Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Leap Day Post...

It's a rare opportunity to post on Leap Day.  This is also the last day of the NaBloPoMo Challenge, Relative.  I want to take this moment to say how fortunate and blessed I am.  My family is everything to me!  It's filled with imperfect people, but people with tremendous love and faith. 
A favorite of mine... My boys fishing with Grandpa Pete - May of 2000

For the past three weeks, our hearts have been on a roller coaster.  My father-in-law was found in his home unconscious.  He'd apparently been very ill.  When I'd last talked with him, he had a bit of a cough but was getting over it.  We made a quick trip to his hometown and spent the week.  PJ and his sister spent hours at the hospital.  He seemed to be recovering.  We decided to come home so my husband (PJ) could get back to work.  PJ has been back twice, and is there today.  After a great improvement, where dad was talking and even joking, PJ had returned home. The next day his dad's heart stopped.  They revived him, but he has not been well since.  It is such a difficult and heartbreaking time for my husband and my sister-in-law.  We have not given up hope for his recovery, but it looks like a long and difficult road. 

We do believe in miracles, and we also have the belief that things work out the way they are intended to.  It's all in the hands of our Heavenly Father.  We are hoping and praying for the best...

Speaking of miracles, before I stop for today, I have to share this blog link.  I think it will bless you!

The Four of Us: Happy Six Month Birthday Gabriel!

Just click on the highlighted blog name to read all about little Gabe.  He is my 4th cousin, if I remember how those "cousin" things work.  That doesn't really matter, he is family, he is a miracle, and so loved!

As I wrap up this final post for the month,
Remember to treasure your family and hold them close,
in your arms if you can, and if not... in your heart...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Modern Girl

The Sunday Scribbling Prompt for yesterday was modern, so I combined that with my NaBloPoMo Theme of relative, and came up with a little poem.  It's loosely based on moms and grandmas, and those ladies I have known who continue to embrace life at any age.  To me, that is the true definition of a modern girl.

A Modern Girl
She was a modern girl
Circle skirt, sweater set
Bright red lips 
Poodle pet

Jitterbug made her swirl
Saddle shoes on her feet
Swinging hips
Just so sweet

In her chair feet still twirl
Graying hair, laughing eyes
Bright pink lips
It's no surprise

A modern girl she remains
She'll never settle for plain Jane

 © 27FEB2012 ajj

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Another Give-away...

This giveaway is hosted by Debra at Common Ground.  The giveaway is for a $50.00 gift certificate to use at the Etsy Shop, English Transferware.  This shop is Nancy's of Nancy's Daily Dish.

Nancy has some beautiful items for sale.  I have a fondness for transferware, which is something Nancy is very knowledgeable about and also sells.  I have a few pieces that belonged to my mom.  I took a peek at Nancy's Etsy shop and already spotted a couple of items I'd love to have.

When I look at Nancy's blog, I think about how much my mom would have loved it.  She liked to "fancy" things up, "dress" the table, and just make things beautiful.  The style is formal without being too fussy.  I'm much more casual in my style... way too casual usually, but still love a bit of "fancy" here and there!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Favorite Things Photo Challenge

Tomorrow is the deadline for the Brenda Photo Challenge, A Few of My Favorite Things.  You can see my photography attempts for this challenge Right Here.  

It is really the tiniest sampling of my favorite things.  One thing I noticed as I thought about it, things from my childhood were making the strongest connection for this challenge.  My Grandma Martha loved rocks.  I don't know why she did, but I know I've loved rocks from the time I was a little girl.  I used to make little villages of rock people.  They were complete with dwellings, roads, etc.  I also remember looking into rivers, and I always noticed the shiny rocks along the bottom.  They had beautiful textures and colors.

While out in my front garden, taking photos for the Challenge, I found a rock with a beautiful leaf imprint. 

It's just so beautiful.

I love artwork, so I also took a photograph of one of my favorite paintings.   This is one that was painted by my Grandma Ruth.  She passed away when I was only a year old, but I think we would have had so much fun sharing our love of art.
This is a cropped view of her original painting.  It's also been altered with the "Ink Sketch" application in Paint.

There are common bonds, threads that link the generations in a family.  You find they are there, even when they couldn't have been learned by knowing a person.  Family stories often reveal these little traits.  Who inspired your tastes, your favorites?  Do you know?  Or is it a long ago ancestor you never even met? 

Speaking of favorites, tonight is one of my favorite programs... "Who Do You Think You Are?"  It's the program that spurred me to start my ancestry search.  Along the way, I have discovered some fun things about my family history.  I still have many more mysteries to uncover.

Please take a moment to visit the Brenda Photo Challenge Blog and check out all the entries, my attempts at Nita Jo's Photos, and check out NaBloPoMo February Blogroll at Blogher... I'm still participating in the February writing challenge on Relatives.  There are a lot of writers participating.

Oh, and don't forget about the Give-away over at Junk Exchange.  You still have time to leave a comment and be entered for a subscription to Folk Magazine!   Plus, I know you will really enjoy the wonderful things Troy has to offer. 

As you head into your weekend, I hope it's a beautiful one!

© 24FEB2012 ajj

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Looking back...

I didn't get much sleep last night, and this looks like another night of the same.  Since I was a bit tired and draggy all day, I decided to pull out a suitcase I had filled with family photos and documents.  What fun it was!  There were so many things I had forgotten.  Newspaper clippings about different family and friends, photos of my boys when they were little, and some photos of family members that have passed on.  It was a lovely time of remembering.  Don't you find that just looking at an old photo takes you right back to that time and place?  If you let yourself drift, it's like a mini vacation.  Sometimes, I think I can almost hear the laughter.

A Give Away...

Junk Exchange, a favorite blog of mine, is hosting a give-away!  To check it out, click on the photo.  That will take you directly to the post you need to comment on. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thinking of Dads...

I haven't done very well with this months NaBloPoMo.  The theme this month is Relative.  Sadly, my reasons are family related.  My father-in-law is still in the hospital.  It's been 13 days now.  My husband has made two trips to see him, and plans to go again soon.  He and his sister are trying to coordinate visits.  It's a really difficult thing to be so far away. 

Today is also my dad's birthday.  He's been gone for many years, but I always think of him on his birthday.  I still miss him.  Sending "Happy Birthday" wishes heavenward!  If your dad is still around, give him a phone call or a great big hug today...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Seeing The Good In Things...

My son sent me a photo from his cell phone this afternoon.  It was the double-wide trailer that my mom lived in for a time.  Memories washed over me as I looked at the photo.  It was a pretty decent place when she moved in, but by the time she sold it what a different home it was. 

Mom had a way with making something out of nothing.  She painted inside and out, changed out the curtains, wallpapered, had a skylight put in, and more.  She loved Victorian, vintage 40's & 50's, and county style, and she had a unique blend of all the things she loved.  Mom reused and re-purposed before it was fashionable.  It was her way of life.  I can't count the times she pulled the car over for a yard sale, a "good" chair someone had put out with the trash, or one of the many secondhand stores in the area.  She could see potential in things. 

Her eye for "good" wasn't limited to things.  She saw potential in people.  If you had a dream, she was your biggest cheerleader.  Over the years, I watched as she supported people, encouraging them to push for what they wanted.  Mom believed that dreams could, and would come true.  I try to always remember that, and to do the same.  See the good in people, and believe in dreams!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Just A Simple Note...

My mind is on my father-in-law today.  He is improving, but very slowly.  My husband will be on the road tomorrow, to go see him again.

Did you ever have one of those "wake up calls" to make you reassess something?  This was another one of those for me.  My family needs to make time to spend with him.  Days, then weeks, go by so quickly.  Before you realize, it's been way too long since we've visited.  I had been trying to phone him more.  Somewhere between his birthday and Christmas, I'd taken the time to write him a long letter, one of thanks for all he has meant to me over the years.  It was long overdue.  I'm not great about thank you notes.  It wasn't something we did in my family.  I said "thank you" many times, but there is something more concrete about writing it, slipping it into an envelope, affixing a stamp, and mailing it.  I believe it meant something to him too.  I noticed an increase in phone calls from him.  A lighter, brighter tone to his voice. 

We all long to be appreciated.  To have our efforts noticed.  I wish I hadn't waited so long to put it in writing, but I'm very glad I did get it done.  It felt great doing it, and I'm thinking it brightened his day.  Now I'm wondering, who else is long overdue for some words of appreciation from me? I'm sure there are more than a couple.  I'll have to be working on that.  Until then, for all you have done, let me just say...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Brenda Photo Challenge...

It's been a good, long while since I did the Brenda Photo Challenge.  I've decided to try it this time.  Photos are due February 25.  The theme is "Favorite Things" and you just take photos of some of your favorite things!  It's that easy.  Sign up HERE.  My photos will be posted at Nita Jo's Photos when I get them done.

I'm having a bit of trouble focusing on my NaBloPoMo Prompts.  Ironically, it's because of family stuff.  I will try again tomorrow. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Long Week...

We left town very quickly last Thursday, after learning my father-in-law had been found unconscious.  He was in very bad shape, in fact the first phone information was that he had passed.  Thankfully when the EMT arrived and moved him, they discovered a very faint pulse.  We drove over, and my sister-in-law caught the first flight available.  The drive seemed to take days.  I guess that's normal when you don't know what you'll find when you arrive.  We were just praying he would still be alive.

Over the next few days, it was back and forth.  A couple of the doctors and staff were so negative, advising to prepare for the worst. One kept asking, "Is he always like this?"  Really?  My husband wanted to say, "Well no, he isn't generally unconscious." but he refrained.  Usually Pete is very active.  Takes care of himself, his home, his garden, visits with friends and occasionally goes to dinners at his church.  He drives to the grocery and to appointments.  He is very conscientious about his health.  He eats right, keeps his weight down, exercises.  I should take a page from his book!

It was such a joy and relief when he started to speak, and we knew he recognized us.  Very quickly we could see he still had his sense of humor.  It may be a long road to recovery, but he seems to be well on his way.  We will be making frequent trips over.  We did a lot of cleaning and organizing for him.  Some repairs and upgrades will need to be done to make it easier for him when he comes home.  For now, we are grateful that he is doing so much better and that he got the second chance we prayed for. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Family Emergency

I will be away from my computer for a couple days, so won't be able to do my daily posting for NaBloPoMo.  Please check back.

We've had a family emergency.  If you are a praying person, please whisper a prayer for us and for my father-in-law.

Thanks so much...
My boys with their Grandpa...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I have nothing today.  No family stories.  No fiction.  No poetry.  I think I'm distracted by a new thing I discovered on FB.  It's called Words With Friends!  It's like Scrabble, and you can have several games going at once!  I played into the wee hours of the morning, and woke up tired but wanting to play some more.

I've always loved board games.  I grew up playing Scrabble, Checkers, Password, and so many more.  Too many to list right now.  My early game playing was with my sister and my grandparents.  Grandma was highly competitive and hated to lose.  I'm a little bit like that, though I try to abstain from shouting, and jumping up and down, when I win now.  Anyway, I am going to try not to let this new passion affect my writing time.  Oh!  It's my turn!  Gotta Go!  Catch you all later!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lesson - Sunday Scribblings

For this Sunday Scribblings prompt, I was compelled to look at my roots, my faith.  I learned lessons about faith as a young child, and at times struggled with what it really means to me.  I've been disappointed in people who proclaimed their Christianity, yet seemed to turn a blind eye to those who were hurting, weak, different, or just not good enough.  I've also had to acknowledge that same tendency exists in me.  I think we all look at the world through somewhat biased eyes.  Our vision is tainted by whatever our teachings have been.  I'm on a continuing journey to find who my best self is, while walking in my faith.  I hope I'm always growing into a more Godlike person, who leaves the judging to my creator.  The most important lesson for me is that I believe in an awesome, loving and forgiving God.  My hope is, I remember to treat those I meet along the way with the same love and forgiveness I desire. 

The Lesson

One thing, above all else
A lesson, never growing old
One thing to remember
No matter what else you've been told
One thing, lights every darkness
And can heal a broken heart
One thing, that lasts forever
My God, how great Thou art

© 06FEB2012 ajj

Sunday, February 5, 2012

My Weekend...

Due to an unfortunate allergic reaction, to something I ate Friday evening, I missed posting yesterday.  It was a Chicken Habanero sandwich from a pizza place.  I didn't want pizza, like the rest of the family, so I got a sandwich.  Apparently I have an allergy to the sauce or to Jalapeno Peppers.  Wheezing, hives, unbearable itching, and eyes swelled up.  I looked hideous.  Almost did the 911 call!  Had my husband grab the Benadryl and quickly took two.  That's what the docs told him to do if he ever gets another bee sting.  The symptoms started to calm down in about 15 minutes, but my eyes stayed swollen until late last night.  Needless to say, no more Jalapeno's for me, and I'm going to schedule an allergy test soon!

Today is a family day.  We'll be watching the Super Bowl later.  We're rooting for the Patriots because the Giants beat our Green Bay Packers!  My sister-in-law didn't make the long trip.  Fortunately she was only an hour into the journey, when PJ called and told her the engine wouldn't work for his car.  She decided to head back home and come for a visit later on.  Hopefully, PJ can find another engine that will work in his Chevy.  If this is confusing... go to the previous post.

I've been baking this morning.  Poppy Seed Muffins with Lemon Glaze, Kalua Cake, Tortilla Casserole, and Spicy Meatballs!  No, I'm not worrying about calories today.  I do have a nice big veggie tray to balance things out a little.  It's time to go finish my prep for game time!  Go Patriots!

Friday, February 3, 2012

It's Just One Of Those Days...

PJ and his sister in Chicago, 2010

My sister-in-law, my husband's only sibling, made a long drive to our valley for the weekend.  The plan was to drop a newer engine into PJ's 1952 Chevy.  She was really looking forward to helping with it, and PJ was so happy.  It meant time with his sister and a much better engine for Old Blue!  

PJ's Old Blue 52!

As with many of our plans lately, it is not meant to be.  The Chevy engine was originally build for a 56.  Some brackets were changed between 52 and 56.  It will not fit!  Engine dreams have been crushed.  What to do tomorrow to replace the "main event" of the weekend?  We don't know yet.  I'll post an update after we figure it out. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

About Dad

I had two fathers in my life.  My biological dad, and my grandpa that raised me from the age of 8 years old.  I have posted about both of them previously.   Go to Happy Birthday Dad, to read about my dad and see a couple of photos.  Go to Fathers Day Reflections to read about both, but with a little more focus on my grandpa. 

My Dad... around 1956
What stands out to me as I think about my dad, was his absence.  I remember him telling me how he'd never lived up to his dreams.  How he should have been there for me.  Even as I told him it was ok, I really did agree.  He wasn't there for me.  Whatever drove him to make the life choices he made, it did have the effect of creating a void with his children.  I loved him anyway, but I always wished for more.  He never came to a piano recital, or a school performance.  He missed nearly every birthday.  He was absent.

How do you love a person like that?  I can't tell you, I just did.  I loved him deeply.  I saw myself in him, but I vowed I'd never let my children feel that kind of abandonment.  On the good side, he made me laugh.  I loved hearing him sing.  I treasure every moment I spent with him.  There weren't enough moments, but each brief visit was special to me. 
I was privileged to spend more time with him before he died.  He had come back into my life, just not soon enough.  Before long, we found out he had cancer.  Then he was gone.  Memories of my dad are bittersweet, but the sweet outweighs the bitter for me.

© 02FEB2012 ajj

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February - It's About Relatives

The February prompt for NaBloPoMo is Relative.  They're also posting a daily prompt on weekdays, weekends are free writing.  If you're interested in the daily prompts, go HERE.  There is no pressure to follow them, the main thing is to just keep writing every day.  The one suggested for today is "mother" and I've written a lot about my two mothers.  If you scroll down to my Labels List, you can select stories to read about both of them.  They are under mom, momma, and grandma.  In fact, I just added them to the labels at the bottom of this post to make it easier.  Did you know you can click on a label, and you go right to the posts on that subject?  It took me a while to figure that out when I first began blogging.
Donnie & big brother Ronnie

 Even before I knew that the prompt was to be Relative, I'd been thinking about family.  A couple days ago, I started pooling photos into a "Siblings" album.  I have quite a few siblings.  My lil sis and I share the same mother and father, but there were also half brothers, half sisters, step brothers and a step sister.  Two half brothers are no longer with us.  Donnie was the baby.  He passed on very young from Leukemia.  I have such strong memories of those last days with him.  He didn't live with us, but when he became so ill, Dad brought the boys over more often.  I remember the bruises on his little arms.  I asked grandma why he had so many and heard the word "transfusions" for the first time.  He was so sweet, and his journey in this life was too short.  I imagined arms of ancestors wide open, waiting for him.  I did wonder if I'd prayed harder, would God have let him stay.  I was ten years old.

My brother Tommy also left this life before I was ready.  I've written about him several times before.  The labels are Tom, Tommy, and Brother.  I still miss him.  Some days it hurts to think about him.  Most days I have peace because I believe he is with others I love, just out of sight, in that spiritual world we cannot see with our human eyes.

Our siblings play such important parts in our lives.  They are pieces of the puzzle that make us who we are.  I love every one of mine and am thankful my life was blessed with them.

© 01FEB2012 ajj