Thursday, February 28, 2013


Our sweet son and daughter-in-law have been living with us for a few weeks.  Our daughter-in-law moved in with us back in January and our son has been here for a couple of weeks now.  They are in one of those "transition" states . . .job changes, looking for a place to live, etc.  We are enjoying having them with us so much!

It is interesting though to "blend" two family units together.  Last night, Glenn said that they hate not being able to find their stuff.  Lots of their belongings are in storage, some are crammed into Laura's closets and some into Glenn's closet.  I know that must be difficult!!

Back when I was pregnant with Glenn and Laura, I had to stay with my in-laws for about four days.  I know that it can be tough.  Different families do things in different ways and I'm sure there are days that Lauren thinks we are all nuts.  We are loud in general.  We talk loudly.  We laugh loudly.  I yell loudly (Mark is passive agressive so he never yells).  Mark's family (besides Mark) on the other hand is not so loud.  They are all pretty passive agressive actually.  Families are just different.

I stayed home most of Glenn and Laura's lives.  I worked two different part-time jobs when they were little and was always home in the afternoons.  Lauren's mom worked outside the home (I think - I need to ask her that question??) most of the time.  Laura and Glenn are twins so they were always home at the same time.  Lauren and her brother are several years apart.  Families are just different.

The thing that I love is seeing how "in love" Glenn and Lauren are with each other. They just celebrated their second anniversary and it is refreshing to see how they care for each other.

I've also learned some other really interesting things . . .they have been eating the Paleo way . . .and it takes a lot of chopping and prepping!! Fresh fruits and veggies and lean meat - all so healthy. Glenn showed us this pyramid.  Isn't that amazing?  We are eating the same diet that they are feeding cows . . .to FATTEN them up!!!!!

Since Glenn met Lauren while away at college, I didn't know her well before they got married.  I've enjoyed getting to know her better.  Before they moved in with us, we had only spent a few days together over holidays, etc.  We actually have quite a few things in common.  We both love to blog!  Check out her blog at Simply Free  I love to read her blog and she actually met some blog friends this last weekend.  How cool is that?  We both love Glenn - that is VERY important.  The most important thing is that we both love Jesus!!

So . . .we are all on this journey . . .together.  Laura went away to college and moved home while she worked on her master's.  Now she is in an apartment with friends.  Glenn and Lauren went away to college and got their master's and moved to Mobile . . .and are now back home for a while. 

By the time, I was the age of the three of them, both of my parents had already died.  I was on my own.  I love knowing that Mark and I have a home and it is open to our children.

Families - they are a good thing.  They really are!  I love mine . . .how about you?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Our most "fun" family photo in a long time

I decided that we needed to take our family photo for our Christmas card in our back yard . . on Thanksgiving day . . .because that was one of the few times we were all together all fall. We were going to Mark's mom's house for dinner and so at some point, we would all shower and dress . . .right?? Well, no tripod . . .but I'm a pretty smart woman. (Oh . . .and I am now the proud owner of a tripod!!)
I set the camera up on the rail of the deck and Lauren helped me figure out how to set the auto timer and we also figured out how to set the continuous shots.  I looked through the lens and zeroed in on Glenn - he was our test subject.  Look at that gorgeous day in Alabama - end of November - warm enough for shorts on Thanksgiving day!!  Then you can see what I snapped below . . .oops - try again.  We kept working at it until we propped up the front edge of the camera with folded cardboard and got everything all set up and then everyone took a shower and got dressed . . .and we had a small window of daylight left before going to grandmother's house.  Glenn was designated as our runner and we all sat down . . .except for Glenn.
He touched the button and took off at a hard run and I stood up so he could scoot into the picture.  We have this whole series of pictures of us shuffling around and they are quite funny!!  I didn't put them all on here because I'm sure they are only funny to us but since the shots were continuous, the shots look sort of like a flip book . . .you can see the motion.
We finally ended up using one picture much like this . . and we decided that it was one of our best ever family photos because we were all laughing . . .there were no forced smiles . . .it was good!!
We arrived at Grandmother's house and the carving commenced.  I thought it was funny that Mark & George look like bookends in this picture.  Identical twins . . what can I say?  I love that George has on one of Grandmother's aprons!!!!
Grandmother thinks that she needs to make a variety of pies.  I think she succeeded, don't you?  I don't even know all the varieties . . .I didn't eat any that night.  You can even see more pies stacked in the pie rack beyond.
Grandmother likes to eat "dinner" on Thanksgiving so that we can eat by candlelight.  Alice decorated the table for her this year.

We enjoyed having extra friends and family this year.  Lauren's mom, Ann, joined us and we also had Sean and Tiffany.  They are two of the young adults who come to our group on Tuesday night and they only had the one day off . . .and live out of state . . .and just not enough time to drive home and get back in time for work on Friday.  I love having a big group together.  I think that the older Mark's mom gets, the more flustered she gets and possibly the more easily flustered . . .  so we tried to do a lot for her.  I've offered to have Thanksgiving at our house but she still wants to host it and as long as she wants to do so, I want her to be able to do so.  As our family grows though, we will have more and more folks and I also want to always be able to invite friends and I just hate for her to be stressed about it. She is always very gracious and has lots of food and shows hospitality . . .  I don't remember if this picture was before we ate or after.  Everyone was sitting around chatting and it looks like Mark is holding court.

This was our little pumpkin and "straw" display at the foot of the front steps at our house.  I love pumpkins and had so much fun picking them out at the farmer's market.  I made a couple of trips out there again this year.  That trip to the Farmer's Market is always one of my highlights of the fall.

Over the long weekend, Mark and Glenn did the annual cleaning out of the gutters . . .oh my . . .they are way up high!!  They always have to have a project!!  I guess I should say that MARK always has to have a project . . .and Glenn gets dragged along :-)

It was a good long weekend with only one meltdown from a family member. After hearing about other families and their dysfunction, I feel really blessed. I know that sounds crazy . . .but I really do. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and it WAS GOOD!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

baking & decorating DOZENS of cookies

Back during October, our Tuesday night group did a "mission project" night.  I have no idea why this first picture is so blurry!!  After dinner, we cleaned up and quickly set up several stations.  The dining room table was the "write a note to a shut-in" table.  This group worked so hard writing notes to all of the homebound/nursing home/shut-ins at Trinity. This was a simple project to get together and those who received the cards were thrilled.

We also had a cooking baking station . . .these were the pre-packaged kind of cookies - "put on a cookie sheet and bake cookies."  One of the guys handled this project.

Prior to the actual night, I had mixed up several recipes of Grandmother's recipe (Mark's mom) for homemade sugar cookies and had used my cookie cutters to cut out shapes and had baked them.  My kitchen is just not big enough to do all the baking on one night.  The kitchen table became the cookie decorating station.  I had a brilliant idea (if I do say so myself!!).  I put down a plastic tablecloth for them to decorate on.  We spread all of the finished cookies out over the table at the end of the night and placed several tall glasses on the table - on the corners and in the middle.  Then we placed another new and clean plastic tablecloth over the top.  The icing wasn't dry so we couldn't "cover" them and/or "layer" them in the plastic containers yet but the cookies didn't need to sit out exposed all night.  The next morning, I packed all the cookies into the containers and rolled up the tablecloths with all the icing smears and extra sprinkles and clean up was done!!

Here is a picture of Matt wearing his oven mitt . . .while baking those cookies.  Looks like Drew and Mark are offering moral support.

We had some excellent cookie decorators.  Some of the girls are expert bakers themselves.  Lydia is a superb decorator.

This black kitty cat was one of Lydia's creations.

Looks like Mark is supervising in this picture!  Seems like he had given up sugar and wasn't eating cookies!!  These are one of his favorite cookies!!  Just what did we do with all these cookies anyway?  Well . . .our Sunday school class feeds people on the fourth Wednesday of every month.  On the odd months, we feed the men at the firehouse shelter and on the even months, we feed mostly children/youth at another ministry.  We made a cookie bag tied with black and orange ribbon for each child.  Just typing those words makes me kind of "tear up."  I heard that the children had great big smiles when they received their pretty bags of cookies.  We take those things for granted.  I live in an "over the mountain" community.  Yes, that is what it is called.  I didn't grow up in an "over the mountain" community.  I remember hearing about those folks.  We take things for granted like pretty goody bags for holidays and fancy decorated cookies.  Some children have never even had a homemade cookie in their life much less a fancy decorated one.  Now some of you might be thinking - well, Lisa - that is stupid.  You should be feeding the hungry a meal - not some stupid fancy cookie.  But you know what?  Maybe a fancy cookie is just what someone needed.  Maybe someone needed to know that someone somewhere loved Jesus enough to take time to bake a whole lot of cookies and then spend time decorating the cookies JUST FOR THEM.  I believe that I might be standing on a soapbox.

So it was a great night - three stations - note writing, cookie baking and cookie decorating . . .fun and fellowship and doing something for someone else = ingredients for a really good night!!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Triple the fun . . .

I still can't believe how far behind I am on the blog.  We celebrated triple birthdays on Wednesday night of the long Thanksgiving weekend . . .way back in November of 2012.  We've always celebrated and had double the fun with twins but now that we have Lauren in the family, we have triple the birthday fun!

I made my first ever homemade German Chocolate cake.  I used Grandmother's (Mark's mom's) recipe and I must admit that I was proud of myself.  It took me several hours to bake the cake and make the filling to go between the layers and then to make the icing but it was so worth it!!  I'm excited that Lauren loves that cake because it is my favorite!!  Grandmother had never shared the recipe with me.  When I would ask, she would say, "that is my hardest cake to bake."  I emailed my sister-in-law in Delaware and asked her for the recipe and so it was a surprise that I made it . . .and it tasted really good!!  I actually felt like an accomplished "baker."

I also made Laura's cake but it was easy.  She LOVES Funfetti cakes . . .buy that cake mix, mix it up, bake it and put the icing on straight from the container!!

Grandmother baked a cake for Glenn.  She made her homemade pound cake with homemade icing . . the kind of icing that you have to cook.  I've never made that kind of icing before.  Glenn loves that cake!!  (so does Mark!)

We invited the family over for dinner that night and it was so good to have everyone around OUR table. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Missing . . .one middle-aged blogger . . .

I have missed blogging so much!!!  I have tons of pictures and lots of words floating around in my head but I have been lacking TIME!!!  I think this is the longest I have ever gone without blogging since I first started the blog.  You may not have missed me, but I have missed this outlet. 

So why haven't I blogged?  What have I been doing?  I've been putting one foot in front of the other since Thanksgiving.  Each day, I've prayed for the strength to make it through the day . . .and God  has been good.  I've been busy and I've been stressed and I've had some fun (pictures of fun to follow later) and we've spent time with family over the holidays (and that was good!).  We've been a part of some incredible worship services at Trinity UMC. 

But why haven't I had time to blog?  Well, let's see what we can gather just from these pictures.  The pencils in the background behind the glass of wine (which was purely medicinal - I promise!) were from one of our Tuesday night sessions (no - there was no wine involved in our Tuesday night young adult sessions) . . .this was after we had washed the dishes.  The pencils were from our spiritual gifts assessment which was very interesting - my top three are hospitality, teacher and something about knowledge (I like to study the Bible and stuff in order to share it with others).  Funny thing - Mark, Laura and I all  have hospitality as our number one .. .and our daughter-in-law, Lauren has it in her top three also!!  We need to get Glenn to take the assessment.

 I've also been on a mission - 1200 of these beaded crosses before the beginning of Lent.  Don't ask why.  Just be surprised.  I didn't have to make all 1200 - wonderful committee headed by a dedicated church member made about 900 and I made only about 300.  They were oddly comforting to make.  You can still see pencils in the background!!!

 We posed for a picture for a video - act surprised about that one, too!!

But most of all, I haven't blogged because of my job!  Thank goodness, I LOVE my job.  Yesterday is the first day since before Christmas where I could actually SEE the top of my desk - any woodgrain at all.  We had a HUGE confirmation class of 67 students - 6th graders!!  Part of my job is to get all of them and all of their info, etc. into the church database. . . and make them each a membership card . . .and a nametag . . .and write their name in the BIG book.  In addition to those 67, we also had quite a few adult members join in January . . .which means all of the above for them also - in addition to writing their former churches to arrange the transfer of membership.  What a blessing, right?  Yes - isn't that amazing?  We had more new members in January than many small churches have in worship!!  In addition to all of that, we had a snow day where we left work early and arrived home late.  We have been short two or three co-workers on and off this month due to sickness.  I had to set up my giant excel spreadsheets for 2013.  We are working an Emmaus walk in February and team meetings have begun on Saturdays . . .I've cooked a meal or two for others . . .and there just hasn't been time to sit down at the computer and gather my thoughts.

BUT last Sunday's Sunday School lesson was on the discipline of Simplicity from "Celebration of Discipline" by Richard Foster.  For some reason, that lesson made me want to blog - to take the TIME to blog.  I know that my blog is not widely followed.  I don't have thousands of followers . . .I have 24 :-)  but sometimes I need to just stop and write my thoughts and think about what is important.

My family is important and our friends are important and my relationship with God is important and I blog about all of those things so that I will REMEMBER!!

So . . .hopefully, I'm back.  I've missed you.