Saturday, May 31, 2008

39 and Counting

It was thirty nine years ago today that my husband and I were married. Where have the years gone? It certainly doesn't seem as though it has been that long.

We had met in high school as he was one of my older brother's friends. Since I attended an all girl school and my brother was at the all boy school, we were the primary source of each other's dates. House rules did not allow dating until we were 16 years old. My husband called me on my 16th birthday to ask for a date and I was thrilled. I always thought he was the cutest and nicest of my brothers friends. Of course at 16, aren't all boys cute? Little did I know that I would end up marrying this fine young man.

We dated for several years and then broke up for 18 months when we were both away at school. He eventually went to the Naval flight school in Pensacola. It was his first leave home at Halloween in 1968 when he came trick-or-treating to my parents home. By then we were both over 21 and he asked me to go out for a drink with him. Me?...I didn't drink...but you know that those "flyboys" knew how to toss a few beers back. As we visited and reminisced over the next couple of hours we had so much fun. Before the night was over he had said that he thought we should get married. I didn't disagree. He left after the weekend to head back to Pensacola. Many letters and phone calls were exchanged over the next few months. When he returned at Christmas we became officially engaged (after he asked my father's permission) and set a date. The rest is history.

Four sons followed in the next seven years and then we were surprised seven years later to be blessed with a daughter. Together they have continued to bless us with eleven grandsons and eight granddaughters. Number twenty is on its way with our daughter and SIL.

It has been a wonderful life and I would make the same decision all over again if given the chance. He has been a fervent religious head of our family, a loving husband, a man of great honor, a terrific father to our children, a fabulous grandfather and a caring and wonderful son to our parents. And....he's still "cute" in my eyes.

We do look young in this picture!!!! And now for the "after" shot.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Happy Weekend

Although our temperatures were way below normal for this time of the year, we made the best of our wonderful weekend. The kids and their kids all came over on Sunday for a BBQ. The kids never seem to mind the temperatures and were all out in the yard playing games and getting their exercise. All nineteen of the grandchildren were here and it is truly amazing how well they all get along together. Other than a small argument over whose turn it was for the tractor, I do not think we heard one cross word all day. It is wonderful that they all live close enough to be growing up with a great relationship with their cousins.

Baggo is always a hit with the kids (and adults).

See how big the baby has grown. Too bad they grow up so quickly.

Of course one big thrill for all the little ones is when Grandpa fires up the John De*ere and gives rides on the tractor. He always lets the kids take turns sitting on his lap and "steering."

The kids know that they can go into the orchard and pick any fruit that they want. We always have oranges, lemons and grapefruit that they help themselves to. This week the boysenberries were also in so the kids had their fill with those. However, some darling little guys decided the peaches were also ready and filled the small tractor trailer with very green peaches. Grandpa was not too thrilled with that idea. Oh well, what can you do?

I was lucky enough to know my first cousins when we were growing up in the Midwest. We still keep in touch and enjoy spending time together. In fact, my background is from an area very close to Parkersburg, Iowa. I had an e-mail from one of my cousins today who said they spent many hours in their basement over the weekend. Fortunately, they escaped any damage as the tornado stayed just north of them. Some of their neighbors were not so fortunate as they sustained damage to grain bins and structures on their farms. From the photos on the news, it looks like it was just devastating to the lovely town. Our hearts go out to all of those who were affected by the tornado.

On Sunday one of our granddaughters made her First Communion. It is always such a thrill to be present for such significant moments in their lives. The priest who bestowed the sacrament upon her has been a good friend of our family for many years. He has married our children, baptized many grandchildren and buried our parents.

This is Miss H surrounded by her parents and siblings.

In Saturday's mail I received my small spring quilt from the Four Season's Quilt Swap. It came all the way from Romania. Smaranda did a wonderful job on it. I thought the butterfly was so appropriate for the spring theme and it is just exquisite. It looks almost ethereal in its delicate design on a hand painted gauze type material. I wish you could all see it in person. I know that I will enjoy it for many years. This week we were given our summer partner's name. I have to figure out what I will do along that theme. I'm thinking of a Neapolitan ice cream idea.

I trust that everyone is enjoying their week and, hopefully, enjoying some warmer weather.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Back Home Again

It's always nice to return home from a trip and sleep in your own bed with your own pillow.

Our business trip to Phoenix was delightful. Over the many years we have met so many truly wonderful friends and it is always such a thrill to spend time with them and catch up on their lives. It's hard to imagine that we all once had small children with all the babysitting issues of being away from them. Now, many are grandparents and enjoying another phase of their lives.
We stayed at a delightful resort and I must share a photo of my salad that came with my lunch. Is this the most beautiful (and creative) bowl you have ever seen? It really makes me want to give it a try. I can't imagine what my family would say if I started serving my food like this. It is actually almost too pretty to eat.

We decided to drive the short distance from home to Phoenix to avoid the nightmares that await for one at the airports these days. As usual, it was a delightful trip. The desert scenery would certainly not be considered among my favorites, however, it was really quite pretty this time. Many of the cactus are in bloom and the desert floors are quite green with the rains that they had this year. The drive to Phoenix was in record heat and the return trip was driven in very rare and cool temperatures.

I have always loved heat, but I must admit that temperatures above 110* for the stay there was even a little hotter than I like. It is a dry heat so it does feel different than a humid climate and residents are all quick to point that out to you.

Since returning home it has been exceptionally cool. I doubt that we will get out of the 50s today and we have had very rare thunderstorms. I heard that California also had two small tornadoes. That is very unique for us.
We have plans for a family BBQ here tomorrow and I doubt that it will be a day where we can all enjoy the outside like we generally will do. What a way to kick off the summer! But.....enough about the weather.
The grandchildren finished school for the year this week. It hardly seems possible that another year has gone by already. Remember those days of summer vacations? Three full months away from books and teachers. Those were the days. Can you imagine someone giving us three months off now? What would we do with all of that time?
Things remain busy in the yard. Our delightful orioles are now bringing their babies to the feeders. They are such a skittish bunch of birds but I was able to secretly snap a photo of one of the males. The males are so tropical looking while the females are much more plain. They have just a small blush of the yellow on them.
The boysenberries are really starting to produce this past week and the grandchildren will be thrilled with that news when they come tomorrow. The garden is mostly planted and will be in grand production in a few months.
I know that California is known for its agricultural production such as citrus, berries, wine grapes, cotton, garlic and much more. However, one of things that they also "produce" comes from fields of wind machines. We passed many of these very large fields of the various machines on our way to Phoenix. It makes for a very interesting scenery along the drive. It's the perfect desert crop since it doesn't appear to require any water.
As we honor all of our great veterans this weekend, I wish all of you a very safe and happy Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

This and That

My life these days seems to be a little of this and a little of that. I am generally a person who is on top of things and know just where I am suppose to be at any point in time. I seldom need to refer to my calendar as I tend to remember my schedules. The last few weeks have completely thrown me off of my game. I long for the day when I am back to what I consider normal.

Each spring we have a big business convention that we attend. Our daughter and SIL will stay at our home while we are gone to tend to the house and animals. Knowing it was coming up soon, I was talking about it with my husband over the weekend. He informed me that it was the week of the 25th. I merrily went along and passed the dates onto my daughter. Low and behold, I looked at the calendar and we leave on this Sunday, the 18th. Oops! Change of plans. Thank heavens we noticed it before we showed up a week late. I must say that this is so UNLIKE us.

I have also been feeling like I am living in a fog. My laryngitis went into a chest cold and then into a sinus infection. I hate the feeling that I experience when I am on antibiotics and it certainly doesn't help to have no energy. But.....I am well on the road to recovery now. Thank heavens.

Onto some catch-up things on my blog.

I attended our local quilt guild meeting on Tuesday and met a fellow blogger. Pattie had seen my blog on the fabric postcards. She contacted me and we discovered that we only lived a few miles from each other. We both decided to meet up at the guild meeting. It was so much fun to meet her and, hopefully, we will be able to spend some time together in the future. As you know, you cannot get a lot of talking done during a meeting. As her blog reflects, she has a wonderful attitude toward life.

Kelli did a wonderful tutorial for May Day tussie mussies. I took her idea and made some by fusing two pieces of fabrics together, placing flowers in a water tube and inserting them into the tussie mussies. You should check out her tutorial for next year. We placed one on each of our children's doors for May Day. No one around here celebrates the date, but as a child growing up in the Midwest, we loved making May baskets for our friends.

Another incredibly talented blogger is Artsy . She is always so generous with great art that she makes available for anyone to use. I took her up on her Mother's Day pieces and did a fabric postcard for my mother for her special day.

Spring has arrived in the garden this week. Our momma tortoise dug her hole and laid her eggs. She will generally dig different holes for about a week and then return to the first hole to lay the eggs. Once the eggs are layed, she is finished with them. We then dig them out of the ground and will incubate them in the house in a controlled environment. They have to be maintained in the same position that she has deposited them so all are marked with an "X" on the top when they are removed. The sex of the babies is thought to be determined by the temperature that the eggs are incubated. Cooler temperatures tend to produce males. I find that very interesting. Hatching will start in about 90 days.
Since we will be gone next week, I will be looking forward to getting back and catching up on every one's blogs. Have a great week.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Thank You to All

A million thanks to all my wonderful blogging friends for all the kind words, thoughts and prayers that you sent during our time of grieving the loss of my FIL. I felt such comfort as I read each message and realized how truly wonderful each and every one of you is.

It was a long and emotionally draining ten days. Although we all rejoice in the ease of his passing, we also long for the times we shared with him. I felt prepared for the funeral services at church and we all managed to hold together well. The graveside service with the military honors was another story. I had forgotten the emotions which are created watching the eight man honor guard, the sound of the single bugle playing taps, the gun salute and the folding and presenting of the flag to my husband. My FIL was a faithful servant to his God and his country.

The events of the day were followed by a celebration of his life for nearly 200 people back at our home. It was wonderful to hear so many of the guest's stories of how his life had made a difference in their lives. It was a great thing that they were doing the talking as I developed a severe case of laryngitis yesterday morning that rendered me speechless....definitely NOT a normal thing around this house!!! I remain without a voice today and I do believe that my husband might be enjoying this a little too much.

May is a time of many great celebrations in our family. May 4th was the 12th anniversary of our #1 son and his wife. They also have two birthdays in their family this week. Ms. M had her 7th birthday on May 8th and Mr. R has his 11th birthday today. Happy birthday to both of them. Next week our DIl will celebrate her birthday on the 15th. Needless to say it is a busy month at their house for parties.

Tomorrow as well as being Mother's Day it is also #2 son's birthday. A very happy birthday to him as he has to share it with his wife and mother of four terrific little ones. Perhaps they can split the day!

And next Wednesday is #4 son's birthday. It is amazing how often these two sons have to share their special days with mothers. Happy birthday to R too!!
On another note, I am looking forward to meeting a fellow blogger next week. A sheer coincidence put me in contact with Pattie who reads my blog. It turns out that we live just a few miles from each other. The mutual interest in quilting has created an opportunity to meet each other at next weeks local quilt guild meeting. It will be such fun to get to know each other outside of blogville. I hope that I have a voice by then.
Now, I must close off so that I can go catch up on other blogs. I have missed keeping up on what everyone else is doing over the last week.
Happy Mother's Day to all.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Celebration of Life

This is a week for celebrating the blessed life of my FIL. Wednesday morning he peacefully slipped from life on earth into his eternal life. He was fortunate enough to have been able to stay in his home and be surrounded by his family at the time of his passing.

To say it was expected would not be true. However, he lived longer than any of us ever expected that he would. He had celebrated his 90th birthday last November. His beloved wife of over 61 years passed away four years ago and I know he missed her until the moment of his death. Three years ago he suffered a stroke that had left him with a slight disability. Never a complaining man, he accepted his limitations and lived his life with dignity and class.

I was fortunate enough to be blessed with the most loving, wonderful set of in-laws that anyone could ever imagine. Being married to the eldest of the six sons, I was their first DIL. I was treated as though I was one of their own and I cherished my times spent with them.

They both had such a marvelous sense of humor. Their laughs were contagious. They enjoyed great music and they LOVED to dance. I have been at conventions with them where people would clear the dance floor to just watch them dance together. Unfortunately, they did not pass that trait on to their sons!

My in-laws were childhood sweethearts who married days before my FIL shipped off to South Africa with his army troop during the war. My MIL moved to NYC to live with a cousin while he was overseas. His return home was more than joyous and allowed them to travel by train to Los Angeles. Arriving on a glorious January day in 1945, they walked out of the train station to the smell of the citrus trees in bloom. The decision was made not to return to their hometown of Stillwater, Minnesota.

My FIL managed to get a job in the insurance industry and six sons arrived over the next twelve years. Business went well and he was able to open his own agency in the 1950s. Eventually all six sons joined the family business.

Eventually the sons married and the grandchildren arrived - 41 in all. The oldest grandson also joined the business. It was a great source of pride to my FIL to have been the start of it all. He was still going into the office as recently as last week. He did, however, refuse to allow a computer on his desk!

The years passed and 20 great grandchildren joined his family. His legacy will continue for many, many years.

He and my MIL loved their life together and a light went out when she passed away. He awoke each morning to her photo on his dresser and never failed to tell her "goodnight" before retiring at the end of the day.

Will we miss him? Oh yes, we will miss him like nothing else. It would be selfish to want him to stay with us forever when he has lived his whole life for this end. I know there is a celebration going on and I look forward to the time when we will all be joined once again.