Monday, November 26, 2012

the guys


Most American children suffer too much mother
and too little father.
                                         - Gloria Steinem

For many years, the girls in our family were outnumbered 2-1. Now it's reversed! The girls just keep coming.

Still, I think the guys are so very important in their children's lives. And if you ask me, the absence of fathers and solid men in children's lives is the root of what's wrong in society.

That said, I give you photos of my men loving our children, our little girls. Holding them, reading with them, napping, hiking.

Thank you, Haller men. Your time and love will mean the world to these girls. Love you.
(I'm trying to fix this photo-posting problem, with no success. I'll keep trying. Ugh!)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

fun in Fancy Gap!


Last weekend we all headed for the mountains of southern Virginia ... to Fancy Gap. We rented a house perched high on a hill, with a 180-degree view. Wow!

We came from all directions, winding the breathtaking roads just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The biting wind, the sunrises and sunsets were all stunning. Three generations converged for a long weekend, hauling in our own mountain of food, toys, hats and coats.

With the three granddaughters so small, a lot of baby-holding happened. Whether playing, reading, fixing the next meal, or climbing up a waterfall, our arms were usually full. Full of love.

I'm having a little, alright a BIG problem with posting photos on the blog, so please bear with the only method I can figure out. I hope you can enlarge each photo by clicking on it.

Next post: more photos, the Lord willing!

Friday, November 23, 2012

praying for Tricia

Five years ago I began reading a blog by Nathan Lawrenson, a worship pastor from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Nathan's young wife Tricia, who has Cystic Fibrosis, was in need of a double lung transplant. She was also pregnant. Although they were advised to terminate the pregnancy, Nate and Tricia chose to give their unborn baby a chance at life.

Nothing short of miraculous, the Lawrenson's daughter Gwyneth was born 15 weeks early and survived. Today she is nearly 5 years old. And Tricia received the new lungs she needed to survive. Tricia and Gwyneth were cared for at Duke Medical Center, an incredible facility. Our family has had experience with Duke.

Now, Tricia is in dire need of another lung transplant and is very, very sick. You can read their story here. It is one of incredible faith, love, and perseverance. Please join me in praying for Tricia, Nathan, and their family ... for strength, healing, peace, and that God's will be done.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

exceedingly thankful

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope this day finds you enjoying family or friends. But especially, I hope you find some quiet moments to reflect on God's provision. We might not have all we want, but He promises to care for us always. He is at work, always, for our good.

We just returned from a week with our four children, their wives and our three granddaughters. I'm excited to share some photos, but I'm having a photo-posting problem. Hoping to resolve it soon! This photo gives you a hint at where we went. How amazed I am at how our family has grown, and thankful for them.

A blessed day to you!

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

slip slidin' away

It would have made a funny video. But come on, a middle-aged woman losing her footing on the stairs? It's not pretty.

I could blame my hubby, who had just tossed a jacket upstairs for the laundry, though it didn't quite make it all the way. But I think I just outright slipped. In my slippers. Hot, fresh coffee in hand and all, down I slid. My left elbow cracked on the stair, my right big toe folded under, and my coffee made an impressive cascade, top to bottom.

In a show of chivalry, Bill came running with rags and towels and mopped and dabbed every bit of coffee he could find. I whined over my elbow and quickly-swelling toe.

Sigh. There are the big life events. Daughters moving out. Grandchildren being born. Then there is the mundane, like this morning. A tumble down the stairs, spilled coffee and a sprained toe, causing me to hobble around all day.

Keeps me humble. Bah.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

girl to woman

My daughter Katie moved out over the weekend. She completed college and is figuring out what's next. This feels different than any other send-off. Exciting, yet so final. She's the last, my only daughter. She had my heart ...

The nest begins to empty when she goes off to kindergarten. With each passing year and outgrown pair of jeans, a mother dreads the inevitable. Then when a daughter is 14 and 15, an empty nest can't come soon enough. Her wonky hormones propel her across a tightrope between girlhood and womanhood. And then, bit by imperceptible bit, a graceful and mature 18-year-old emerges. The day a daughter leaves for college, she leaves her four favorite stuffed animals on a neatly-made bed, mimicking a childhood left behind.

Those four college years were over in an instant. Like bookends pushed closely together, the day we first moved her in and the day we moved her out seemed just inches apart.

Katie settled in her old room for the summer and worked on her photography. We shared the upstairs: she worked at her computer and I wrote at my desk across the hall. She'd laugh at something and share with me; I'd ask for computer help. We watched movies and ate buckets of popcorn. But as summer stretched to autumn, we knew the time was coming. Her time.

She is much like me. In that I understand her introspective ways,
I want her to taste the messy frenzy of life. To not shy away from it, to speak her quiet wisdom.

In that she is an artist, creator and dreamer like me,
I want her to harness every creative fiber and weave it into a fabulous tapestry.

Before the rigors of adulthood anchor her to one place,
I want her to take wing and discover where God would have her.

Katie knows my sadness, a burden that spilled over in sudden tears at the mall last week.
In the food court, over a chicken sandwich!
Learning how to be a mom was hard.
Letting go of being a mom seems harder.

We're both in a new season:
a daughter making her way in the world,
a mother seeking new purpose and passions,
and finding contentment with husband and home.

Do well, Katie. Be strong. Love others, serve God!
I admire who you are. I love you.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
Proverbs 31:25

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"Independence" Granola

Since yesterday's post, several have asked for my granola recipe and I am happy to share it. As long as you make sure your mixture is 'wet' enough at the start and you don't burn it, this recipe is nearly fool-proof. Any kind of nut will do (pecans and cashews are my favorites) and pumpkin seeds are also a yummy addition. Bon appetit!

Barb's Granola

About 7 cups regular oats (old fashioned, not quick)

1 cup raw wheat bran

¾ cup raw wheat germ

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

1 cup nuts, broken: pecans, cashews, almonds

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup oil

1 cup honey

Mix all together in a large bowl. Mixture should look wet. If not, add more honey.
Spread in a wide, shallow pan. I use a jelly roll pan, 16 x 12 x 1 (Lined with parchment paper, if you want.)
Bake @ 325 for about an hour, stirring about every 20 minutes, til browned.

Remove from oven and cool in pan. Stir often so cereal doesn’t stick to pan. When cool, store in an airtight container. Raisins and/or craisins can be added when granola is cool.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Over 35 years ago, my mother and I learned to make granola using a recipe from the newspaper. It was an instant hit. Family and friends loved our granola. Over the years, I perfected it, adding more ingredients, which, by the way, increased the cost of turning out a batch.

As more children came along, they got bigger and hungrier. I quickly discovered that to keep them granola-satisfied, I'd have to plan ahead. Not all of my granola ingredients are available at the grocery store. I rely on either a health-food grocery or natural food co-op to stock my pantry for granola-making.

Nuts and honey are the priciest ingredients. I found myself checking prices on these items everywhere I went, including a health food market in tiny New Hampshire, Ohio, on our way to Taylor University in Indiana. At best, one batch of granola calls for $2 worth of honey.

While it's not a complicated recipe, my granola takes some time to plan for, and with 6 people in the house, one batch lasted a maximum of three days. "Oh, this is so good, mom! It's almost gone, can you make more?"

Over the years, satisfying my family's craving for granola became a bit of a burden. I knew how they loved it, and felt guilty if the granola container sat empty. Even so, I began making it to give away. It makes a dandy gift in a mason jar, tied up with a colorful ribbon.

As the kids began to move away, of course they missed my granola. So I'd make a batch to send, especially on birthdays. Then the cost nearly doubled, factoring in the postage.

At last, almost too late, I realized it was time to teach the children how to make their own granola. I can't say that plan has worked very well, simply because it's easier to teach a child a skill while he's still hanging around the kitchen rather than living 400 miles away.

I realize I have let myself become the Granola-In-Chief. It seems the family looks to me as the only one who can supply the crunchy treat. While they could learn the skill themselves (as a couple of them have), they became so accustomed to my provision that they'll do without before getting in gear to make a batch themselves.

I like to give. It makes me feel good and needed in my kids' lives. But it's not sustainable. There comes a time when the greater good is served by requiring kids to do for themselves. It's more efficient. It's longer-lasting. It helps everyone.

My job is to teach and enable my children: not to rely on me, but on themselves. Everyone is stronger for it.

You might call it my Declaration of Independence. Sounds a lot better than Declaration of Dependence.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

election day 2012

For love of country ...


Friday, November 2, 2012


I cannot begin to grasp the devastation that has fallen
on New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
Hurricane Sandy roared through on Monday
and ruthlessly took out power and burned houses to the ground in Staten Island.
It tore two little boys from their mother's arms and drowned them.
It washed in mountains of sand,
flooded homes, businesses, streets and subways.
Residents are without running water, electricity, heat, access to food and gasoline.
Some have no homes to go home to.
And many are getting desperate.
I'm thankful the mayor canceled the New York City marathon,
a no-brain decision.
I wish I could make a casserole for a hungry family,
or open our spare bedroom to someone who's cold tonight.
But I will pray for God to deliver relief
in the countless ways that are needed,
through big and giving hearts.