Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why, Emery...why?

If Savannah went through the "why" stage, I don't remember it. If she did, I've probably blocked it out of my memory. If she didn't...then Emery is making up for it! The inquisitive little fellow is full of questions these days; mostly "why?".

He was over here Wednesday when the painter was prepping the house. Here's how one (only one of many that day) conversation went:

Emery: "Where's Grandpa?"
Me: "Outside."
Emery: "Why?"
Me: "He's talking to the painter."
Emery: "Why?"
Me: "He wants to know how it's going."
Emery: "Why?"
Me: "Because the man is getting ready to paint the house."
Emery: "Why?"
Me: "Because the house doesn't look very good and needs a new coat of paint."
Me: "Because the weather wears the paint off."

I'll spare you the rest. I think you can see where we're going with this. When he's not asking "why" he's telling "knock-knock" jokes.

Starting next Thursday night, Grandpa and I are going to have the two little ones for 9 days while Jodi and Jeremy go on a mission trip to Honduras. Does anyone have an IPod I can borrow and plug into my ears?????

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Another "Work in Progress"

We are having the house painted. Last time it was painted, Jerry did it himself. By the time he washed it, trimmed out all the windows and brush painted the whole sucker by hand...two years had passed! So this year we are paying someone else to do it!

On Tuesday evening the "boss", Dale, came out and pressure washed the whole house. It didn't take him very long and he did a very thorough job. He let us pick out the paint colors and then he went on his way.

All day Wednesday, one of his workers was here. He caulked every nook, cranny, groove and crack and filled every nail hole. In a full day he only got about half done. It seems like these guys are doing a really good job. Today the same fellow came back...with another man... and they continued what he started yesterday.

Sadly, Jerry got a call from Dale last night letting us know that his father died suddenly in south Georgia. Jerry was telling me that the second man that came today looked familiar to him...but he couldn't figure out where he knew him from. After a few hours, he was outside talking to them and the man said, "I think I know you from somewhere". So they played that game and they came to figure out that this man lives in a home that was built by Habitat for Humanity and Jerry was one of the people who had helped in the building of his house!

This man told Jerry, "You lucked out". He went on to explain that Dale had called his workers last night, too, and told them that the sprayer equipment was locked up and he would not be back for an indeterminable amount of time. This man told Jerry they were going to paint our house by hand with brushes! He said he was going to do a really, really good job...because he appreciated what Jerry and others had done for him. (Good karma)

We'll have to see if that's what they will do. In the meantime, it's easy to give directions to our house: "Its' the spotted one on the right."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A New Perspective

I've mentioned before that I like new beginnings. New Year's resolutions, Mondays, all kinds of fresh starts. Anything that makes me feel energized and ready to start anew. So it stands to reason that I have always liked the saying, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." Something to think about, right?

A few weeks ago, we went to Jessica's church (Eastridge Community church in Covington) and Pastor Scott was asking us to examine how we were living our lives. He was talking about how, if we knew our days were numbered, we might change our perspective and/or our priorities. He used that saying, but changed the last 5 words. He said, "Today is the first day of your last days on earth". Wow. Talk about having something to think about!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sister, Sister

Back in February I wrote that I have one brother...Chuck Berry. I also have one sister...Karen Berry. But my one sister has many other sisters. "How can that be?" you may be asking (or maybe not). My sister, Karen, is a Roman Catholic nun. Her official name is Sr. Karen Berry, OSF. The "OSF" behind her name indicates that she is a member of the Order of Saint Francis. Their community "home" is in Joliet, Illinois, but she lives in Tucson, Arizona.

I have mentioned a few times that my mom was with us for a while this spring. She's been living with Karen, and her roommate, Diane, in Tucson for the past 2-1/2 years. But in February I flew out there to accompany her back here to visit with us for a couple of months. She was due to go back with Karen in mid May. But while she was with us, her health began to decline. It was obvious to the whole family that it was time to move her to the next level of care...a nursing home.
That's a difficult time for any family. We allowed her to choose where she would want to go. She wanted to go back "home" to Illinois. We are all from the town of Streator, but she chose to go to Joliet...about an hour away from Streator. The sisters of Saint Francis in Joliet established the ministry of Our Lady of Angels retirement home in 1962. It's a beautiful place and we can remember mom saying, "If I ever have to go into a place like that, I want to come here." So we took her there earlier this month and got her settled in. She's a long way from family because we are so scattered now, but she is surrounded by caring people in a wonderful facility. Her room is in the newly remodeled wing and she is surrounded by nuns...some of whom she's known for several years. So even though as a child she had 7 sisters of her own, she can now claim many, many more!

So on May 4th, Jerry and I packed mom and her things into Jodi and Jeremy's SUV (a very nice way to make the trip) and drove from here in Georgia to my brother and sister-in-law's house near St. Louis. We rested up on Monday, then drove to Joliet on Tuesday, May 6th. Karen flew into Chicago, rented a car, and met us at OLA. This is a picture of all of us taken that day. That's Jerry on the left and Karen on the right. Linda and Chuck are standing in the back, and that's me and mom in the front center.
So mom is settled in there now, but feeling the absence of family. Please keep her in your prayers as she makes this adjustment.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Snow Day in May

Long ago and far away when we lived in Illinois, we had these wonderful things called "snow days". When we would get a particularly heavy snow, the kids' school got cancelled for the day. Since I worked at the school, that meant I didn't have to go in either. So after poor Jerry dug himself out and went to work, the girls and I had the day to ourselves. A whole unexpected day to do whatever we wanted. To play and be lazy or to dig into a new project of some kind. On scheduled days off, things were usually planned or appointments were made, etc. But a snow day expected nothing from you. It was a gift. It was terrific.
When we moved to Georgia and I went to work for the school system here, they had two specific days, late on the calendar, that were called "snow days". I was confused. I asked someone, "How do you know which days, exactly, that it's going to snow? And isn't that kind of late in the year?" They looked at me like I was stupid. (I got a lot of those looks when we first moved down here.) They patiently explained that if we did have a snow day at some point during the school year (that rarely happened), then we would be in session on those days to make up for it. If we didn't, then we would have those days off. Still...they were sort of "planned", so it wasn't quite the same.
It's been a long time since I've had what felt like a real "snow day"...until yesterday. I was scheduled to work at the shop yesterday, but on Wednesday evening I was talking to Melisa and she asked how I would like to just take the day to sit out by the pool. (She's a funny one, that Melisa.) She said that she didn't have anything pressing going on at the shop and she could probably handle it herself. So there I was -- with this gift of a "free day". I know...being semi-retired you'd think I'd feel like I have a lot of free days. It seems funny, but I really don't. Just like this weekend. I have three days with nothing on the calendar, but in my mind they will be busy days. I need to do some budget stuff, finish a quilt top I've been working on, spend a couple of hours on restoring an old quilt for someone else, clean out my closet, etc.
So I treated Thursday like a snow day and did none of the things on my list. But I did get busy. It was a beautiful day, so I washed a load of beach towels, table cloths, etc. and hung them out on the line to dry. Then I cleaned out the refrigerator! I didn't know the florets on the broccoli would turn that shade of yellow after a "while". (Does that expiration date on the pickle jar really say "2006"???) Then I went outside and pruned the pyracantha bushes on the fence in front of the house. Every time I've come or gone from the house lately I've thought, "Those things are out of control!". I thawed some steaks for dinner and made a new dessert..."Banana Split Cake"...for later. Then Jerry and I planted a small peony bush and the last of the red verbena that hadn't been put in the ground yet. I talked to Jodi and she was frustrated with the sewing machine I loaned her last week. It was messing up and she couldn't get the thread tension right. I asked her if she wanted me to come over and take a look at it. She said that would be good. I asked if she had plans for dinner and she didn't, so I told her I would bring over steaks and salmon for the grill and a dessert and she could make the rest of the sides, etc. So after fertilizing the front yard garden, Jerry and I got showered and went to Jodi and Jeremy's. I had called Jess and asked her to come join us, so it turned into a fun family dinner.
The beautiful day turned into a beautiful evening and while I fixed the sewing machine, Jess played with Savannah and Jerry, Jodi and Emery took a walk down to the lake (Jeremy had a softball game after dinner). Then Grandpa and I showed the little ones how to "wheelbarrow" race. When it was time for their baths, we came home and I caught the last half of the two-hour season finale of Gray's Anatomy. What a great day. You just gotta love those "snow days"!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Still Celebrating

Even though my birthday was last week, I had a birthday party last night. My quilting friends, the Batty Babes, meet every two weeks on a Tuesday night and we didn't get together last my party with them was last night. It was great -- as always. Amelia had announced in February that she would give everyone their birthday gift at the same time this year. She wanted to take us all to the Olive Garden for dinner and then over to the mall to the Build-A-Bear store to "build a Babe" doll. Great fun. The only problem was, the night they did it I was not available. So she took me yesterday and we did the same thing. Have you ever had a margarita with Amaretto on the side? They have those at Olive Garden and if you haven't tried it...DO! At the mall I built a Babe I named "Bea" (like in Quilting Bea). I dressed her in a pink robe and fuzzy slippers because sometimes I get out of bed, don my pink robe, and go down to my sewing room and just start working. While we were still in the mall I found a really cute pair of navy tennis shoes that I liked very much. They were $128 and Amelia told me to forget birthday was over!
Pam hosted my birthday party. For dinner she had one of my favorites...chicken with Swiss cheese and stuffing...and a mixed greens salad with strawberries, almonds, feta cheese and a vinaigrette dressing. Yummy. A yellow cake with made-from-scratch chocolate frosting and sliced strawberries for garnish finished off the dinner. As you can see, I got lots of wonderful gifts. I got nice things for the house: a pretty floral arrangement that will go perfectly in the guest bathroom, good smelling stuff like a reed diffuser and some sachets; some papers, stickers, album, etc. to get me started on my next scrapbooking adventure; great containers like a tote, a hat box and a basket. And, of course, quilty stuff: two new books (both great!), two kits, fabrics and a gift certificate for more fabrics, thread, scissors, needles and two exquisitely hand-made items by my talented friends.
Thanks,'re the best!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Here's Your Sign...

We passed a church today that had this sign out front, and I liked it enough to share:

"A church is a gift from God.

Assembly required."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

The evolution of Nanny:

1947: This is me at 6 months old. If your ears are big like this, it helps you balance when you're learning to sit up on your own.

1957: I am a fairly "normal" 10-year-old. ("Judge not lest ye be judged.")

1967: I was 20 years old. It was a time of cultural revolution and as Bob Dylan said, "The Times They Are a Changin'". That's me on the left and my Aunt Delores on the right.

1977: I'm now the mother of two little girls: Jodi, age 5-1/2 and Jessica, age 3. Ignore my hat for a minute and look at Jerry's Easter "outfit". Yes, that's a salmon-pink 3-piece corduroy suit and a silk shirt with a HUGE collar! And I'm pretty sure he was wearing his puca bead necklace...he always wore it with that suit.

1987: At age 40, I was performing on stage as one of the Raisinettes -- remember "I Heard it Through the Grape Vine"? That's me on the left, "Aunt Jean" in the middle, and my BFF Shirley on the right.

1997: When I hit the big Five-O it was no secret...thanks to my fellow employees at Honey Creek Elementary School.
And now I'm "Nanny".
And next to "Mommy", that's the best thing I've ever been called! :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jess!

Today is Jessica's birthday...or, as she's now called, "Aunt Jess".

Here is a picture of her playing with 5-month-old Savannah in the doorway swing.

And one of her with 10-month-old Emery. What can I say?....these little ones are real "swingers"!

And here they are about a month ago...just clowning around like they do so much of the time now.

And here is one taken yesterday, when we had her birthday party. You can't see the "Awesome Aunt" badge she's wearing, but if you click on the picture to enlarge it you can see some of the stickers Savannah put on her and the beads she shared with her. The bit of whitish fluff in the foreground is Meo...Savannah's beloved lamb and constant companion since her first days. Aunt Jess got it for her when she was born.
These two cute, crazy kids really love their Aunt Jess...and so do the rest of us! Happy Birthday, Jess!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Berry Good Tradition

When we do something that's fun, we tend to do it again. If it's something seasonal, then before long it becomes another of our "traditions". One such fun tradition is to go out and pick strawberries in late April. Last Wednesday, Jerry picked up the grand kids when Jodi came into town for her bible study. While she fed her soul with the word of God, we picked berries. But it did my soul so much good to be out in the sunshine on a beautiful spring morning with my husband and grand kids. I had someone very capable staying with mom and it was so refreshing to my spirit to be able to inhale, deeply, the fresh morning air and feel the warm sun on my face. And the berries....those wonderful, fresh berries...there is just no way to describe them.

When the little ones come over with their buckets and their enthusiasm, you can tell mom has been talking to them. This year it was Emery's turn to be very intense when he told me, "Just pick the red, shiny ones. Don't pick the yellow ones. Don't pick the green ones." I asked him about picking any blue ones and he said they would make you sick.

So Emery was sure to pick the red, shiny ones (for the most part) and each time he picked one he would say, "What about this one, Nanny?" and I'd tell him that was the best one yet. Then he'd take it to Jerry and say, "What about this one, Grandpa?" After getting another approval, he would put it in the bucket...wherever he had left the bucket. Savannah, with her years of berry picking experience, just picked berries. Once in a while she would show us a particularly large or perfectly shaped one. And, of course, we nibbled.

They are so good and I wish they would stay fresh longer, but we usually end up freezing most of them that same day. But the ones we did eat fresh, with juices dripping down our chins and onto our white shirts, were berry, berry good!

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Special Occasion

Happy Birthday,


you sexy thaang!