Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Sap Is Running . . .

It's all because of the sap.
At least, that's what BH says.
It's the sap running that caused the branch to break, which caused BH to borrow the tree-trimmer and get out the ladder.

That's him, leaning precariously (“Of course I'm being careful!”) out to saw off the sappy branch that got too heavy to hang on.
Does all this make sense?
That's what I thought, too . . .

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Retreat, Refresh, Re-engage . . .

Getting away, even for a day or two, is a treat.
Last week, BH and I got away to St. Louis, but on our way we stopped in Lebanon, Illinois to have lunch at Dr. Jazz. If you've never been there, Lebanon is a charming small town (home of McKendree University) about 20 minutes from St. Louis. Dr. Jazz is a restaurant/ice cream parlor with wonderful food, small town atmosphere, and a real sense of fun. While we were there, we got to see a young man (probably around 14 years old) finish off a Dr. Jazz specialty, The Ice Cream Overdose: 12 scoops of ice cream with hot fudge, caramel, whipped cream, a variety of nuts, and a cherry. The menu offers it free if you finish it yourself in 30 minutes -- and he did, to the applause of everyone in the restaurant.
Dr. Jazz is a not-to-miss treat.


Once we got to St. Louis, we visited the Missouri History Museum to see the Gee's Bend quilts, and happened on two other interesting exhibits, one about Charles Lindbergh and the other about the St. Louis World's Fair. This museum is lovely, with an imposing statue of Thomas Jefferson to welcome you. The Gee's Bend quilts were striking, alive with color and texture. I think almost all of the quilts on exhibit were interpretations on the Housetop and Log Cabin patterns, and the variety, ingenuity, and creativity involved in their design was dazzling. The exhibit offers a free audio tour as well as an excellent video about Gee's Bend and its quilters.
The museum website offers a glimpse of all they have to offer. The website -- and, of course, the museum itself -- are well worth a visit.


We spent a morning walking through Mr. Shaw's garden, also known as the Missouri Botanical Garden. It's hard to tell what is most wonderful -- the fragrances of a variety of blooming things, or the colors of spring, or the birds flitting through the trees chirping and chattering, or the cool breeze on your cheek as you sit on a bench in the Japanese Garden, or the feel of any number of plants or trees you can't help but touch as you walk by.

We've been visiting this garden off and on since 1977, and it's one of my favorite places. We've watched the Japanese Garden mature, and the Victorian Garden develop from a few paths into a delightfully developed place to wander.

On this trip, Mr. Shaw's home, Tower Grove, was open to visitors so we went inside to see how he lived. We learned more about his life than we'd heard before, and were impressed with his courage, business savvy, and determination.

We found a new area for children, incorporating Missouri history, small pocket child-friendly gardens, and play areas for kids.

Throughout the garden we found stunning glass installations by Dale Chihuly -- herons in the Climatron, glass ornaments in the reflecting pool, and smaller pieces tucked away in surprising places.

We made time for a delicious (and reasonable) lunch in the Sassafras Cafe, then visited the St. Louis Herb Society's herb sale held near the Gift Shop. Like the Missouri History Museum, the Missouri Botanical Garden has an excellent website, where you can find everything you might want to know if you're planning a visit -- and I encourage you to plan a visit. Soon.
You won't be sorry!

Monday, April 20, 2009

I Think She Is . . .

My daughter Amy shared these two posts from her Facebook page with me, and I was so impressed with what she'd written that I asked if I could share it with you, just in case you're not one of her facebook friends. Amy says she's not a writer.
I'll let you be the judge:

Cool Mom/ Mean Mom

I always knew I would be a cool mom. It just seemed to reason that because my own parents were SO incredibly lame, I couldn't miss. Growing up in a house with 8 kids (and very religious parents) I sensed it didn't all have to boring and tedious and of course, sinful. I had visions of late night chats with my teenage daughter talking about her true feelings. I would be understanding and patient, and always have advice she would cling to. I would be cool about drinking, and sex. Never judgmental or nagging. I would have the perfect answer every time; and I would never embarrass my children by dressing frumpy or out of style.

Then I actually had kids.

As it turns out, I am the farthest thing from a cool mom you can get. We do not (gasp) have the internet. My children do not have cell phones, or TV's in their rooms, in fact they are only aloud 1/2 hour of TV on most days. I don't sign my kids up for every activity that passes from the school folder to the table; in fact, they hardly get to do/ have anything they want. I am a "mean mom". Never in my life did I think that I would be, but I am. I really like it that way; and I think my kids are better of because of it.

The reason for my rant today is that I keep seeing things on TV that make me crazy. Two examples: Oprah's guest last week who was advocating vibrators for your teenage daughters. Now, while I agree with talking to your kids about sex in age appropriate ways; the logic of telling your daughter she can take care of herself and then a) she won't need a partner or b) she will be safe from emotional/physical pain. Where do I even start with that? Don't they understand girls get in trouble most times not because they can't do it themselves (most do); it's because our girls feel it's o.k. to give themselves away for free. They are doing it to gain acceptance and love from a mainstream world.

The second is the concept of "sexting". If you have children who are old enough to use a cell phone, just expect them to use in ways you would never have imagined. The media is in an uproar over charging these teens with child porn laws. Why should we not? Surely we all know that the teenage brain is not fully formed. The connective synapses these kids are forming link inappropriate sex usage with normalcy. What makes us think this is going to go away after they mature fully? I am scared for the men my daughters will marry. I am scared my daughters will be lost and confused when it comes to all this. So, I am going to begin writing down some of the things we can do to combat these things. If you don't want to read them, don't.

I will warn you, I am a mean mom and I'm proud of it.

-- Amy Croasdale


Pray, pray, pray...and then pray some more

My mom used to pray with us every morning before we went to school. All eight of us. It didn't matter if we were running late; we did it every morning. even after some us were busy teenagers and didn't stick around in the morning; my mom still prayed. If not with us, then for us, every morning. Sometimes when I was small, I felt comfort in this ritual. But as a teenager, I downright hated it. I felt if I wanted God in my life- I would talk to him myself.

What I have been realizing over the last couple years, is that my parents for many years, have been covering us kids with an umbrella of prayer. I believe it has protected us; sheltered us from some of life's hardships. I'm not saying we haven't had trouble, because we have. I'm just saying that God has been with us through all of it. I want to provide that for my kids.

For me, it began with my own relationship with God. It took me a long time to need it, to want it. But once I started, there was no turning back. After that I started praying for my husband. It was not easy. We were going through quite a rough patch and frankly, I didn't feel like it. Well I can tell you it's very hard to be cantankerous and bitter towards a man you are praying for. If you have not tried this, I suggest you find a copy of Stormie Omartian's book "The Power of a Praying Wife". Simple chapters and easy to follow prayers changed my attitude towards my marriage and indeed changed my marriage. It is nearly impossible to parent your children if you and your spouse are not on the same page; or at least in the same book! Next, the kids. I don't pray with my kids every morning. (I am REALLY not a morning person.) But we do pray together a lot. From "help me find my bear" to "please be with Uncle Scott at the hospital". Actually, when I went to pray with my kids for my brother-in-law, my 7 year old plainly told me "We already did that mom." We pray our way through life. I pray for my kids at school, "...please surround them with your love, comfort and peace." I feel like it creates a little bubble around them. Of course sometimes my kids will roll their eyes. I certainly understand that. But someday I hope they know that we are covering them.

(As a postscript: Sometimes we pray for our kids with no visible results. This is especially hard with teenagers. I'm certain while I was in high school/college my parents prayed for me with no visible result. But in time there was a result. I was redeemed!)

-- Amy Croasdale


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Off the Cuff

If you're looking for something fresh and new for your summer wardrobe, check out this jewelry from Zanne Avenue. Witty and fun, these cuffs, necklaces, and rings are definitely to show off!

Monday, April 13, 2009


A friend sent BH the link to this video, “Stethoscope.” If you haven't seen it, click here.

I think you'll enjoy it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday musing . . .

Today is, of course, Good Friday. The music running through my head includes songs like “O Sacred Head, now wounded . . . “ Last night at St. Peter's Maunday Thursday service, BH preached briefly about all the losses Jesus suffered -- family, friends, freedom, health, dignity -- and how He endured those losses for us. It was a short, simple, profound meditation, and I've been reflecting on it all morning. As I think about everything Jesus lost -- willingly -- tears come to my eyes.
It's raining outside this morning, a chilly rain. The grey morning matches my mood, and yet, to borrow a phrase, “It's Friday now, but Sunday's coming!”
A few years ago, my dad died rather unexpectedly. His birthday that year -- his 70th -- would have been the day before Easter. I wrote a column for Hearts at Home that ran in the Pantagraph about how Jesus's resurrection changed the way we remembered and celebrated my dad's life.
How has Jesus's resurrection changed things for you?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday Photographs

April morning

The New Colors of Spring: Green . . . and White

Snow, Blooming Among the Daffodils

Friday, April 3, 2009

I, I, I . . .

Illinois's ex-governor Rod Blagojevich is, of course, Innocent.
Or so he says.
He has been Impeached.
Now he has been Indicted.
And if he is found guilty, he will be Incarcerated.
His problem is it's all about “I.”

How did this man ever get elected governor -- twice?