One thing at a time: Happy Halloween!

By Jeanne Reynolds

I was in a large national discount chain store that shall not be named but whose name rhymes with Stall-Wart a couple weeks ago. This was September, mind you – and what to my wondering eyes should appear but … well, not quite a miniature sleigh with eight tiny reindeer, but most of what goes along with that. Yes, Christmas decorations. Lots of them. In September.

C’mon, people. We haven’t even had Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving or even the end of Daylight Savings Time (or is it the beginning? Whichever one is “fall back”) yet. Can’t we reign in our reindeer just a tad?

So I’m focusing on Halloween today. One of my favorite Halloween memories was when I was nine years old and my grandmother made me a genie costume. The TV show “I Dream of Jeannie” was all the rage in those days, and my name is Jeanne, so I just had to have that costume.

I Dream of JeannieAnd boy, did I think I looked good in it. Picture Barbara Eden (eek, I just saw online that she’s 86 now – my mother’s age) … except as a chubby nine-year-old … and plain brown hair instead of blonde … and a sweatshirt on top of the whole thing because it was cooold that Halloween night, even in our northern California neighborhood. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) no photo evidence remains to show you what a great costume it was.

And it would probably be a great costume even today (although a tad tight and short on my current adult frame). Halloween is an incredibly popular adult holiday these days. Travel & Leisure magazine even has an article on the best Halloween events and festivals of the year. (Spoiler alert: Greenwich Village, New York and West Hollywood, California top the list. Won’t be making either of those.)

Franz & HansMaybe you yourself are one of those people who can’t wait to dress up as a sexy French maid or sexy vampire or sexy anything (do you sense a theme here?). Apparently you have plenty of company. Personally, I’ve always favored creative homemade costumes, like the time my husband I donned gray sweatsuits and stuffed the thighs and arms with newspaper ala Hans and Franz of Saturday Night Live fame. Didn’t cost a dime, plus it was a lot more comfortable than a sexy costume. The only thing I had to worry about falling out was some crumpled newspaper.

And then there’s the candy. There are two camps here: Those who buy just enough for the expected number of trick-or-treaters, and those who buy extra … you know, so there’ll be leftovers. Since I tend to buy cheap candy or varieties I wouldn’t eat (because I will), I fall in the first camp. So consider this fair warning: If you want those miniature Hershey’s bars or SweetTarts, head next door.

At least it’s better than my former neighbors, the retired Army dentists. Yep, toothbrushes and dental floss.

Happy Halloween, y’all!

 

 

Pink Power

By Eliza Boulware

Colors can have powerful meanings. I never thought just how powerful pink would be. As you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and pink is the color to represent breast cancer. I am a five-year survivor and my pink represents the power to fight against a disease that came to kill me.pink power photo

Cancer starts to form without any warnings or signs. It can grow slow or rapidly. It can start one place and then spread. Cancer is sneaky, so you must be aware of what can cause cancer, what treatments are available as well as how to fight. You must be aware the food you eat, how much sugar you intake and your weight. It is very important to know your body and to do self-examinations monthly. Early detection really does save lives, therefore the earlier you find it, the better chance you have of beating it. I found my tumor myself. I was diagnosed with stage 2 aggressive cancer. It had not spread so I was able to have surgery to have the tumor removed and then started treatment.

Now pink was not just a color any more but it now represents what I was fighting. There is power behind the color pink. It just not a color in October but an awareness to a disease and the people who had the power to fight it. It takes power to go outside with a bald head when once you had long beautiful hair. It takes power to not be ashamed when your body changes from losing weight or hands and feet turn black. Each person goes through a different experience but what is the same is the power within to fight cancer. So survivors, rock your pink. Family and friends wear pink not just to say breast cancer exists but as a testimony that we fight for a cure and honor the survivors. That pink is powerful not because breast cancer is powerful but because those who fought one round at a time had enough faith and power not to give up.

I gained power in sharing my story every chance I get. I cannot recall the author but it was a small book that said “Don’t waste your cancer”. I did not read the book but the title was enough for me. I had said from the beginning that God could heal me but if He allowed it to remain then what did He want me to do? Well, I was not going to waste it. I started a support group with the help of other survivors. I do all I can to help others as well as do a yearly celebration for any cancer survivors. I have my pink cape because I have pink power. The power lies within the person and it’s greater than the cancer. Don’t just wear pink, get the facts!

This and That

By Lisa Baker

This post is a little of this and a little of that.  My family and I celebrated my Dad’s 81st birthday this month.  We were able to use the family room at his facility to celebrate in.  All of his remaining siblings were able to come. He did not realize that it was his birthday so it was indeed a surprise.


We all had a good time visiting with Dad.  I made his favorite cake.  A Japanese fruit cake.  This is usually made as a layer cake.  To make it easier to carry I made it in a 9 by 13 pan as a single layer cake.  Dad gave me a wonderful compliment.  He said it was as good as his Mom’s.  Over the years I have often made this same cake for him.  Always he would tell me it’s not quite as good as his Mom’s.  So to me that was rewarding and a memory I’ll never forget.

Of course, during the celebration Dad kept saying that he wanted to pack up his things and go home with one of us when it was time to go.  We had to keep telling him to just hold on and enjoy your party.  We had to leave one at a time while whomever was left kept him busy talking.  It was a good day.

Now a little of that.  During the week leading up to Dads birthday we had some water issues at home.  I’m living in Mom and Dad’s house now.  We didn’t have hot water one night.  So, there I was trying to figure out what was wrong as well as who have they called in the past for water issues.  They are both at a point where if I had asked them I wouldn’t have gotten the answer.  I called my neighbor which is also my cousin and ask her who she used.  She was able to give me a name and number of a gentleman that proved to be honest and fair to help us out.  The problem was an easy fix.  But while he was here he was able to tell that we also had another issue brewing.  He was able to fix that as well.  It was more than we expected but keeps the second issue from becoming an emergent fix later on.  Now we have the name of an excellent plumber.

I’m starting a book with names and numbers for different things that need to be serviced at the house.  Just one more thing that you miss when you realize your parents both have dementia so you can’t rely on being able to ask them.

bookI’ve also finished reading a book that some of you may find very helpful.  The 36-Hour Day. By Nancy L. Mace, MA and Peter V. Rabin’s, MD, MPH. I got my copy online.  I think it cost me around $6.00 or so because it was a used copy. It’s a very good book.

Life is ever so full and ever so busy.  My parents both want each of us to visit every day for several hours each day.  They no longer fully understand that we also have to work and take care of our families as well.  I run out of hours.  I could use a 36-hour day in order to accomplish everything I need to do as well as spend time with each of them.

You start to feel very overwhelmed with everything.  Even with having them both in a facility they are constantly on my mind.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not doing something involving them, from visiting with them to paying bills.

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If you are dealing with dementia in any form with a loved one hang in there.  You are not alone.  Until next time!

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“Weight” It Out?

By Marianna Boyce

scaleWeight is an issue that most every woman deals with at some point in life.  As we age, it tends to find a way to hang on for dear life!  It seems that the determination to maintain a healthy weight and consistent exercise routine is now a thought bubble somewhere in the back of my mind.  That thought bubble is filled with excuses, but none better than “I just can’t because my entire body hurts!”  Although this is a very good excuse in my book, I still need to try and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Before widespread joint pain aggressively reared its ugly head throughout my body, I was happy and healthy at 135 pounds.  These unusual symptoms suddenly took complete control of my life within a time span of merely fourteen days.  Diet and exercise was no longer a priority.

saladIn the kitchen, I was unable to cut, chop, peel, slice and dice, so preparing healthy meals at home was placed on the back burner, (no pun intended).  Fresh fruits and veggies were definitely off the menu.  I couldn’t do anything that required fine motor skills and dexterity due to the incredible pain being experienced in most every bending bone in my body.  In my unwanted new season of life, take-out was my “go to” because that was truly the best I could do!

Also prior to my unfortunate situation, I enjoyed a good workout several times a week but my exercise routine was also stopped dead in its tracks.  My knees, feet and ankles were very swollen and in excruciating pain so I could barely walk, much less exercise!

In an instant, my life was yanked from peaceful tranquility, and tossed into a horrible abyss that I refer to as “my alternate universe.”  I eventually saw an amazing rheumatologist here at LMC.  He helped me regain a somewhat normal life.   Praise the Lord for that!  He is my hero!

With the upcoming holidays, the comfort foods we have all grown accustomed are filled with more calories than our bodies know what to do with on any given day!  I also have two family reunions to attend before the end of the year!  Lord have mercy!  I cannot “weight” any longer.  I have to do something about it now.  I keep saying I’m going to but my “motivation meter”  is not set on high like it used to be.

stretchingI need to lose 20 pounds.  What about you?  Whether we need to lose 10 pounds or 100 pounds, let’s not “weight” it out!  Hopefully by the time we ring in the new year, we will already be on course. The hardest part is simply getting started!  I’ll keep you posted on progress or slip ups along the way.  Maybe sharing this with you will help me in my motivation department!

Visit my personal website, myalternateuniverseonline.wordpress.com to read about trying to reignite my exercise routine in 2016.  This story took place before I knew what was wrong with me.  It’s aptly titled, “It’s Time To Exercise the Demons!”  (Its about the fifth blog post down on the website.)  I would love for you to check it out.  It’s actually quite comical.  I will go ahead and share with you…it was a complete failure!  Pray for better results this time!  I am definitely going to need it! 

 Best of luck to you if you are planning to join me!

Life After the Big D

By June Headley-Greenlaw

Statistics say that 40-50% of first marriages will end in divorce.  Unfortunately, I was part of that statistic.  I was married to the man I now jokingly refer to as my starter husband for nearly 20 years.  When that marriage expired, it was a very scary time in my life and the lives of my children.  I had been married since I was 20 years old and didn’t know what my identity would be outside of that marriage.  There was no abuse or anything else that you’d think would cause a divorce, we simply stopped loving each other the way married people should.

Our friends used to ask us how we had stayed married so long.  My then-husband used to reply that it was because we just never wanted a divorce at the same time.  It wasn’t because we never had hard times.  We did!  We were both going thru college while working and later raising children.  We struggled frequently.  We were both blessed with loving families and lots of friends.  We made it through – until we didn’t.  There just came the point in time when we no longer felt supported or loved by each other, and something told me it was time to start over.  I believed it was whispers from God.

I won’t tell you it was easy because that would be a big fat lie!  I moved into my best friend’s house for a few months and slept on what we now affectionately call “the divorce couch”.  She lived on the same street so the kids could walk back and forth.  I looked for a new home close to the one we owned so the kids, then 6 and 9, could be close to both of us.  I found one that was a foreclosure and needed a lot of work.  New carpet, new appliances, etc.  the house had 11 different colors on the walls from orange to black.  I vividly remember many friends and family members with rollers and brushes in their hands and my nearly 80-year-old Uncle taking up the carpet and hauling it outside.  But on Thanksgiving, all of those people had commitments.  Alone in this new empty house, I turned up the music and rolled and cried and rolled and cried.  The whole time praying that God would give me the strength to get through it and help me find a way to explain to my children that this was necessary.  I was determined to have a home IN ORDER by Christmas for the sake of my kids!

baby girl

Mom, baby girl child we share, Dad

I should tell you there were times when I thought my heart would just stop beating because it was so broken.  There were a lot of tears, sometimes anger, fear, and TONS of times when I questioned this decision.  Thankfully, my ex and I were both committed to not making this any worse than it had to be so we put on brave faces and marched thru the logistics of starting over.  We split the debt.  He kept the house with the equity, and I kept my retirement.  I took things from the house that he could easily live without and bought whatever else I needed.  On credit cards!  Ugh!  We even shared an attorney to keep costs down.  As divorces go, I think we might have had the cheapest one on the planet.  I strongly suggest that anyone going thru this think carefully before fighting.  The only people that win in these situations are the attorneys.  It’s much easier to buy new furniture than to hire a lawyer to fight over it.  You owe it to your kids not to sweat the small stuff.

boy child

Dad, boychild we share, Mom

We made about the same amount of money, and we shared custody, so neither of us paid child support.  We never argued over switching weeks or days with the kids for vacations, family events or other fun activities that might have fallen on the other person’s time.  We both wanted what was best for our children.  I’m very proud of the way we handled those years.

The divorce was final 17 months after we filed.  I would have bet when we split up that I

family

Bonus Mom, Dad, Baby Girl Child we share, Mom, Bonus Dad

would never remarry, but in a very short time, I met my do-over husband, and my affectionately called “wusband” met his do-over wife.  We were both remarried within five months of the divorce being final.  Those marriages are still going strong after ten years plus.  Fortunately, our kids were blessed with great “Bonus” parents and lots of new “Bonus” siblings.  I don’t use the word “step” because I think it insinuates some sort of distance between people.  A friend once told me that it’s always a bonus when you have another person to love you so we had a lot of bonuses in our new blended families!

While the statistics on second marriages are abysmal, we are all committed to beating those odds.  We have both thrived in our do-over marriages, and we still support our now college kids as a team.  All four of us!  I’m living proof that life after the Big D doesn’t have to be a horror show.  I credit my strong faith in God and a lot of commitment from all involved for carrying us thru such a challenging time.

 

On The Night You Were Born

By Kate Morrow

“On the night you were born, the moon shone with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, ‘Life will never be the same.’ Because there had never been anyone like you… ever in the world.” – Nancy Tillman

51kBche93SL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_This was the first book I ever bought for my babies. In fact, I purchased it before I even knew they would exist, around the time my husband and I started having trouble getting pregnant. I have always loved this book. The words are so beautiful, and it was my traditional gift to friends and family with new bundles of joy. I bought it to give me hope, to give me joy, and to give me the confidence I would be a mother one day.

When we found out we were pregnant, the book eventually got moved to the room that would become the nursery. It sat alone on an empty dresser for months until we finally started to decorate. The book eventually transitioned into the fashionable diaper bag my mom gave me as a congratulations gift. The diaper bag hung on the hook in their room because it was a part of my “hospital packing list” for the eventual night we would go check in and deliver our babies. I had big plans of a beautiful night with our twins, reading them this book, snuggling and settling in as a new family of four.

Except, it never happened. Or at least not the way I expected. Not the way I had planned.

In August 2017, when I went into labor, the nursery was not complete. The hospital bag was never packed. I was 23 weeks pregnant and it was totally unexpected to be in labor. I went into immediate bedrest and a mentality of “fight for survival”. Things like “what baby book to pack for the hospital” became secondary. They became non-existent.

In fact, when I went into actual labor at 28 weeks, my husband and I raced out of the house. I was in ugly pajamas. Hair had not been washed in three days. Needed a pedicure bad. There was no hospital bag packed full of beautiful clothes for me and my new babies. Because the night they were born, was not a night I could have ever imagined. Not ever.

When we drove to the hospital, I was still in denial that they could come early. I thought this whole thing was far-fetched and I would surely hold out until 35 weeks and I still had time to pack my bag and my book.

After 45 minutes in the Labor and Deliver Unit, they were coming. In a whirlwind. They were raced off to the NICU immediately after taking their first breath. Without Momma getting to hold them. Without Momma really knowing if they were truly okay.

I was wheeled back to my hospital room alone with my husband. I laid there in absolutely shock, awe and terror. “What just happened?” “Were they really just born?” I felt like they had been ripped from inside me and there was nothing I could do to protect them anymore. It was not the night I imagined. Not the night I had planned.

This is where our story truly began. There is so much more to our own personal story of “The Night They Were Born” that I cannot wait to share with you chapter by chapter during this coming year.

But let me spoil the ending. After 76 days in the NICU, Jack and Lilly came home. They came home on the week of Thanksgiving. I got to pack a bag full of their coming home outfits, special blankets, and our very special Nancy Tillman book when we discharged them from the NICU. The day they came home felt like the “Night I was Born” as a Momma.

On that night, we settled in at home. No NICU monitors, no wires. Just us snuggled in our bed. And I finally read to them:

“Jack and Lilly – on the night you were born,  the moon shone with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, ‘Life will never be the same.’ Because there had never been anyone like you… ever in the world.” 

 

Pie, oh My!

By Rhonda Woods

By the time you read this blog, it will have been nine months since my sweet husband was totally healed by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  January 4 was the day everything in my life changed.  As I write this blog, I struggle every day to accept he is not coming back.  These are the days of “rain” as is the code for “I feel like I am falling apart”.  I have sorrowfully and shamefully questioned God, His plans and my decision to return to teaching so soon.   I guess this is a natural part of the grieving process. It is hard to see even a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel, much less search for my purpose or happiness in my future.  My family, church family and friends are amazing support, but even they cannot fix the hole in my heart and the emptiness  I feel having lost my best friend soulmate of nearly 40 years.

Bent on my quest to update the house he built has, at times, taken its toll on my nerves and my OCD for cleaning any and all dust created.  My awesome contractor, Jonathan, who has become one of my sons, tolerates my constant cleaning.  The updating is beautiful and I know my sweet husband would be pleased with my decisions.  So, I ramble around this big house meant for a family of four or more with our two dogs, who look at me with questioning eyes as they miss him, too.

Anniversary Cruise and Desserts

So let me reflect on happier times when he enjoyed anything I cooked or baked!

Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut Butter Pie

The perfect husband to please with food, ladies, and you know that can be a challenge for both husbands and children.  He loved desserts, anything peanut butter, but sweets in general.  This time of the year, people are testing new recipes for church Homecomings and holiday gatherings.  With such an array of desserts to choose from on the bountiful tables, is just plain blasphemy in the south to put those little 6″ plates out when everyone one needs a full-sized one to “sample” a little bit of everything.   You know it is true, don’t deny it!  LOL.

Granny and her youngest great-granddaughter

My mother with her newest great grandchild named for my husband

So, I thought I would share a few pie recipes, especially the ones my sweet husband enjoyed the most; Peanut Butter Pie, Coconut Custard Pie (a prize winning one), No Milk Chocolate Pie (from a church cookbook a missionary contributed and my Mom’s favorite), Sweet Potato Pie (my adaption from a recipe in a cookbook my daughter gave me called “Sweetie Pies”), Pumpkin Cheese Pie and Lemon Cheese Pie (a favorite of my dear friend, Mrs. Betty).  I hope you will enjoy these recipes and will add them to your list of favorites, too.

 

May God bless you and your family, as He continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

RECIPES

Coconut Custard Pie

Coconut Custard Pie

Peanut Butter Pie

Coconut Custard Pie

No Milk Chocolate Pie

Sweet Potato Pies

Pumpkin Cheese Pie or Tarts

Lemon Cheese Pie or Tarts

Pie Crust

Graham Cracker Crust