Friday, March 26, 2010

If Memory Serves Me Right...

(This is a stock photo but it reminds me of Laddie, my first dog.)

What is your very first memory? Have you ever thought about it?

I have several early memories and I don’t know for sure which event was first, but I believe the first one happened when we were living with (or visiting) my maternal grandparents when they lived in LaGrange, Illinois. I think I was about four years old.

I had a twin-sized bed and slept in my parents’ room. One morning my dad came in early and awakened me with a surprise. He had a dog with him and he told me it was for me! It was a fully grown sable and white collie (like Lassie). His name was Laddie. A colleague had given him to my dad. Apparently Laddie wasn’t working out at their house and he wanted rid of him. I don’t remember anything else about Laddie in Illinois, but I do remember having him in Virginia, where we lived later.

Laddie was the first of several collies in our family. After Ken and I were married, we also had collies when we lived out in the country. They are such sweet, loving dogs and they have wonderful temperments.

What is your first memory? Do you have any idea how old you were? Some people think they remember events from their toddler years. I think that's amazing! My memories don’t seem to go back that far. In fact, these days my memory seems to have enough trouble recalling where I put my purse and my car keys!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Acting Like Kids Again

I wanted to share these photo booth shots with you as a testament to a fun and silly afternoon Ken and I had one day recently. I hung this on our fridge as a reminder of just how proud I am of the two of us. Because you see, he and I have come a long way in the last year or so. Let me explain.

It took us a while, but I think we've almost gotten the hang of it. This college thing - ya know - it isn't half bad! When Matthew was still in high school and we were lamenting his nearing departure, we had friends with older kids who'd already left home tell us, "Oh, you'll see, you'll get used to it before you know it. You'll adjust. In fact, you'll love it!"

We will? Ken and I will love Matthew, our only child, being gone? This child, who has been the center of our universe for nearly two decades? People, come on! What are you saying? It couldn't be. We're different, we knew we were. They just didn't know us.

Then, way too soon, the time came for all the good little boys and girls (and the others, too), to leave for college. It was difficult emotionally, just as we knew it would be. (Get used to it indeed! When our kid is a grandfather, maybe!) Days turned into weeks which turned into long months and I missed our little shaver terribly. Still do.

But you know what? Something happened during those days and weeks and months. I didn't see it coming, but it happened nonetheless. The frequency of the calls home decreased (that, I noticed). But during those many days when we waited and didn't get a call or an email from the boy, we got a little bit used to it, then a little bit more. We knew he was ok. (I mean, we could call, text, IM and Skype, for goodness' sake.) And yeah, well, we knew we'd talk to him in a day or two. But the stretches became longer and longer and he was calling the shots. Little varmint! It was like he was weaning us! Like WE were the ones in kindergarten! And you know what? I am proud to say, we became a little bit more independent! His dad and I did ok, if I do say so myself!

That's right. And you know what else? I have to tell you because I am so proud of us. Ken and I have learned that we can do so many things on our own. It's true. We are able to function just as we did b.a.c. (before a child). And not only that, but, we do things when we want. We eat when we want, we go to bed when we want, we get up when we want. Heck, we even nap when we want! We go out when we want, we even eat cereal for supper if we want!

Now, the funny part of all of this is that guess what time it is? Yep, just about time for summer break. Just when everyone learns all the rules, it's time for a whole new game.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Charmed Life

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalms 37: 4

The year was 1983 and I had just graduated from Bowling Green State University. My fiance, Ken, was a senior at Virginia Tech, majoring in Chemical Engineering. I applied there to graduate school and lived in the same apartment complex as he during that year, just a short walk away.

It was an interesting year. I was taking graduate classes and taught college freshman English. Ken was finishing the last of his courses, interviewing at every opportunity. Professional jobs were hard to secure and he was determined to find a good job. We were planning a wedding and going full speed ahead, even though we weren't sure what kind of job he would have after he graduated. (Yet somehow we planned our wedding for the Saturday after the Saturday he graduated. In retrospect, that probably was not the brightest idea!) Because of VT’s outstanding reputation as an engineering school, lots of employers interviewed there, but LOTS of graduates were looking for jobs. Ken spent countless nights waiting in line all night to take any "open" interview spots in addition to any other interviews he was able to secure.

It was a stressful time. I'm sure it was more stressful for Ken than it was for me. We prayed he would be offered a job as our wedding date loomed. We were hopeful. We were optimistic. We were young. We were naïve. But, we were also believers. We prayed and we believed God would take care of us. Most importantly, we prayed that He would show us what His will was for us.

Ken’s chemical engineering friends weren't quite sure what to make of our approach to this huge mountain in front of us. They were a fun-loving group, yet they were also realistic, non-believer types who thought we were probably a little too optimistic. They watched us closely because we were the only ones in this study group he'd met with for years planning a wedding in such uncertain economic circumstances. We continued to pray and believe.

And then it happened. Ken was offered not one, but two awesome job opportunities: one in South Carolina with Milliken, a textile manufacturer (which he ultimately accepted); and a second, with a fairly new (to-me) company called Intel, some computer chip company out west (some computer chip company indeed!).

And then we were tagged as having a “charmed life.” So when Ken and I saw this sign (shown above) a few years ago, we bought it. It says "and they lived happily ever after..." It hangs in our kitchen to remind us of that time in our lives so many years ago and how far we’ve come – not because we are charmed – but because of God’s grace and His love and provision for us.

I bet you’re wondering if we regret going south and not taking the job at Intel? We actually came very close to moving west. Ken felt it was an amazing opportunity - and it was. But when we prayed about it, we felt God leading us south. We’ve never looked back and never regretted it. In fact, we’ve never regretted any of our 13 moves, but we sure are grateful for the last 13 years here in Orrville! It has been such a charmed life. The Lord has truly given me the desires of my heart.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Enjoying the Sunshine with JB

It has been so, so beautiful in northeast Ohio the past few days. My husband, Ken, got out the patio furniture because he knows I’ve been wanting to go sit outside and enjoy the fresh air. Then he emailed me and told me to do just that. Be sure to get outside and soak up some sun, he advised. That’s an easy request to fulfill.

So yesterday and today I went out and sat with Jeffrey Bob for a while. You remember JB, right (from a posting last fall)? He doesn’t have all his hair, er, um, leaves yet, but he will. Just give him a few weeks. He will.

The best part about Jeffrey Bob? He’s like Ken - he doesn’t care that the office is still in total disarray! Just like Ken, that tree never complains. If you read my last post you know that I’m working on reorganizing our home office. Well let me tell you, I got into more than I bargained for with this one! We need more people like Ken and trees like JB in our lives, that’s all I’m saying. Then, if we weren’t so hard on ourselves, we’d really be ok.

Wherever you are I hope you're enjoying some sunshine and that you have people/and or others in your life to help make your journey more enjoyable along the way.

Well, I have procrastinated long enough. It’s time to go back to those filing cabinets. See ya later, JB.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring and My Thoughts Turn to....Organization?

I’m on a huge organization kick. I mean a really big one. Oh, I always like things picked up. Every day, I go through the house in the morning, pick up, wipe down, straighten up, you know, make sure everything is in place. But something happens to me during this time of year. It’s like I get an urge to clean out, purge the unnecessary and organize what’s left. It kind of reminds me of the feeling of an expectant mom getting that nesting instinct. But for goodness’ sake, I'm glad it's not the nesting instinct I'm experiencing! I’m way too old for that! I’ll take the spring cleaning instinct!

I was not always like this. Oh no, not at all. I used to be quite a messy kid. I’d shove anything I could under my bed. It was hard to tell what my mother would find under there. I was especially fond of craft projects and some of the overflow made it under there.

A joke in my family was how I used to like to glue pasta, like uncooked spaghetti and macaroni on paper plates and make “art.” I guess I was creative even then. I used a lot of Elmer’s Glue. My mom swore there were years when I was personally responsible for keeping Elmer’s in business. Guess my fondness for business started early, too. Who knew?

Thankfully, I am a bit more organized now. Still, our home office needs attention, so that’s where I’m heading today. I wonder if we have any Elmer’s Glue…

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Dear Abby's Infallible Rice" Recipe

I get so many comments about the recipes I post on my blog. As I've shared with you, I only post what I know to be easy, tried-and-true winning recipes that are as tasty as they are easy. So today, I thought I'd share one I'm making as a side dish for supper tonight.

As I mentioned previously this week, our son is home this week on spring break. As usual when he’s home, I ask what he wants me to cook for him. One of his favorite meals and one of the ones he's requested this week is Poppy Seed Chicken.

I like to serve Poppy Seed Chicken with hot rice as one of its side dishes. I get lots of requests for the rice, so I thought I’d share it here. The recipe is actually from a little booklet I ordered from a Dear Abby newspaper column years ago as a young bride. The booklet is called “Dear Abby’s Favorite Recipes.” Because my boys love rice, I always double the recipe. (I don't double the onion, however. My boys aren't huge onion fans, so I adjust accordingly.)


1 medium onion, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup long-grain, raw white rice
2 cups chicken broth (hot)
1/2 tsp. salt (my addition)

Saute onion in butter until transparent. Combine onion, rice and hot broth. Bring to a boil on top of range. Cover and place in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

And that's it!

1. If your rice has too much liquid after 20 minutes, recover tightly and bake a little longer. Check every 3-4 minutes, as it will absorb the liquid quickly.
2. If you are making this as a supper swap dish to share with friends, leave a small amount of liquid in the rice. Cover tightly after you remove from the oven (and when transporting), and the liquid will be absorbed yet the rice won’t become sticky.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! I think it’s the best, most flavorful rice recipe I’ve made.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring Break Tennessee Style

We have a sign above an armoire in our kitchen that says “Come on in & sit a spell.” I love this because it reminds me of my southern upbringing. Those days were a time when family and friends stopped by unannounced - so much so, in fact, that it was common place.

I must admit, that while I love to invite folks to come in and join us in our home, I generally do not like to visit others unannounced. I always like to call before popping in on someone, but this week, we did just that.

Our son was on spring break from college and he, my husband and I went to our place in Tennessee to stay for a few days. While there we decided to visit my Aunt Juanita and Aunt Sue who have homes nearby. I generally let them know when we’re in the area. That way, they know to expect us sometime during a few days’ span. They may not know the exact time we might stop by, but they do know it’s probable. This time, however, I didn’t even tell them we were in the area. So, against my normal manner of doing things, we just dropped in. Although a bit surprised, they greeted us warmly and were as gracious as if they’d expected us for weeks. We enjoyed catching up with them and spending time with them in their beautiful homes. Although we only stayed with them a little while, the “Come on in & sit a spell” was their grace and hospitality in action, as they could not have been more welcoming.

We enjoyed all our time in Tennessee so much. The weather was just gorgeous. Coming from Ohio with snow on the ground, it was a pleasure and a blessing to wear sandals from the time I left to the time I returned. We had temperatures from the low 60s to the low 70s while we were there and Matthew was able to play golf for the first time in about 6 months. I’m not sure who was happier to be on the golf course – Matthew or his parents (and we don’t even play!).

Even more special was the time we spent with our boy. "Come on in & sit a spell" was like our mantra for the week and catching up with him in our home away from home was priceless. We laughed and talked and reminisced and dreamed. We kicked back and relaxed on the wonderful back porch. Getting away from the stresses and hassles of everyday life and going to a place without the usual distractions was a welcome change. I realize that spring breaks of the future will likely be different than the one Ken and I enjoyed with Matthew this year. For that reason, these last few days are even more special and are ones I’ll visit often in my memory.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Sure Sign of Spring

(Reid and Ellie, our sweet, across-the-street neighbors! I scanned this photo from a whole calendar of photos they gave us for Christmas.)

I saw it today. It’s a sure sign of spring. While getting clothes out of the dryer, I looked out the window and there they were: Ellie and Reid, those two sweet-faced kids who live across the street from us were out in their driveway playing with their dad! And they weren’t even making a snowman! Ah, what a welcome, sweet sight that was to me today!

Yes, we still have snow on the ground here, but they were walking around, almost like they were trying to get their sea legs, poor things. In the life of a 2 year old and a 5 year old, an Ohio winter is, well, a good portion of their lives! They probably struggle to remember the warm days of their youth!

Well, it has been a long time since it was warm and sunny. Today it was beautiful here. I think it was in the mid-30’s. Yes, I know, it’s not Florida, but we are talking northeastern Ohio here. We'll take it!

As I looked out at the three of them outside, I wasn’t sure who was more excited they were out there – the kids or me! I bet Brian, their dad, was also pretty excited to be out and about. I remember when Matthew was little how nice it was to get him outside where that pent-up energy could be set free!

Just seeing them out there gave me hope. It reminded me that spring is coming, it really is! It made me think of sunny days and flowers and sitting on our huge covered back porch (ok, it’s really a patio slab, where I’ll soon be fussing about the sun being too bright, but a girl can dream, can’t she?!).

But for now, I’ll just look forward to those warm, sunny days. How about you? What signs of spring have you seen?