Friday, February 29, 2008

Prayers for Abigial and Joe

Joe & Abigail
Our friends, Joe and Abigail will commit themselves to each other tomorrow. My prayer for them is that they can accomplish all those last minute details with little pressure, that those they come in contact with will clearly see their love and their commitment to God and to each other. I pray that they can relax and enjoy their rehearsal and their last night as single people in peace and contentment. I pray that their family and friends will have traveling mercies and arrive safe and on time to the wedding.

If you find a moment in your busy day please remember this special couple in your prayers.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The 1980s Bride

My Bridal Book
Yesterday I shared the Bridal book my mother-in-law passed to me that she had used to plan her own wedding. My Bridal book was given to me by Jo, a friend of my mother's. My book had vivid color pictures and is more a celebration of Brides and the history of weddings. The opening page shows a glowing Princess of Wales with Prince Charles on their wedding day—a sad reminder that often more thought and work is invested in the wedding than in the marriage itself. Of course, at the time my book was given to me no one would have imagined that marriage would end in divorce.

Many interesting (and funny) tidbits are included in the book such as, "In colonial America, two people who shared food in the kitchen were thought to be engaged" and "In colonial America, a girl was allowed to marry at the age of twelve without parental permission." Can you imagine your twelve-year-old announcing "Mother, I'm getting married"? As the mother of a twelve year old, that scares the heebie jeebie's out of me.

My book lists the average wedding cost at $6,009.00 (you will notice that unlike yesterday's list this does not include the bride's or househould's trousseau, but it does include photography.)
  • Bride's gown - $426

  • Bride's veil - $104

  • Invitations, announcements and thank-yous - $200

  • Bouquets and other flowers - $324

  • Photography - $470

  • Music - $369

  • Clergy and Church - $83

  • Limousine - $58

  • Attendant Gifts - $149

  • Wedding Rings - $808

  • Mother of the Bride Apparel - $121

  • Bridal attendants' apparel - $319

  • Men's Formalwear - $230

  • Groom's Attire - $55

  • Rehearsal dinner - $293

  • Reception - $2,000

The estimate for the reception was based on a guest list of 200, or an average of $10.00 per guest.

In the 80s, middle-class Japanese families spent an average of $26,000 for a wedding. The bride and groom might descend from the ceiling amid dry ice clouds, the bride changing as many as four times. Most of the gifts of money went to the parents to defray the cost.

My friend Stacy who asked that I make sure to photograph the wedding cake at the wedding we are going to this weekend. Stacy runs her own business making beautiful cakes, so that is of great interest to her. I find myself enjoying the cakes myself. The tradition of the wedding cake goes back to ancient Rome where, rather than the elaborate confections we enjoy today, they broke a biscuit or wheat cake and fed the first morsel to their new spouse. The traditional bridal cake as we know it first appeared around the time of the War between the States here in America. I love the drama that Rita Hayworth brought to her wedding—instead of a tradional knife she cut her wedding cake with a glass sword!

Yes, I love weddings, but some brides do take it over the top. Such as the bride who had dreamed of her wedding cake all her life—a full size likeness of herself. You can see the pictures on my husbands blog. I have to ask where is her new husband in all this fantasy? We are brought up that it is our day, but that should include our grooms.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The 1940s Bride

As our family prepares to attend a friend's wedding this weekend I pulled out the Bridal book my mother-in-law gave me prior to our wedding. It isn't just any Bridal book—it's the book that she used while planning her own wedding. It is a precious family heirloom that in time I will pass down to my son's bride. But, it is also a time capsule of what was expected of a bride of the 40s.

1940s bridal couple
Included in the Minimum Wardrobe List was 1 simple day dress to wear with furs. When it comes to the budget, the book states

To reduce a wedding to mathematics, one aspiring to be formal in spirit if not in all appointments, will cost from $250 to $400 at a minimum.

They even include the "wedding that the bride longs for" at $1,150.00 total price, here's the breakout:

  • Bridal outfit - $115

  • Personal trousseau - $400

  • Household trousseau - $175

  • Stationery - $60

  • Reception, including cake - $220

  • Church - $70

  • Flowers - $50

  • Music - $60

If you notice this "large" total includes the bride's trousseau and househould trousseau. The household trousseau included all bed linens, towels, placemats with napkins, 1 handsome doily set and 2 informal woven doily sets.

It's fun to look at this book and tomorrow I will show the Bridal Book that was given to me as a bride, it'll be fun to compare.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ladies Bible Study

In our Ladies Bible Study we are studing The Fingerprints of God, which is designed to help us recognize and acknowledge God's personal touch in our lives. We were each asked to bring something handmade; the ladies brought a variety of items that meant something to them. One of our ladies brought tears to our eyes when she shared a plaster heart with the tiny footprints imprinted on it of the child she lost. She now has two beautiful children, but her heart still aches for the child that didn't live. I shared a cross-stitched picture that I made with the names of God listed.

This study brings out the fact that God spoke the everything into existence except us. God fashioned us with his "hands" and breath.

Mrs. Wilt and I were in charge of the food. Mrs. Wilt made some wonderful bread and brought a fruit salad. I made apple cinnamon muffins, and Maple-Berry salad with pound cake. This was so easy to make:
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries (thawed)

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries (thawed)

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

I placed all the ingredients in a plastic bag. I shook the bag to mix the ingredients well, then refrigerated overnight.

It also made it easy to transport to the church in the plastic bag, then transfered it to the serving bowl. I provided angel food bread to pour the berries on.

The ladies all loved my great Target buy. If you look at the muffins in the picture you'll see the silicone muffin liners, I purchased these last week at Target for $1.00 for 6 liners. They had colors designed for Easter and were at the $1 bins at the front of the store. They were very easy to peel off the muffins and were very pretty to look at.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Little Tough Love

Today marks day three of David's three day suspension. It's been very rough and today he thinks that he is going to just refuse to do the work I have layed out for him- mostly folding laundry. He has spent his life getting around rules at school by either avoidance (sleeping) or open defiance. Those are his tactics today, but he isn't dealing with the school he's dealing with mom. We have had a very rough morning with his attitude and defiance, so desperate times calls for desperate measures.

It's Hammertime (ok I'm showing my age) but you either have to laugh or cry and I know that he would prefer me to cry, since this would mean he wins. So after telling him to fold the laundry (for more than the 10th time) and him just laying there and telling me he was too tired I grabbed a hammer and hotwheels and started to pound, outside on the porch. I'm very shocked but, this child who was too tired to fold laundry wasn't too tired to jump up and run to try to stop me. After making him throw away the mangled car I then tell him that everytime I have to repeat a request he will lose another car. I am happy to report that he folding laundry even as I blog.

This is not the way I imagined parenting my son and it just breaks my heart that I must take actions such as this to get his attention. But, I would rather take these measures than let him go down the road that he has chosen so far. This is also the child that the behavior treatment center, after 18 months, said they could do nothing more with. So if I have to break a few cars to make him understand that he must follow the rules of the house then so be it.

Showers of Blessings

Showered with gifts
Yesterday our church held a baby shower for our pastor's wife, Angela. The turnout was great to welcome a new little gift from God. There were five ladies who worked hard to make it a wonderful time for everyone. There were several handmade gifts—one that brought the guest of honor to tears. For Angela's first son, she received a handmade baby blanket, but for her next son never received a blanket. She used the one handmade blanket for both her boys. She was so touched that someone had taken the time and was thoughtful enough to make one to welcome her daughter. The hostesses made a "sweet" favor for all of us to take home. A Hershey's candy bar pink "blanket" with Here She Is and a reminder for all to pray for Angela and her baby.

One of the women who attended the shower was another expectant mother whose first child is due a few days after Angela's. She has requested that her shower be thrown after her son is born, since her mother would be able to attend. We have already started the decoration ideas.

It is a shame that sometimes we forget to shower babies with as much love and gifts if they are not the firstborn. I was glad our church throws showers for all the babies, since we had attended a church that only held showers if it was the mother's first child. All children are a gift from God and no less precious if he or she is not a first born.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Psalm 127:1

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Morning At The Mall

Yesterday was spent mostly laying on the sofa not feeling well. I awoke in the middle of the night with a runny nose and scratchy throat, so I had to keep getting something to drink. So I was not feeling very peppy but I had to go to the grocery store (with my son who has been suspended for three days.) Last night was better, but I still had a runny nose and needed lots of liquids to keep my throat from hurting.

My fashion team
This morning found us at the mall. I was a woman on a mission—to find a dress to wear for the wedding we will attend next weekend. I had my stylists with me (Rich and David) and found a cute dress at 30% off. It's a summery dress, so I will use my little bolero jacket with it until the weather turns warm. I was very happy that we found it at the second store we went to, since I doubt that my fashion team would work all day for just drinks and snacks. We also hit Bath and Body shop to replenish my supplies. Let me say I am not a shop-til-you-drop kind of gal. I find I am willing to spend more time shopping when it is for our home or a gift. But, I do enjoy those cute little shops when we are away from home and I can find something unique.

My fashion team is even making dinner for me tonight—chili. Who could ask for anything more—ok maybe for them to clean the kitchen afterwards.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Written Record

Good news on ESY (extended school year) came with a phone call from the vice-principal. This is the same person who told me they didn't provide this type of service—just summer school for children who didn't meet their IEP goals. I explained that my son's IEP didn't have academic goals, all his goals are behavioral and social. I made a formal request in writing, so the subject couldn't be pushed under the rug until it was too late to accommodate my request. The school official called and said he is eligible (after checking with the head of Special Ed), but that they would schedule an IEP for April in order to see how he is doing on his goals. RED FLAG! I have a feeling this is going to mean I still have a little skirmish ahead. But I am preparing my ammo in the form of every call from the school, every detention and every suspension is being written down in a notebook. So when he behaves the week before the meeting and they state that he is "meeting his goals" I can fire back with all the calls I have received since my request. Just the sight of my notebook of what they have had to call me about should settle the issue. Yes, this is a lot of work and hopefully I won't need to use it, but it is comforting to know that I have documentation—just in case.

I have gotten services for my son that other special needs children have been denied. There are many reasons:

  • I research. If I hadn't spent hours and hours on the internet and in seminars to find out what services my son is entitled to have he would not be receiving the services.
  • I ask.If you don't ask it's likely you won't receive the services. If I feel there might be an issue or they are slow in meeting request I make my request in writing.
  • I work hand in hand with the school. Only after I am convinced I can't get the services by working together then I will fight them for what is needed.
  • I document. (I document, I document, I document) Did I mention I document? I have used my notes in order to go over heads and make a strong case. If I were to say "I think I requested this around January or February, but I can't remember to whom" this holds a lot less weight than "I spoke to Mrs X. on the phone on January 19th about requesting ESY, when we met on January 25th during our IEP, I handed Mrs. X a letter with my request."
  • I request all reports that will be used in meetings to be sent to me prior to the meeting. I write this next to my signature allowing them to administer the test. I then verbally let them know I expect the reports prior to the meeting. I want the time to review the reports they will be using in the meeting so I can question areas they might skip over or so I can be prepared to question results.
  • I stop meetings. If I feel the other members are wrong or if I don't understand some of their shortcut language I don't mind stopping the meeting to correct a point or to ask what they are talking about. This is how I got the OT (Occupational Therapist) to review her initial report of no need for services. I gave her copies of reports from Children's Hospital with an evaluation stating these sensory issues, then told her some of the issues we saw at home. When I stated these reasons in the meeting David's one-on-one said she had seen those issues in the classroom also. After talking to the OT specialist she admitted she had spent one class observing him and some of the issues she saw she put down as behavioral and not sensory (since she had been prepped by the school on his behavioral issues). David is now receiving accommodations for sensory issues. I do understand that she has a limited amount of time and many children to evaluate, but my job is to make sure my son is receiving the services he needs to be educated properly.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Heirloom Eggs

Because Easter comes early this year I started to pull out Easter decorations as I put away Valentine's decorations. One of the decorations I have not displayed for many years is the set of eggs my grandmother handpainted many years ago. Because they are so fragile, I have not displayed them since David was a baby. He is finally is able to deal with having them within arm's length and not wanting to touch and hold them.

I also have used the bird's nest David found last fall at the airport. Last fall we displayed the nest on my pedestal compote with fall leaves beneath it and acorns inside the nest. For the spring I have added tiny decorative eggs I found at Michaels. I am still looking for the large picture of David's first Easter. I pulled it out in January and put it in a safe place so that it would be easy to set out and for the life of me I can't remember where that safe place is. Oh well, I'm sure I'll find it when I'm looking for something else.

Update on Yucky Day

Today David is back to school from being sick. I have a feeling he wasn't as sick as the school nurse thought he was. He set the alarm for 3:00 and when it went off he quickly jumped up and said "school's over I can play." But, oh no my rule is no school—no play, all day. He knew the rule but I think he was hoping I would forget what I had told him at school when I went to pick him up.

He slept better last night and was sent off with the words "Even if the school nurse calls to say you're sick, you will finish the school day."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Feeling Yucky Today

After sending my twelve year old off to school for the day, I started on my to-do list for today. Since there was no school yesterday it was a longer-than-normal list for a Tuesday. Within the first hour of sending David off to school I got a call: "Can you come and pick up your son, he's not feeling well."

I knew that David had the sniffles and hadn't slept well for the last two nights (and neither did Mom), but since he never sleeps well that isn't a shock. David has been sick a total of three times in his life as of today, and even in those times it is a struggle to keep him laying down and quiet. When he was a toddler and had a temperature of 102, he still was up and running. Hopefully he will back to normal tomorrow, with a good night's sleep for all of us.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sweetheart Banquet

That's me!
Saturday night we spent an enjoyable evening with other loving couples in our church. Several ladies in the church had organized everything down to the childcare. The only thing we were required to bring was a dessert. The table settings were creative and romantic, while the devotional was thought-provoking and the "The Newlywed Game" was humorous. Five couples ranging from a couple married for just two years to a couple that had been married for forty-four years answered questions about their spouses. All the couples did well, even with some of the really hard questions, and the winning couple won by only 10 points from the last place couples' score with a three-way tie.

I made a really, really wonderful chocolate fondue with strawberries to dip into the chocolate. I found the recipe in this month's Southern Lady magazine. It was a big hit, with people stopping by to tell me how good it was—a keeper recipe. I had made a double batch so I was able to freeze some for further use.

One of the things I love at our church is that just like was the case at our table all age groups mix well together. Our table had an empty nest couple, us with an almost teenager and a couple with children just starting school. We never ran out of things to talk about and had a great time together. Of course, there was some table hopping to touch base with those friends who came late (and you know who you are!).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ephesians 5:2

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Jefferson Hotel- Richmond

When reading through this month's Southern Lady magazine I received an unexpected gift. This month's issue visited Richmond, Virginia, and while there the writer stayed at "The Jefferson." This hotel holds happy memories for us. We have stayed there several times but we also held my son's dedication brunch there.

The lower lobby to the Jefferson Hotel

Just about the time that David was born our friend and Pastor was leaving our church to pastor a church in Richmond. We didn't have the strong friendship with the new pastor and wanted to have Pastor John perform the dedication service for our son. So we made arrangements to hold the service at his church in Richmond and I am very glad we did. Everything about the weekend was lovely. The church was an old Baptist church with lots of character, Pastor John really did a wonderful job. Also Rich sang, after much choking up. We chose the song "I Want To Be Just Like You" by Phillips, Craig and Dean. As you can see by the lyrics this is a wonderfully fitting song for a baby dedication, since as parents we are really dedicating ourselves in raising this child for the Lord. Even the line in the song about a bear named Pooh was very appropriate, since we had decorated his room as the Hundred Acre Woods.

I Want To Be Just Like You

Phillips, Craig & Dean
He climbs in my lap for a goodnight hug
He calls me Dad and I call him Bub
With his faded old pillow and a bear named Pooh
He snuggles up close and says, "I want to be like you"
I tuck him in bed and I kiss him goodnight
Trippin' over the toys as I turn out the light
And I whisper a prayer that someday he'll see
He's got a father in God 'cause he's seen Jesus in me

Lord, I want to be just like You
'Cause he wants to be just like me
I want to be a holy example
For his innocent eyes to see
Help me be a living Bible, Lord
That my little boy can read
I want to be just like You
'Cause he wants to be like me

I've got to admit I've got so far to go
Make so many mistakes and I'm sure that You know
Sometimes it seems no matter how hard I try
With all the pressures in life I just can't get it all right
But I'm trying so hard to learn from the best
Being patient and kind, filled with Your tenderness
'Cause I know that he'll learn from the things that he sees
And the Jesus he finds will be the Jesus in me

Right now from where he stands I may seem mighty tall
But it's only 'cause I'm learning from the best Father of them all

Upper lobby of the Jefferson Hotel

Following the service we had made arrangements at The Jefferson for brunch for our guests. This was our thank you since our guests had traveled the hour and a half to participate in our special day. The food was first rate. For Sunday brunches they clear out the lower lobby and along the sides have tables set up with chefs that cook the food to your request. The staircase that leads from the upper and lower lobbies was one of the staircases that was used as the inspiration for the famous scene of Rhett and Scarlett's house in Gone With The Wind.

We spent that night at the hotel and found the accomodations in the guest suites were as elegant and inviting as the lobbies below.

Anyone visiting the Richmond area should include a stay at The Jefferson. Since the hotel is right in the heart of Richmond there are many sights that are within walking distance.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Offerings of Love

Great Kisses
My men gave me some wonderful gifts. My husband started the day by giving me the book Great Kisses...and Famous Lines Right Out of the Movies. The author had the kind of job we would all love to have, watching romantic movies to find the 50 best movie kisses accompanied by dialogue that sets our hearts a flutter.

My son and his freshly-chopped wood
My son huddled with my husband and then they both headed outdoors. About a half hour later I was lead outside with eyes firmly covered. To my amazement my son had been chopping wood for a fire, since he knows I love to cuddle in front of a warm fire. Now that was a labor of love. As I finished cooking dinner, David came into the kitchen and took a page from Mom's book by setting the candles in the middle of the table so we could have a romantic atmosphere.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Til Death Do Us Part – Rich and Kim

Up until now all the couples I have featured have been married until the death of one of the partners. Today I break that rule, since today is Valentine's day I wanted to tell the story of how I met and married my husband, Rich.

When I was in first grade we moved into a new home, after we had been there a few months, the pastor of a new church in the community invite us to visit his church. We had attended church when it was convenient, but church was never central in our lives. My mother was the one to take us, while my father was openly critical about Christians and churches. We would go to church if my father was golfing, working or at a football game. My mother decided to visit this church we had been invited to one Sunday and this decision would change not only the spiritual aspect of my life, but also I would meet my husband there.

My mother began to take us more regularly, but we still attended only Sunday school and Sunday morning services. During the morning services the church had junior church for elementary school age children. The service included all the elements of the regular church service—we sang hymns, prayed and had a lesson. During the services I was appalled by the behavior of the pastor's son Richie and his best friend Rob, they would blow spit wads at the deacon who was praying and had a tendency to laugh and talk during the service. Richie always seemed to be at the center of any disruption. (He would dispute all of this—but I have a better memory than he does.)

As I got older we still attended only the Sunday morning service, never attending any AWANA or youth functions, since this was the time my father tended to be home. I began to date boys at school but never the boys at church, since the kids in the youth group tended to date each other.

Unbeknownst to me, the Pastor's son had asked my brother if I was dating anyone and being an observent brother, he responded, "I don't know." So Richie dated other girls and I dated other guys. It seemed that one of us was dating someone when the other was interested. So it never worked out.

Our wedding - looking to the future
Richie went off to college at Baptist Bible College, while I stayed at home completing school. During the summer after Richie's freshmen year, his best friend Rob was killed in a freak car accident. This was devestating to the entire church. Rob had grown to be a much-loved young man in the church. When Richie returned to college that fall he continued to have issues with many of the school's rules. At the end of his third year of college he decided not to return.

The time was ripe for both of us. I had broken up with a boyfriend that I had dated for two years, one that I knew if I stayed with I would end up marrying and end up miserable ever after. He didn't hold the same values on family and life as I did. I wanted children and he wasn't very keen on them. He was very jealous and resentful of anytime I was not with him. He was very cheap—if he could buy a pot for 10 cents cheaper with the handle on the lid broken, that was the pot he wanted. Of course, it would take more than 10 cents to fix the pot, but that was fine with him.

Our mothers had been trying to gently throw Richie and me together for years and had finally given up—hint, hint: to all meddling mothers. We started going out as friends, having fun while many of our friends were either at college or getting married. Our love slowly blossomed, our first date was "Snow White and the Seven Drawfs," which we had to drive to a town 15 miles away to see. Richie's parents did not believe in movies, so we didn't want anyone to see us and report back to them. We had our first kiss in the steeple of the church we grew up in.

Immediately after the wedding
The following February 10th, six months after we began to date, unbeknownst to me, Rich had called my Dad to ask his permission to marry me. My mother knew what was going on when my father sat in his chair after saying "yes" and was still holding the phone when Rich got there to take me out. The only thing my father said after I left was "I bet she'll say 'no.'" Now don't get me wrong, it's not that my father didn't like Rich, he just wasn't ready to let go of his little girl. Rich took me to Blackie's House of Beef and was planning on proposing to me there, but chickened out. So we went parking in a church parking lot. Rich asked me then. Right after I said yes, a police officer pulled up to see what we were doing. We decided on a May wedding day, but set it for the following year. This would allow my father time to get used to the idea and time to plan.

Shortly after we got engaged, Rich's older sister also got engaged. Their parents thought it might be a good idea to have a double wedding. The only problem was she wanted a wedding at the park, playing volleyball at the reception. She didn't want attendents, a wedding cake, a wedding dress or even to wear shoes. Now if you know me, I am a traditional person and wanted just the opposite for my wedding—can you belive it, I wanted to wear shoes!

The wedding dress was a major problem. For some reason they don't make dresses for women who are 4'11" and weigh 80 pounds (that was almost 22 years ago and many pounds ago.) So we had to find a seamstress to make a dress for me. Since Rich's father was the founding pastor of the church we would have many wedding guests and lots of food to arrange. One of the ladies of the church offered to do all the catering.

Husband & Wife
The week before the wedding, Rich was sick, not a good omen. Two days before the wedding Rich gave me my first wedding gift—his sickness. The night before the wedding I could hardly talk. The day of the wedding I could hardly talk. Our honeymoon night I could hardly talk, I think he was hoping that would last throughout our marriage but I have actually tried to make up for it since.

We flew to the Virgin Islands the morning following our wedding. Right when I got over my husband's gift of illness, Rich got so sunburned he couldn't move for two days. I think we were just trying to get all the "in sickness" part of our vows out of the way.

When we have spoken to people who knew us then, many have been surprised that we are still together. Since Rich and I have very different personalities they felt that it would never last. The funny part is that due to each of our strengths and weaknesses we find that we need the balance the other gives us.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Bedroom Window Dress Up


After decorating most of our bedroom I have not been happy with the unfinished look of the window treatments. I didn't want something heavy looking or too frilly. So after looking around and not finding anything that fit the bill I decided I needed to make up my own topper.

What I did was very easy and inexpensive. I took some thin branches, tied them together with some floral wire towards the middle. I then hot-glued flowers and a few leaves that matched the colors in our room. I used large binder clips to attach them onto the curtain rod. I only used one bunch of the flowers to complete both window treatments. They will be easy to take down if I ever choose to change the colors or the style of the room.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Til Death Do Us Part

I hope you have enjoyed meeting and learning from the couples in my series as much as I have. It has been interesting to me that all these women have the attributes of the Titus 2:5 woman "to be self controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." The all were intellegent woman, using their wisdom to further the causes they believed in. The husbands were strong enough to let their wives shine. All the husbands and wives worked hard to make their marriages work, often in circumstances that would test them beyond anything we will experience in our lives.
Since tomorrow is valentine's day I will be featuring the love story between Rich and myself. No, I wouldn't put us in the same catagory as the people I've featured, but since I haven't told our love story before I thought this would be a great time to tell our love story.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Weary and Worn Down

David - rock climbing
As mothers we all have those times when we are so worn down by the demands that are required of us. This past weekend found me worn down and weary.

We went on a beautiful walk together Saturday morning. Before going, David was excited about the walk, but once we got home David griped that he hadn't really wanted to go and had a miserable time. As you can tell by the picture, he really did have a great time. The problem started when we were leaving and he wanted to "look" at puppies at the shelter. I said we could look, but we were not getting one and he was not to even ask when we got there. "Never mind" was his response. The attitude continued all evening.

But, hope springs eternal and Sunday morning we expected the best. But David had decided that since he's "13" he was a teenager he should be allowed to stay home from church if he wished. Since he won't be 13 until May that didn't fly; we also feel that as long as he's in our home he will attend unless there is an illness. He continued his "I don't want to be here" attitude and actions well into the service. Once the service began he tried to ruin his shirt (to have to go home to change), he wouldn't stand for the singing and then tried to embarrass me into taking him home

By the time I could get Rich's attention, I was upset that David would be willing to hurt me just to get to go home and play. I ended up leaving the service, while Rich stayed with David through to the end of the service. We have often been told that when we are consistant and don't let him win he will stop the bad behavior. Since we have not allowed him to stay home due to bad behavior for the last seven years it should kick in any day now.

We have some wonderful friends who checked up on me following the service. The out-stretching of their friendship helped me make it to the Ladies party (since all I felt like doing was licking my wounds.)

I woke up the following morning at 4am, unable to get back to sleep. I spent the next 30 to 40 minutes in prayer about this. Thanking God that we have friends who see David's issues and are not judgmental, praying for the healing of the damage done to David's brain due to his in utero exposure to drugs (we have been told there have been cases that the brain repaired the damage itself during growth spurts, such as at puberty) and also praying for wisdom for myself and Rich.

Til Death Do We Part – King Ahasuerus/Queen Esther

Queen Esther in front of King Ahasuerus
The marriage of King Ahasuerus and Queen Esther is the basis of the wonderful movie "One Night With The King." Often Christian films tend to be of poor quality—the acting, the sets—but this movie was a feast for the senses. I love the fact that they kept to the Biblical account.

King Ahasuerus (also known as Xerxes) had a wife named Vashti. At a time of feasts she held her own and when her husband ordered a royal comand to appear at his banquet she refused. This enraged the King because this was a public humilitation. It was decided that Queen Vashti would never be allowed to appear before the King, and she would be replaced.

Hadassah, a young Jewish girl being raised by her Uncle Mordecei was gathered with the other virgins in the area to be brought before the King. Mordecei had instructed Hadassah to change her name to Esther to hide the fact that she was a Jew. She was chosen, among the other women, to be brought to the palace to replace Queen Vashti.

Queen Esther from "One Night With the King"
During this time a man named Haman, a high official, was filled with fury when Mordecei wouldn't bow down to him. Haman used his hate to plot against the Jews. Haman convinced the King to decree that all Jews were to be killed.

Queen Esther was asked by Mordecei to speak to the King about the decree and save her people. Queen Esther took a mighty big gamble—she appeared before the King without her presence being commanded. But, Esther found favor in his sight. When the King asked what she wanted, she asked that he come back to another feast the next day. At the second feast she made her request—that he save her people, the Jews.

The King honored her request by allowing the Jews to defend themselves. Esther exposed the wickedness of Haman and was granted his property. The gallows that Haman had built for Mordecei was used to hang Haman himself.

Queen Esther's love for her people helped her find love with her King.

Here's the trailer (you've got to see this movie):

Monday, February 11, 2008

Til Death Do Us Part – The Blacks

Curly Top
I remember sitting with my father and watching Shirley Temple movies on Sunday mornings. "Curly Top," as she was called, made movies during the Great Depression, making $15,000 a week in 1936 while filming "Poor Little Rich Girl." But for an hour or so she would take her audiences away from their own troubles and they would be immersed in the troubles of "The Little Princess" or one of her other films. "The Little Princess" was always my favorite; I've never failed to cry, no matter how many times I have seen the movie.

Shirley Temple was born on April 23, 1928, in California. In 1933, she was signed to a contract with the studio now known as 20th Century Fox. Even at the age of 5 she was known for always memorizing her lines and dance routines.

Shirley Temple Gets Married
Shirley married John Agar on September 19, 1945. They would have one daughter together but the marriage would end in divorce.

In 1950 Shirley took a vacation to Hawaii that changed her life. There she met Charles Black at a party. Charles was 31 years old veteran of the war in the Pacific. He was also a desendant of John Alden—a Mayflower pilgrim. They married in December, 1950, in California. Charles and Shirley had a son and daughter together. Susan, Shirley's daughter from her first marriage, would later change her name to Black.

In 1969 Shirley was named a member of the US delegation to the UN. She was then appointed Ambassodor to Ghana in 1974. In 1976 Shirley was the first woman to become Chief of Protocol. Their son has said that Shirley and Charles "didn't sleep apart from each other for more than a couple of days. They adored each other" throughout the more than 50 years they were together.

Following her husband's death in 2005, Shirley said: "He was the love of my life."

Ladies Party

Sunday all the ladies of the church that particpated in the "Secret Sisters" gathered to exchange gifts and to reveal whose name they had this past year. This was also a time to thank the person who had prayed and left little gifts at the church library for us. Some had already guessed the person who had their name, while others of us had no clue. We had a fun time of fellowship and, of course, food. For a few of us, this was the first year to participate, while others like Peg Hunt (shown in the photos) have been partcipating since the church started this ministry.

Peg and Emily checking out some gifts
In the next few weeks we will start the new Secret Sister year and will pick new names. I love learning about another lady in the church, praying for her, and leaving her little gifts. I would encourage any of the ladies who have not participated to prayerfully consider becoming a part of this ministry. The leaders include a list of all the ladies' birthdays who are involved. I have enjoyed sending cards to some of these ladies for their birthday, even though they weren't the person I had for my Secret Sister.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Song of Solomon 1:2

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A Loving Gift

Tomorrow is our church's Secret Sister party. This is where according to the bulletin we "reveal all." Okay, I hope not all. This is the first year I have participated in the Secret Sister program at this church so I wanted to make sure I was following tradition. I was told many give a gift to the person who has been their Secret Sister for the year and also a finally gift for the person whose name they had.

However, since we also have Valentines' day, a baby shower, and a wedding this month, I didn't want to go to great expense. Besides, that's not the purpose of being a Secret Sister, it's more prayer and getting to know each other better. So I got a set of two Valentine's linen towels at Wal-mart, a "love" bowl and plate along with some pink raffia in the gift wrapping section at Target, and finally two bags of Dove candies which were on sale (and I had a coupon)at CVS. I made both of my gifts for a total of under $12.00, not bad. I hope they enjoy their gifts. I can't wait to find out who had my name—I haven't a clue.

Til Death Do Us Part- The Lees

Being a proud Virginian I had to write about this couple.

Stratford Hall
My grandfather was named Robert Lee Williams (my grandmother's middle name was also Lee)after the Southern Gentleman's General, Robert E. Lee. We have also visited Robert E. Lee's birthplace, Stratford Hall, often on July 4th, followed by a trip to pick berries at Westmoreland Berry Farm. If you have ever seen "The Patriot" the beautiful home in the background as the ship explodes in the harbor is Stratford Hall.

Mary Anna Randolph Custis was the great-granddaughter of our very first First Lady Martha Washington. Born on October 1, 1808, Mary was the only surviving child of her parents Washington and Mary Custis. Mary's parents were opposed to slavery, however, they owned slaves and allowed Mary to play with the children of slaves. The Custises were concerned that freeing their slaves without the slaves being able to read or write would result in their inability to support themselves. Mary's mother set up a Sunday School and began educating their slaves, something that Mary herself would do in later years.

Mary Custis-Lee
Mary had known Robert E. Lee since childhood. The two grew closer after Robert received a West Point appointment. Mary timed a visit to a relative when she knew that Robert would also be visiting. Mary realized at this time that she loved him. After Robert graduated second in his class from West Point in 1829 he asked Mary to marry him. During their courtship they exchanged many letters, which Mary shared with her mother. When Robert found this out he wasn't pleased that his intimate thoughts had been shared. Mary respected Robert's wish and no longer showed their letters to anyone.

The Lee-Custis wedding scheduled for June 30, 1831, almost didn't occur. Mary became gravely ill and was not expected to live. She slowly began to recover and eventually was able to be married. During their honeymoon Mary again fell ill, this time recovering even more slowly. Her strength never returned in full. In spite of her illness Mary and Robert had seven children.

During the War Between the States (remember I am a Southerner) when writing to her husband she included a pair of hand-knitted socks (for Mary, knitting was a very painful task.)
Mary inherited her parents' house in Arlington, Virginia, however due to the war Robert secured her safety into Confederate territory. In 1864 the property taxes became delinquent and the property was to be put up for auction. When the Lee's had tried to pay the taxes before they were due, the government refused to accept the payment saying that the owner had to pay in person (Mary was ill at the time and they knew she couldn't make the trip and wouldn't they have loved to have the wife of the commanding general of the enemy in their grasp?) The government finally bought the property themselves for $26,800. In 1865 while residents were fleeing the Yankees as they threatened to invade Richmond, Mary and her daughters prepared to defend themselves. Mary refused the ambulance that Union General Weitzel sent to deliver them to safety.

Robert E. Lee
During the occupation a Union sentry was placed at her house for her safety. This was where she heard the cannon fire marking the surrender of the War. Six days later her Robert returned to her.

She petitioned the government for the return of her property. President Andrew Johnson authorized the return of all her property, however Congress felt the property of "The Father of the Country" belonged to the people and didn't belong to one person.

Mary and Robert found joy sitting on the porch and enjoying the beauty. Robert's health began to slowly decline. When he became ill, Mary stayed at his bedside until he passed away. Due to her own illness she was not able to attend his funeral. She instead stayed home and re-read the letters he had sent during their life together.
In 1901 her family property was finally returned to her heirs by President McKinley.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Give Me A Break

Our son–Mr. Energy!
Our son David's one-on-one specialist was out for the last two weeks due to her husband's back surgery. David's substitute was a man with much experience with children—being a principal, very physically, and he practices karate. But at the end of the first week he told us his wife was amazed since she had never seen him come home so tired. He would be ready for bed by 9:00 pm. At the end of the second week he stated he really enjoys being with David, but is still amazed by his energy.

This week David came home following the return of his one-on-one and informed us they had decided that they would be alternating days. Ms. Robin would be with him on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and Mr Meredith would be with him on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We asked if this was due to Ms. Robin's husband needing her, but we had to laugh when he stated that no her husband was doing well but that they both needed to have a break from him since he has too much energy.

No truer words were ever spoken. David was not offended and took this in good humor.

Til Death Do Us Part – The Thatchers

As America faces the possibility of the first woman president I find it humorous that the liberal press will say that conservatives would not vote for a woman. As a conservative I find this so way off the mark, I would gladly vote for the right woman. During the "Reagan years," Britian had a woman who held the office of Prime Minister for 11 years. Most conservative Americans would fully support a woman who has as strong a character and who yet retained her old-fashioned feminity.

Margaret Roberts was born in 1925 in a small town in Britain. During her early years, much of the time Margaret spent in the local Methodist church with her family. She won a place at Oxford studing chemistry. Because of her interest in politics, encouraged by her father, she was elected president of the student Conservative Association at Oxford. By her mid-20s she was elected for a Labour seat of Dartford.

Margaret Thatcher
She met her husband in Dartford. Denis Thatcher was running his family business. Margaret and Denis were married in 1951 and went on to have twins—a son and daughter—in 1953. Denis was the head of the household, it was his income that supported Margaret and their children. Margaret has said "he was a fund of shrewd advice and penetrating comment. And he very sensibly saved these for me rather than the outside world." She also credited him with her success, "I could never have been prime minister for more than eleven years without Denis by my side."

After more than 50 years of marriage Denis died in June 2003.

I love this quote from Margaret Thatcher: "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't." Margaret showed the world a woman could be both, strong and still a lady.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Buyer Beware

As I read others blogs I notice that many writers are preparing their homes to sell. I just wanted to warn others of an experience that we learned the hard way. After selling our first starter home we looked forward to buying a new, larger home. My mother worked for a bank and we had checked out the builder with the mortgage department. Our contract stated that our deposit was to be held in escrow. After signing the contract we watched the house being built and documented it step-by-step in pictures. Just before the drywall went up we had the wires run so that we could have stereo and surround sound throughout the house with no ugly wires.

We scheduled the delivery of our new washer and dryer, scheduled our time off from work with just two weeks to go before closing day. Up until just 10 days before closing, work had been steady with progress at each visit. This was the last of the work that would be done on what we thought would be our new home. One week before closing we visited to find no work done—all that remained to be done was the laying of carpet and flooring.

We contacted the builder and were told they had to complete another home and we would be closing in another two weeks. I still got nervous and after speaking with my mother she checked with her contact—no problems were connected to this builder. Another week passed with no work; now I was very nervous. That was when my mother heard the builder was having money issues and talk was beginning to circulate about bankruptcy.

We went to the office of the president of the company that built the house. He assured us they would not be filing bankruptcy. We went to a real estate attorney and were told that Virginia is not truly an escrow state. We showed him where on our contract it stated escrow, he said that just meant the money was being held, but not in our name, and if the builder needed it to pay contracters that was legal. We were also shown a line on the contract that stated that the builder could transfer the contract to someone else and that they had up to two years from the date of the contract for them to complete the contract.

These two issues meant that Virginia gives any contractor first dibs on the deposit. And we may have to wait two years to find out if we have a house and at the end we may have no house and no money.

What we should have done was made the contract with the escrow being kept under our name so the builder could not touch it. Some builders may not agree to this, but we will never go into a contract without this stipulation. We will also spend the few hundred dollars it takes to have an attorney look over the contract before we sign anything.

We would have loved to spend even $500.00 to have saved the over $13,000.00 that was lost permantely to us.

I know most people will think, I've never heard of this and it probably doesn't happen often. It is true that it doesn't happen with most house sales, but we were not the only buyers in this community to have lost. There were more than 20 homes that had been sold and were being built. The builder still had shop set up at the model home well into the time that no work was being done on the homes.

It still upsets us that the law allows this to happen to families. But, we do have a sense of humor about it—we say we should have known since the house was located on Titanic Lane.

Til Death Do Us Part – Ranier and Grace Grimaldi

I have to admit I love a good fairy tale. But unlike Disney's "happy ever after," this fairy tale had a rocky start with two people who had to work hard at their relationship after the wedding. I also love the elegance and class of Princess Grace.

Prince Ranier & Princess Grace
The fairy tale would begin on May 1955 when American 26-year-old Grace Kelly attended the Cannes Film Festival. A French magazine thought it would be good press for her to meet the dashing Prince Ranier from the small principality of Monaco. At the height of her acting career she announced her engagement to the prince. On April 4, 1956, Grace set sail from New York aboard the S.S. Constitution bound for Monaco.

On April 18, 1956, in a civil ceremony she became Princess of Monaco and the following day the marriage was given a religious blessing at a ceremony in Monaco’s St. Nicholas Cathedral.

The early years of their marriage were difficult ones. She found it difficult adjusting to her new role as wife to a man used to having his own way and a country that had certain expectations of their new princess. He found it difficult to understand his independent wife. Prince Ranier would tell a reporter "So the Princess and I have always tried to minimize any sort of incident or little disagreement between us in the interest of keeping the family together—so that the children should not suffer."

Grace found a way to incorporate her own interests into her work as Princess to benefit the Monegasques. Ranier worked at meeting the needs of his wife and allowed his wife to spend the time she needed with her family.

After much work (from both of them) they found the love that only hard work and hard times could produce. Ten years into their marriage Princess Grace would say "Marriage is not an end in itself. It takes a lot to make it work."

Formal portrait
In Septmber of 1982 in a conversation with her sister, Grace explained she needed to get back to the Prince. Her sister told her "Don't you think he can survive for a few weeks without you?" Grace replied "No, I know what he needs. He needs me." On September 13th Grace left their country home to return to the palace. On her way, Grace missed a turn on the road, sending her car over a cliff. The injuries would result in her death.

Prince Ranier's grief at Grace's funeral was visible for all to see. He never seemed to recover from her death, at state occassions he seemed to be a shell of his former self. In the formal portraits of the Prince you see the Princess' portrait always in the background.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Til Death Do Us Part – The Johnsons

You might say that I grew up in the backyard of this love story. I was born on Main Street, Greeneville, Tennessee. This happened to be on the opposite end of the street to this couple's home. My first home looked into the backyard of this couple's home. So I grew up visiting their home which is now a Historical Site and I heard their story from their decendants.

Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was born on December 29, 1808, into poverty. His parents were illiterate tavern servants. Andrew's father died when he was three years old. He became a tailor's apprentice at the age of 14. At 17 he moved to Greeneville, Tennessee. He met Eliza McCardle, who though being the daughter of immigrant shoemakers was sent to Rhea (pronounced ray) Academy where she learned to read and write. In 1827 they were married. Eliza taught Andrew to read, write, and to do simple math—encourging his speaking ability and his interest in local politics. She helped prepare his speeches and managed their investments and real estate.

Eliza Johnson
As Andrew rose in local politics, the country was about to enter into the war that would divide the nation. When Abraham Lincoln was assissinated it was Andrew Johnson who would take over the presidency. Eliza could be heard telling reporters "I am an invalid," however, those in the White House knew that even though physically the war had worn her down, her mind was as sharp as ever. Colonel Crook described Eliza "as a woman of far more than usual power... but absolutely inflexible when it came to a matter of principal." Their marriage "seemed as two souls and minds merged as one" was a statement heard by an observer at the time.

When Andrew was brought up on impeachment charges she stood steadfast with him. He was tried by the Senate in the spring of 1868 and aquitted by one vote, Eliza's response was "I knew he'd be aquitted, I knew it." They returned to Tennessee where he was voted to the Senate in 1875. Andrew died a few months later. Eliza would die just six months after that.

Andrew achieved the highest office in our country, rising from an illiterate tailor to the presidency. He could not have achieved this without a strong wife by his side. As we hold presidental elections this year, I wonder if we wouldn't be better off with a tailor who has character than with lawyers and professional politicians.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Worldwide Election?

My husband received the following message on his Facebook from his sister. His sister and brother-in-law have been missionaries to Bangladesh for the last 20 years, so Facebook is one of the easiest ways to stay in touch.

We keep reading up on presidential election stuff. One good article (from Singapore) pointed out that the US president so thoroughly affects the whole world that the world should get to vote. It's not fair that only Americans vote (since that's thoroughly UN-democratic!) Interesting thought- and hey, it's accurate. The world is naturally concerned.

We are glad that they have a love for the people they are trying to reach, but we are very concerned about this statement. Remembering that Bangladesh is Islamic, would we as Americans really want them to have a vote when they clearly don't want us involved in the running of their government. Even when we looked into adopting a Bengali child we were not allowed because you must be Muslim in order for their government to allow it.

The bigger issue I am concerned with is whether or not the missionaries we as Christians support are willing to allow non-Christian people to decided our future. Many of these nations and peoples feel that we Christians deserve to die for not converting to their religion. Maybe since my sister-in-law and her husband were not here on 9/11 they don't understand what we went through following those harrowing events.

I remember clearly working at a preschool less than 5 miles from Quantico Marine Corp base, with children whose parents had to head to the Pentagon after the plane plowed into it. I remember clearly having to answer the phones as the parents called in to check on their children, not knowing when they would be able to make it home because portions of the highway had been closed to allow official government vehicles quick access to the capitol city. I remember clearly looking for information on the internet on what was happening while trying to contact my mother to find out if she had heard from my father, who worked at the Pentagon (we were not able to get a message from him until well after 3pm) I remember clearly taking my son past the burned out and still smoking side of the Pentagon the following Saturday and showing him the evidence of the hatred of others in the name of their god.

I for one don't care if it's fair that others don't vote in our elections, I don't vote in their elections, so as far as I'm concerned, it is fair. The people she wants to vote don't pay taxes and don't have to deal with the laws that would be enacted if they participated in our elections.

I think that if missionaries feel this strongly about the nation they are serving in perhaps they should renounce their American citizenships and stop taking American money. In fact, I'd be glad to vote for that.

Til Death Do Us Part – The Stewarts

I have always loved Jimmy Stewart—it's ok my husband knows this and totally understands. When I saw Jimmy at events with his wife Gloria I was always impressed by the way he treated her as if she were the celebrity—beaming. You could feel the love that passed between them. Jimmy was the best of what America represents. The innocence of "Harvey" or the honest man fighting against the big guys for what was right in "It's a Wonderful life" or "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" make him my favorite actor.

Jimmy & Gloria Stewart
After returning home from filming a movie in 1948 Jimmy found the woman who would hold his heart even after her death. They married on August 9, 1949, at a church that Jimmy helped to fund, Brentwood Presbyterian Church. He gained not only a wife, but also became dad to her two sons. In an industry that thrives on scandal and sensation there was never any scandal attached to their marriage. Gloria once said "I can honestly say that in all the years we've been married, Jimmy never once gave me cause for anxiety or jealousy. The more glamorous the leading lady he was starring opposite, the more attentive he's been to me. His consideration was incredible and one of the reasons our marriage has lasted so long and is still so good."

The Stewarts went on to have twin girls to complete their family.

The death of Gloria in 1994 devestated Jimmy. He rarely left his bedroom, turning away visitors and ending contact with friends. When Jimmy died in 1997 more than 3,000 people showed up at his funeral to pay their respects.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Fellowship

Last year our church began a tradition of having a Super Bowl fellowship. It's great to be able to watch the game with your family in a clean, safe enviroment. The area we get together in has a room with ping pong tables, air hockey and Ms. Pac-Man. The kids can usually keep themselves occupied with minimal supervision allowing the parents to enjoy the game and fellowship together.

Don't let the picture fool you, this was taken during the whole five minutes that David sat and watched the game. We left at halftime, along with several families, to get David in bed for school the next day.

When Rich and I were dating we went to a Super Bowl together—24 years ago. We stayed at his grandmother's house, with his father acting as a chaperone on the drive down. We will never forget the excitement and energy that surrounded that week. We traveled to Tampa, Florida, the week before the big game so that we could have some fun in the sun. We missed Virginia's snow and sleet by just a couple of hours. When we got to Florida we found that the federal government in Washingtin, D.C., had shut down due to the snow. It's a good thing that we had our fun before the game, since our team (the Redskins) lost BIG! The Redskins were tromped by the Raiders 38 to 9.

Everyone should have the chance to experience this once in their life. Since my father was a season ticket holder for most of my life I had attended countless Redskin games and many play-offs, but nothing compares with a Super Bowl.

Til Death Do Us Part—The Grahams

The next couple whose love lasted a lifetime is Ruth and Billy Graham. The time they shared together would have been so precious, because much of their marriage he traveled around the world with his ministry.

Ruth & Billy Graham
Their love story began at Wheaton College in 1937 when Ruth was introduced to "Preacher" as Billy was so apply named. As things became serious between the two, there was a struggle within Ruth, who thought she was called to the mission field as her parents had been. After much prayer Ruth came to realize that her calling was to join Billy in his desire to evangelize. On August 13, 1943, after Ruth graduated from Wheaton, the two were married in North Carolina.

During the long absenses from each other Ruth didn't just raise their children, she began her own ministry, which included writing many books. She valued her role as the woman behind "America's Pastor." "Ruth and I don’t have a perfect marriage, but we have a great one," Billy said, "For a married couple to expect perfection in each other is unrealistic."

In the mountains
As they grew older and their health started to deteriorate they spent more time together in the mountains of North Carolina. Billy along with their five children were at Ruth's side when she passed away on June 14, 2007. Following Ruth's death Billy said "I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth, and especially for these last few years we've had in the mountains together. We've rekindled the romance of our youth, and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day. I will miss her terribly, and look forward even more to the day I can join her in Heaven."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Song of Solomon 5:16

His mouth is most sweet,

and he is altogether desirable.

This is my beloved and this is my friend,

O, daughters of Jerusalem.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Til Death Do Us Part – The Nelsons

The second couple I am highlighting this month is Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. Before my time, they became the example of what was best about America and family life when their entire family starred in The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet.

Their story began in 1932 when Ozzie Nelson caught Harriet Hillard's singing act at the Hollywood Restaurant. Ozzie knew this was what Ozzie Nelson and His Orchestra needed, so he approached her about joining him.

Harriet was earning more on her own than what she would earn by joining him. But, a wise friend suggested that she try it out for the summer. The summer turned into two years, but with no romance. But with the same hard working values—Harriet supporting her mother and Ozzie helping to put a younger brother through school—they found a friendship that developed into love. But, when Ozzie asked Harriet to marry him she refused the first few times. She finally was ready to accept him in August of 1935.

Ozzie and Harriet Nelson
Ozzie couldn't afford an engagement ring, but they were married in a simple ceremony at her mother's apartment in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Ozzie and Harriet with their two sons portraited themselves on television from 1952 to 1966.

Ozzie died on June 3, 1975 from cancer, Harriet continued to act until her death on October 2, 1994 of heart failure.

Perhaps one of the reasons this marriage lasted had something to do with what Harriet was quoted as saying, "Forgive all who have offended you, not for them, but for yourself."

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Sense of Humor

Being Dead Is No Excuse
I love cookbooks, in fact I had to have a long shelf put up in my kitchen to house some of my collection and I still can't fit them all up there. So one day when we were out and about and exploring a quaint little shop I found a wonderful little book with the intriguing title of Being Dead Is No Excuse -The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting The Perfect Funeral by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays. I just had to pick it up and see if the contents of the book was as entertaining as the title, I am pleased to say it is. There are tasteful traditional southern recipes, but also traditions that are followed when one is hosting a funeral in the south. The writers' ability to bring the characters to life in their storytelling made me feel like I knew them.

There are also tidbits of wisdom in this little book, such as "When planning or attending a funeral, one of the things to keep in mind is: Unlike the dead person, you will awaken and rise in the morning. You don't want to have been so bad you wish you could switch places with the deceased." They also explain the need of polishing the silver is not only to ensure that it sparkles for the reception, but it also serves as a southern woman's therapy.

Needless to say this little volume has joined the others on my shelf, however, instead of just seeing the spine, I have displayed it so all can read the title and get a chuckle. Even if you have never been south of the Mason-Dixon line you will find this a very amusing book.

Til Death Do Us Part – The Reagans

For the month of February I thought I would like to share some love stories of couples that lasted a lifetime. Marriage takes work and the couples I will highlight had the additional burden of having their lives examined before the eyes of the world.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan
The first couple that came to mind was Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Years before her husband showed signs of Alzheimers I was impressed by a response to a reporter when she was asked about marriage. She stated that marriage was not 50-50 as is the common thought, but that each partner had to commit to giving 100%, some days you may be required to give 80% while other times you may only be able to provide 10% to the relationship. The Reagans' love and devotion throughout the trials they endured is legendary.

"My life really began when I married my husband," said Nancy Reagan, who in the 1950s happily gave up an acting career for a permanent role as the wife of Ronald Reagan and mother to their children.

Nancy Davis was an actress whose name had mistakenly appeared on the mailing list of a Communist newspaper. “I was doing a picture for Mervin Leroy and I complained to him about it,” said Nancy. “And he said, ‘I know Ronald Reagan. And he’s the president of the Screen Actor’s Guild and he’ll be able to straighten out your problem.’” “At that point, I just wanted to meet Ronald Reagan,” she added. “He called. And he said, ‘You have a problem and we -- are you free for dinner tonight?’ Yes, I was free for dinner,” said Nancy, laughing. “And he said, ‘Well, I have to make it a very early dinner, because I have an early morning call.’ And I said, ‘That's all right. I have an early morning call, too.’ Neither one of us, of course, had an early morning call. So we went out to dinner."

She met Ronald Reagan in 1951. The following year they were married in a simple ceremony in Los Angeles in the Little Brown Church in the Valley. Mrs. Reagan soon retired from making movies so she "could be the wife I wanted to be ... A woman's real happiness and real fulfillment come from within the home with her husband and children," she says.

“For all the years we’ve been married, it’s been we, not you and I,” said Ronald Reagan. “It would be inconceivable for me to go my own way on something without her. And I think it would be the same with her.”

The First (Couple) Dance
She was also there as caregiver when Alzheimer's disease stole his memory. "I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience," Reagan wrote in his poignant November 1994 letter to the American people disclosing that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

When asked about the president during those declining years, Nancy said, "We've had an extraordinary life ... but the other side of the coin is that it makes it harder," she wrote in I Love You, Ronnie, "There are so many memories that I can no longer share, which makes it very difficult. When it comes right down to it, you're in it alone. Each day is different, and you get up, put one foot in front of the other, and go — and love; just love."

Ronald Reagan died on June 5, 2004. Toward the end of his life, Nancy proved she was willing to give the 100% she spoke about earlier in their marriage.