get down on our level and play with us, involve us in her projects and encourage us to use our imaginations.  A few fun memories from her house:
She had Grandpa build a playhouse , including a sink with running water and also mow the back field into a maze for us to explore.

She had numerous fish ponds and every afterno0n at 4pm, we'd help her feed them.

She would set up easels and canvas and get out her paints , teaching us techniques- but always encouraging us to find our own art style.

Our lunches were made in 'fairy' fashion.  Sandwiches cut into teeny tiny wedges , everything done in miniature and served on tiny little plates. 

We would help her weed and cultivate her enormous gardens.  If she had to use the bathroom, she would ask one of us kids if we could please run to the house for her and go potty so she wouldn't have to stop working. 
  I can still see her, her house dress (her summer garden attire) tucked up so her legs were unhampered, hoeing in the garden.  She also engaged in races with us and could outrun even my older brother, who prided himself on his swiftness.

An avid animal lover, she rescued numerous dogs and cats (even a crow, once) and taught us to be loving and  caring  towards all creatures.    She also taught us to always use our manners and not scream bloody murder.   For some reason those shrill screams set her teeth on edge and made her heart race.  Go figure.  : )

She is a wonderful grandma, and I'm so very thankful for her!

My paternal Grandmother, Virginia Ruth.

This is the only picture I have of her on my computer, or I'd post more.
A beautiful, elegant lady, educated at a teacher's college, oldest of three girls.  
My memories of her:
Visiting her home or apartment, playing with her collection of Barbie dolls.
She had lots of them- and a set of shelves that we used and set up as rooms for the dolls.

The weekend I was allowed to spend with her- all by myself.  She never drove (neither of my grandmothers ever had their license) so we walked down to the shopping center.  She purchased a toy for me and it was one of my most cherished possessions.   I so loved that weekend with her.
She always offered us vanilla ice cream and soda when we visited her house.   It seemed to us as if she magically never ran out.

She was often tired- she worked long hours up until her death- and it was  quite normal for her to fall asleep once she sat down.  Many times, while Mom was visiting with her, Mom would quietly tell us it was time to go so Grandma could get some rest.    My mother admired her greatly.

Every year she would bring my sister and I new flannel nightgowns- always blue for me and pink for her.
Another tradition of hers: My sister and I have birthdays only three days apart.  Often, we would celebrate them together and usually the party would fall on my day- as we were too excited to wait longer.   (I think that was why.)  However, on the day of Sarah's birthday, she would always arrive; having baked a cherry chip cake with cherry frosting for her.   
I can never think of that type of cake without thinking of Grandma.  

How I wish I could have known her as a grown woman- to have spent more time with her.

 My Madre, Terry Lee :

Another creative, amazing woman.  Beautiful, smart, adventurous.
She is always thinking  'outside the box', and is rarely found in 'the box'.  

Stubborn in her own way- but only because she wants to be herself; unhampered by rules and regulations, free to make her own choices.  

Some of my memories:
Quiet, sweet and noble as a young mother.   In church, I would see other little children look her way.  She would wink at them and they would blush and smile back.   It made me feel pangs of both jealousy and pride.  Jealousy that my mother was showering some of her wonderful person on someone other than myself or siblings, and pride that those other kids liked her as much as I did.  
Her singing.  Singing folk songs and pop music, songs she made up or Gaelic music she was learning.   Singing while she cooked, while she sewed, cleaned or rocked babies.  Singing while she drove, tapping her wedding ring on the steering wheel in time to the beat.   Music was  and still is,  a huge part of her existence.  
Babies.  I have so many memories of her caring for her babies.  Always gentle, always thinking of their needs/feelings.  Teaching me to carefully handle their little bodies; to be sure their little arms were just so , their bodies kept warm but not too warm.  Reminding me that babies on the floor are going to be colder than an adult standing up, that their little feet need to be free from heavy shoes- that shoes in general aren't good for their feet and legs.    
To not leave babies lying in one position for too long or sitting in  a seat.  Always to think of their comfort and how I would feel if I were them.    Too many considerations to list here!

What I admire most is that she thought for herself when it came to child-rearing.  Not one to listen to 'experts' of that time, she read widely and chose for herself what felt right and good.  In a time when Wonder bread and Lucky Charms were on the tables of many households and begged for by her own children, she served us only wholesome, real food.  

Hungry for a snack before dinner?  Here's a carrot.   Hungry for breakfast?  Here's some oatmeal.    Wanting a treat?  Here are some homemade carrot or oatmeal cookies with whole wheat flour, freshly ground from her wheat grinder.     Bored?  Get outdoors and play- or you can help inside with housework.    Cold?  Get moving and stop sitting around.   
Get the windows open and let fresh air inside, hang the laundry outdoors to absorb air and sunshine, get the kids outdoors to absorb the same. 

Children and teens: I have admired her ability to recognize when a  child needs less structure and more freedoms.   Motherhood is a balance between teaching and training and knowing when to let go.   She was very good at that.    I loved the freedoms I had as a child- she was not one to micro-manage, although there were still expectations to be met.  

Cheerfulness:  She taught us by example to not frown or pout, but to have a positive outlook on life.  She found the good in everything and taught us to laugh off life's down swings.  She rarely raised her voice, was patient when we made mistakes, and above all, we always knew we were loved.
My own vision of our home in my childhood is one of bright, airy, clean spaces,  warmth, wholesome food , very little television but lots of music, and tons of outdoor time.
In later years, when she was working and we were fending more for ourselves, a lot of that changed.  However, that image overrides the later years because of the strength and goodness therein.    So much of who I am comes from her early example.

                                           (With her Aunt)

                                    (With my younger brother)

                                           (My youngest brother  with my mother and mother-in-law)

My Mother-in-law, Joan Darline :

                                                          (With my son)

A woman full of kindness, acceptance and generosity.

I cannot tell you how much I admire her generous spirit.  So often you hear stories of mothers-in-law who look down on their sons' wives, who don't accept their grandchildren or don't approve in general.    

My own is wonderful.  She has always accepted and embraced me and even my entire extended family.   She is always ready and game to go along with whatever we are up to.

She has a wonderful adventurous spirit, is very self-sufficient and fearless.

She loves her grandchildren with all of her being and never forgets Christmases and birthdays.   
My husband remembers fondly her motherly love and hands-on care he received as a child.
She helped promote that soft kindness within him.  I am forever grateful for that!

                                  (with my children)

                                       (With two of her three sons)

My Step-Mother (AKA: T.O.M.- The Other Mother)  Muriel Jean :

                                                     (With my son)

Another generous, accepting, wonderful lady. 
She has always been there for us, helping and giving in any way that she can.  

Defying the typical stereo-type of a step-mother, she embraced us all as her own and did not harbor any ill feelings for past relationships.  
I have always admired that quality in her.   To embrace another's children and grandchildren completely and truly.   What a wonderful, Christ-like attribute.  

Another avid follower of health and nutrition, advocate for the less fortunate, and student of life; she reinforces those desires to always continue learning.  

                                        (with my oldest son)

A patient listener, she gives her best advice and takes the time to listen with real interest.
Traits that are rarely found in this busy world!

                                               (With my dad)
There are so many other mothers that I have admired, that have contributed to my ideals of mother hood. 
Too many to list and not enough pictures to show.

This is a tribute to them, as well, and to all mothers out there who are striving to be the best they can.   May you all find balance in life, seek out the good and hold on to it,  and know that your very presence and actions are shaping the lives of future generations.

May God bless you and yours!


Friday, May 7, 2010

My New Life Video

On this Mother's Day weekend, enjoy this wonderful tribute to an amazing lady:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sunshine and Cheer

The weather around here the past few weeks has been a little crazy.  
80 degrees one day, snow the next.
Even the old-timers around here are shaking their heads in wonder.

Emotional ups and downs seem to go right along with the craziness in the weather.

I don't know whether it's the desire for being outdoors, lack of Vitamin D or what, but it seems each week that someone in our family has a bad day. 

The trick seems to be; to take TURNS!  

I came across these quotes, which I've printed and put on my fridge.
I thought others might enjoy them as well:

"Of course there are times of sorrow. Of course there are hours of concern and anxiety. We all worry. But the Lord has told us to lift our hearts and rejoice. I see so many people . . . who seem never to see the sunshine, but who constantly walk with storms under cloudy skies. Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine" ~Gordon B. Hinckley

"We came into this life for experience, and that's all we can take out of it. Thank God we have the right to decide personally and individually what we shall do. The future belongs to those who know what to do with it. We must look forward to the unknown with optimism and confidence; look to tomorrow with happy expectancy, realizing that with God's help we can do all things. We need to constantly build faith in ourselves and those about us. We need to personally make dark days brighter. Isn't it a joy, a lift, a light, to see someone with heavy challenges and burdens moving forward to victory in the only contest that really matters!~ Gordon B. Hinckely

And this great one as well:

Cheerfulness and content are great beautifiers and famous preservers of good looks. - Charles Dickens


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Moments


Today, during church, my little one held my hand, like she usually does.  She also gave me a big kiss afterward, before we rose to leave the chapel.  
It's her ritual...and I'm not complaining!

Today, though, as I inspected her ever-growing hand, I noticed that her fingernails were a little dirty.   Somehow we managed Friday night bath but missed it for Saturday. And Saturdays happen to be big play-outdoors days.

She, too, noticed her dirty nails. She innocently held up her middle finger nail to show me it was the dirtiest.  

This brought back memories of another Sunday, sitting in church.
It was an extra fun day as Granny was attending with us, along with my nephew and niece.   The cousins were all happy to be sitting next to one another.

During the hymn, my middle daughter shared a book with her cousin and skimmed the words with her finger.   Her middle finger.  
Aah, the sweet innocence of my little girl....quickly shattered by her cousins; who began to giggle.  She was obviously confused, so her cousin told her that was a bad finger to use.  
I immediately leaned over to control the damage and quiet the giggles.  I whispered to my girl that I would explain it later, but some people had made up that holding up just your middle finger was bad.  It was silly and I would tell her about it later.  

Thinking all was settled, I didn't look over for a few more minutes.  When I did, I was in for a shock.

For there was my little girl, 6 years old at the time, doing something unthinkable!

Thinking she had found some privacy by turning her back to us and facing the back of the pew; she was practicing slowly putting up her middle finger and slowly putting it down.  Over and over.  As if it was a powerful act.

Picture the little girl, concentrating on the power of that finger. So into her own little world and thinking she was 'alone' that she failed to notice she was facing the row of families behind us.   
They had a full view of her doings.  And were doing their best to not laugh out loud. 
If it had been my first child or second or third even, I probably would have died on the spot.  However, that day, I almost burst out laughing, too.  I quietly covered her little hand with my own and gently turned her around to sit properly.

Later, we discussed the silliness of someone making up that one of our fingers could be bad.  We talked about our amazing hands and what they can do.  
.....and that it's not appropriate to hold that one up by itself, now that she knew.

Lesson learned. 

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