Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How I Spent My Memorial Day Weekend Part 2

When we arrived in Joplin, the short distance from the highway to my sisters house looked fairly normal, except for the piles of tree limbs, trunks and branches piled high on every curb. Two blocks from their home we passed the elementary school that my nieces attended. The fence was littered with trash and debris. In front of the school was a Red Cross tent. My sister lives at the end of a dead end street. Their home was intact, with the exception of some roof and tree damage. After breakfast, we took a "tour" of Joplin. Just a few blocks from their house, the landscape quickly changed. What can best be described as a war zone soon began to emerge. As far as the eye could see there was destruction. Activity was evident on most every block in the form of men using chain saws, police directing traffic (no lights worked), people digging through rubble, and volunteers manning food tents or wagons. It was almost like a carnival atmosphere, only instead of rides and games, there was debris and destruction.
Some things surprised me as we drove for miles around the area:
* Totaled cars were everywhere. They were upside down, windows broken, tops smashed. Many looked like they had been hit by a Bonnie and Clyde type machine gun attack.
* Spray paint was a major form of communication. . . what houses had been inspected (marked with an X), addresses painted across what was left of the house, street names sprayed on the curb and corners, religious proclamations, and even a warning or two to stay off the property (U loot, we shoot).
* The amazing variety and scope of volunteer organizations in the area. Everything from Red Cross to the Baptist Men's Association were seen working.
* Even though much of the commerce district was gone, make shift tents and trailers offered free food, water, toiletries and other necessities of life.
* Workers on the Home Depot lot were rebuilding a structure. I am sure that the need for their products will be enormous in the coming weeks and months. They were wasting no time responding to the demand.
When we got back to Mike and Debbie's house, we watched the Memorial service on TV. The raw emotion showed through on the speaker's faces and in their voices. After seeing the damage first hand, I could understand this emotion. The thing that kept crossing my mind was "Where do you start to fix this?" I am the type that usually just digs in and goes. But really, when all that is left is debris and trash, were do you begin?
On the way home that afternoon, I had time to think. What I processed was just how lucky the community was to have so many survive what could have potentially wiped out thousands. How blessed we were that our family was not hurt. How powerful Mother Nature can be. How we all need to live like this day may be our last. When you put that in perspective with your life, everything else pales. God Bless Joplin and the people who live there. They will not have an easy road ahead of them.
A sense of humor as well as a trust in God are represented in this picture I took in Joplin over the weekend. Of course this place is more "rentable" than most we saw. At least it has a few walls and comes with an appliance!

Monday, May 30, 2011

How I spent my Memorial Day. . .

It started on Saturday with a hail storm. Marble sized hail sailed from the sky and covered the ground. Here we go again, I thought! However the clouds soon cleared and we decided to pack up the truck and head to Joplin to hug, see and hear our family in person. Because we didn't want to add to their burden, we decided to spend the night in nearby Springfield and head to Joplin early Sunday morning. After some desperate calls to hotels, we "settled" for a smoking room (yuck!) at a hotel off the interstate. We made it there in the early evening, and soon discovered why we had so much trouble finding a room. It seems that Springfield was sponsoring (as it does every Memorial Day) the National Hot Rod Association's annual get together. There were hot rods, antique cars and 4 wheel novelties of all kinds. After checking in, we also noticed that about half of the parking lot contained cars from Geiko, National, Progressive, Allstate and other insurance companies. The hotel was full of hot rodders and insurance adjustors. Oh boy! On Sunday morning, we got up and around early, partly because we couldn't wait to get out of the nasty smelling, smokey room. About 1 mile from our Joplin turnoff, we crossed under an underpass and the world began to change. It was obvious to see the tornado's exit path. The interstate was bordered by uprooted trees, signs blown over and businesses and houses in disarray. Little did we know that this was only the tip of what we were soon to see. I am going to continue this tomorrow, and try to post some photos. I am using a new camera and I am having some difficulty getting the photos to upload. I will post more tomorrow! Stay tuned for a first hand account of what Joplin looked like a week after the tornado hit.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I now have another blessing to add to my life. After the worst tornado to hit the United States in 60 years, my family is alive and well. I have talked to Debbie almost every day this week. Even though she and her family are still in a bit of shock, none of them were hurt and only minimal damage was done to their property. The tornado took a path that was pretty much between her and my niece's homes. They are dealing with many emotions that result from a disaster such as this. Disbelief, shock, guilt, gratefulness, sadness, and despair. The town they know and love is gone. Friends have suffered a great deal of loss. Their lives will not be the same for many, many years. It is hard to know what to do to help them. I can look down the road and see the hope and healing of the future. It will be exciting to see the town begin to rebuild and go on. I don't think they can see that yet. But they will. . . they are positive, happy people. Right now the stories of loss, heroism and sadness are in the news. Soon there will be stories of regrowth and rebirth of this strong Missouri community. I am looking forward to that day!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Maddison Graduates!

Maddison's kindergarten "graduated" this week. It has been a big week for her. She lost her second front tooth, graduated from kindergarten and made a career choice! I think it is a credit to her teacher, Miss Miller that Maddison went from not wanting to go to school to wanting to be a teacher! Maddison cheeses it up with Aunt Bea, reads to her Daddy, and shares an essay about her future!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Joplin Tornado

As a little girl growing up in Mid-Missouri, I learned to respect storms. My grandmother was terrified of storms, especially tornadoes. I don't think I appreciated the severity of tornadoes until one hit our home 5 years ago. And if that didn't make a believer out of me, the most recent tornado that hit Joplin certainly does. My sister, Debbie and brother-in-law, Mike, live in Joplin. My niece, Meg, her husband Rob and their children, Rylee and Ryan live in Joplin. They all survived the storm and had minimal damage to their property. They are very lucky. But to say that they weren't hurt, or didn't lose their home, would be minimizing what has happened to them and their community. The devastation is heartbreaking and widespread. Their community, school, hospital, stores, restaurants and friends homes have been leveled. The comfort of a community and neighborhood and the security they felt living in a relatively small middle America town is gone.
I often think that I live in a cocoon, isolated from the reality of the real world. I have surrounded myself with people who love me, with items that I need that keep me safe and comfortable and happy. But when the threat of losing all of that comes along, it is a harsh reality. The people of Joplin have been stripped bare. Many have lost loved ones, homes, possessions, jobs and security. The optimist would say that the most important thing is being alive and having the ones you love alive. When it comes right down to it, that is all any of us can hope for. Yet, we still try to fool ourselves into thinking that we have some control over our lives. I guess nature has a way of showing us who is in control.
I pray for all of the residents of the Joplin area. I pray that they can put their lives back together again and go on. I think the outpouring of love, generosity and kindness that has begun will help them toward the journey of putting their lives back together. I certainly hope it does!

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Yesterday was one of those days that I dream about during the long, cold winter. It started off cloudy and cool, with a forecast of rain and thunderstorms. However, by noon, it was clear, sunny and hot. The grand kids were out for breakfast, and after the dishes were done, we took a walk to some of our favorite spots. These may not seem too exceptional to the average looker, but we love to explore some unusual places! Our favorites included a decaying stump that we found full of busy ants. Then we went to the edge of the woods to pick wildflowers and finally made a stop at the pond to toss in a few rocks and check out the growing family of frogs that reside there. After lunch, Josh came out and we all headed back to the pond for some fishing. Some of us sat under a shade tree and enjoyed the breeze, some fished. Later we attended a family supper with some unusual food. A cousin just purchased a fish fryer. We had fried turkey nuggets (wild turkey), potatoes and blooming onions. Then he got crazy with the concept of frying. He fried; bite sized candy bars, zingers and twinkies. I have heard of these delicacies, but I have never tried any of them. What I sampled were delicious! I was careful not to eat too much of anything, since I hardly ever fry foods. It wasn't a healthy meal, but it was delicious and lots of fun! Later we "circled the wagons" so to speak and enjoyed a starlight evening with a cool breeze and some great company. Ahhh. . . I am filling that memory bank to get me through another winter.

Friday, May 20, 2011


I came very close to deleting my post from yesterday. What a whiner I was being. The colonoscopy is over and the results were good. I finally got to eat (not that some fasting hurt me!) and I am back at home enjoying the dreary weather. My mood is much better today. I watched Oprah when I got home staring her "favorite guests". After watching this show I feel ashamed that I ever get in a bad mood. It featured 3 people whose lives were full of pitfalls and hurdles (not of their own making, I might add). All I have to do is look around me to see how blessed I am in my life. I know that everyone gets down sometimes, but putting those thoughts down in words makes it seem more real somehow. The message for today is to avoid dwelling on the negative and focus (always) on the positive. May the good Lord help me remember that in my life!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Okay, I have tried to be a good sport today, but the plain and simple fact is that I am grouchy! I am guessing it is most likely because I have gone all day without eating. My head hurts and work was stressful. And to top it off, I have just mixed up my evening "cocktail" of pre-colonoscopy drink. Yummy! Even worse, I am mad at myself because I am grouchy. I want to say to myself: Stand up and take it like a . . . . woman! I hardly ever get like this, so I guess I am due. I certainly understand why I don't get grumpy often. . . it is because I HATE feeling this way. I hate feeling sorry for myself and feeling like my options are limited. I think God sent me this mood to make me appreciate my good moods more. I am going to retreat to the couch with a large glass of. . . well, I will spare the details. It is going to be a long night and an even longer day tomorrow. I think I am going to go work on an attitude adjustment. Too bad there isn't a pill for that!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Prevention is in high gear this week in my life. Or maybe I should say early detection? Yesterday I went for my annual mammogram. I must say that the experience has gotten less grueling over the years. It is almost pain free, and the staff treated me so well. I was told that since I am in a high risk category, I should talk to my doctor about having a breast MRI done in 6 months. And the really fun test, a colonoscopy, is scheduled for Friday. Tomorrow begins my fun day of preparation for that little event. This will be my second go around with a colonoscopy. The first one wasn't nearly as bad as I predicted it would be. And with a good friend having recently been diagnosed with colon cancer, I will glady brave the test to help with the prevention. Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What we have been up to. . .

We have been doing some outdoor work around here. After a week of record breaking (or near record breaking) temperatures, and the air conditioner on, this weekned brought a cold spell. Mason and Maddie had to dig out some winter things to play outside on our rock pile. The really big landscaping is yet to come. However it is too cold and wet to work on it this weekend. I sure enjoy Mason's sense of style!

Friday, May 13, 2011


We got a new "toy" this week. It is a high tech thing-a-ma-bob. I am equally as thrilled about it as I am afraid of it. The only directions that came with it were a tiny paper with instructions on how to turn it on, and a web site for more instructions. Today I shopped for accessories for it. . . wow. . . little did I know that the initial cost was just the beginning of the expense! I am sure that it will be wonderful. I am sure that I will someday wonder how I managed to live half a century without one of these gadgets. But for now, I am a bit leary and excited, and just worn out with trying to figure out everything that it will do. Geeze, who know that progress could be such an exhausting thing?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sleepless Nights

Don't you hate it when you can't sleep at night? I have these times when I wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep, no matter what I do, or how hard I try. Tonight is one of those nights. I have a bit of a cold/allergy/sinus thing going on this week. To top it off, it has been a much more stressful than normal week. I woke up at 2 a.m. and my mind started racing and the worrying began. I tossed and turned and looked at the clock. Then I tossed and turned some more. I finally gave in to the restlessness and got up. It will take me an hour or so to work through this worry before I will be able to go back to sleep. Of course that is going to make tomorrow a very long and exhausting day. Oh how I long for the days of youth when I slept like a log and never worried about so much.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother' Day

In a tragic twist on Mother's Day, a full term infant was found in a duffel bag floating in a pond in a nearby town on Mother's Day. While most people I know were celebrating a beautiful Missouri day with family and friends, a much darker side of life was being exposed only a few miles from our house. Law Enforcement has made an arrest and the details are sketchie, but any way you look at it, it is a tragedy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Mini Marathon for Mother's Day!

It was a beautiful morning to walk a 5K! The event was held to raise money for breastcancer prevention and awareness. Over 700 people walked. I walked in memory of my mother who died of breastcancer at the age of 52. Amanda ran most of the race, and Maddie and I walked, we weren't the last to finish, which was my goal!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Frugal Blogger

I have been distressed lately with the rising cost of. . . well. . . of everything. Every time I get gasoline or go to the store, the prices have climbed. We are spending in excess of $450 a month in gas. And we really don't go anywhere! My husband drives a truck to work daily which is a 75 mile round trip commute and I have about 10 miles round trip a day. Once in awhile we will go to Columbia (30 miles away) for a meal or a little shopping. This past year our homeowners insurance went up, as did our propane costs and income tax (I am not sure what happened there!). All in all, it is enough to make one really worry about the state of their finances. Don't get me wrong, we are blessed to both have good jobs with generous benefits. I can't imagine how the unemployed or underemployed people are surviving. My heart goes out to them.
So, what I am doing about these increases? I decided to take a close look at what we are spending every month. That is really not difficult since I do so much banking on line and the information is at my fingertips.
After a careful study of the budget I have made some changes. Today I terminated my gym membership. I really haven't used it much this year, and we have beautiful walking trails in our town. Then I terminated an online subscription that I wasn't using. Netflix may be the next thing to go, because we just don't access it much. These changes may equal a fill up once during the month (my car, NOT the truck). I know it isn't much, but I think if we make some changes slowly and spend wisely, we won't feel the pinch of the rising prices so severely. And we have decided to proceed with a landscaping project (begun last weekend). We are going to do it ourselves and save $1000 or more. It is hard work, and it may not be as aestheticly pleasing, but at least we will be able to say that we did it ourselves. I know that not everyone has room in their budget to make these kind of adjustments. Many people I know are just barely making it. My son and daughter-in-law shut off their cable tv last month. They have small children, so it is a dual benefit of saving money and avoiding the TV as a babysitter trap. Our daughter and son in law are also making adjustments. They just sold a camper and are planning on camping with their tent instead. It is obvious to me that we have gotten used to a lifestyle that we may no longer be able to afford. Are you making any changes in your lifestyle to survive the "economic downturn"?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Oh my goodness. Mason wanted me to take his picture because he looked "so handsome in my jacket". And it goes without saying that Maddison lost her first top tooth. What a gap that left! She is very proud of her new look, and that the tooth didn't bleed, or hurt when it came out. My how fast they grow up!

The Tooth

On Monday I took Maddison to the dentist for a regular check up and cleaning. I was excited to do this, knowing that the front tooth that had been loose for about 2 months would finally come out. Over the weekend, Maddison kept fooling with this tooth, which was literally holding on by the smallest thread imaginable. In fact, she would push the tooth over her bottom lip and give a "Nanny McPhee" smile. All the adults in her life tried to convince her to pull this tooth out, or let one of us do it. She would have nothing to do with this. Finally on Monday, the dental hygienist convinced her to let the tooth be pulled. There were no tears, no blood, no pain. And now she has a large, gapping hole in her mouth. I will post a picture soon. She talks in that whispy voice that one has when teeth are missing. Another milestone has passed. In a few weeks she will leave kindergarten and move on to first grade. I can only sit back and watch with joy the process of this young lady growing up. I can only whistfully remember when she was born. The agony and ecstasy of life. . .

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Keep on Digging!

I should have taken pictures. Yesterday we sort of "fell" into a major project that has needed to be done for about 15 years (how long we have lived in our home). It all began when I had a wild hair to pull some weeds in front of our house. The forecast for the weekend was rain, rain, and more rain. Randy usually sprays for weeds, but for that to be effective, it can't rain for 24 hours after spraying. There was a tall, ugly patch of weeds right in front of our house. This is an area that is in desperate need of a landscaping make over. I began pulling weeds there and one thing led to another. What started out as a small project, turned into an all day activity. Randy ended up climbing on the skid loader and hauling multiple loads of dirt into this area. Since the kids were with us, and their Dad promised them some evening fishing, we doubled duties and looked for worms and grubs for bait. Each load of dirt Randy brought was like an adventure in science. With garden shovels, the kids dug and dug in the dirt looking for bait. As they dug and Randy hauled dirt, I separated unwanted materials out of the soil (roots, bark, sticks) and spread the dirt in the project area. We worked all day on this. The fill was scavenged from other areas of our farm and was rich and black. The final step after leveling was to spread straw over the area to prevent erosion if it rained. The kids had a blast. Each new discovery in the dirt brought exclamations of excitement. The kids learned about grubs, centipedes, regeneration, erosion and earthworm's usefulness to the earth. I learned that I am too old and out of shape to be doing that kind of labor all day. Randy learned that his "crew" was less than skilled at this type of work. All in all, it was a great, dirty day. The only sad note was the fishing did not go so well. In spite of the "fresh" bait, no fish were caught from the pond. It is a day I am sure the kids will remember for a long time. I only wish I had taken the time to get some pictures! I will photograph the end result when it is done.