Sunday, August 30, 2009


It's that time of year off to college. This is our ninth year: it's become an annual pilgrimage. Today we took our youngest, Katie, to college in Indiana.

In Indiana is grown lots

and lots

and lots

of corn.

We encountered detour signs, giving a little twist to our familiar route. No matter. We laughed and enjoyed the ride.

Finally we pulled in to the amazing little town of Upland. And unloading commenced.

Squeals and hugs erupted. I'm pretty sure this only goes on in the girls' dorms. Katie was ECSTATIC to be back.

And I thought. The day was much like raising kids. Just when you think you're on the right road, a detour appears. Adjust the course. Roll down the windows, sing and laugh ... but too soon the journey's over and it's time to let go.

We can try to hold on to our chicks for all we're worth, but soon we're unloading them into a box of a room where they're happy as clams.

And then

the day quiets


the sun fades on our years of parenting.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

shopping challenged

My dear daughter Katie. I love her like crazy. I think she loves me. At least, she says it at the end of every phone call.

But we have a problem. We're severely shopping-challenged. It isn't funny. We are really, really lacking and I'm afraid it's genetic.

My mom hated shopping. Placing orders from the J.C. Penney catalog thrilled mom no end. Had she been here for the advent of online shopping, she'd have gone berserk.

I suppose I didn't help the situation. We'd enter a store. I'd look around. "Have you found anything?" she'd ask. "No," I'd mumble, annoyed with her and myself. Clothing stores were always so ... full of clothes I didn't like. Or something.

Now it's Katie and me. Tonight, after an appointment at the Apple Store (that is so odd: an appointment at a computer store?), we wandered into Forever 21. Ever experienced it? Here it is, bullet-style:

- very, very large.
- very, very full of clothes for very, very young people.
- very, very randomly organized. Or not organized. I kept trying to locate sweaters from jeans from tops. No order whatsover.
- very, very loud. Rap to rock to rap and not one song did I know. For crying out loud, how can a shopper think with music blaring?

Katie and I were like rats in a maze. I'd start a little dancing and she'd quickly move away from me. We couldn't make decisions because we couldn't hear each other.

And soon our eyes glazed over and her previously-broken, recently-fixed nose began to throb. "Oh, my nose: it's time to go." What the?? Now the kid has a shopping meter nose.

See what I mean? Shopping is just not our thing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

tomatoes vs. friends

Here it is, August 24, and I all I have to show for my gardening is one tomato. It's a beauty, as tomatoes go. But just ONE?

I used to grow a decent crop of tomatoes prior to pushing out the back of our house ten years ago. Encroaching closer to the pine trees, the previously sun-splashed south side of the house grew ever shadier. And tomatoes absolutely must have lots of sun.

The front yard is more open, but faces north. And who grows tomatoes in the front yard? Oh. My neighbor Lynn, that's who. Sorry, Lynn! You may grow tomatoes wherever you choose.

Some of you readers might be aghast to learn we live in a SUBDIVISION here in Ohio. Yeah, the S-word! Country people, I know a few, just can't fathom living in a subdivision.

Our lot might not lend itself to grand gardens. But we have grown something else over the past 20 years. Blessed, awesome friendships with our neighbors.

And I'll take friends over home-grown tomatoes any day.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I'm in love

The most recent wedding is over. We've been to the cabin up north. Again. Today I made an impossibly crazy list of things to catch up on. I was thinking maybe I could catch my breath and get my feet on the ground.

Then, as I was taking one last bite of a delicious grilled burger with avocado, I heard my phone beep-beep a text. "Ultra-sound up!"

I flew to the computer and pulled up their blog. Son Dan and daughter-in-love Jenny have posted the first ultra-sound images of their baby. I mean, OUR FIRST GRANDCHILD. S/he has the signature Haller pumpkin-head. Cute little in-utero contortions. And feet. Oh my goodness, look at those tiny, floating feet in the last photo.

Something tells me that life just isn't going to slow down. But who wants it to? I hear grandparenting is a mighty fun gig.

I can already taste those toes!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

what's for dinner?

The post on dinner a while back generated a flurry of blog-reader interest. Whadaya know? People are universally interested in dinner. Naturally, since it's something we all have in common: what to make for dinner. At least, in my circle of friends and such. I suppose if you're Queen Elizabeth or Michelle Obama or George Clooney you don't give serious thought to what's for dinner. You just know someone's going to have it ready for you. Can you even imagine?

Anyway. Here's the 2009 Haller Summertime Favorite. It's been voted so by my hubby, my son Mark (though he's not at all persnickity), new daughter-in-love Jill (oooh, she REALLY loves this meal) and me. Darling daughter Katie, well, she is quite persnickity when it comes to eating. But she's trying to broaden her culinary horizons, I'll give her that.

Since this meal isn't a real-written-down recipe, I'll wing it. Wing-it cooking is so much more fun, but sometimes more stressful if it's 5 o'clock and you're clueless about dinner.

Haller's 2009 summertime somewhat Mexican Meal

Do this in the morning, if at all possible:

1. Sprinkle boneless chicken breast (1/person) with chili powder, olive oil, salt and garlic powder ... let it marinade (and in my case, thaw) for the day. Sometime before dinner, grill it.

2. Our yummy salsa: Chop and mix up the following. Do it in the morning and store in the fridge til dinnertime:
Two good-sized tomatoes
Half a jalapeno (more if you love it spicy)
Two green onions (you know, the long kind from a bunch)
A handful of frozen corn, or leftover cooked corn, cut off a cob.
About a half bunch of fresh cilantro...God's best herbal creation!
Add one can of black beans, rinsed and drained: don't chop them. ha.
Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder, cover and store in fridge.
Ooops - and awesome addition. We're having this tonight and I FORGOT the avocado! Best to add it right before serving.

Then, as it's getting close to dinnertime:

3. Open a big bag of tortilla chips (sometimes Kroger has theirs for $1 a bag!)

4. Cook some rice ... can be white, or Spanish, or any kind of rice mix you like.

5. Have some shredded cheddar, lettuce and sour cream ready.

OK, chop the chicken and you're set. Let everyone layer everything to their heart's desire on their plate...chips, chicken, salsa, lettuce, cheese, sour cream and rice on the side. This is good cold, cool or warm.

If you don't just love this concoction, well, I just can't figure you out. Bon appetit!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Same Kind of Different as Me

Scrawled on a scrap of paper and floating around my desk, its title kept piquing my curiosity each time it came into view. I think it was my daughter-in-love Jenny who recommended I read it.

Finally, I picked up a copy for just $5 on our drive north.

I've never read a book like this. It is all at once heart-breaking and uplifting. It's a raw revelation of ignorance and hate, yet a redemption of love. It touches me in deep places because of my Southern roots. I also realize my appalling ignorance of the homeless. But it has also touched millions, as it's a New York Times bestseller.

Same Kind of Different as Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. It's one for your reading list, your mind and your heart.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

the rest of the story

It's been a wonderful whirlwind of honeymooners returning, more gift-opening, and packing up their stuff for the move to married-ness. More photos ...

At an out-of-towners shower just before the wedding, Jill opened this gift: a drawing by Jill at age 7 and sent to her Grandma. I love this photo!

Jenny and David hit the dance floor at the rehearsal dinner

Curly, Larry and Moe ... I mean, my three sons

Jill's wedding gift to Mark...

...and his to her...

special people: my sister Anne, son Dan and lifelong friend Pat

helping the groom get ready

magic trick? Just dad trying to fold his hanky ..

David figures out his little hanky thing, too..

my family who were able to join us: "Gramma" Pat, me, brother Mark, sister Anne and "Grandpa" John

two of my three gorgeous girls...

the doors of the church

after the honeymoon, the newlyweds finally have some cake

and pack off to life together...

It seems a little sad, but also very, very good.

Friday, August 7, 2009

my chicks

Yes, that's my nickname for my "kids." Here, Dan & Jenny, Katie and David at Mark and Jill's wedding. They're all young adults now, it's obvious. You could call me a recovering mother hen: I try like heck not to fuss over them.

But when they're all "home" (I know, I know, they now have homes of their own), it's the most indescribable feeling of completeness. And ... I can enjoy them without thought of changing diapers, taking them to the orthodontist, or wondering where they are at midnight.

Elisabeth Elliot would warn me to beware of my feelings. Sigh. I just love having my chicks near.

Thank you, Lynn, for getting this photo!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Mr. and Mrs. Mark Haller! Isn't this just the sweetest photo? Look at their faces: pure joy. May this be the beginning of a lifetime of happiness, where God reigns in your home.

I love you, Mark and Jill!

Thank you, Lisa Fowler, for capturing this photo!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

walking the line ... making choices

Soggy sleepy bags, sweatshirts and boxers. Soggy towels. Lots of them. And now, a soggy spirit.

I've tried two or three times to write a post on my son Mark's wedding over the weekend. Nothing comes out quite right. So I'll start over.

Thursday night it rained on the bachelor camp-out. (see last post) Friday night our washer overflowed. (that might be the next post) I ended up with a mountain of wet towels, which my neighbor washed and dried on Saturday morning, the day of the wedding.

I'm pretty much a frustrated photographer without a camera, so the photos I did take are in the camera with the honeymooning couple. Very disheartening; if I can't see some photos pretty soon, I might wither away.

The wedding was glorious, the reception fun and festive. But as the groom's mother, and I say this with some authority since it's my second time around, I find myself on an emotional yo-yo. One moment I'm needed and wanted. The next moment, I may as well get lost, for all the help I provide. That's good, right? Then why doesn't it feel so good? See what I mean?

They need us, then they don't. Not unlike toddler days when a 3-year-old walks a tenuous line between dependence and independence. Our job is to figure out when to help out and when to let go. We walk the line, too.

Look at the tiny photo above ... it sort of represents my jumbled-up emotions right now. It's a beautiful, yet low-resolution photo of the newlyweds, taken off a friend's facebook page.

Mark and Jill's life together is just beginning, but I am standing way, way back. The memories are fresh and sweet but the biggest part of my job seems to be coming to a close.

It's really ok. I will remember the words of Elisabeth Elliot: emotions are so unreliable. Elliot also said, "Life requires countless 'little' deaths - occasions when we are given the chance to say no to self and yes to God." (Passion and Purity, page 73.)

That's what it comes down to: will I wallow in sentiment (all about me) or rejoice in Mark and Jill's happiness? (all about them)

Decision: I will focus on the blessing of gaining a new daughter and witnessing a new family being born!