Friday, December 23, 2011

Thankful

We have dodged a huge blizzard which is inundating Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. We may see a few flurries and that will add to the festiveness of the season.

When I think of Christmas, I recall past times with family. I've spent the past 43 years with my husband, 40 years have included our son, Sean, and 38 years have included our daughter, Melinda. For the past 19 years we have been grandparents, and each year we have been more blessed than we could ever have imagined.

It's so easy to lose the spirit of this time when there are so many activities going on. Today I encourage you to take the time to go out of your way to do something unexpected for someone. Pray for not only guidance for yourself, but also for your neighbors, not only the ones you know, but for those you don't know. Behind each door are difficulties that are not necessarily shared. Smile, it is contagious. Be reflective. Be thankful for all that you are. Know that God will be by your side at all times. Thank the people you interact with. All of us need a boost of encouragement.

This may not be in your plans today, but now that I have written it down, it will be on my agenda.

Thank you to all of you for your support for me and my family. You give me strength each day.

Stay warm,
Jan

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Yum!

Coffee in bed this morning, a treat from my favorite husband. What a nice gesture for a loved one. The decorating is complete, the shopping is done so next on the agenda is to finish up the baking. It's a good thing the inner baker comes out at these special times.


I've completed the banana bread and pumpkin bread mini loaves, the pecan sandies, Oreo/cream cheese balls, peanut butter blossoms, and white chocolate pretzel sticks. Today I'm going to tackle decorated sugar cookies. Wish me luck, I need it.


It's so nice to be retired and have the time to put together treats for friends who don't have the pleasure of time. I remember too well the stress of being young with children and working away from my home. So appreciative when someone remembered my family and shared their spirit of the season with us.

Keep your fingers crossed that I have all the ingredients I need today since I don't drive. Steve is busy working on our son's basement so he won't be home for a while. Oh well, it's always gives me a chance to touch base with the neighbors if I find I'm short of something.

Here's a great, easy recipe for all of you.

Oreo/cream cheese balls:  Cream together one package of Oreo cookies (crumbled) and eight ounces of cream cheese. Form into walnut sized balls. Refrigerate for over an hour, dip in melted almond bark. Cool.  Eat!

Love to you all!
Jan

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Breathe

I am so excited to share our event from last Saturday morning. Steve and I hosted a fund raising Christmas brunch for our neighbors. It was time for the house to be adorned for the season, time to give to those less fortunate, time to bake, and time to share with friends. This was the perfect way to be motivated to do all of it at one time.

I like to take time to go through my house and decide how I want it to look and feel for Christmas. Steve always reminds me to "shop" the decorations he's displayed in the family room, before I decide I need to purchase something new. Funny that after 42 Christmas seasons how many things I have to choose from, even though I have deleted numerous items in the past. (Remember when everything had to look country or the homemade phase?). Well, when I feel the pressure of an event, I do much better setting a deadline rather than doing a little bit here and there.

The tree was adorned, the holiday dishes set the festive table, the menu was selected so the only thing left was to order the perfect morning weather. As it turned out, we could not have chosen a more perfect day for a brunch. In Nebraska, we had already had our first beautiful snow and the early morning brought a frost that turned the trees and bushes into shimmering white icicles. The temp was warm enough so some braved the short walk to our house in just sweaters and the sun shown bright.

Our company enjoyed mimosas, orange juice, coffee and a few bloody Marys. We served Creme Brûlée French toast, egg casserole, fruit, Swedish Hamballs and Christmas cookies.

Our generous guests brought donations for the women's shelter and later in the afternoon a few of us delivered them. I would call the effort a great success and a reminder to all of what the season is all about.

Today is the day I have set aside to start the Holiday baking. Must get the stash ready so I have something in hand when I visit my friends' homes.

I'm blessed to be able to still do this again this year. I must take advantage of these fleeting moments. The past two years, I didn't think I would have, have flown by too quickly.

Breathe, and enjoy the season,
Jan

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Caregivers

As I sit here, in this small room, full of chairs and people I don't know, I feel a kinship with all of them. In one respect I have been on both sides of the coin. I have been the patient, waiting for the door to open and the technologist calling my name and today, I am the family member waiting for my loved one to return to the safety of my company.

There have been numerous hours of my husband and I waiting on separate sides of this door I sit next to today. When I am the patient experiencing the stress of an MRI, I always wonder what Steve is doing to occupy his time. Our daughter, Melinda is the patient, so I wear a different hat in this waiting room today. The stress is still there, but the anxiety is at a different level when it is your child. (Yes, I know she is in her upper thirties, but she is still our child.)

When we need to spend time waiting for tests to be done at one of our local hospitals, I always am amazed that these big buildings are full of people who need expert care from all the professional care givers residing here. When you spend so much time in doctors' offices and hospitals, you begin to think there must not be anyone out in the real world without illness.

Thank goodness there are bright, compassionate people who dedicate their lives to be caregivers to others. Thank goodness we live in a metropolitan area that specializes in research and is a magnet for doctors interested in cancer, transplants and other necessary areas.

I will continue to take deep breaths, on this side of the door, and pray the specialists get enough information o enable them to do the next test on Friday. I also pray for Melinda, may she have strength and peace.

A loving Mom,
Jan

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving

Today is one of my favorite days of the year. It is the day before Thanksgiving and we are preparing a host of fabulous dishes for the favorite people in our lives. Yesterday Steve and I teamed up to prepare most of the dishes and set the table. We do this in order to have a stress free day, the day of our meal.

You may wonder why we are celebrating a day early. In my mind everyday is Thanksgiving.. I have a trillion things to be thankful for and...our grandchildren were not available on Thursday so, what the heck, gather when you can.

Let me give you a quick run down of our menu. Picture this, Turkey, Swedish ham balls, ham, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole (compliments of Sean and Sarah), corn casserole (compliments of Melinda and James), potato casserole, dressing with Italian sausage, gravy, orange/apricot salad, cranberry/apple salad, rolls, pumpkin bars, pumpkin cheesecake, and pecan pie (compliments of our dear friends Dick and Barb. and I am proud to say, everything is homemade!!!

The real reason I love today is because I have the privilege to show my special family how much I love and care for them. The food is an important part of our tradition but so is our time of prayer and sharing what is important to all of us.

My life has been so blessed. I was allowed to grow up in a Christian home with parents who cared about our life goals and supported us in our choices. I was blessed to marry a man who turned out to be my best friend. God helped Steve and I adopt the most beautiful baby, over forty years ago. Little did we know, that by doing so, we would be blessed with four perfect grandchildren. Again our life was enhanced by giving birth to our special daughter, thirty eight years ago. And because she is so loving, we are fortunate to be able to help raise her step granddaughter.

I personally want to thank my two donor families who made life-changing decisions to donate organs, so my life could be enhanced to allow me to be active, alert and alive! I feel they did not just touch my life, they have touched my family, friends and everyone who will hear my story.

We join together to reflect on our past year and anticipate the joys and challenges of the year to come. Thank you God for standing with us day to day.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Jan

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Annie Oakley

I know I was supposed to be "Annie Oakley".  I believe it all began when I was about three.  I know when I was in kindergarten I always wanted to wear my cowboy boots.  My Mom was accommodating by cutting my bangs short and putting the rest of my hair in braids.  I owned a cowgirl skirt with a matching vest and it seemed to go perfectly with my cowgirl shirt.

Our play time, way back then, consisted of playing cowboys and Indians.  We tried to copy what we witnessed on the Saturday morning television shows.  You know the ones, "Sky King" with his daughter, Penny, flying around in the Songbird.  There was "My Friend Flicka",  "The Roy Rogers Show" with Dale Evans.  "The Lone Ranger" with his friend, Tonto, and of course, "Annie Oakley".

I didn't understand much about her at the time, but I knew I liked her hair, western clothes and that she always turned out to be the heroine.  I was lucky that my mom went along with my fantasy, so in the mind of a six year old, I felt a small piece of Annie's bravery and attitude.

When I was in second grade, my parents announced that our family would be moving from Albion, NE to Los Angeles, CA.  I truly thought I had just been transported to heaven.  I had heard about the gold rush and had conjured up in my mind, that it must still be going on.  I pictured living with the cowboys and cowgirls out west and certainly my attire would finally fit in with everyone else in California.

We made the move and I realized my vision was not quite like I had expected, but never the less, I continued with my plan to be Annie Oakley.  Moving to Los Angeles in 1957 was a total cultural shock for our family, especially my father.  My dad had been a Lutheran pastor only in the mid-west and now he was ministering to people in sandals, shorts and flowered casual shirts.  Dad was also trying to keep his cool while trying to navigate the freeways while Mom read the map.  Not a pleasant venture I can assure you.

Our family home was the destination for a number of relatives and friends due to living quite close to Disneyland.  I loved it when we had visitors because then I could wear my favorite cowgirl outfit and escort our vacationers to Disneyland.  I felt it was my park and I could show everyone the best places to go.

My parents bought my older brother a Tennessee Walker palomino horse, Regis.  They boarded the horse at a place where a number of the famous horses that were ridden in the Rose Parade in Pasadena stayed. Sometimes even I got to ride one of the smaller ponies.  My dream come true.

I am no longer "Annie" but I still feel the excitement and bravery of her ventures in my heart.

Getty up,
Jan

Friday, October 7, 2011

Grow Garden Grow!

Steve and I have been traveling this last week, so sorry I have not updated the blog lately. This was our first trip out of town since my back surgery so that gave us a few challenges in itself. Sitting for a great amount of time is not comfortable yet so it required us to stop often to stand and stretch the old body.

We started out with only one intention and that was to visit my Mother's sister. Alva is 93 years old and is now placed in hospice. We were able to meet with her son and daughter-in-law, David and Nancy. I was surprised at how much my Aunt and Mother looked and sounded so similar. (I imagine that's exactly how I will soon look, after all I already have the white hair.) Alva was very alert but did tire easily. I'm glad we took the time to see her. I hope our children learn from our example how important it is to stay in touch.

Two couples moved this past year, from our neighborhood, to Minnesota. We were able to see both couples. Bob and Jane are motivated to complete their new home due to moving closer to two beautiful granddaughters and their own two daughters. Steve and I could feel the anticipation and pride of completing a grandparents' dream. We are so excited for them.

Denise and Gary also welcomed us with open arms. Their move was work related and they have encountered a few trials along the way. Denise is undergoing chemo and while we were there, she was scheduled for chemo so we decided to stay to keep her company since Gary needed to be out of town. Good to report, all went well.

A few more bits of trivia, Steve and I were so happy to be a part of a special birthday party for two of our grandchildren. Katie is now fifteen and how gracious she is. She's a diligent student and has unendless possibilities for a great future. Evan turned two, but please don't tell him. I believe he thinks he is much older. While Katie sat through the party as a demure young lady, Evan decided to take over and make sure everyone was involved and had a good time. It's these special days fitted In-between the everyday ones that help us keep track at how fast life goes by.

Our friends and family are like a garden and we recognize our garden needs to be tended to in order for it to continue flourishing.

May you tend your friends,
Jan

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ready?

We have all heard the phrase "Live today as if it were your last". Today, (9/11) we are reminded of just how fragile life is. Very few of us will know when it's our time to vacate this world and enter God's kingdom. For the majority of us our time will sneak up on us in the dark with no fanfare or warning. Are you ready? Boy, that's a loaded question. Mama always said "Make sure your under-ware is clean incase you're in an accident." I believe we need to look at life holistically. We know the drill. Make sure you've brushed your teeth, taken your vitamin, eaten a good breakfast and dressed for the unexpected run-in with an old classmate from high school, but there are more things we should add to the list. Kiss your spouse and children as often as you can. Give a compliment when due. Call an elderly relative or friend. (I'm elderly!) Take someone to lunch. Write a note to someone to let them know you're thinking of them. Clean out a drawer. Say a prayer of thanksgiving. Smile every chance you get. Drink your coffee or tea from the prettiest cup you own. Have a good conversation with someone who is lonely. Offer to be a companion to a doctor's appointment or treatment. Make preparations for the time when you are no longer here, it's the nicest thing you can do for your children. Get rid of the stuff you thought your children might want but have told you, no thanks. Play. Take care of your health, you only get one body. Love. Hug as often as you can get away with it. Be quiet, you deserve peace. Forgive. Sing. Dance. Read. Exercise. (Ugh, that's a hard one for me.) Speak up, someone in the room may have a hearing problem. Do something, just because. Add to the list! Let me know what you come up with. God Bless America! Jan

Saturday, September 3, 2011

GO HUSKERS!

If you live in Nebraska, it is mandatory that on a fall Saturday you shall wear RED! It is imperative! It does not matter if you are a Husker fan or not, you must wear RED.

Our family has had Nebraska stadium seats for over 60 years. Yes, the same seats in the same place along with about 100,000 other people. My mother-in-law tells me how the protocol of attending a football game went when she regularly joined the festivities (back in the days). It was more than a football game, it was a social occasion all the way through.

My mother-in-law was a marvelous seamstress and always dressed like a million dollars. She related how she would be dressed in her finest with matching coat or suit, always in beautiful high heels, hat and matching hand bag. We still have the thermos she and her husband would carry to the game with hot coffee or hot chocolate (when the boys were along). Yes, even on the coldest days, fashion took preference over practicality. Now a days however, you are lucky if the college students look like they have made an effort to cover up their sleeping attire.

The spirit has not changed throughout the years. The prep talk begins on Monday. Are you attending the game this week? Or whose place are you watching the out of town game at? What are you serving at your tailgate party? Finally by early Saturday morning, all of the details have been sorted out.

I am NOT a die-hard fan of almost anything. I do however wear red as often as I remember to. It does give me a good excuse to purchase a new something or other. I'll take anything as an excuse these days.

Well, off they went this morning. My family is currently at the football game today dressed in red with big smiles across their faces. I'm not sure who they were playing today but my understanding is -- we should surely win. Let's hope so so the smiles will stay in place.

Can hardly wait until Monday when the whole scenario begins again!

GO BIG RED!
Jan

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tennis Anyone?

Today I invested in something very exciting and important to me. I believe so strongly about this that I am hoping you will find your own passion and do the same.

We all know what a busy society we live in. We see and feel priorities tugging at our sleeve all day long. We multitask and do our best to keep our lives and others on track. It's frightening to think about how precarious we see ourselves in this big world. Just imagine what it would be like if we didn't invest in the most important part of the ladder we cling to.

Today I bought a fancy new pair of tennis shoes! Not a cheap pair, but a pair that certainly must be revolutionary. I have a mind set that guides me to believe that with the purchasing and wearing of these shoes, I will truly be transformed. My investment in the above said shoes makes a statement (if only to myself) that I am worth investing in.

Now some women used to think a new hat would lift their spirit or perhaps a great pair of stilettos would surely make a difference in their life. But you see, getting a pair of good-looking, comfortable tennis shoes for one of my age who has a bunion and flat, well-worn feet, is a well deserved "high".

I've now got three consecutive days of walking around the neighbor under my belt. My dear husband says we have made it to the mile mark! (Yes, that's when you add all three days up...stop that laughing.). Keep in mind I just had back surgery and I've just started breaking in the new shoes.

If you see me and my new shoes prancing around the street, please take the time to slow me down so we can have a chat and I can take a breather.

Remember, make an investment in yourself today. You are the glue that keeps this world spinning. You are important to your family and to me.

Uphill again?
Jan

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Soaring Wings

Last weekend we finally had one of those perfect nights. The kind where you sit outside and marvel at the weather, the scenery and the friends that have come together to create the perfect evening.

It was our first time to visit a local winery located just a few miles from our neighborhood. After arriving to "Soaring Wings" it was difficult to remember we were in Nebraska, not Sonoma. The grape vines greeted us, the rolling hills were lush with greenery, the landscapes looked as though they had been plucked from a picture.

While tasting a myriad of wines, we enjoyed watching the hang-gliders slicing through the air and when the hot air balloons drifted by on que, we knew we were in a special place and time.

I had planned to write about this adventure a few days ago but now I am glad I put it off so I can truly share with you what "Soaring Wings" means to me.

My friend, my sister-in-law, received her wings on Tuesday. She and I had a lot in common. We had married brothers (even though her marriage didn't last), which meant we had the same mother-in-law to emulate. Our children are cousins and similar in age. We kept in touch through lunches, phone calls and emails. January 8th, 2010, we accidentally met in the lobby of Methodist Hospital as we were both being checked in for diagnostic testing. She ended up with a blood cancer and I with brain cancer. Needless to say, we were prayer warriors for each other.

I shall always remember how peaceful the evening with friends, good, music and great weather was. Surely it must be only a snippet of what heaven is like.

"Sister" use your soaring wings to enjoy what God has in store for you. We will miss you but know that in time we will all dance again together!

Until later,
Jan

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bionic Woman

I cannot remember the last time I actually went shopping and did not constantly browse the store to scope out a chair, I might be able to jaunt to, to relieve my back from pain. Today was the first post-surgery day (one month and one day to be exact) I have had the opportunity to try out my "new" back while shopping.

I am sure the clerks and other patrons were wondering why I continued to grin, from ear to ear, while finding nothing to buy. NO PAIN! Absolutely amazing to say the least. Talk about a miracle...

I guess getting older isn't all down hill. If I can manage to mingle with the real people out doing everyday things, perhaps there's even more in store for this piece of art God has created.

Many of you know how true it is when I remark that "I sometimes don't know who I am, when I get up in the morning". The last time I was "just me" was approximately 21 years ago. At that I time I received a gift from a wonderful donor of a pancreas and kidney. I also received blood from over forty donors. Now if that doesn't confuse a person's body, throw in another kidney three years ago and more transfusions and finally titanium rods and screws. Perhaps there ought to be a TV series named the "Bionic Woman" and I could try out for the part.

Many of you also know that I attended the High School Academy with Mary Hart (from Entertainment Tonight), great lady even in high school. I wonder if she naturally looks that good or if she has had a little help like I have.

Life is good and God is great!

Watch out girls, I may someday join you for a walk around the neighborhood.

Jan

Monday, August 15, 2011

Prom Night!


Do you remember your prom night?  The excitement of being asked out by someone special, the picking out of the dress and hoping they guy would adorn you with the perfect flower corsage to make others drool.  Yes, just thinking about prom night does bring back some good memories.

I actually attended three proms during my high school years.  No, I didn't repeat any grades in order to go three times, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

When I was a sophomore in high school, my parents moved us to a small town of 1,600 people where half the kids attended the Catholic school and the rest of us went to the very old, asbestos-filled public school.  It was spring and I was the new girl in a class of approximately 25 students.  Most of my fellow classmates had attended school together since the start of time.  Needless to say, I was an outsider.  Somehow the junior class selected me to be a server for the junior/senior class banquet.  This was a coveted position most sophomores dreamed of having.  I, on the other hand knew nothing of this tradition and gladly accepted the task.

I showed up for my duties at the banquet (in the basement of the Church of Christ) wearing the required uniform, a sailor dress, served the honored guests and sang the song "Ebb Tide".  Later, "my date" Bob, picked me up for the dance.  Bob was a big, football player, farm boy.  The dance was held at the local golf clubhouse.  I thought I had it made.  I wore a short dress, which I had made, had a date with a gentleman and went home at a reasonable time.

Let me tell you, probably not the way to start your second month at a very small school.  The girls were not impressed that the "preacher's kid" was a server, the soloist and had a date.  Oh well!

The second semester of my junior year, I once again transferred schools.  My parents had known I was not excited with my current school and also knew I had been begging them since eighth grade to allow me to go to a boarding school in South Dakota.  This was a Lutheran school which specialized in music.  Music was my interest, so they finally relented and allowed me to make the move from home.

Prom, my junior and senior years seem to blend together, except for my dresses.  How I could even imagine the thought of wearing either one of them to prom, is beyond me.  One was gold brocade, the other one was light yellow crepe on the bottom with a dark gold velvet top with long sleeves.  Both were long and did absolutely nothing for my coloring or my shape.  (The shape thing is my biggest regret because I actually had a shape back then.)

Dancing was not allowed at our school, therefore we dressed up, did each other's hair and proceeded to the gymnasium for snacks and to enjoy a string quartet.  Needless to say, the entire group returned to our dorms at a very appropriate time.

Now, some of you may wonder what brought all this reminiscing about.  We are involved in a dinner club in our neighborhood.  We meet every month at a different home.  We have been doing this for about eight years.  Most months we don't necessarily have a theme, just meet to enjoy the food and each other's company.  This month however, is PROM NIGHT!  So, I think you get the drift.

Sure hope my corsage matches,
Jan

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Duck, Duck, Goose

Hold your hat and be sure you wear camouflage.  As residents surrounding a golf course, we are privileged to enjoy nature of all kinds.  We have the casual mid-aged walking golfers, the sharp (out to impress) spirited post teen inebriated golfers, the dressed to the hilt, women golfers, a few deer, badgers and lots of geese.  I share this information so you can understand the the scenery out our back door.

From a non-golfer state of mind, all looks well.  I am used to the early morning wake up drill of the mowers parade and the inspirational sounds of the birds near by.  I love living here and had no idea there was a feud going on.

Apparently our golf course, along with others in the area, are experiencing an onslaught of uninvited guests.  These guest ignore the rules of play, they leave behind unsightly litter, damage the greens and talk back to the patrons in a demanding tone.  They don't wear regulation golf shoes nor are they attired in official golf shirts.  The club owners have decided it is time to give them notice that they are no longer welcome.

We received an email this past week to inform us of what regulations had been taken to eradicate these unwelcome foul and to not be alarmed when the attack started.  Residences should not be alarmed if they noticed people, on the course, wearing brightly colored fatigues and appearing to be armed.  We should also make note, not to call authorities, or the club house, after hearing what may appear as gunshots.  The "gunshots" are only harmless rubber balls released towards the "unwanted" only to scare the rascals away.

We have been assured, no geese will be hurt during this forced migration from our beautiful course to perhaps another course, where they may be welcomed with open arms.

The attack began today.  I noticed the attackers and identified the popping noise of the pellet guns.  A huge group of geese promptly left their perch and I did not notice any stranded golfers in the fairway, so I am assuming all is under control.

I'll let you know how the rest of the week goes.  I think I'll make a few signs for the geese to give them a "heads up".  "Spread your wings and poop somewhere else."

Goodbye,
Jan

Friday, August 5, 2011

You Are Not A Guest, You Are Family - Part Two - You're Here!

Remember your first day in this family? Remember when you finally made your debut and everyone heard your first cry? Everyone in the room smiled with an expression of delight. You were the center of attention! Your every sound, no matter how quiet or loud, met with full approval from each one present. You had announced your arrival and a "star" was born!

Just a side note, little one, this won't last.

You have made the trip home in the family car. The new car seat is a little tight and can you believe this? Everything you are seeing for the first time, you get to see backwards. Of course, for your safety, your parents explain, you must be restrained and look at the back cushion of the seat. Now, how exciting is that? May as well get used to it, because this is just the start of your proper position in the family.

Meeting the family seems like such an exciting venture. Your proud parents carry you in, contained in the car seat, while swinging it back and forth. Your breakfast ends up in your lap and the crowd wonders if you have an eating disorder. Grandma claims you first. She is insistent that you conveniently need to be changed into one of the adorable outfits she picked out.

You yawn to let everyone know you are worn out and ready for a royal nap. You are handed to first time uncle, so he can fall in love with your precious self. They explain that all he has to do is hold you as if you were a football and everything will go well. News alert! You are not a football, and to prove it, you cry. This worked so well in the delivery room, certainly it should work as well at home.

Once again a "star" has enlightened the room. A scurry has commenced and lunch is produced. Your place as the favored guest has definitely been secured.

It has been a fews weeks since you were first introduced to home. The newness of your arrival is beginning to fade. Parents are wearing thin and in need of sleep. Breakfast and lunch, can at times, end up on the same sleeper. Your cries, may also be brushed aside with the comment, "just a minute". Your crib seems to be a prison with bars. At times, it would be nice to once again be held like a football by your uncle. Welcome to the family

To the delight of your family, you take your first steps. Your balance, a little precarious, but as time goes on, your welcomed walk has changed into a run. This is followed by your parents sternly reminding you to slow down and walk. One might think if a small person, as yourself, was so encouraged to try and try again to walk, wouldn't those same people be ecstatic to see you perfect the walk into a faster walk?

The same goes for playing with toys. Why would everyone you have ever met and even some of those you have yet to meet, buy you all these toys and books if they did not intend for you to have them spread out all over the floor? You cannot play favorites! It is just not right. You must see all, feel all, smell, and taste all, in order for you to experience the full aspect of said toys. Parents have the notion that a child should only play and experience one toy or book at a time. They believe then you can concentrate on the sole object. Actually, parents are just lazy and only want to pick up one toy at the end of your attention span. Must you be reminded, you are not a guest, you are part of the family and your duty is to put away all of your stuff!

Can you explain to me why it is perfectly sane for relatives to stare at you, to make crazy faces, funny sounds, but when you put your hands to your ears and wave them back and forth while sticking your tongue out, somehow registers as a rude gesture? Isn't that what you had observed family members do in the past to make little ones giggle? Mixed messages are difficult to wade through.

Another intriguing question is, if pets are consider a part of a family, why is it acceptable for the pets to eat off the floor or trot across the counters and then when you copy these behaviors, it is like breaking the law.

Love,
Jan

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tradition

Passing on traditions are so important. So many times I wish I had the opportunity to just pick up the phone, call heaven, and ask my mom a "how to" or a "remember this" question. It has been a year since my mother passed a way, but she actually lost her memory long before that. Steve's mom has had numerous aneurysms, so we feel we lost her many years ago, even though her body is still continuing on.

Mornings are hard, at this time, to get up and be motivated. On Friday, it will have been three weeks since back surgery. I see a definite improvement in mobility and pain relief, however it is more difficult to get going each day when there are so many things you want to do and the ole body cannot assist you in doing them. I must remember these times with an attitude of gratefulness. At this time, I am able to take my day at whatever tempo I care to and also to use any excuse in the book to not do something.

Monday afternoon was an unexpected pleasure to pass on tradition, accomplish something I wanted to accomplish and be with my favorite kids. Kyle, a senior this next year and his sister, Katie, a sophomore, arrived late in the afternoon to help with one of my tasks. They are the most fun young adults to be around. After a quick run to the store, they set out to make a double batch "from scratch" buttermilk brownies. this was Steve's mom's recipe.

In between the teasing, laughter and delight, the brownies were finally completed. The first batch was delivered to our neighbors, who just lost a relative, and the other batch, safely in the freezer, for the company we expect to have stay with us this weekend.

The evening came to an end after more family ate dinner provided by Kyle and Grandpa Steve. Good thing we have great cooking male relatives.

When we designed our kitchen, we discussed, at length, how we wanted it to be a community place with lots of room for art, cooking, sewing, etc. The 5 x 7 foot island has and continues to serve us well. Just can't believe how quickly our grandchildren keep maturing and how proud we are of them.

Love you guys,
Grandma Jan

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

B.L.T.

It's time to take inventory. When the boss sent out a memo reminding us of the the whys, wherefores and how's to get this process accomplished, I knew this was going to end up being a grueling task. Being accountable for not just the "things" in our life, but for all the responsibilities we each have, needs to also be reviewed.

I've spent a number of hours on my back since surgery, on July 15th. Everyday I take inventory of all the good things that are happening so, I have a map of where I have been and review the route to help guide me to where I want to be.

NO B.L.T.
No bending, no lifting, and no twisting for at least 12 weeks.

I can get out of bed unassisted.
I can use the restroom by myself.
I can brush my teeth without help, except I still seem to get drool down the front of my shirt.
I can shower alone, but cannot finagle underclothes by myself yet.
Makeup and hair are a snap.
I manage to carry on a pretty good phone conversation (at least by my standards).
I can make a cup of coffee, if I can find someone to transport it for me.
I can sit for brief periods of time. The new rods and screws in my back seem to be in the way.
I can read my iPad and return emails.
I can still order on the Internet, just can't get to the door quite quick enough to greet the UPS guy.
AND, my appetite seems to be holding it's own. I hear some people actually lose weight when they have surgery - no such luck for me.

I've taken inventory and I believe life is pretty darn good and when I arrive at the edge of my map, it may even continue to get better.

Next time I go out, I need to order a "real" BLT,
Jan

Friday, July 22, 2011

Re-Do

I am anxiously waiting, with hope, that the "back" angels are all fired up to do their thing. I took a deep breath, and let me tell you, this was a really, really, extensively deep breath and under went back surgery, a laminectomy and fusion. All I can tell you is - it is amazing how quickly the nurses and surgeons must move when they are working on you.

I remember talking to Steve regarding something totally frivolous when in came two charming ladies. I believe they were about to ask me to join them for a party or something when one reminded the other that she had brought the magic potion for the event.

Strange how anxiety can totally disappear when "magic" enters your vein. Personally, I don't quite recall the rest of the invitation, but Steve said he walked with me down the hall where the girls put my party hat on and he proceeded to tell me he loved me. I remember none of this, but apparently I reassured Steve that if anything went wrong, I had lived a great life!

That was the most disappointing party I'd ever been to. I had no snacks (they had asked me not to eat for twelve hours, so I was plenty ready for cake or something). The only hostess gift I received were these yellow socks with grippers on the top and bottom of them. The drugs must have been pretty high quality because I did feel fairly well.

We will now skip days two and three, as to not spoil if for those of you who may some day need this procedure in the future.

I am now home, safe in my comfortable bed, with my own pillow, a new bed spread and shams (the old one just wouldn't do in this situation). Steve purchased an exercise step platform for me to step on to be able to enter and exit the car. He also bought and installed a grab bar for our bathroom and a "pik-stik" so anything I needed, that's on the floor or out of reach, I can quickly arm myself with this contraption and retrieve it.

Steve thought I should have everything at arms reach in order for me to be independent. This morning, as our day was just beginning, the unthinkable happened. I reached for a tissue, caught my arm on the pik-stik, which in turn knocked over the glass with the left over diet orange pop, which promptly spilled all over the top and down the back side of my bedside table. Sounds pretty bad until I tell you, I have WHITE carpet.

Wonder what color of carpet will complement the new spread,
Jan

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Whine, no Wine!

I look forward to summer when the weather allows us to enjoy the atmosphere outside. The flowers are in bloom now and they have not begun to wilt from me forgetting to water them. In other words, I haven't killed them yet.

Summer also allows us to interact with our friends more because we tend to hang outdoors when it is nice. In the summer, Thursday's are special in our neighborhood, we have our "Wine in the Park". No, we don't "Whine in the Park". This is a freelance group of neighbors who get together to enjoy each other's company. Some actually drink wine, others sip on iced tea, pop or maybe even a beer or two. Conversations range from where to buy the best tenderloin, to what's happening on the family front.

Everyone seems to enjoy the evening, not only because we see our neighbors, but also because no one needs to do any preparation to make this event happen. No need to straighten up the house or get snacks pulled together, because we all simply take care of ourselves.

This morning will be a busy one for us. It's lab day today so that means it's errand day. Steve and I make our lists and while we are out on this mandatory run, we attempt to remember all the other errands we need accomplished.

It sure seems like "the remembering" gets harder as you grow older. We both make an effort to jot down our lists when the light bulb goes off and reminds us, but then the trouble begins when we forget the lists at home.

My mother had a system that seemed to work for her. She was a teacher, so she would tape a note (this was long before post-it's) to her purse, which she would leave in her car (here again, a long time ago). It must have worked, perhaps I could update her system.

List so far:
Blood work
Sunscreen for face
Cinnamon
2 ft. 4" vent pipe
Cornerbead
Chicken
Vegetables
Organizer insert
Wine for park

May you have nothing to whine about,
Jan

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

You Are Not A Guest, You Are Family - Part 1 - Anticipation!

Your family is anxiously awaiting your arrival. Whether you were a surprise or a long awaited being, your arrival is an important event in their life.

Don't be surprised at all the hustle and bustle that occurs around your new home in preparation of you. Remember, there are plenty of hormones floating around the premises and they can surely influence what people do and say. Don't worry, we will discuss hormones at a later date.

In most families, the expectant arrival is anticipated as one of the most important "guests" they will ever prepare for. Especially, if you happen to be a "first-born". Notice the prospective parents have finally tackled the task of cleaning up and clearing out the "junk" room. Now, do you know of any other family member they have done this for? Usually they simply close the door to that room and hope no one looks for the bathroom that direction.

Yes, it is very confusing at first. Your room has been painted, a new bed has finally acquired the last left over screw from the box marked miscellaneous on the instruction sheet. Someone has decided it's time to utilize the home economics skills, acquired in seventh grade, to make the picture perfect curtains for your new room. Maybe not quite your taste at this time, but you can already feel the love in each stitch.

As your new home continues to fill up with big and little specialties for you, the little "prince" or "princess" to be, I can tell you are preparing for your role as diligently as your family is. You are ready to respond to voices, you have also found your thumb to sooth yourself. You already know your kicking will bring attention to not only the Mom, but also to those around her. Yes, your role as "star" is well suited for you and you haven't even met your grandparents yet.

Soon it will be time for you to make your grand entrance into the family and be the "highlight"of their life.

Whoa, "You are not a guest, you are family!". Yes, at first all of the signals are mixed. I can certainly understand how you might be confused.
Love,
Jan

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pool Guy

I am back at my home reflecting over the past weekend. I'm glad to have had such a pleasurable experience with my neighbors. It is always good to get away from your own place of comfort and enjoy another's home base. I don't believe any of us would have changed any part of the weekend. We accomplished everything we set out to do.

The trip went remarkably fast, as you might expect, with four women chatting simultaneously all the way to the cabin. I was the only one who had been to the home before, so it was fun to see how close I could describe it to the others. The food we brought turned out to be appropriate for all of our outdoor meals. Perhaps the ambiance of the setting contributed to the delicacies also.

I am proud to proclaim that my sleeping partner confirmed I do not snore and stated that proclamation to dear Steve, when we arrived back home. I've been telling him for years that he is snoring so loud himself and that is what he is hearing. Glad we have that straightened out finally!

Our thanks goes to "the pool guy"! I am sure we would have had a wonderful time if our friend's husband had not been home, but he certainly made a number of things much easier. "Pool Guy". a.k.a. Gary, was home due to a back injury. that however, did not seem to stop my friends from requesting a couple of boat rides, the blowing up of the floating island, a tour of the neighbor's home and art work, or ice and wine delivered to the raft. With a grimace and then a smile, Gary seemed to accommodate everyone. Thank you Gary! I can't imagine the women getting the boat in and out of the boat lift.

Our husbands were all waiting when we arrived and it was fun to witness the garage doors opening in sequence as we approached our designated homes. You see, the four of us girls live next door to each other, so nothing gets by any of us.

Steve enjoyed his roll as hostess, our second night away, and served the guys steak dinners. Of course when we heard this was underway, we each called our spouse to make sure everything was in order. (What did we do before cell phones?) Kris made sure Tim made brownies, Theresa left a message for Tom to bake a frozen cherry pie (but Tom told Steve he chose apple instead), Patti reminded Frank to check what else would be needed and Steve let me know he had everything under control and of course he was serving a vegetable, asparagus and hash browns.

I've been told not to ask too much about the first night we were gone, because they ate out at a "place not probably approved by us". I'll leave that to their conscious then.

Thanks to our hostess with the mostest and to her "pool guy",
Jan

Friday, July 8, 2011

Girls Gone Wild

Today, four of us "girls" (I use the term loosely) are on a weekend jaunt to visit a friend who moved from the neighborhood about six months ago. Last month we set these plans in motion. A time schedule was determined, menus were discussed (we thought we would treat our friend) and a route selected in order for our group to meet at her log cabin, in Iowa, at noon.

After realizing two coolers, 4 bags, plus all the other paraphernalia could not fit in a regular SUV, we finally left in a van. Just think of the size of the trailer we would have needed if we had decided to stay longer than two days, or if we had decided to camp?

We arrived at the beautiful cabin just in time to drag in and set a wonderful, outside lunch for all of us. The weather is beautiful and we could not ask for better accommodations.

You would think that us neighbors would eventually run out of conversation topics. Not so, perhaps we are to the stage in our life when we have probably heard a number of these stories before, but simply can't remember. Getting older has a few benefits.

As I am writing this, I am sitting in the shade, on a veranda. There is a soft breeze blowing and a huge butterfly just perched itself by me. I can observe the geese swimming their little hearts out in the river/lake off the shoreline, just in front of me. The others have taken a boat ride to see the sites. I have declined because I'm not confident to make it down to the shore and then attempt to secure a spot in the boat. I weighed the consequences of a missed step, and decide I'm just "Jim Dandy" right where I am.

Some of you may be wondering what our spouses are doing back home, without us supervising. Well, we are too! Perhaps it's better for us not to know. On a normal day, the group of guys wait until about 4:30 before they find a reason to venture outside to the mailbox. Granted the mail sometimes does not show up until mid afternoon, but I finally figured out their sneaky pattern. The first guy has a secret beam he sends out, about that same time, to alert the others that it's time to meet in someone's driveway. They then give a wave to one another and jog home to retrieve a refreshment and ride over in their golf cart to keep the others company. (The golf cart is a necessity because that provides them with a comfortable seat.) They linger there until one of us girls reminds them how long they've been there. God only knows how long it will last without a call. Suppose I could still give him a call from Iowa, just to help them out.

Miss you Dear,
Jan

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Roller Coaster

My house is dusty all the time! Does anyone have any suggestions to control this? I understand we have construction going on our highway 370, but does that dust really drift all the way over to my house? I suppose it could, and does. Remember when Mount St. Helen's volcano went off in 1980? The reports were the volcanic ash drifted all the way around the world. Perfect! When company comes, I'll just blame the dust on some fictitious volcano half way around the world. Any bets my company will agree they have noticed the same phenomenon at their home?

Speaking of our beloved highway redo...I sure hope the improvements being made enhances our trips to and from the Husker stadium. Have you watched how those big earth movers have diligently cut down the country side and built up the valleys? I always felt as if we lived out in the country. You know, where we could enjoy the fields, watch the horses tails swish the flies away and wait with anticipation to get to the top of the hill to find out what vehicle was traveling toward us. I'm going to miss the roller coaster ride to Gretna. Progress is being made by limiting the elevation changes of our route.

I often ponder the sensibility of those in charge of repairing or upgrading our roads. Today I once again had to ask the question, "Why would they do that?". We were traveling on our normal route through town when we came upon a ROAD CLOSED sign. Sure, this was not unusual as we could tell an upgrade was underway. The baffling part was, the detour road was "under construction". Now, I ask you, "Why would they do that?". See what I mean?

Most times, and it seems to make no difference what time I'm out on the road, I notice the "pot-hole fillers" are taking a break. How many people does it take to walk up and down the "under construction" road to get a piece of equipment moving? Perhaps if I spent a little time out in the elements, with no bathroom available and no chair to rest my buns on, I would be doing the same. I'd just like to stop and ask someone, "What really takes so long to get things done?"

It is so easy to sit back and judge when I am not the one involved. Just like my company can when they see the dust and wonder why it's still there.

Coast on,
Jan

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Picture Perfect Parade

What a picture perfect morning!  The fourth of July bash was a huge success.  Over a hundred people showed up at our first annual parade and brunch in the park.  How fortunate we are to live in a neighborhood where enthusiasm is contagious. 

Steve and I started our morning pretty early with an assembly line to produce more than 225 pancakes from scratch.  We kept them hot in two large roasters.  With help from our trusty neighbor Tim & Kris, the park across the street from us, changed into a patriotic party zone, for the rest of the neighborhood.  The pleated flag banners flew with pride as the tables were adorned with red, white and blue.

Soon the neighbors began to arrive with their own contributions of food and games.  You could feel the energy begin to build.  Patriotic music resounded from the pavilion which added to the feeling of the day.

Promptly at 10:30, the parade got underway.  It consisted of decorated golf carts, riding lawn mowers, bicycles, wagons, and strollers.  The participants and the observers all seemed to enjoy the spirit of the occasion.


I couldn't believe the unending line coming through for the brunch.  I am happy to report that with the addition of the fruit, sausage, egg casseroles and the breads from the attendees, we had plenty of pancakes for the whole bunch.

The children played on the playground equipment, as the others got caught up with the latest gossip in the neighborhood.  I, on the other hand, made a final decision that having back surgery next week is a definite go.  My poor ole body cannot do what it used to do and I hope this will be the right decision for me.

Steve and I look forward to doing this again next year with plenty more bottles of water available.

Thank you "great" neighbors!  We are so glad we live here!

Jan

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Distracted!

I'm having a difficult time concentrating on the present due to the upcoming events tomorrow. I have planned, plotted and planned again to make sure our neighbors have a good time at our, first ever, fourth of July parade and brunch.

I believe it is so important to know your neighbors. Not just know their name, but also to know who they are. Who are the members of their family and what are their joys and hurts.

We are fortunate that in our neighborhood we are close to more than a dozen neighbors, however, that means there are over a hundred other families we don't know. So, it is my intention to help bring people together. Our friends continually state that one of the main reasons they stay in our community, is because of the friendships they have made.

Tomorrow Steve and I will get started early to set up the park pavilion for the festivities. We already have the pleated flag buntings hung. We plan to have patriotic music playing. The majority of the homemade buttermilk pancakes (200 of them) will be made prior to the gathering. Steve has decorated his golf cart "over the top". The tandem bike looks great and is also ready. The 40 cup coffee pot is ready for fulfillment and gallons of orange juice is chilled. Oh, by the way, we are expecting around eighty people. Perhaps that's the cause of my trepidation. HELP!

The parade will begin at 10:30 and after the neighbors round up their food donations,, we will begin the brunch. Now, if all goes well, I promise to include pictures and the parade tape link to utube. Cross your fingers! We could use a few extra hands if you care to stop by.

Excitedly yours,
Jan

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Afternoon Delight!

It looks like a perfect day out. That is if you are a female, there's a great sale and the things you really wanted are half price. It's a bonus for me because even the sun is shining, no humidity and the temperature is only eighty degrees. Thank goodness my driver is feeling available, so this constitutes the aligning of the stars.

Shoppers quickly move from store to store and then from rack to rack. I always wonder what their mission is. What motivates them to spend so much time contemplating the purchase of a particular item. Are they out for a perfect style or color or is it all about the hunt and capture.

I normally don't have the luxury of a sale when it's my turn to hit the streets. My schedule revolves around the kindness of others. So today was a treat all around.

Males just don't understand or care how difficult shopping is and that timing is everything. A woman must be in the right frame of mind, be in the right place, and have the money available before even attempting to jump into the shopping mode. If any of those factors are not marching at the same beat as the others, the whole shebang is lost.

Don't try to understand if you aren't a female and if you are a female, don't even try to explain it. It's as if you're tasting the perfect dessert. Each of our taste buds have different levels of enjoyment and what makes something perfect to one does not necessarily do the same for another.

Now, here's the topper. Steve and I hit the jackpot by having an early dinner at the social hour prices. Half-price! How's that for a perfect afternoon!

I wishing you all a delightful afternoon too!
Jan

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rock It!

I do not understand all the nuances that take place when you are finishing a basement. I love to watch all of those HGTV programs. The designer hears all the ideas and desires from the home owners, then improves the plan, both parties agree, and they get started. In a mere thirty to sixty minutes, the project begins, has plenty of set backs, and ends up looking like a piece of art.

My darling husband has been working on our son's basement for the last two years and we are not even close to picking out a color for the walls.

Every week, Steve spends some time at Sean's home. When he is in the confines of said basement, I am sure he is diligently working his little heart out. I know the work that he doing is of an expert quality and the finished product will be fabulous. It just seems to me that the project is way over the sixty minute mark and I am getting bored waiting for the reveal.

A peek behind the scene is a necessity at this point of my story. When this venture began in earnest, Steve felt he should take off about a year to assist me in my recovery from brain surgery. He justified this decision by bringing me my mocha in bed each morning. He also spent time on mental health and self preservation by periodically participating in golf games, gardening projects and hanging out with many of his close male neighbors. Of course there were and continue to be numerous doctor appointments, mandatory to my recovery, and since I don't drive, Steve is my designated driver.

Today however, is the first day of drywall going up! We are about to see a glimpse of what the basement could eventually be. I am so excited for all of the parties involved. I do hope we have no more program interruptions until the reveal happens.

Note to self: When HGTV finally calls Steve to request his assistance to produce a show called "Moore for More", politely thank them for contacting him, but at this time he is very busy.

Rock On,
Jan

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Deere John

Today it's time to talk grass!  No, not the kind you smoke.  Since I've never done that, I have no material for a presentation of that kind.  I'm concentrating on the grass that grows outside my house.

We live on a golf course, therefore about 5:30 a.m., the first thing I hear is the sound of mowers sprucing up the course.  No birds chirping for me, just mowers.  After eight years, the sound reassures me that life continues to move on.

This morning and approximately every five to six mornings, I'll hear my husband or a neighbor mowing their own yard.  This is not the unusual part of this discussion.  This sound of a John Deere begins the chain reaction of about five other men racing to the garage to retrieve their tractors to begin the parade of the lawn mowers. 

Just picture in your mind, six men racing around their yards trying to out do the other guy in length, design and speed in which a yard can be completed.  Periodically, one, two, three or four of these gentlemen head toward the grass dumping area, as fast as they can go, in a parade formation.  The sight of these gardeners doing this all at the same time, is a sight for sore eyes.  Bonding, I believe they call it.

We only have one gentleman who is not allowed to join the parade.  You see a year ago, this neighbor borrowed a spanking new John Deere and accidentally drove it over a five foot wall.  Thank goodness the neighbor had only minor injuries, but the tractor was deceased.  A memorial was left, in the spot of departure, for over a month.  His wife and other neighbors decided his lawn was better suited for a push mower. 

Signs of Life continue to pop up here daily.  I love to get up in the morning to see what is going to happen next.

Jan

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Be Prepared!

Preparation is my mantra. It is so important for my peace of mind, to do everything I can do ahead of time. Preparedness refers to most aspects of my life. I will start hours, days or even weeks ahead of time to make sure whatever my goal is, can be accomplished. My stamina has never been one of my strong suits, therefore I have made a habit of spreading out the work as much as possible.

I can remember when my children were in early grade school. At night, I would always help them pick out their clothes for the following day so there wouldn't be any unneeded stress. One night I had gone into our son's room and found his clothes laying on the floor. It really looked like what you would see from a crime scene, you know the chalk drawing. Only this was a "flat-Sean" lying there, complete with socks coming out of the trouser legs. I should have taken a picture of it but we didn't have phones that took pictures that long ago, why we didn't even have cell phones. As this story goes, Sean continued this habit for quite some time. My bet is he quit before college.

Yes, I always still sleep better if I think I have the next day under control. I much prefer to get up leisurely and enjoy a cup of coffee before having to face the rest of the day. So today is the day for me to round up all of the patriotic paraphernalia I have already acquired, and start getting organized. Let me remind you that my Chef Steve is offering to serve our community his famous buttermilk pancakes on the morning of the fourth of July, at our small park across the street from us.

The pleated flag banners have made it to the front of the pavilion in the park today. They look great and I do hope they will serve as a reminder to those residents who have not bothered to email us yet.

Tonight is "wine in the park", so I am hoping to recruit a few friends to help set up the parade route for all the kids and adults, who think they are kids. Maybe I will need to include a few chocolate chip cookies to enhance my recruiting skills.

I've got the plates, silverware and cups. The tablecloths and star-studded napkins are ready to go. thank goodness I inherited the 40-cup coffee pot from my mother. The decorations for the golf cart and tandem have been purchased. Steve and I have matching shirts! Games for the kids to play have been secured.

Please let me know what else I need!

Jan

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Valkommen!

This past weekend, Steve and I ventured to Stromsburg, NE with our daughter and granddaughter for the annual Swedish Festival. It is imperative for us to take this trek periodically in order to keep in touch with our heritage. The 1,600 residents of this quaint little town claim Stromsburg, the Swedish Capital of Nebraska. The festival commemorates the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

The festival always begins on Friday night, the third weekend of June since 1953, in the town square. The history is read, the "Swedish King and Queen" are chosen from the community and their court is introduced to all of us. The young Swedish dancers dance their hearts out around the May pole in the costumes made by their mothers and the official festivities have begun.

The festival has not changed much from when I began to attend some 43 years ago. Early on Saturday morning, the Methodist Church (they wouldn't dare trust the Lutherans with this task) serves "Swedish" pancakes. Let me tell you, they have nothing on the "pancake man" my children have met, in our neck of the woods. The tractor pulling contests, for all age groups, horseshoe pitching and soap box derby races.

While we were in town, we tasted Swedish cuisine and melted in the heat while eight year old Arieanna, road the carnival rides with her best friend, Grandpa. I'm not sure who had more fun, Steve or Arieanna, but I do know which one wanted to stop first and it wasn't the short person.

Steve was born in Stromsburg and lived there with his parents and two brothers until he left for college and married me. Steve's father, Stanton, was King of the festival in 1994 and his mother, Orpha, was the queen in 1983. My side of the family is also Swedish, so we both appreciate the food and hoopla that goes on in Stromsburg.

Thank you to all the volunteers who made this event a great success again this year. We respect them for their dedication to make memories for us and others in the community.

Tack sa mycket!
Jan

Monday, June 20, 2011

Aging

Today I received an email referring to aging. Some of us feel as if we are already in that season of life and feel it is our duty to warn the rest of you...

Aging is just a matter of the mind. Haven't you heard that before? I can tell you from my perspective that I know no single person that doesn't want to be considered young of mind. We make every effort to keep up with the latest lingo, styles, and electronic devices. However, just as we feel we have moved to the next new contraption, we find it already has a "do not buy tag" on the one we just purchased.

Aging is definitely not for the weak. You must be strong to be able to accept your limitations, such as having to turn down dessert to keep a svelt figure, or deciding to wear the shoes that feel good instead of looking good. Making time to stop and smell the roses when the truth is, you really just need to take a breather. Not exactly sure what your real hair color is, because it's been so long since you actually had a color. Trying hard to secure a pair of pantyhose and feeling self-conscious about wearing them. You must, because the blue veins in your legs just don't tan anymore. Eyebrows, what a joke. I've gone to guessing where they are 'cause I sure can't actually see them anymore.

Look at the trials and tribulations of choosing a cell phone or just the thought of giving up your land line. I've had the same phone number for the past 37 years. Some of you aren't even that old. How will people know how to get in touch with me? They may think I moved or, worse yet, died. Can't let that happen.

Should I get the fancy one with the text pad, camera, Internet, and email? So many gadgets... after checking everything out, I think I need the one with voice mail and large, visible numbers. Yep, should be practical.

Intuitive people will keep in mind though, aging means a lot more experience and living has taken place. Wisdom comes from those life experiences. It is important to respect their opinions. In most cases it's "not our first rodeo". We could have valuable information, which shared, could save undo anguish.

Be kind to your elders, even the grumpy ones. Who knows, you may grow grumpy when you are old. Life is short and it won't be long before you see yourself right where your grandparents or parents are.

Wrinkles are a proud sign of life,
Jan

Friday, June 17, 2011

Flood

Nebraska, along with many other states, is experiencing flooding. Not since 1952 has anyone seen this much water flowing down the Missouri River. I was only two at that time, so I have no recollection of the event.

It appears the excess snow and rain up north, has greatly influenced this current situation. At this time, Gavins Point damn is releasing 150,000 cubic feet of water per second. A person cannot even begin to fathom this amount going through the spillways in Yankton, South Dakota.

I used to live 20 miles from Yankton, in Hartington, Nebraska. My father was the Lutheran minister in this town of 1,600 people. This quaint, little town didn't have nearly enough shopping opportunities for us residents. Therefore, we would often take the trip to Yankton to shop.

Gavins Point has a beautiful park like area on both sides of the river. It was and probably still is a great place for young couples to have a romantic date. I cannot imagine how much force and power is going through the gates at this time. I am sure it is anything but serene.

My brother's family (Larry - no, not the cable guy) lives in Sioux City, Iowa. The city is already getting more water than it can handle. The river front venues are under water and we know it will only get worse.

We can only hope that this flood will change our status from a city on the river, to a city on the beach. Just think about what we can do with all those sand bags. How about using them for a beautiful beach front. Perhaps some of the now flooded parks can remain lakes. Maybe Nebraska will be like Minnesota, another state with 10,000 lakes. We like boating and fishing as much as the next guy but our opportunities are pretty slim.

Check out the website below for unbelievable pictures and it is to get much, much worse. Pray for those affected.

 
 
https://picasaweb.google.com/104592539075472798431/TheGreatMissouriRiverFloodOf2011?authkey=Gv1sRgCLLaoO7rm_qp1AE#
 
Jan

#1 Grandma

Today I began my day with the intension of being the #1 Grandma. I was up early to shower and retrieve a good-looking outfit so when I arrived at our destination I wouldn't embarrass anyone. We left home by eight this morning and you must understand that in a retired person's mind eight is quite early.

The rain began almost instantaneously as we pulled out of our driveway. Of course the "we" I refer to is my driver, darling Steve. We had to drop by a doctor's office to claim the glasses I had left behind. (It's tough realizing that age is catching up with you.) This only added about 20 minutes to our trip.

We arrived at the designated golf course on time, but that's when my desire of being the best grandmother faded. Being dry, and warm seemed to be much more important than the opposite. Kyle, my middle grandson, age 16, is playing in a tournament. I usually love to follow him around in the golf cart. We love to be part of the gallery. On a day such as this though, I can hardly wait until he is featured as a star on the golf channel and I can cheer him from inside.

It is truly a special part of a grandparent's dream to be on the sidelines and encourage a child to accomplish a task they enjoy, and do so well. The rain has stopped and there is still hope I may be able to earn that #1 spot as Grandma. I received a call from Steve that I should join him on the next 9 holes. Yea, and I didn't even get my hair wet! That's what you call good planning.

Kyle is a quiet, intelligent young man. His demeanor on the golf course is fun to watch. First of all, he looks great. He dresses sharp, is slim, maybe a little too slim, and his swing will impress anyone. I know this for a fact, because last Christmas Steve and I took him shopping for a new driver. The sales person asked Kyle if he golfed much. Kyle lowered his head and said "a little". We then proceeded to the area where a person can "practice swing" the club. After the first swing, the poor sales person stepped back and declared he had never seen anyone swing a club that well. You can only imagine how hard it was for us grandparents to keep our smiles normal and peacock feathers in tow. Yes, that's my grandson!

Besides being an excellent student, Kyle also loves to cook. You can tell he has captured the essence of the food channel. A little "wham-bam" thrown in here and there. Very confident!

Grandparents are always proud of their offspring, but our grandchildren just seem to be exceptional.

Remember, your children and grandchildren may be the responsible parties who will determine how and where you reside later in life. I'm doing my best to let them know they are my favorite people in the world and I am privileged to have them in my life.

Love Grandma,
Jan

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Smile!

The sun is a bit brighter today. I suppose that could be a fact since we have had overcast skies lately. Even the clouds seem lighter and more friendly. I feel capable of being free for a few months again.

When you are in the throws of a life threatening disease, every test and following doctor's appointment puts a heavy weight on your shoulders until you get the "all clear" sign. Yesterday, I saw the smile from my oncologist as he entered the room. His smile was from deep inside him. I know this, because together he and I are attacking a very, very rare brain cancer. Even though my doctor specializes in cancer of the brain and lymphoma, this particular cancer has only been seen about 30 times around the world. Treatments to prolong life are experimental.

In 1990, I took a leap of faith and became one of thirty or so patients to receive a transplanted kidney and pancreas. This was highly experimental at the time. There were no guarantees that my body would accept the organs and if they would work. I took the risk and have come out way ahead with a health-filled life.

Because of a generous family making a decision to give life to someone they would never know, I was able to see my children grow into adults and raise there own children.

Life is so fragile. Look at everyday as a gift to you. Make it count! Be the best you can be for yourself and for those around you.

Smile, life is good!
Jan

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

IPad Too

I received an iPad a number of months ago after being introduced to one by my brother, Keith. Last fall we decided to make a trip to Colorado and enjoy all of it's splendor. While visiting in Colorado Springs, we found all the family members looking great and in fine shape. Along with the mountains, springs, the Air force Academy and handsome great nephews, we also found out about this contraption (the iPad) that we just had to adopt into our family.

The iPad is my link to the world beyond our home. I love that I can enlarge the font, change the brightness intensity or magnify a picture in order for my poor eyesight to be accommodated. Some believe change is not all that it is cracked up to be, but in this case, change is the only way for me to go.

Since our youngest grandson, Evan, has been one, I have helped him look at his mom, dad and sibling's pictures on the iPad. We have read countless action-filled books along with games appropriate for his age. Well, as we knew it would happen, now Evan has received his own iPad, from his parents, as an early birthday gift.

I can hardly wait to see which apps are downloaded on his. Mine probably will not have everything his does, so I hope he'll be patient with me until I can get caught up. Of course he has the iPad2. That means I'm already behind. I believe the older kids will get some time on the Pad when little Ev is asleep, that is if they can sneak it away from under his arm. The child already knows way too much for a 20 month old, but how can you not feed a child knowledge when that's all he wants.

I must inform you that our other grandchildren are also brilliant. (Sounds like a grandma, don't you think?) Each and everyone of them have a special talent and only they can hold such a dear and special place in my heart, as they each do. Again I say, I am a blessed and fortunate person.

May you also feel blessed,
Jan

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fortunate

A new week, a new beginning. I have approached Mondays this way for a very long time. This week may be more of a challenge than some.

Let me catch you up on a few details from last week.
The shorts were a great fit, so I ordered two more colors.
The cookies turned out with plenty of calories, so will be delivering them to the new neighbors.
The invitations to the neighborhood 4th of July brunch have gone out.
The reunion was a big success. The spouses shared with me the same concerns I had, so they were grateful to have someone to talk to.
Still waiting on a decision regarding back surgery.
The letter from my doctor regarding jury duty arrived. After reviewing it, I decided this person should definitely not be trusted with jury duty.

Let me share a portion of the letter with you.

"My patient has been with me for several years. She has unfortunately had numerous health issues, most recently having been discovered with a brain malignancy. She unfortunately has numerous doctor appointment visits and because of her primary diagnosis, is unable to fulfill her jury duty for health reasons. Please excuse this unfortunate lady from her jury summons."

At least it didn't say "The unfortunate lady is deceased." I would say, that's a sure sign of life.

Now back to today. Steve and I just returned from our church bible study group. We had a wonderful brunch and great conversations was had by all. I'm sure there had to have been some reference to scripture somewhere in there, but at this time, I can't recall. God knows what we need at all times and today conversation and hugs was a certain priority.

Along with everything else going on this week, with doctor appointments, etc. Steve and I will celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary. It's so hard to believe that many years have gone by so quickly. I feel like I am only 42 and Steve almost looks like he only 42. (Have I shared with you that I only have vision in one eye and that eye is not quite up to par, maybe that's why I think Steve looks so good to me.)

I truly hope if you are married, you were fortunate to marry your best friend, as I did. I cannot imagine being with another person this long. I do not believe what my doctor wrote in his letter. I am not an unfortunate lady, I am anything but! I am loved by my husband, children and grandchildren. I have wonderful friends and I am a child of God. Who can ask for more.

Most fortunately yours,

Jan

Reunion

Many, many, many years ago...did I say, many years ago? My dear, handsome husband, graduated from a small town high school with approximately 40 other students. This weekend we are attending his class reunion.

Think about it. I, along with numerous other spouses, did not attend school with these people, nor did I spend 18 years growing up with them. I actually know no one. I can hardly wait to go. Yes, I've been to a few of these reunions before and can't really get too excited about the event.

Even though I will be attending with, what I consider, the best looking and kindest guy in the class, I know that Steve will be Mr. Personality and enjoy time with everyone there. I, on the other hand, will get to know a few of the spouses, but secretively will be waiting for the stroke of midnight so I can retreat.

What does a person wear to a reunion anyway? Usually, the type of restaurant dictates the attire, however this will be at a classmate's home. Inside or out would be helpful. Picnic or casual, no clue. Help!

Perhaps, If I was a trophy wife I could waltz in and at least look good. At my stage of I life, I can't even wear cute shoes, they hurt. Okay, I can turn this into a positive. I will pick a conservative, attractive pant outfit, comfortable shoes and paint my fingernails.

I will prepare an emergency list of subjects. I will wear a big, friendly smile. And I will glean as much information as I can from others.

Thank goodness I'm a year younger than Steve so I can practice at his reunion.

The cookies are great, stop by.

Jan

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rain Today

The weather seems to set the tone for what I choose to do with my day. Sunshine gets me up early to finish up the bare minimum house duties, so I can be outdoors to enjoy the day. Snow, is not my friend, except it does motivate me to get some deep cleaning done. Now rain, it always sets the mood for baking.

This morning I was all set to begin the task of creating my famous chocolate chip cookies. (No, not for the garbage collectors.) You may ask, why are they famous? Well, I once had similar cookies where the baker had drizzled melted chocolate over the top, and they made the ordinary cookies pretty special. So, from that time on, I felt as if I should do the same.

Keep in mind, I no longer drive. Let me set the scene. It is overcast and rain in eminent. My darling husband Steve, has left for a golf outing, clear across town. I planned ahead and had him place the heavy Kitchenaid mixer on the counter. He purchased chocolate chips the last time he was at the store along with extra sugar and flour. I should be set.

I can already taste the dough. It is mandatory for the baker to taste test the dough. How else do you know if you've put all the ingredients in? The house is mine alone, so I can move at my own pace. I am pumped.

NO BUTTER! I can't believe my eyes, how can this be? All my plans foiled in just one instant. I suppose I could try the neighbors. One last ditch effort - maybe, just maybe, Steve would have a minute to detour back home with the prized ingredient.

Again, to my rescue!

Note to self: Check supplies in advance. Buy extra butter.

May the chips fall your way.

Jan

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Waiting

It feels like I am always waiting. When I was very young I can remember wanting to grow up just enough to be able to skate or ride a bike with my older sister or brother. I'm sure the waiting game continued even when I had accomplished those feats because of course, I wasn't big enough to go to the same, far away places, they could, and it would be a very long time before they thought of me as an equal.

I am the "middle" child. There has to be advantages to every position in the family, but when you are in the throws of growing up, surely the order of your birth was not your favorite. Let's see - the oldest has to break in the parents and set a good example for the rest of the kids. The youngest gets away with everything because the parents are worn out and figure you'll live since the others did. The middle child is the parents' only hope. Only the child in this position can imagine the pressure that causes.

Ta-dah! I believe I am finally in the best position of my life. I'm the MOM! This means that I get to make all the rules. Every day when I get up, I can decide exactly what I want to wear. I can make other big choices too, like if I should take my vitamins or not. It is my decision alone whether or not to wash clothes or clean the house starting at the left side of the room or the right. When you are the MOM, everyone listens to your words of wisdom. In fact, they listen so well a Mom feels compelled to repeat it many times. A Mom has the pleasure of propelling the vacuum at any speed she wants and in any room she desires. I ask you, does anyone ever take that privilege away from a Mom? Yes, I have the best position in the family.

Waiting, oh yes, that's where I started today. I had to wait for a phone call to let me know when my ride was going to pick me up. (I can't drive any longer.). I had to wait for the doctor to see me. Now I have to wait to find out if I should proceed with surgery or not and I am again waiting for dear Steve to return from his monthly meeting that I am sure was finished at least an hour ago. Good thing I'm patient.

The waiting is over, my patriotic pleated banners arrived!

Until next time, just hang on,

Jan

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Garbage

It's over 100 degrees today, the wind seems like it is in a hurry to get somewhere. Probably heading for somewhere cooler. I'm glad our trash was picked up early so it didn't have a chance to make unexpected visits to our neighbors.

Is garbage a "sign of life"? Monday evenings our neighborhood driveways become parking lots for garbage cans. The cans stand at attention and await their turn to be flipped upside down by that great big truck every Tuesday morning. I feel like I should leave a big bag of chocolate chip cookies for the dependable collectors. My fear though, is that I would leave them on the lid of the can and, my luck, the automatic truck lifter would flip them in with the rest of the trash. Just can't take that much of a risk with my homemade cookies. I suppose I could get up extremely early and sit outside on the porch waiting for the truck to arrive. After thinking about it though, I don't think I should. I need my beauty sleep more than they need the calories.

Have you ever thought about how you would feel if you went to your mailbox several days in a row and didn't receive anything? Wow, great for the first day or two. No bills, no flyers or junk mail? I'll bet by day number three you would start to worry that someone else was receiving your treasures. Then, a sigh of relief when finally a piece of junk mail arrives. At least you know you're still on the roster. Today, when Steve brought in the mail, my short-lived enthusiasm faded from excitement for the arrival of the shorts I had ordered to, oh no, I have been contacted for jury duty.

Now, I am going to take the call to jury duty as a compliment. You see, that means they think I have the faculties to preside as a juror and it is a sure "sign of life" in my book. That means, there are still people out there causing ruckus and I am still alive! My motto, always find a bright spot.

Hope the shorts fit and that you aren't in need of a jury,

Jan

Monday, June 6, 2011

Beautiful Life

Many years ago I read a book, "Living the Beautiful Life" by Alexandra Stoddard. I was a young wife with two small children and I felt like there was never enough time to accomplish the ordinary stuff, much less to live, a so called, "beautiful life". Every day began to look like the day before, and I was sure there was more to life than this. The book pointed out how a person could take an ordinary task and make it feel special. From that time on, I decided to make my life, my family's, and my friend's life "beautiful".

Let me share a couple of examples. Is there any reason we always set the table with the everyday dishes? Spice up the look of a meal by setting a pretty table. I guarantee your food will take on a new sense of importance when it is served on a pretty plate. Good china is NOT just for company. It is for the special people in your life, your family. they deserve your best.

Laundry always seemed like such a chore. Gather the dirty clothes, drag them to the washer, dry, fold, put them away. Not too exciting in my book. Now my laundry room is one of my favorite places to be. Steve, my wonderful husband, painted it a great shade of taupe. My cabinet pulls are silver replicas of butterflies, dragon flies and bees. I have pictures of my grandchildren framed above the coat hooks and I added the gift wrap wall organizer from Pottery Barn. Now I smile when I go into the room. I enjoy the process of laundry and don't mind folding the clothes before I leave the room.

For a while, Steve used to come in the kitchen and notice a vase of flowers or a bowl of fruit on the counter and ask me "Are we living the beautiful life?" Perhaps he's in a "beautiful life" rut by now, but I'm not. It still gives me a sense of accomplishment when our bed is made and the room looks like a magazine. Don't get me wrong, our house is not perfect by far, but everyday I attempt to make a portion of it look better.

When I get to a place in life when I don't care anymore, I will know the signs of life are fading. For the record, I don't plan to see that for a very long time!

Wishing you a beautiful day,
Jan