Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Here we have a little Halloween rebel, 1958: Miss Barbara, ready to trick-or-treat with her brother Pat and the O'Brien boys from next door. How she hated those plastic masks. It didn't bother her one bit to trick-or-treat with no mask, and her raincoat covering her costume.

Two years later, my brother Pat wore this outrageous mask.
For 1960, it was pretty scary.
The rest of the story is, my mother answered the door on Halloween for several
years, wearing this mask. She'd fling the door open and scare the kids!

Halloween, 1993. Haller kids in their homemade costumes.
Mark's pirate costume was probably the only costume I ever purchased.
I ascribed to
"go find some stuff in the dress-up box."

Little Ari, two years ago, with a jack-o-lantern grin.
We were visiting a farm to pick out pumpkins.
Such fun.

Not a big fan of Halloween ... but have a good night wherever you are!

Saturday, October 27, 2012


"You're as healthy as a horse!" my mom used to say. Since I rarely got sick, I assumed she meant that neither did horses. But as a child who disliked school, I secretly wished I would get sick now and then.

I do remember catching what was ominously called the "Hong Kong Flu" when I was about 12. It was miserable, keeping me bed-ridden for days. My fever spiked so high that I think I was hallucinating.

But otherwise, even in middle-age, I continue to fulfill Mom's declaration of good health. No surgeries. No medications. Very rarely even a cold.

So last Monday, when I awoke with a sore throat and overall lethargy, I didn't handle it well. I've dragged around all week, to-do list undone.

Since last night, I've been unable to talk above a whisper. Which is funny, because I'm finishing a study of the book of James. In it, the half-brother of Jesus teaches Christians how to live. Good stuff! He says true faith must be one of action, not just words. He also talks about our speech.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.
Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds,
they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.
Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
James 3:3-5

So, this "healthy horse" would be wise to remember the teachings of James. In my little season of silence, I am considering my words and their effect. I desire them to be good and fruitful, building up others. Somehow, my silence is a gift to slow down and meditate more on areas where I need to grow, and ask God to correct and redirect me.

I love his timing, always perfect!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

a delightful little visit!

Katie and her biggest brother

Over the weekend we had a treat:
a short visit with our son David. Yay!
David works for a baseball team, so we rarely get to see him during the season.
He was working in Detroit last week, helping out at some play-off games.
With the nature of baseball: who wins, who loses, and the weather,
we didn't even know until the last out on Thursday
that we could pick him up for a weekend visit.
Bill and Katie drove up early Friday and brought David home.
It was great!

We made pizza one night and grilled steaks the next.
David visited his grandma, and we went hiking at Gallant Woods.
We also played some games and watched "The King's Speech."
How I love, love, love catching up with my grown kids,
seeing how they think and hearing about their jobs and lives.
It's a satisfaction I could never have imagined
back when I was breaking up their fights, packing their lunches and
driving them to the orthodontist.

(Even though you own your own house now ...)
thanks for coming home, David!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

happy birthday, Jenny!

I call my sons' wives my daughters-in-love. It elicits some curious looks and once, even a snide comment. "Humph!" a woman said in confused disapprovel. As if I shouldn't dare to deviate from the term in-law.

But around the time I gained my first daughter-in-law, Jenny, I heard a woman refer to her daughter-in-love and, well, I fell in love with it. Most would agree that in-law doesn't carry much affection. I think mothers-in-love, if they want a good relationship with their adopted daughters and sons, need to be intentional and a loving friend. So that's what I try to do, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much.

So. Today is Jenny's 28th birthday.  She's my middle son Dan's wife of five years and mother of their two sweet girls. Jenny's a fabulous cook, a lover of God, coffee, chocolate, college football (Notre Dame) and popcorn ... and card games. She's trying, with some success, to turn us into game lovers, too. Funny times.

I admire that Jenny speaks her mind, is a modern young woman who is learning the value of being a godly mother, and treasures family. Happy birthday, Jenny. I love you, and never imagined the blessings I'd gain when my sons married! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

why pray?

When you ask [God], you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives,
that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:3

On Tuesday mornings, I head to church and study the book of James with about 25 other women. I love it! Oh, boy, James offers so much wisdom and challenge.

So yesterday I posted James 4:3 on facebook and found myself in a discussion. Someone in our Tuesday study asked, based on this passage, why doesn't God say 'yes' to requests that we believe are heart-felt. She was honestly asking for an explanation. So I plunged in. In the end, I ended up examining myself. Here's what I said:

I will try, Erika. But only God can answer rightly! Though we might be heart-felt in our prayers and requests, ultimately it's God's call on how He answers. Being human, my mind is finite and my understanding limited. Just like our kids who ask us for things they think are best for them, as parents we usually know (big picture) what's best and what's not. That might lead us to think, why pray at all, if God has made up His mind? I still struggle with that. But I do think prayer links our hearts to God and helps us, in our weakness, to rely on Him more fully by strengthening our relationship with Him.

Thirty-four years ago, I prayed for my mother to survive cancer. My prayers weren't answered. You can believe there was some fist-shaking at God. How could my heart have been more pure, wanting my mother to live? Now, I think I see a part of God's purpose in it. Ultimately, I submitted to and trusted Him more. God became my go-to guy in raising children because I didn't have the person I would have turned to. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith: "sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." I think too often, we are faithful only in what we can see. An oxymoron, ya know?
"...he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:7-8

Oh, I want to be faithful. I used to think it was a weakness, to have faith. Now I think it takes strength of will and perseverance, trusting God in all things, with all situations, at all times .... knowing He sees the big picture of our lives. I can be sure of what I hope for, certain of what I cannot see.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

the rest of my road trip

We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children
that makes the heart too big for the body.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1860

Lily Jane, 8 months

I could scarcely believe it, but after returning home from the last
road trip, I found that I'd taken only a handful of photos while in Virginia.
The move that weekend kept us so busy, there wasn't time for photo opps!
So. Here's my darling Lily, content on the floor of their new home.
She's scooting around to beat the band.
They have wood floors throughout and large, sunny windows. Love, love it,
but miss Mark, Jill and Lily something awful.

Then it was off to Charlotte to visit Dan, Jenny, Ari and Ashlyn.
Their lives are busy and full and we joined the fray!


Given a choice, I would choose a trip to the library over
Disney World, Las Vegas, or ... yes I'm a boring old bookworm.
My little granddaughters are learning to love the library too. Sigh.

I just love this ... my daughter with my granddaughter.

And my son with his daughters.

In addition to the miles driven,

the playing, diapering, feeding, chasing, book-reading, giggling, comforting,

bathing, pottying, dressing and undressing wore out this Baba.

But oh, they delight me.
When it's time to leave,
I find, as Mr. Emerson said,
that my heart is indeed too big for my body.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

16 days and 2693.5 miles

Wow, it's been an incredible two weeks! Sixteen days, really. My recent posts on the Kamp Kiwani reunion spanned a five-day road trip I made to Tennessee, also stopping to visit my dad in Nashville.

As I traveled, son Mark and his wife Jill, who moved to Virginia in August, had to vacate their home due to a plumbing/sewage emergency. Ack! While living in a hotel and with new church friends, they were told they had one week to move out completely.

And so upon my return from Tennessee, I made plans to drive to Virginia to help Mark and Jill move. Home two days, then back in the car. This time, daughter Katie joined me.

While helping with such a hasty move wouldn't have been anyone's choice of a visit, it was great to see Mark, Jill and sweet 8-month-old Lily and give them a hand. What a task! Their new town home is charming with its wood floors and large, sunny rooms. Love it! The neighborhood is full of trees and sidewalks. Especially amazing was the team of guys from Mark and Jill's new church who came to the rescue. A dozen or more men answered the call to help. Wow, what servant hearts!

After four nights in Virginia, Katie and I headed to Charlotte to visist Dan, Jenny, Ari and Ashlyn. The girls are adorable, busy and energetic. They wore out their Baba, but I loved every minute of it! We went to a beautiful park, fixed and ate lots of food, spent time in the lovely Carolina autumn, visited the library, colored, did laundry, read books, took naps, changed diapers and made potty runs.

Arriving home last evening, I checked my odometer. I'd driven 2,695.5 miles over 16 days. A record for me, surpassed only by the great Montana adventure of 1998!

As always, it's sweet to have time with granddaughters. A few more photos to come ...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Kamp Kiwani reunion ~ faces!

Anne (Kanga), Cedar and me.
Cedar is well-loved by the hundreds of girls and staff who have spent summers at Kiwani.
Cedar directed camp and waterfront for many years.
Now a retired teacher, Cedar loves camp and is dear to our hearts!

Group photo!
It was fun to gather by "era" and snap some photos.
Girls of the 70's!

This is Pat. She has a huge heart for Kamp Kiwani
and its girls. "Always about the girls!" she told us.
Pat is special to my sister and me because she
knew our mother and worked with her as a Girl Scout volunteer.
It was precious to hear her memories of Mom.

Oh, Donut! I can't begin to express how special it was to
see you standing at the trading post, hug and then catch up on
each other's lives. Thirty-five years is a lot of catching up.
You're amazing, you're like a sister; love you!

And dear sis, thanks for pushing me to meet you at Kiwani.
I loved it ... and love you!

Day is done, gone the sun,
from the lake, from the hill, from the sky.
All is well, safely rest. God is nigh.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Kamp Kiwani ... Soapstone Falls and waterfront

A group of us old-timers set out on Saturday morning of our
reunion at Kamp Kiwani.
We were sillier and louder than 50-something women should be,
but did we ever have a ball.
We were in search of Soapstone Falls, a favorite destination of campers and staff.
Kanga found a map to the falls in an old camp manual in the "museum" at the Thunderbird.
Perfect! Off we paddled.

We paddled up a finger of the lake, pulled the canoes up, and slogged through the muck.
Laughing all the way!
We did stop long enough to notice these awesome mushrooms.

Our merry little band ... crazy, all of us!

And by golly, we found the "falls."
Water does still course this way, when there's rain.
And best of all, there's still a good supply of soapstone,
the soft, gray stone found in layers along the walls.
I carved a poem on one of those stones for
the sweet guy who became my husband.
He still has it.

On the way back, we spotted Pudd'n, trying out a funyak!

Sliding in to shore, we pulled up the canoes and headed to lunch.
A grand morning on the lake!

At last, my sis got to take out a sailboat. How she loved it!
Here we are together. What a ball!

Next: faces of the Kiwani reunion weekend.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Saturday at Kamp Kiwani

Kamp Kiwani is nearing her 50th year.
She was not even 10 when I first saw her.
Much has remained the same: the Thunderbird where campers and staff eat and gather,
the units of light green cabins and troop houses nestled in the woods,
main camp featuring the trading post,
and the waterfront where I spent many days teaching girls to swim.
But Kiwani is much more heavily wooded now, having 35 years to fill in with
hardwoods and pines. It feels like it needs a little more TLC than the Girl Scouts can afford,
in the way of forest management and trail upkeep. But 1,000 acres is a lot to maintain.
The unit by the lake was altered to include this fire circle and benches and it's beautiful. We all enjoyed a campfire and singing here on Saturday night.

The boathouse by Lake Okalowa. It hasn't changed a bit!
I stood on those steps all through the summer, handing out
life jackets and dribbling rubbing alcohol in girls' ears!

Love the boathouse ...

... love my sister, who insisted we go back to Kiwani!

Though my sister Anne (I mean Kanga) is a sailor,
she agreed to canoe with me. A group of us wanted to find Soapstone Falls,
a favorite destination of campers and staff.
Tomorrow: you'll see what we found!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Kiwani reunion, arrival on Friday

I think I speak for most of the reunion weekend's 75 participants that we were instantly transported
back to our days as Kamp Kiwani campers and staff.
Girl Scout camp staff go by nicknames and right away we reassumed those names.
I was Locket and my sister was Kanga. 
I had no idea these gals, among my best camp friends, would be there! Speedy, 2nd from the left, was artistic and cheerful.
Donut, in the middle, was friendly, funny and sang every camp song beautifully.
I worked in units with both of them.
And Pudd'n, 2nd from right, beside me, directed Kiwani for several summers.
Pudd'n always seemed kind of gruff to me, but she's a charming, funny lady.
Pam, far left, was on staff, too. Here we are just before flag ceremony:
a long-standing Girl Scout tradition.

Pudd'n posts the colors on Saturday morning.
There's the Thunderbird, the camp's beautiful dining hall that
is exactly as I remember it 35 years ago.

We settled  in to our cabins on Friday evening and enjoyed a spaghetti
dinner together. As night fell, we put on jeans, grabbed our flashlights and headed back to the Thunderbird to watch "Follow Me Girls," an ancient Girl Scout promotional film. We all laughed and applauded.
And though most of us didn't sleep well on our cots that night, we fondly remembered our days at
camp as the owls and coyotes sang us to sleep.

Tomorrow: Saturday at camp: fun on the lake and a quest to find Soapstone Falls.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Kamp Kiwani reunion!

It all started over a year ago and for months it lingered in my mind,
but I always brushed it off.
Reunion? I've never done reunions. Not school reunions, ever.
And I'd never heard of a camp reunion.
But on the day of the registration deadline,
one week out, my sister called.
"Come on, we have to go. I'm registering!"
So what could I do but follow suit?

One week later, we met in Jackson and wound the rural roads of southwest Tennessee,
arriving at the gate. Kamp Kiwani.
For three summers in the 1970's, Kiwani was my home.
Camp counselor and waterfront staff.
Who could love such a job? Stifling heat. Homesick little girls 24/7. Giggly, clingy girls.
Mosquito and chigger bites. Squeaky cots that offered little rest.
Sand between the sheets, sweat running down my back, and towels that never dry.
But they were the best summers of my life, shared with other college students
who became closer than sisters.
And so last weekend, we were invited back to an alumni reunion:
any campers and staff  who'd ever gone to Kiwani could come spend a weekend
at their beloved camp.
At the last minute, I joined them.

Arriving at camp. Cedar, Donut and Speedy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

happy birthday, David!

David, my oldest son, is turning 29 today. 29!
David's the type of guy who puts people at ease.
And makes them laugh.
He has a way of asking a question or re-stating something you've just said
that makes you think twice, or realize the foolishness of it all. But then you laugh.
Unlike most people, David values everyone equally.
He's unimpressed by fame, power, money and prestige.
He's most interested in a person's heart, character and integrity.
Whether it's a new food, a new city, or book, David is open to try about anything.
He has a quirky interest in the hippie generation of which he thinks his parents were a part.
David loves God, family, baseball, rock-bottom bargains and coffee ... I'm not really sure in what order.
It's almost the post-season, so his life is crazy ....
but David, I wish you a happy, special, and NICE (hehe) birthday!