Monday, February 28, 2011

"Daddy's Home!"

The kids were pretty happy to see their Dad home at last! They would hardly leave his side the evening he got home after being gone for most of 8 months. They had not seen him since Christmas.

Recent "best" books

I would like to recommend a few books that won't show up on my blog because I read them last year. Not in any particular order, but definitely page turners are: The Help (Stockett), The Kindness of Strangers (Kitteridge), The Glass Castle (Walls). I have been thinking about these 3 books a lot lately, and wanted to make sure to mention them, in case anyone was looking for some reading material. I read quite a few books, but these titles stand out in my mind as excellent reads. Happy reading to all!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cooked Letter, Crooked Letter

I just finished this book and really enjoyed it. It started off a little slow, and the author spent quite a bit of time setting the stage for the climax of the story. It takes place in a small Mississippi town and is centered around the lives of two boys, one African American and one white. I have never read anything by Tom Franklin before, but I think I will check out some of the other books he has written. He has a nice writing style. I have started Edgar Sawtelle, but I am not sure if I will finish it. It was an Oprah selection several years ago, but I have had several people tell me that they didn't' like it. I can get discouraged easily when it comes to books and movies. I let others opinions sway me sometimes. I will update you on my progress in that book.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


I may write more on this later, but for tonight, I am just going to say that after 8 long months, Josh is back home from Alabama to stay!! We had not seen him since Christmas, so it was wonderful to have him here without the thought of him leaving again on all of our minds. The kids had been kept in the dark about him coming home a week early, and they were so surprised and excited to see him. The best part of the homecoming was seeing them hug and squeeze on him. Nothing like a family unit being together after a long separation! I will try to post a picture tomorrow.

Friday, February 25, 2011

It Snowed. . . Again

Not a bad scene from my back porch. Except of course it is snow.
And. I. Am. Tired. Of. Snow! How about you?

The Record is Stuck!

This has been a winter of repeats. Unfortunately, what keeps repeating is the not so great weather, aka SNOW! We had 6 - 10 inches of wet, fluffy snow yesterday. So, here I am at home again. I could have ridden in with Randy, but since I only work 1/2 day on Friday, I could have been stuck there for 11 to 12 hours. What to do today? I have determined that possibly the only advantage to missing all of this work this winter is that my house is much cleaner than normal. Already this morning I have shaken out rugs, cleaned bathrooms, swept, straightened and finished laundry. And it isn't even 9 a.m. yet. I have always believed in the philosophy that work comes before play, so I have been avoiding my newest book (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter) and have not turned on the television. How, you may ask, am I rationalizing blogging and not dusting? Well, I decided to pay a few bills (via computer), and since I was already here, I thought I would blog just to save some time. (Anyone buy that explanation?)
It is going to be a great weekend. We found out last night that Josh will get to come home a week early. He should be home by tomorrow night. I will be so happy to have him back with his family (all of us!). We are planning a family meal on Sunday. This time, there won't be the thought of having to go back on his mind. Amanda and Josh are keeping his early homecoming a surprise from the kids. I can't wait to see their faces when he gets here. That should make the whole 8 months worth it! Stay tuned for more updates on the homecoming!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Winter's Bones

I read several books over the long weekend, including "Winter's Bones". I had heard of this book from family, who live in South Missouri. Curiosity got the best of me, and I went to the library to find it. All 3 of their copies were out, so I got "Tomato Red", by the same author, Daniel Woodrell. It was a short little book, but very powerful. The people depicted in the story have similarities to some Missouri folks I know through my job. I put "Winter's Bones" on request and was excited to check it out before the long weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone interested in a variety of cultures within the United States. The book is set in the winter, in a rural area of S. Mo. As I read the book, I looked out my window and saw similar landscape and weather as was described in the book. It didn't take much imagination to see the characters and their story. I am anxious to check out the movie and see how it ranks next to the book.
Do you ever feel a sense of loss and let down when you finish a book that you really enjoy? I sure do.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Grandma gets a makeover!

You never really know what is going to happen at my house when the kids come to visit. On Saturday, Maddie decided that it was time to
fix me up. She took all of her hair accessories and glamorized me. After the hair was done, she got out the make up and started in on that. It was quite a grand experience for me. Of course then she had to take my picture. I am saving the world from despair by not showing the front side. Just imagine the front looking like the back with some red lipstick. Mason and Maddison just giggled and giggled at the finished product. Ah, a Grandma that has lost her dignity!

President's Day

Do you have a favorite President? Mine would have to be Franklin D. Roosevelt. I admire the way he showed leadership and rallied the country behind him in one of our history's darkest times. He was from a wealthy family, but still looked out for the "little guy". I also admired his wife and the work she did to make our nation more equitable for different races, social classes and genders. If you haven't been to his memorial in D.C. you should try to go. It is certainly not one of the more famous landmarks in the capital, but it tells the story of his presidency very well. I have read numerous books on FDR, so I am well aware of the weaknesses of his leadership and his personal downfalls. But all things considered, I think he rose to the presidency, and possibly saved our democracy.
Today, I am grateful for all of the service minded citizens who have spent years of their life giving to our nation. Thank you to all the Presidents!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tomato Girl

I started "Tomato Girl" on Saturday, and finished it on Sunday. That qualifies for my "page turner" award. If you have read and enjoyed "Ellen Foster" by Kaye Gibbons, you will most likely enjoy this book too. "Tomato Girl" is about a young girl living with a mother who is mentally ill. It is a story about both triumph and tragedy. I seem to navigate towards books that feature the main character overcoming a great deal of trauma in their life. This is one of those books. It reminds me somewhat of the Jeanette Walls book "The Glass Castle". It is not an escape book, but it is well worth the effort to read. What are you reading?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Working hard on creating some artwork. Maddison is making a butterfly, and Mason is working on a horse.

Is it Spring Yet?

Ah, Saturday, sweet Saturday. We met Jessica and Scott, Maddison and Mason this morning for a rare breakfast out. After breakfast we ran some errands, which included library books for me (3 new ones I requested), 3 movies at the Red Box for him and then headed home. The weather is overcast and cool, but we decided to tackle the garage floor in spite of the conditions. Since we live on gravel and park our cars in the garage, the floor was covered with mud, gravel and other road debris. On top of that, our dog spends the coldest days and nights in the garage, so there was that wet dog smell to get rid of. We hooked up the hose and went to work. Maddie and Mason were excited to get out their power wheel toys, which hadn't been ridden since about November. We progressed to cleaning out leaves and washing down the driveway. It felt good to get some of the winter muck away from the garage and house. I am now more than ready for spring. I have a wonderful porch swing which makes the best place on the planet to read when the weather is nice. I am so anxious to be outside more. We have had a few really nice days this week (which I spent at work). Those few nice days have spoiled me for spring. The forecast is not so promising, and includes rain, sleet and possibly more snow. Ugh! Come on April!

Friday, February 18, 2011


Considering that today was Friday, I accomplished a major feat. I am finally back at the gym. I didn't want to go. I tried to talk myself out of going. I straightened the house, finished my book, ate breakfast, checked my emails, got dressed. . . and there was still time to go to the gym. So I put on my sneakers, got in the car and decided that I needed to return some library books, and get gas, and wash the car. . . . and there was still time to go to the gym. So I went to the gym. And I walked on the treadmill for 25 minutes. And if felt good. And it is Friday. Imagine that, starting a new habit, a good habit on a Friday. And the whole time I was walking I was wondering: Why does it take 21 days to make an activity a routine, and only 2 days to break that habit? That is really just not fair! But I walked, and then I went to work (on time, thank you very much). And in case anyone wonders, yes I do get up too early! Imagine that, on a Friday.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


That's right. Thank goodness it's Wednesday! After having Monday off, I have had the longest two workdays of recent history. I guess it is payback for a four day weekend off. Friday can't come soon enough for me this week. And then another long weekend!
As part of my job, I attend PPR meetings. In Family Services terminology, that is Permanency, Planning and Review. It is a meeting to assemble a "team" of relevant parties to review a foster child's permanent placement plan. I attend as a Community Representative, sort of a neutral party. The one I attended recently made me so very sad. I knew this child (now a teenager) as a baby, toddler and preschooler. He/she has always had behavioral problems, but now has a series of "diagnoses". He/she doesn't live in our area any longer and is residing in his/her 30th foster placement (home). Plans are being made for the future, which he/she hopes is adoption and eventually college. Unfortunately, the chances of adoption are slim to none at this point. Do you ever wonder what happens to these children? For what ever reason, this child has had a childhood so extreme that the emotional and pschological damage done to him/her is mostly irreversible. I worry about his/her future and I wonder about his/her past. It has been 10 years since I have heard his/her name. Could I have intervened and made a difference in this child's life? Most likely not. There have been a lot of people cross his/her path along the way. I hope some were able to make a positive impact and give him/her something to hold on to as he/she prepares to enter the adult world. It is a sad reflection on our society. And this is just one child among hundreds of thousands with these kinds of problems. Please say a little prayer for this child and all the others out there like them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book Update

I recently finished Tomato Red. This is a small book by the author of Winter's Bones. I was interested in reading this book because the author is a native Missourian and writes about life in the Ozark area of Missouri. I enjoyed the book and found its characters much like some people I know of in our area. It tells a story from the point of view of people living in the cycle of poverty.
The next book I recently finished was Someone Else's Child. This book reminded me of some of Jodi Picoult's books that I have read. I could not put it down. It features a Christian family that home school their children. A terrible accident happens one night and the story revolves around the impact this accident has on a variety of lives in a small Connecticut town. I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to others.
Just an interesting note: Three of the last 4 books I have read take place in Connecticut. Seens unusual to me. The location is the only common thread that they seem to have (Goodnight Nobody, Someone Else's Child and the one I am currently reading: Strangers at the Feast). Hmmmm.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Maddison was recognized for her good penmanship at the monthly kindergarten award assembly. She is with her good buddy who also won the writing award.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I am pretty sure I used to do this all the time. I guess I am really out of practice! We have had the grandchildren since early Saturday morning. Things have gone well, actually very well. However, it is Sunday night and tomorrow they both go to school. It is also Valentine Party Day, and Aunt Bea and I are on duty to be surrogate room mothers. Across my counter are: 20 homemade and decorated strawberry cupcakes (cream cheese icing with valentine sprinkles) and store bought cookies. There are 20 goodie bags stuffed with candy and trinkets. 40 Valentine Cards have been signed and sealed. Clothes (red of course) are laid out, and homework has been packed in the back packs. Weekend clothes have been cleaned, folded and packed in the weekend bags. Coats, gloves and snowpants are in the dryer. And I am exhausted. The kids are bathed, brushed, and in bed (however, they are NOT asleep yet). And I am exhausted! I used to have two children in school. I was always the room mother, PTA officer, worked a part time job and stayed (mostly) organized. I can't remember how it is supposed to be done. Thank goodness for three things tomorrow: 1. I am on vacation, 2. Uncle Scott and Aunt Bea are on duty, and 3. It is late start Monday. One thing I know for sure, mothers are way underpaid and underappreciated. Single mothers who keep it all together should be highly rewarded. I don't know how Amanda has managed this past few months with Josh gone. The kids have been great this weekend. The weather has been wonderful too. All I know is that it is 8 p.m. and I am strongly considering going to bed.
After all, I am exhausted!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Weekend

Let the fun begin! We are having a special treat this year for Valentine's weekend. We have two small, but very special guests spending part of the weekend with us. In preparation for the event, I have purchased lace doilies, pink paper, red paper, stickers, Valentine Cards (Toy Story for him, Olivia for her) and lots and lots of school glue! We will have the regular chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast this morning, and then we plan on making some Valentine cupcakes. It will be fun! I will post pictures from the weekend. I am in the middle of a good book, so I hope I have time to read some of it, but the excitement might be too high to get much reading time. Happy Valentines Day to everyone!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Library Day!

The wonderful state of Missouri gave it's employees and local subsidiaries the day off today for Abe Lincoln's birthday. What a wonderful thing on a Friday in February. It is one of the rare holidays that we have off that our local library does not. After I did my morning chores, I loaded up the books I had to return and headed to the library. I had a list of books to check out. As luck would have it, not one of the books on my list was available. So I began searching. I came home with 6 books from Debbie Macomber to Stephen L. Carter. There was no rhyme or reason to the method of selecting these books. As I wandered up and down the aisles, I would spot a title that sounded good, recognize an author that I liked or see a familiar looking cover. Two of the books turned out to be Oprah books (The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, and The Emperor of Ocean Park) As I was checking them out, and requesting the titles I had searched for, one of the library employees commented that they did not like the Edgar Sawtelle book. We began discussing the books that Oprah chooses for her book club. The general consensus was that Oprah tends to select books that are both depressing and that lien toward the intellectual mind. One staff person said that she thought Oprah did this to impress, and not so much because she enjoyed the books. I had to agree with their comments. So, I am now feeling a little like someone who finally made a decision at a restaurant on what to order, and then someone else telling them that it was not good. I may still enjoy that book, but a slight damper has been put on my enthusiasm for reading it. I am especially excited about reading a book called: "Tomato Red" by Daniel Woodrell. This author also wrote "Winter's Bones", which was on my original wish list. The librarian told me that all of his novels take place in Missouri. I will let you know how I liked it. I know it is crazy, but I get a little bit excited about starting a new book. Happy weekend of reading!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Here I am with my siblings, David and Debbie. Debbie is the birthday girl today! Happy Birthday Sister!


Today is my older (and only) sister's birthday. We were born just 20 months apart. Since I can remember, she has been my confidant, my role model, and my mentor. Growing up, she was the one who "broke the path" so to speak. She fought to gain rights for me that I naturally took for granted (wearing makeup, driving, when to date etc). I was the quiet, shy and plain sister who was pretty much satisfied with the status quo. I could never pull off any new hairstyle, outfit or look. She was the one who introduced me to music (other than Bill Anderson and Mario Lonza that my parents listened to). She literally "dressed" me for my first high school dance (rolled hair, make up, party dress). She bought my first restaurant pizza for me, set me up on a few blind dates, and pushed and pulled me to "normal". I believe that she also introduced me to the joys of "adult" literature (you know the books like "Love Story" and " Mr and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones". ) Where would I be without her? I am not sure. . . but I know this for certain: my life has been a lot more fun, adventurous and full with her in it.
When my mother was dying of breast cancer, my sister and brother and I formed a triangle of support and care for each other and my father. Shortly after my mom died, I found a lump under my arm. In my paranoid state, I was convinced that I also had breast cancer. Through a snow storm, my husband drove me 300 miles so I could be with my sister. There is just something about a sister's love and care, about sister's common bonds and experiences that cannot be duplicated.
I could go on and on, but I won't. I just want to wish her a very happy birthday, and thank her publicly for everything she has done for me, and all that she has meant to me. I love you Debbie!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My niece Meghan is trying to get her layer of paper off the gift at our recent family Christmas get together. The little kids were given smaller mittens to work with. It is a great game to play with a large or small group.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sibling Rivalry

I am not at all competitive (wink, wink). I have been having a secret competition with my brother to see whose blog can get the most followers. Why is this a secret you might ask? Well, because I haven't told him about the competition yet. We both have 17 followers. Imagine that. Isn't that an odd number of followers for us both to have? Anyway, if you enjoy reading my blog, or if you just want to give me a leg up on the one sided competition, feel free to become a "follower". And because I am fair minded, I will share his blog address with you. He is a super smart, talented, and only occasionally pesky brother, and veterinarian. I enjoy his blogs (few and far between that they are). I will be extremely sad if you follow him and not me. To read his blog go to:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"Under the Weather"

First there was the "blizzard of 2011" and somewhere in the middle of it, I started getting sick. I am not sure if this is good luck, or bad luck. Good luck because if you are snow bound, you might as well be sick too and get it over with. On the other hand, how much gloom can one handle all at once? I called my Doctor's office yesterday and reported my symptoms. They called in some medication, which Randy picked up for me on his way home from work. This is day 3 of a really bad sore throat. It hurts to swallow, talk, cough and sometimes breathe. I hate being sick! That is why I plan carefully not to have it happen very often to me. I guess in all the excitement with the weather, I let my guard down and got sick. Here's hoping that the medicine starts working soon.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blizzard 2011

This is a picture or our home taken during the worst of the blizzard. It was taken from our driveway about 3 p.m. Even though it was a "whiteout", the amount of blowing snow and wind made it very dark.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


What a week this is shaping up to be! A storm of "historic" proportions began last night with freezing rain and sleet. About an hour ago the blowing snow started, with 18 inches forecast before the day is over (East of us up to 30 inches is possible). Then the strong winds and below zero temperatures will set in. Almost everything is shut down, called off or cancelled. This is especially harsh weather for Missouri.
As I type this blog, I am looking at the snow out a large picture window, enjoying a cup of hot tea, and listening to my grandchildren play. Amanda and the kids came out last night because we have better options for heat and emergency power that they do. It will be a fun few days, full of games, cooking and craft projects. The only thing that would make this better is if the rest of the family could be here. Randy left home at 5:30 a.m. and drove 40 mph to work. I am hoping that he can come home before the conditions get so bad that he can't make it. Whatever you are doing today, wherever you go, please be careful. I will try to post pictures if I am brave enough to go outside to get any!
What funny names have you heard for this "event"? SNOWMO?, The Great Siege? Maddison just came in the room and said "The snow is flusshing at the window." Sounds like a good description to me!