Friday, April 29, 2011

wedding fit for a king

I stayed up a bit late last night, so I was tardy for the royal wedding. Thankful for DVR and Diane Sawyer, I tuned in exactly as the queen arrived at Westminster Abbey. Glorious in sunny yellow! I do wonder, though. Why does the queen carry a purse? I doubt she'd be stopping for a cup of carry-out tea.

The ladies' hats were out in full regalia! Some, like Camilla's, had elegantly lovely lines. Others, like Princess Beatrice (on the right in this photo, with sister Eugenie), comically resembled reindeer antlers. How did this girl keep a straight face?

And Victoria Beckham's maternity outfit: excessvely formless. You'd think she could smile on such a happy occasion!

The procession. The hats. Kate's dress. Pippa's dress. The balcony kiss(es). The groom's military dress attire. All fabulous and fascinating.

But then I began hearing about the 10,000 canapes. I've never been much into canapes, I don't believe. While I don't doubt the food at the royal reception was scrumptious, after reading the description, I realize I am clueless when it comes to royal food:

"They included pressed duck terrine with fruit chutney, roulade of goat's cheese with caramelised walnuts, quails eggs with celery salt, bubble and squeak with confit shoulder of lamb, grain mustard and honey-glazed chipolatas and miniature Yorkshire pudding with roast fillet of beef and horseradish mousse."

Bubble and squeak? Oh, yum. OK, my mom used to make Yorkshire pudding. Love that.

Then there's the cake. A gal the very same age as me was the royal cake-baker. Wow. Can you even imagine? Good job, Fiona. Looks like you hit a home run.

Though I don't know you, nor you me ... I am proud of you, Fiona.
Proud that you, a 56-year-old sister, baked the cake of the century.
Not a 25 nor 38-year-old, but a 56-year-old.
Age has its privileges.
And your cake looks stupendously beautiful and delicious.

Thank you, Britain, for a day of pageantry. Thank you, William and Kate.
Happy honeymoon, happy life!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

what's your wedding guest name?

A friend posted this as her status on facebook:

In honor of the royal wedding on Friday, use your royal wedding guest name. Start with either Lord or Lady. Your first name is one of your grandparents' names. Your surname is the name of your first pet, double-barreled with the name of the street you grew up on. Post yours here. Then cut and paste it into your status.

I AM HENCEFORTH ... Lady Ona Kate Tippy-Fernwood

Hilarious! Come on readers ... follow the directions and tell me what your royal wedding guest name would be!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

royal wedding

Alright, I admit it. I'm a little excited about the royal wedding in two days: Prince William marries Kate Middleton in Westminster Abbey. If I want to see the live broadcast, I'll be sipping coffee by 5:00 a.m. on Friday.

I remember the wedding in 1981 of William's parents, Charles and Diana. I got up in the middle of the night, not having the advantage of DVR. Theirs was the first royal wedding I ever watched and it was magnificent. Diana's train was 25 feet long. Wow.

Of course, their marriage didn't last: the victim, perhaps, of a too-public and unrealistic lifestyle. Is it true Charles and Diana were together only 13 times before they married? She seemed sad from the start, the 19-year-old bride thrust into such a public life.

I hope Kate and William forge a committed, happy and lasting union.

Monday, April 25, 2011

egg-cellent Easter!

We cooked up a delicious Easter meal,
though not all my "chicks" were here.
You'd think after the last ten years or so of
an emptying nest, I'd be used to holidays
without everyone ...
but still I miss them.

But it was super to have daughter Katie home from
college, Bill's mom here, and son Mark and
daughter-in-love Jill. A lovely day.


Mark showed his awesome turkey-carving skills to his dad.

Cooking is fun, fun, FUN!
(apron from Grandma Haller's estate)

And the girls are just cute as ever.
(missing: Jenny!)

Katie and I put together the table decor ... how do you like it?

And finally, the clean-up crew.

After skyping with little Ari while she ate her lunch,
we enjoyed Katie's masterful chocolate silk pie. Oh, my.
I hope you, too, enjoyed Easter Sunday
with family and good food.
And with thankfulness for the risen Savior.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He has risen!

Resurrection Sunday!
I know:
I am a sinner and can't get to heaven on my own.
God paid the price for my sins: dying by crucifixion.
He rose from death, as promised, three days later.
By taking on my sin, Christ has redeemed me for eternity.
He loves me - and you - like crazy!
Happy Easter everyone.

He is not here; he has risen! Matthew 24:6

Friday, April 22, 2011

he breathed his last

‎It was now about the sixth hour,
and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour,
for the sun stopped shining.
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
Jesus called out with a loud voice,
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."
When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Luke 23:44-46

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

family photo

January 1, 2011:
Granddaughter Ari's first birthday, in Charlotte, North Carolina
with lots of family in attendance! The Hallers
and [my daughter-in-love] Jenny's parents, sisters & husbands, and little ones.

I came across this photo and realized that
all of us look pretty darn good ... quite an accomplishment
for 17 people, including 3 children. No eyes closed, no hidden heads!

Happy birthday - again - Ari.
But then, I wished you a special first birthday already.
So happy almost-16-months!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

pine needle picker

Do you have trash pickers in your neighborhood? People who find goodies up and down the street on trash day? Well last evening I became a pine needle picker. On a quick walk around the block with Ellie, I spied an entire trash bin of gorgeous pine needles, awaiting pick up tomorrow. Yard waste!

I took Ellie home, got our rolling trash can from the garage, and headed back. I don't know these people well, so it was a little weird to knock on their door. The Mister happened to be at the kitchen window, shirtless, and I motioned to him, "may I have these?" He opened the window and said - what else - "sure!" He must think I'm crazy.

Home I went, happy as a clam (are clams really this happy?) with my load of pine needles. I spread them out back along Ellie's "trail" and they look dandy. They should help the mud issue.

Ya know, some of the best things in life certainly are free.

Monday, April 18, 2011

my county

My county is a paradox. It holds the superlative as one of the fastest growing counties in the state and, at one time, the entire country. I live near the center of the county.

The booming growth lies to the south of us, but to the north you will find stunningly peaceful, quietly beautiful, rich farmland. Trains daily blow their whistles as they journey through Delaware County.

Tidy family farms dot the landscape and I never tire of a drive through this gentle countryside. It speaks strongly and lovingly of the generations who have worked the land to produce corn and soybeans. I love my county!

(see the train?)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

family of four

I came across this five year old photo last night.
It made me laugh.
Dan and Jenny were dating and juniors in college.
In about two months,
they WILL be a family of four
just like their little snowman family.

And then I shall have two darling granddaughters!

Friday, April 15, 2011

happy birthday, little brother!

Little brother:

a pacifist

Big sister:

friendly only if she felt like it
would fight for little brother, who was all of
the above

I'm not sure why my little brother put up with me. But we had fun as pre-schoolers; at least I did because he followed all my orders!

Happy birthday to a great guy: my brother Mark!
(photo: Mark, age 3 and me, age 5)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

why are you whispering?

Once in awhile, hubby and I sneak away to catch a matinee, which we did this week. Movie choice: Soul Surfer - the true story of Bethany Hamilton, the 13-year-old in Hawaii who lost an arm to a hungry shark. Love, loved it. Take your spouse, kids or just yourself and go see it!

Well obviously, matinee showings aren't filled ... so when we were the first to take our seats ten minutes early, we figured only a few more would trickle in.

Trailers start. No one.
Concession ads. Still no one else.
The movie begins and Bill whispers, "we might really be the only ones here!"
"Why are you whispering?" I whisper back.

So no other mid-week, mid-day movie-goers ever came. There we sat, with our choice of 300 seats, all alone with a huge tub of popcorn. Weird but fun.

Go see Soul Surfer!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

how books influenced my life

While on the topic of reading, I pulled out an essay that won a contest I entered six years ago. The contest topic, "How Books Influenced My Life," came from an online writers' forum. Word maximum was a short 250 words. So I wrote up this little essay and emailed it. And won. I believe there were only a handful of entries. But the prize was a critique by Carol Rottman and a copy of her writers' devotional, Writers in the Spirit which I totally love. It was neat to correspond with Carol, and I still occasionally keep in touch with her.

How Books Influenced My Life
A 45-year-old black and white snapshot reveals my lanky young mother, my pajama-clad brothers and me nestled on a bed, tethered together by an open picture book.

My mother’s Tennessee drawl eased me gently away on nightly adventures with Pooh and Piglet in Winnie-the-Pooh and Mole and Ratty in Wind in the Willows. Their magic, like my mother’s southern meals, was poured into me and grew an appetite for words, a love of stories, and a craving for more and more books.

Books and bedtime, books and blankets, books and the beach all wove a tapestry of my earliest, fondest memories.

Like a close childhood friend, my time with books has ebbed and flowed over the years. Babies, child-rearing and housekeeping reduced my personal reading time substantially. I was, however, honored to expose my four children to the wonder of reading as we hauled in stacks of library books on snowy winter afternoons.

These days, books continue as my faithful companions, whether crammed in a tote bag on summer vacation or balanced precariously on my bedside table. My childhood friend is back, to pick up where we left off before life became so full.

And I live with another lover of books: my teenaged daughter, who loves nothing more than to nestle with a book on her bed, under a blanket, and call to me, “Mom, I’m going to read for awhile!”

(c) Barb Haller 2005

Monday, April 11, 2011

35 years of reading

One of the greatest gifts from my husband came right after we started dating. He encouraged me to start a reading log. And so, in the summer of 1975, I began logging my reading in a green spiral notebook. In it I recorded the title, author, date completed and a brief opinion of the book.

I'm always fascinated to look back through my log. Books on adoption when we were considering that. Books on sibling rivalry when my chickies were terrorizing each other. Books on faith before I even came to faith. Pretty much no rhyme, reason, or plan. I'm a spontaneous reader, I guess.

Two years were book-less: 1984 and 1986. Career changes,  two babies and two moves were going on. I was doing good to keep us all fed. If you're into stats, my highest average was ten books a year, and in the last ten years my annual reading average nearly doubled.

How many books did I read? Officially: 164. Add in Bible studies and scores of magazine articles and it might be 200. I don't think it's nearly enough: think of all the great ones I've missed!

When the 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird rolled around, I decided to read it. Only to discover, looking back over my log, that I'd read it 25 years earlier! Uh, and it did seem awfully familiar after a chapter or two.

It may seem like a pointless pursuit to you. But I treasure my log book and I challenge myself to read more each year.

And maybe someday my granddaughter will find Baba's reading log and get a sense of my love of reading.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Why, hello daffodils.
You tiptoed in without my realizing it.

And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
(last two lines of the poem 'Daffodils'
by William Wordsworth)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

a foundation of love

I'm just four days into a new project
and it's about to swallow me.

Years and years of photographs.
The time has come to get them in order. 

28 years with children.
More if I dig deeper for photos of our
early days of marriage.

But I persevere.
It is altogether
happy and sad
sentimental, sweet
and bursting with the love
that is the foundation
of our family.

I have a feeling this will be quite a journey.

Daughter Katie, 11, on vacation
in Michigan ~ 2001.

Monday, April 4, 2011

the gift of my ordinary days

I recently read The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison.

An editor for nearly two decades, Kenison is a gifted writer. I admire her skill at crafting words and in Gift she captures a mother's heart as she enters the season of releasing her children into young adulthood. She describes parenting two very different children, a new season in her marriage, and the unsettled desire to start fresh by relocating and building a new house: themes which resonate with me.

Faced with losing her job and unexpected time on her hands in their new home, Kenison grapples with what comes next at mid-life. She writes, "I am ready to sit, to listen, to allow some long dormant part of myself a slow, quiet awakening, an unfurling into new life."

I loved crawling into bed each night to read Kenison's steady prose, and I identify with the rich and raw emotions of a mother nearing the finish line of child-rearing. On the surface it's a beautiful book.

But. For all the 300 pages of outstanding writing, for me this book is disappointingly secular in ways I couldn't ignore. In nearly every corner of her book, Kenison dances close to acknowledging the need for God in the questions of life, but never quite gets there. When Kenison's father-in-law dies and her son questions her about life after death, Kenison evades an answer and points to a full moon as a message from God.

From death to gardening to her sons' growing independence, Kenison looks to nature, other people, and herself for comfort. There was a time when this was my practice, too, but eventually it rang terribly hollow.

Like Kenison, I've found that life's not easy, especially when the inevitable challenges and changes come along. My husband doesn't always understand or love me as I need. Kids push me to the edge. They demand, disobey or disappoint in the face of my unwavering love. My mothering must constantly evolve as my children grow. In the end, no one can really, fully make me happy.

That sums up the simple reason I'm thankful to have a reliable constant in my life: a God who made me, knows me, guides me, loves me more than anyone, cares about every detail of my life, and is the source of true, lasting contentment. And who can handle all my questions ...  about life, love, defiant kids, and what to do when I'm just cranky with life.

Come to think of it, you might say that God is the gift in my ordinary days.

I am the way, the truth and the life.
John 14:6

Saturday, April 2, 2011

oh, hail!

Just back from a walk with my friend Lisa. On weekends when it's not icy/snowy/horrible weather we try to take a longer walk beyond my neighborhood. So Ellie and I started out to meet Lisa part-way. In the upper 30's, windy and cloudy: not bad by winter's standards.

Just at the point where Lisa and I part paths for home, something started falling: white, frozen stuff. Small, about the size of a pencil eraser. In fact, it looked much like Dippin' Dots! Bouncing off the sidewalk, my head and Ellie. She seemed a little confused.

The Dippin' Dots only lasted a few minutes, but I felt kind of silly, like a kid caught in a rainstorm.

Gee, when spring finally gets here it's going to be boring!