Category Archives: family

I see more in this photo than you do

When you look at this photo, what do you see? Do you just see an elderly woman?


That wasn’t a trick question. But when I look at this picture, I see so much.

I see her delicately fingering the brooch at her neck. It was a gift to her from my sisters and me. I can hear her laugh, as she says, “Well, I don’t know, this joke is rather crass but all the ladies at the old people’s home seem to like it,” as she proceeds to tell a joke that I certainly never thought I’d hear Grandma tell.

Her voice is in my head, as she tells me that in her later years she prefers to sleep in a little, and have some toast with jelly for breakfast. Her coffee is weak, but her cinnamon rolls are still as good as ever. It is one of my cherished recipes, written out in her own graceful handwriting.

I am baking cinnamon rolls this morning, so am going to try to tell you how to do it. It takes more than a recipe. It is a process.

Grandma loved all her grandchildren fiercely, and she loved her great grandchildren even more. She was a great blessing to us! Grandma died several years ago, but memories of her live on in all of her grandchildren.

Who’s been a blessing in your life? When you look at photos of that person, I’m sure you see more than what is apparent to the eye!

vintage Mother's Day
Happy Mother’s Day!








In Praise of My Girls

Many parenting blogs write about how hard it is to be a parent; the sleepless nights, the picky eaters, the bedtime delays, and the sacrifices parents make for their kids. But sometimes, kids make sacrifices for parents, too.

As I hinted in my last blog post, my father-in-law has been struggling with health issues. On Sunday, we took him to the ER because his breathing was very labored. Due to a heart condition, his lungs fill with fluid and he has had to have his lungs drained several times. While Ed and his sister were with his dad, the girls and I waited in the ER waiting room to see if he would be admitted. Never once did my daughters say they were bored or tired of waiting. In fact, as dinnertime approached, I was the one getting cranky!

Yesterday, my father-in-law was going to be released from the hospital and needed to be taken to a rehab center. At the last minute, it appeared that I was the only on available to take him. But what was I going to do with my daughters? I could have tried to send them to friends’ houses after school, but the problem with being released from the hospital is that you never know how long it’s going to take. And it usually takes much longer than you think it’s going to. So I picked up the girls from school and told them to grab a snack. We were heading up to Lake Forest to pick up Grandpa.

When I had talked to my father-in-law on the phone, he had thought the paper work was going to be done by 5:00, which sounded reasonable. When we walked into his room at 4:30, however, the nurse was injecting medicine into his port. A port is an easy way to draw blood and administer chemotherapy (he also has lung cancer), but his port hadn’t been working that day. We had to wait half an hour to see if his port would work before he left. And so began the waiting game.

I don’t need to go into all the details of our visit, but I will tell you that the girls visited a little bit with Grandpa and sat quietly in that hospital room for over two hours. They didn’t bicker with each other or complain about being stuck in that hot, stuffy room with only two chairs for the three of us. (My father-in-law gets cold very easily, so the heat was turned up high!) What made the waiting even harder was that Emmy and Ed were supposed to go to a special activities night with other third graders at her school, and I was supposed to go to choir rehearsal at our church, and the hospital was not close to either place.

We finally were given my father-in-law’s release papers and were able to leave the hospital. As we pulled up to the rehab center just a few minutes before 7:00, Emmy spotted Ed, who met us there to take Emmy to her special activities night at school. They were a little late, but both Ed and I didn’t want her to miss being with her friends. I got a wheelchair for my father-in-law, and Lily and I got him settled in his room. He has been at this rehab center many times before, so he saw familiar faces right away and was relieved to be there!

Lily was looking a little pale, so I took her to Noodles & Co. for dinner. I was going to miss choir, but my little girl needed to eat. And so did I! If I timed it right, however, I would still be able to go to handbell choir. I play the middle F and G bells and our director wanted to try some new pieces, so I thought I should still go. It’s hard to rehearsal bells when people are missing!

My girls are definitely not perfect. I don’t think I ever told you that as a toddler, Lily threw the biggest tantrum in the hospital elevator after visiting my brother. But this week, I feel like they deserve some praise. They sacrificed several hours on Sunday night to sit in a hospital waiting room, and then sat in a hospital room for a couple of hours on Wednesday night. That’s tough enough for an adult to do, and they did quite well being 8 and 11. I’m proud of them!

Now, if I could just get them to clean their rooms, they would be perfect!



There are so many things I’m grateful for, and at the top of the list are the people in my life. I’m so grateful to have my family and friends in my life! They are the best! And I have so many other things to be grateful for as well…my list is long! I’m going to try to write a more concise list for a late #TuesdayTen post on gratefulness, however.

10. I’m grateful for my home.

As much as I complain about living in an older home that hasn’t been updated much, I’m so grateful to have a warm house with a furnace that works. I’m grateful to have a new washing machine that doesn’t use as much water to wash our laundry, and an old dryer that works well even after two repair jobs. I’m grateful to have the dishwasher that I didn’t have growing up! (My dad always said we had TWO dishwashers…my sister and me. Ha, ha, Dad.) I love the changes we have been able to make slowly but surely across the years. And I’m grateful that I can dream about the changes we will make in the future, because we have this place to change, this building that we call home.

9. I’m grateful for living in the Midwest.

As much as I complain about snow in November, I love watching the seasons change. I love living by the big lake we hardly ever see, but which affects our weather so much. I love the preserved forests by the rivers and the restored prairies with roaming bison.

Watermarked Fall to Winter

8. I’m grateful for the opportunity to travel.

Ed and I have dragged our daughters all over the country! We’ve gone as far north as Alaska, and south to Florida. We watched for whales and saw humpbacks feeding on krill. We stopped by the warm waters of an electric plant, and saw manatee floating lazily in the sunshine. And we’ve traveled to many points in between!

Junior Rangers
Junior Rangers in Death Valley, CA

7. I’m grateful for music.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to sing in my church choir and to my preschool class. I’m grateful for the musical opportunities for Lily and Emmy, for orchestra and chorus and our piano teacher. I’m grateful for Ed playing the trombone!

first piano recital (2)

6. I’m grateful for my church family.

Every Sunday, as we gather together to worship, I’m so grateful to renew my spirit in both faith and fellowship. Being able to gather together in Christ’s name is indeed a blessing!

5. Did I write up above that I was going to make this list concise? I’m not sure I’m managing conciseness, but I’m grateful the ability to write, for my love of words, for my blog and the chance to share my writing with you! Thank you for reading!

4. I’m so grateful for my job; for the opportunity to teach preschoolers. I love working with those little souls! I’m also so grateful for my co-workers. They make going to work something to look forward to! As part of the bigger picture, I’m so grateful to have a talent for teaching. It is such a gift to be able to do what I do.


3. I’m so grateful for my friends, old and new, and as funny as it is, I’m grateful for Facebook, which helps me stay in touch with my friends! Technology is a blessing, too, isn’t it?

2. At the top of my list is my family, from siblings and parents to aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents, and my in-laws and step-family. And for Ed, my wonderful husband, and my two little girls! I’m so blessed to have a large and loving family!

1. I’m grateful for my faith, a blessing from God, and that by His grace I am saved and will someday be taken up to heaven to live with Him. Alleluia!

The Golden Spoons

What are you grateful for? (I’m also grateful for the hostesses of Tuesday Ten, Lisa and Rabia!)

Don’t forget about our Thanksgiving link-up for The Spin Cycle this week! The link-up is open until the end of the month!


Before 9:00 a.m.

A couple of weeks ago, I started writing this blog post and didn’t finish it. My mornings aren’t usually this busy! Today was a typical morning for me; I got up after I had hit the snooze button a couple of times, drove Lily to orchestra, walked Emmy to school and drove myself to work. I even managed to put roast beef in the crock pot for dinner! But every once in while, things get crazy around here….

This morning (October 28), I couldn’t sleep. I rolled out of my warm bed into the cold bedroom at 5:45 to have a cup of coffee with Ed before he left for work. I usually don’t even hear him leave, even though my alarm is set for six. But I was anxious this morning because our furnace had quit on us the night before. Fortunately, it was a good time for the furnace to break. The low temperature was only on the 50s, so the house stayed fairly warm, dropping down to 64 degrees. Not so bad; could be worse!

At 7:00, I went to wake up Lily. Her room was still pitch black and I hated to do it, but I had to drive her over to the middle school for orchestra in 45 minutes. After I made sure Lily was up, I hopped in the shower so I could actually have dry hair before we got in the car.

What happened next was a whirlwind of accomplishment…not my usual thing in the morning. I dropped off Lily at orchestra and when I got home I called our furnace company to come fix the heat. It’s Pumpkin Patch day at the girls’ school, and both Lily and Emmy decorated pumpkins. I loaded both pumpkins into our little red wagon, and Emmy and I walked to school with them bumping behind us. It was rainy, so Emmy made sure the plastic garbage bag I placed over the painted pumpkins stayed in place.

With both girls where they needed to be, I lowered the third row of seats in my van so I had more room. I carried an old stereo system and two antiquated printers up from the basement and loaded them into the back of the van. I had had carpool duty the night before, or I would have put them in the car sooner! It’s the last Wednesday until Spring when I could drop off electronics for recycling at the Village Public Works building, and I was determined to make it there!

After sweating in my raincoat just a bit, I finally departed for work. Everything else that day went smoothly. My electronic were recycled, the technician ordered parts to fix our furnace, and each daughter received a participation ribbon for their pumpkins.

Phew! Are your mornings usually hectic? Or do you follow a smooth routine? I’m glad that every morning is not like that morning was!

Wishing you a Good Morning and a strong, hot cup of coffee.



Family Field Trip to Springfield, IL: Part One

Wecome to Springfield

For Columbus Day weekend, Ed and I decided to take a little trip for our anniversary. We thought it would be fun to take a trip to Springfield to see the Lincoln sites, even though Emmy protested because she “doesn’t like to learn things on vacation.”

Even though the girls had a three day weekend off from school, they didn’t have an early dismissal. So of course we had a little delay getting out of town due to the infamous Chicago rush hour traffic. When we were finally south of Joliet, we started looking for a place to eat. You know my Ed; he likes to eat at local places. So when we saw a sign for the Whistle Stop Cafe, we had to try it. I thought it sounded interesting because it has the same name as the cafe in one of my favorite books, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Even though I didn’t see fried green tomatoes on the menu, it was a charming small town cafe!

Downtown Springfield

We arrived at our hotel in Springfield late that night, and went promptly to bed so that we would be able to explore the capital the next day. It was pretty quiet the next morning when we arrived, and we discovered that street parking is free on the weekends! I had brought along blank pieces of paper and pencils for the girls to do rubbings of the medallions that are all over the downtown area. They are on plaques¬† called “Looking for Lincoln,” and Lily and Emmy had fun finding new plaques all day.

Looking for Lincoln
I have wanted to visit the “new” Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum ever since it opened. I read an article about it in the paper and it sounded like a great place to visit. Well, it turns out the museum is already ten years old! There are some amazing exhibits, and the museum was great for kids and adults. While Emmy did get bored while Ed and I were reading some of the exhibit signs, she really enjoyed the movies. (Don’t miss the movies! The special effects are very cool!) I loved how the exhibits were divided into two parts; the left side of the museum was Lincoln’s early life and his time in Springfield; the right side was Lincoln’s years in the White House.

Lincoln Museum

We spent about 3 hours in the museum and felt like that was plenty of time to see most of the exhibits. Then it was time for lunch (I had a horseshoe) and a visit to Lincoln’s Springfield home. The National Park Service has taken over Lincoln’s old neighborhood, and we needed to stop by the Visitor’s Center first to get our tickets to tour the house. The tickets are free, and they assign you a time and a tour guide.

Lincoln's House
Lincoln's desk
Our last stop for the day was Lincoln’s tomb. We made it just in time; the inside of the tomb closes at 5:00 p.m.

Rubbing Lincoln's nose for good luck.
Rubbing Lincoln’s nose for good luck.

The next day, it was off to Lincoln’s New Salem. Part Two here!


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