Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sometimes real life is so glaring that it can't be ignored...

I know that the blogging world is supposed to be a happy place, where we talk about people and things that we love and fun activites and our beautiful world, but something reality creeps in and things are not so rosy as we'd like to think. This was one of those weeks...

I have tons of happy celebrations, thoughts, dreams, friends and family gatherings that I could write about, but just couldn't pretend that everything was peachy and ignore that we got some very sad news this week. Our son, Kevin and daughter-in-law, Erin are separated and planning to get divorced.

It wasn't a complete surprise since we were aware that they were struggling and trying to work on the issues over the last months, but the finality of the decision was still very painful for everyone.

As parents we never want to see our children hurting. We want to shield them and protect them from all harm. We want to bandage their wounds and make it all better, but as they become adults it's not our job to do that anymore. We have to let go and allow them to make their own decisions, no matter how painful they might be. We have to trust that God is truly in control, even though we can't immediately see the good in the situation.

These last months have been ones of testing for us in that regard...but we're hanging on...and still trusting...

This is a picture of Erin from last Christmas. Doesn't she have a beautiful smile? It matches her heart! We love her and will dearly miss her!

Goodbyes are never easy...but we'll continue to keep in touch with her.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!
I got up early Chrismas morning to finish wrapping presents. We knew that Amy and Andrew wouldn't be coming over for a while, so decided to get a good night's sleep and finish today. That's the first time I've done that, but as mentioned before, it's been a busy month. I imagine our traditions and plans will change often in the coming years as we adjust to the potential of the kids not being in town over the holidays and figuring out ways we can still be together somehow and then adjust again when grandkids come. We're looking forward to experiencing all those different seasons of life.

Terry and Kevin slept in, so the house was quiet. I turned Christmas music on quietly and finished up the last of wrapping and stuffing the stockings. By the time Amy and Andrew arrived around 11 a.m. we were all up and ready to go. We missed not having Erin there with us.

Christmas is a relaxing day for us. You'll notice that several of us are still in our pajamas and it was probably early afternoon by then.

No big plans beyond opening and enjoying our gifts, some food and each other. We do our extended family gatherings on days other than Christmas, so as to reserve that day for relaxation and immediate family celebration.

We usually try to have a pretty simple meal so that we can just eat when we're hungry. That started when the kids were too excited about their gifts to stop for a nice dinner, and when I decided that it should be a day of rest for me as well. This year Terry cooked a turkey on the grill. It turned out well, but I think was a little too ambitious for him because he also has a bit of a cold, so didn't get to relax too much. We also had mashed sweet potatoes...they were just o.k. and a green salad (one of Andrew's favorite things). We've never established traditional foods for Christmas so we get to enjoy different things every year.

In talking with others lately about their holiday, I realized that we all have just a little bit different traditions and habits. Here are some of ours:
  • Everyone gets to open new pajamas on Christmas eve. Terry doesn't really wear traditional pajamas so I'll usually get him aT-shirt that he can wear anytime. This year I got him a glow-in-the-dark skeleton playing guitar. He said it surprised him when he got up in the middle of the night and saw it in the mirror.
  • Everyone gets a Christmas ornament on Christmas eve. We try to gear the ornament to an event, milestone or interest of the person that year. When the kids moved out, we let them take their ornaments with them so it gave them a good start on their tree. We continue the tradition now with the spouses too.
  • We always put an orange in the toe of the stocking. This goes back to my days growing up in Ohio when it was a special treat to have citrus in the winter.
  • Everyone gets a new toothbrush in their stocking (to take care of all the treats that they get).
  • We put favorite candy, snacks and treats in the stockings. My family likes things like beef jerky, dark chocolate, Nerds, etc. Terry likes strange foods like oysters, clams, and sardines. This year "Santa" got him a can of spiced octupus...we'll see what he thinks.
  • Andrew thinks it's strange that we wrap the little gifts in the stockings. For me it just helps with the suspense.
  • On Christmas day we only open one gift at a time and go around the room so we can all see what each person gets. It takes a long time but is much more fun than rushing through it. Besides it takes months to prepare, so even when we're done it seems to end too soon.

Terry makes up strange names for the gift tags, because he gets bored with the same old standards. He writes things like; To Lady, From the Tramp or he'll give one of us a CD from the first name of a musical artist. I got one from James this year (Taylor, that is). Amy & Andrew got a book from Boris (Diaw, of the Phoenix Suns, that is). Now Kevin does it too, but his names are so random that they're just funny.
  • We set up our nativity every year and leave the baby Jesus out of the manger until Christmas day, since that's his birthday. When the kids were little, it was the job of the first one up to place Jesus in the manger.
When looking for a nativity I really wanted to find one that was somewhat natural looking. So many of them make the people look so perfect and unusual, not like real people. The one we have isn't too bad, but as you see from the photo, the baby isn't wrapped in swaddling clothes (he must be cold) and for some reason his hands are outstretched (probably because he's cold).
Have you ever seen what a new baby looks like when they're not wrapped in a blanket? They can't stand being exposed and not securely wrapped. They're used to being in a warm, safe, cozy place, after all. And Mary looks a little bit too fresh, clean and neat considering she just gave birth.
I'd love to find a nativity that's more realistic. If anyone knows of a set that looks like real people, in a real stable, I'd love to hear about it.

Well, that's just a bit about our day. Amy wrote more about it too. Terry and I have the whole week off so I'm looking forward to lots of relaxation, blogging, scrapping and spending time with friends. I'm even hoping to work on finally getting my scrapping area set up and organized...a little too ambitious, you say? ...we'll see.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Bits of news:

Just wanted everyone to know that we're still alive. It's killing me to check everyone's blog and see how much cool stuff is being posted. I've just been too busy to post myself, but I know how boring it is to keep checking back to see nothing new (hint to Randy and Don).

As mentioned before, our son Kevin is home from Air Force training. His wife, Erin and their dog, Afton arrived on Dec 10th. As you can see from the pic below, Afton is a lovable dog. They taught her how to carry her dish outside to be fed. Very cute! She's very smart and still really just a puppy at about a year old. Unfortunately smart dogs often get into trouble. A few days ago she jumped the 6-7 foot fence in our backyard when we were all gone and proceeded to run around to the brand new front door and scratch it up trying to get into the house. Kinda good news that it's actually being replaced again due to some unrelated issues. Sad news is that the people who are replacing it were planning to use it as their own front door and now it's scratched up. We haven't quite decided what to do about it. Amy blogged about Kevin trying to find Afton a new home and they've found someone to take her in Apache Junction. They have 2 acres, another dog and 3 kids, which will probably be just about perfect to keep a smart dog like her busy and entertained. I think she'll be happy in her new home.

Last Sunday part of our scrapping bunch got together to work and had the joy of having Erin join us. Miranda had a big project to work on, so she was plowing through. Erin has just started to scrap recently, so I let her use some of my supplies and she got several cute pages done. Linda and I were just too tired from the busy month to scrap, so we spent time looking at all the photos from her birthday party...another blogging opportunity delayed or missed.

Well, that's all I have time for...there's still grocery shopping, Christmas shopping, cooking, wrapping, etc. and we're celebrating Christmas with our Perkins family tonight! Hopefully I can post tons of stuff after Christmas.

If I don't post again before, please enjoy a Christmas filled with the love of family and friends!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas tree shopping and gelato:
I know that I'm really behind on blogging and there are things that have happened before this, but I decided that this is what I want to blog right now. I'll go back and do other things, like our anniversary trip and other recent activities later.

Tuesday, Dec 12, Terry, Kevin, Erin and I finally found time in our busy schedules to go Christmas tree shopping. Since we've only been in the house for 2 Christmases we don't really have a favorite spot to buy trees. We visited a few places and finally ended up at the Home Depot tree lot. Since it was only 13 days before Christmas, the trees were pretty picked over. A lady at the lot told us that they were out of Noble firs and weren't expected to get more in at all...disappointing. We've bought Douglas and other types of trees in the past, but do like the look of the Noble, if the price is within reason.

We were persistent and stayed at the lot anyway, spread out and started to look at the trees. We checked out a few Douglas firs, all of which were very flat on at least one side and hard to picture what they would look like IF the branches fell back in place. Erin was poked in the eye by one of the needles, which REALLY hurts! You'll notice in the picture of the three of them that it made her eyes water until the lot guy gave her some eye drops.

After some searching, Terry saw what looked like a beautiful Noble fir! How could that be? Well, upon further examination we realized that it was TOPLESS! You can see from the picture that the top foot or 18 inches was chopped off. Besides that glaring flaw, it was fresh and beautiful. So we gathered around and laughed at it. For anyone who knows Kevin, you know that he has a tender heart for the underdogs and the helpless, hopeless ones of the world and this was no exception. Somewhat joking and somewhat serious we all stood there wondering how we could top it off and give this headless tree a home. Several ideas surfaced, but we were still laughing about it when the lot guy joined us.

Lot guy: "So you're looking at my topless tree huh?"

Us: "Yeah" (laughs all around)

Lot guy: "How about if I make you a deal? That tree would normally be $58. How about if I give it to you for $20."

Terry: (more laughs, but considering the money he'd save) "Hmmm...I don't doesn't have a top. What do you think guys?"

Kevin & Erin: "I'm sure we could figure out something for the top. How about a bird and nest or something?"
Nancy: Are you kidding?

Lot Guy: "O.k. how about if I give it to you for FREE?"

Now he's talking Terry's language!

Terry's sold on the price, Kevin and Erin are sold on the Charlie Brown factor, so everyone looks at me...they know I get the final say because, after all, I'm in charge of the decorating and I'm not sure this tree is really salvageable.

Imagine the look your kids gave you the first time they asked for a kitten...

Long pause...

"...O.K. fine. We can get it. It'll make a great story for my blog and besides if it really doesn't work, we're not losing anything but our time."

So once we had our "special" tree secure in the car, we decided to head for The Gelato Spot, (the dessert lounge of Italy) my new favorite place, to celebrate our great find.

If you haven't been to one fo these places, you HAVE to go! It's amazing stuff! Much better than ice cream!

The funny thing is that when we were there, I was taking pictures and the girl behind the counter asked, "Are you from out of town?"

It was then that Kevin decided I should be called the "Tourist of Life". Blogging and Scrap-booking will do that to you. It's amazing how you look at things differently when your're thinking with the perspective of capturing memories. What fun!

So after we enjoyed our gelato, we headed home to set up the tree.

Check out the picture of Terry when we were decorating the tree. We don't remember what was wrong but there was obviously something that he didn't like. He got over it though.

Erin had a great idea to put silk poinsettias at the top of the tree to hide the missing piece. We also interspersed some others throughout to balance it out and I must say, with the lights and decorations, it looks beautiful! What an awesome find and fun, creative solution!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Remodeling - the good, the bad and the ugly

For anyone who calls us friends, if you EVER hear us talking about having work done on the house before a big event or a holiday, PLEASE tell us we're insane and DON'T let us do it!

This is what our house looks like right now. We just had 2 new doors, 4 new windows and new trim around 7 other windows and doors installed. It seemed like a small enough job and the workers did almost everything last week, so that was great!

The sad part is that we decided we would do all the trim painting ourselves (to save hundreds of dollars-a good thing). Now we don't have time to get the painting done (a bad thing) and therefore can't put up any Christmas decorations until we do (an ugly thing).

The house is all torn up from moving furniture away from the work areas, the floors are filthy from the construction work and there's that thin layer of dust on everything! I spent most of the day Saturday cleaning all the windows and Sunday prepping and taping for painting.

Fortunately Kevin didn't have to go in to the recruiter on Monday so he got most of the priming done. Now all we need to do is paint 7 door and window trims. I will try to get motivated when I come home from work tonight, but it's kind of crazy to try to paint after the sun goes down. You can't see well and tend to miss a lot...but we'll see. It seems to be our only option. We're also going out of town this weekend for our anniversary, so we can't do it then either.

I'm getting frustrated and depressed that my house looks like this right now. I want to take time off work to get it done, but also want to save my vacation time for vacation. This reminds me of two years ago when we moved from our rental house to this house the day after Christmas. That was a crazy year as well.

I don't want to complain because at least we were able to have the work done and it will be beautiful when it's all finished! I'm sad because I don't have enough time at home to take care of what needs to be taken care of...especially this time of year. Next time, we'll know to wait until after the holidays are past. It was a stupid decision to do it now.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Kevin's home!

He got here 7 hours past his scheduled time on Saturday due to flight delays, but now he's here for at least the next few weeks. Hurray! We're excited
to have him home.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dozens of reasons to be thankful...

I know that many people have a difficult time around the holidays, due to pain, or loss, or illness or sadness. I’ve always felt that God has given me so much more than I deserve. I guess that’s what grace is all about, right? Getting something that we don’t deserve? Amazing, isn’t it. (Grace= the free and unmerited favor of God). Oh, I’ve experienced my share of losses, but often I feel as though there’s a protective hedge around my immediate family that doesn’t allow in too much pain. I also know that this may not always be the case. We all experience various trials and tests, but I hope that even when the hard times come, I’ll still be able to say thank you to God for walking with me through it all.

In light of the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the blessings that I’ve received even just recently…I’m thankful that

We made it through the last 2 years of craziness with a move from California, Terry being out of work for 6 months, both of us changing jobs, moving twice, remodeling a house, and both of our kids’ weddings being 6 weeks apart.

I have a wonderful husband who loves me and takes great care of me.

Our daughter, Amy is somehow able to juggle, a new marriage, work, school and fun and is almost finished with her Master’s degree at ASU.

Our son, Kevin graduated from the Defense Language Institute with a certificate in Mandarin Chinese.

Kevin made it through Air Force survival training safely, despite rain, mud, freezing temperatures, and stressful physical and mental treatment.

Our children are healthy, gifted adults who enjoy life.

Our children have wonderful loving spouses that are supportive, encouraging, patient and loving, who would do anything for them.

Our children have in-laws that love, encourage and pray for them.

Our extended families are healthy and safe.

Our nephew, Russell came home safely from Iraq.

We have a fantastic comfortable home that we can share with friends, families and much more.

Terry and I both have good jobs that support and encourage us.

We have the freedom to attend church and worship God whenever we want.

We have a wonderful church home at Open Door Fellowship where we’re learning what it means to trust God and others with who we are.

We have amazing friends all around the country who have always been there for us through all of our ups and downs.

We have opportunities to travel and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation all around us.

We have been blessed with so much more than we deserve in relation to physical and material things.

We are in excellent health.

We live in a country where we’re free to do and be whatever we want to.

I can dream, plan and explore in whatever direction my heart takes me.

Most of all, I have an awesome God who walks with me every minute of every day and is totally crazy about me, know matter what I think of myself at any given moment. He has great plans in store for me and all I have to do is trust him with myself.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving in four places...

Location 1: Amy and Andrew had a nice quiet meal at home in their apartment in Tempe and made their first Thanksgiving meal together. It was kind of strange not to have them with us, but we totally understood that they wanted to enjoy their 2nd Thanksgiving holiday as a married couple, to begin some of their own traditions and create some of their own memories. It sounds like they had a beautiful day.

Location 2: Terry and I had dinner at our house with some of the Perkins family. It was our smallest Thanksgiving gathering in a long time, if not ever. For dinner there were only 7 of us! That's less than our original immediate family of 8. We had mom(Grandma Jaye), Sharon and her friend John, Sharon's son Russell (in photo above) and his girlfriend Shannon, Terry and me. We were so thankful to have Russ here this year, now that he's home safely from Iraq.

Diane, Steve and Lisa had dinner with Steve's family since his mom had just been released from the hospital the day before. They joined us later for dessert (lots of pie) and games (Apples to Apples). We had a 19 pound turkey and cooked 10 pounds of potatoes plus much more, so we had plenty of leftovers to send home with those who wanted them and we still have quite a bit here. It's o.k. though, because we like leftovers. It was a gorgeous day outside so we set up the table in the of the perks of living in AZ. The weather was perfect!

Unfortunately I got so involved in being the hostess that I forgot to take pictures when we were eating and playing...another reason why we missed Amy. She always remembers the pictures!

Location 3: Kevin is stationed near Spokane, WA right now and he wasn't able to get home for this holiday. He actually spent Thanksgiving on the base and said that the turkey in the mess hall wasn't too bad.

He and 3 of his (linguist) friends also drove 3 hours south to our friend's house in Mabton, WA and had another turkey dinner on Friday. It was so sweet of Paul & Jane to host this meal for the guys. Of course, they've been loving our kids for decades and this is just another evidence of that. How awesome to have such dear friends there when we can't be!

Location 4: Our new daughter-in-law, Erin was in Santa Clarita with her family there. Ever since Kevin graduated from language school, he's been in Texas and Washington state on assignments that were too short for her to be with him, so she's been living in SCV since the end of September. We look forward to seeing her again and to the time when they'll be together.

Even though we couldn't all be together we're thankful that we could all be with people we enjoy and who love us. That's a true blessing.

Friday, November 24, 2006

NBA All Star Voting

Don't forget to VOTE for our Phoenix Suns to be starters in the NBA All Star Game in February. We actually have enough Suns listed that if they get enough votes, we could have ALL Phoenix Suns as the starting line up. Wouldn't that be AWESOME!

Balloting ends January 21, but you can vote every day, so keep going. You can also enter for a chance to win a trip to the All Star Game. Wouldn't that be cool...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Thanksgiving Prayer
(from a friend of a friend)

Glorious God,

how curious,
and what a confession
that we should set aside one day a year
and call it Thanksgiving.
I smile at the presumption,

and hope you smile, too.
But the truth is,
Holy Friend,
That my words can't carry all the praise
I want them to
or that they should,
no matter how many trips they make.

So this day,
all is praise and thanks
for all my days.
I breathe and it is your breath that fills me.
I look and it is your light by which I see.
I move and it is your energy moving in me.
I listen and even the stones speak of you.
I touch and you are between finger and skin.
I think and the thoughts are but sparks
from the fire of your truth.
I weep and your Spirit broods over me.
I long and it is the tug of your kingdom.

Oh Glorious One,
for this curious day,
for the impulses that have designated it,
for the gifts that grace it,

for the gladness that accompanies it,
for my life,
for those through whom I came to be,
for friends through whom I hear and
greater worlds than I otherwise would,
for all the doors of words and music and worship
through which I pass to larger worlds,
and for the One who brought a kingdom to me
I pause to praise and thank you
with this one more trip of words

which leaves too much uncarried,
but not unfelt, unlived, unloved.


Monday, November 20, 2006


"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: ‘Wow! What a ride!'" – Robert Wickman

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Creative People - Part II

O.k. since I'm getting flack about not including my son and daughter-in-law in the list, I'll continue now that I'm back home.

Update on Kevin - here's a link to the Pranczar And Vyxx'n website where he and Shawn Thompson recorded a couple of a' cappella songs, just being their crazy selves. They constantly keep us entertained when they're together.

Andrew, our son-in-law is also very creative. He works doing custom framing of artwork and does an awesome job! Soon he's going to be learning how to do audio engineering and I'm sure his creative juices will show up there as well.

Erin, our daughter-in-law is also quite talented. She plays the violin beautifully, is learning to scrap book (due to peer pressure) and loves to decorate with Shabby Chic. I look forward to being able to spend more time discovering her many gifts in the months and years to come.

John Lynch is my friend, one of my bosses, the teaching pastor at Open Door Fellowship, one of the authors of the book TrueFaced, an amazing speaker and quite a creative hilarious guy.

He can deliver a message filled with the grace of God that everyone can understand, he makes you laugh and cry, does drama and accents and writeslife-changing inspiring words. I love to hear him share his heart through preaching and the written word. God has given him a real gift for communication and I'm proud to know him.

Update on Terry: I was looking online for any links that might refer to his old band, Glory Road and besides a ton of stuff about the recent basketball movie, look what I found. Glory Road the gospel quartet! (for those who don't know, this is NOT my husband's band) Or did you want to buy a copy of the old album? Exit - Glory Road

Gary DeLacy is our friend that does all kinds of graphic design in So Cal. He does album covers, and much more. He actually designed and created our wedding invitation, which was printed on clear plastic (acetate or something). It was way cool! He designed the Glory Road album cover as well. One of these days when I have time to dig through my stuff, I'll find these & post them for you to see. This photo shows some of his album cover work.

He often has created great custom Christmas cards and one year he did one with a picture of Pope John Paul II on the front with a Christmas greeting in Polish on the inside. He actually sent one of the cards to the Vatican and got a nice note back from the Pope!

Mark Converse - Terry was privileged to play regularly with Mark at Placerita Baptist church where we attended in Santa Clarita. Mark is an amazing professional drummer and percussionist who's played with dozens of orchestras, ensembles and shows. If you Google his name you'll see him listed on many many albums as well. Terry always looked forward to Christmas time when he and Mark had a chance to do a few duets of old Christmas favorites with guitar and percussion. Generally I'm not big on the drums, often they are too overpowering and over shadow the vocals (which I think are very important). Mark is one of the few drummers that I really looked forward to hearing. He is so tasteful and knows just what to add to a song. I LOVE listening to him play.

Bernie Rolfe (photo right) has been a singer, musican, song writer, record producer, arranger, choir director, band leader and inspiration to me since I was 16 years old. He was my choir teacher in high school which was so fun! (I told him about the job opening.)

Even though I had no musical training, he recruited me into a singing group called Shira, where I had the pleasure of singing and sharing Christ with hundreds of people in Arizona through the outreach ministry, Hand in Hand. He's always been a great encouragement to me and he gives awesome big bear hugs!

Well, I could go on and on but these are just a few people who have and continue to inspire me to think and act creatively. I'm so thankful for all of their involvement in my life.