Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy 6th Birthday, Avery Grace!

It's hard to believe that it's been six years since we were blessed with our first grandbaby - Avery Grace Krause, born on July 3, 2008.  I remember that day like it was yesterday -- we received a call early that morning that labor was being induced and within minutes we were in the car and racing for Hollywood; racing so that we could get there to wait.  But that wait was well worth it and I still cannot adequately describe the joy that she brings into our lives.  On that day, the trip from Bakersfield to Hollywood was transformed from a routine 2-hour drive to just a little hop, skip and jump over the mountain that I didn't think twice about making in order to spend time with this precious little gift. Thank goodness that little hop, skip and jump to see my grandbabies is now only  a few minutes down the road -- I am blessed! 
This young lady has such a sweet personality!  How do I describe her?  Loving, caring, kind, adventurous, artistic, and such a good big sister! 
Oh, how I love my little Ave -- Happy Birthday, sweetie!
(We're celebrating on Saturday with a Rapunzal Swim Party -- so there will be more to come.)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day - I Get It

Memorial Day:  a day on which those who died in active military service are remembered

Marvin Ross Sprayberry III
Some of the object lessons in my life are easier to talk about than others – and this is one of those hard ones.  I’ve “celebrated” Memorial Day my whole life, just like most people -- hang the flag up outside, a day off from school/work, barbeque and swimming with family and friends.  I’m embarrassed to say that it wasn’t until 10 years ago that Memorial Day took on new meaning for me – the meaning it’s supposed to have for all of us – and like most things in my life, I had to learn it the hard way.
May 4, 2004 – we were awakened at 2:00am to our son pounding on the front door and yelling for his dad.  My husband went out to see what was going on and within minutes he was back inside, rushing to get dressed.  When I asked, the answer stung and sent shock through my entire body, leaving me speechless.  Our nephew had been killed in Iraq.  I immediately picked up the phone to call my sister – the mom – and although she answered, neither one of us could speak.  I finally managed to squeak out, “I’m so sorry” – and after a period of sobbing and no talk on either end, I said, “We’ll be right there.”
I’ll never forget that night.  Although time has softened the sting, the pain is still there – still deep and at times still very raw. 
Within a few days, we traveled to Washington D.C. to bury our boy at Arlington.  His service was like those you’ve seen on the news and in the movies – full honors from the military.   Our grief was paired with a newfound pride and patriotism.  Hearing taps played at the funeral of a 25-year-old young man who died in war while serving our Country changes you.  Forever.  You never again can hear that tune without a lump forming in your throat.  The insensitivity and lack of respect shown by others is insulting and is difficult to tolerate.
Memorial Day – I get it, and I’m just the aunt.  I’m not a wife who lost her husband; I’m not a mom or dad who lost a son; not a son or daughter who lost a daddy; not a sibling who lost a brother  – I’m just an aunt, and yet the pain and sorrow are greater than I would wish for anyone. 
Our story is not unlike the story of thousands – and that’s who I think of today.  My flag has been hung, we’re planning to barbecue and swim – but not without remembering and appreciating those who have served, especially those who witnessed firsthand the sacrifice of their comrads, and live each day with those gruesome memories; and not without feeling grief for the husbands, the wives, the moms, the dads, the sons and daughters, the brothers and sisters whose lives have been forever changed because they lost a loved one who gave their life in the service of our Country.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weekend Project

Layne grew up using this little chest as a dresser in her bedroom. 
It originally belonged to one of Danny's grandmas, but unfortunately, we're not sure which one.  For the longest time it was in one of the store rooms at his parents' farmhouse, and when we needed a set of drawers for Layne and couldn't afford to buy, my MIL suggested I go shopping in the store room - so I did, and this is what I found.  I didn't do anything to this dresser way back then.  Even though it was kinda beat up, the pinkish color was perfect for Layne's room.
This "crackled" effect on the top was not intentional -- I think it was the result of sitting in a hot store room for who knows how long.

When we moved into this house, I couldn't part with this little gem, so I removed the girly-girl hardware and put it in my entry way - with intentions of doing something to make it work.  Well, it was eventually replaced in the entry way and then found its way to the breakfast nook in the kitchen -- still with intentions of doing something to make it work.  So now, only 8 years later, "something" finally happened...
This was really a pretty easy project. I stripped all the pain off the top and sanded -- and sanded -- and sanded. Then I stained the top and put on a few coats of tung oil; and I painted the bottom and finished with a dark glaze, then added some hardware.

 I LOVE how it turned out, and it's the perfect thing for storing extra silverware, bibs, placemats and napkins.
It makes me smile every time I look at it.  Hmmm, what next -- that little rocking chair or maybe the gas station bench?... I'll let you know what I decide - and hopefully it won't take me 8 more years.

Avery's 5th Birthday

I was going to pull some pictures off of my camera to do a quick little update about my weekend and seeing all the pictures I've taken made me realize how many things I haven't captured.  I'm not going to try to catch up on the last six months, but I do need to post about Avery's 5th Birthday (July 3rd) before I move forward!
It's so hard to believe that she's growing up so fast -- 5 in July and now off to kindergarten.  We had a family birthday party first, then a few days later she celebrated with some little girlfriends at a dress-up party. 
She LOVED her Hello Kitty purse from Aunt Layne -- it was filled with all the goodness that Layney always has in her purse for the girls -- you know, strawberry gum and lip gloss!

I made this puppet stage for her -- it hangs on an adjustable tension rod, so it fits in any doorway. Uncle Mikey made the sock puppet on the left -- I wish I would have taken a close-up because it was really quite creative and he spent a lot of time on it -- sewed on buttons and a tongue -- really cute!
At the dress-up party, each of the girls got to pick out an outfit from the dressing room rack.  I must say, I think Avery has some Grandma Schmidt in her -- she loves all things dazzled and bright colors!
Kinsley was quite thrilled with the outfit she chose
After selecting their outfit, it was on to hair and makeup...
(Notice Avery telling the girl exactly where to put her ponytail -- she is very particular about the ponytail these days -- must NOT be too high!)
Next they sang in the microphones -- well, okay, maybe it was more like they yelled in the microphones...
Kinsley was too busy dancing - she had no interest in the microphone
Then it was time for cake and punch...
And here's the whole gang...
They had a lot of fun!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Vacation time!

Vacation has officially begun!

Well, I've been on an unintentional blogging hiatus for the last few months and figure its time to do a little catching up. 
Vacation has officially begun and we're going to one of our favorite places to be - Huntington Lake!  Not sure what we'll find when we get there but hoping it won't be too smokey to stay. The Aspen wildfire is just 7 miles north of our destination so needless to say, the otherwise expected clear air and blue skies will probably not be our reality.  We don't have a Plan B - just figure we'll deal with that when and if we have to. 
Leaving today is a little bittersweet. I've been looking forward to this week away since we made our reservations in February. Our kids and grand babies will be joining us later in the week and I cherish these family times together. However, Mikey is looking for a fresh start in life and he'll be leaving tomorrow to relocate in Idaho. It's never easy for a Momma to let the chicks go - and  I'm now realizing that this is especially true when it's far away and you don't know when you will next see them again *deep sigh*  This Momma is praying for safe travels, wise decisions, and provisions for work and housing when he gets there!
On the brighter side of life is the fact that this weekend we've been celebrating the news that our new grand baby (due in January) is a boy!  God is good!
Well, the NASCAR race broadcast has ended and the Dodger game is over so I better sign off and be of some company to the driver. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

In Memory of My Mother-in-Law

On my way to work yesterday morning I thought about what I would write on my blog for the day.  March 20t,h - Andrew’s 31st birthday (my oldest), and we have so much to celebrate! 

But before the work day could end, things changed and now my post for that day is different than I had planned.    At around 2:00 in the afternoon I received a text from my husband, saying that he was in the Emergency Room with his mom.  Although it had been some time since our last trip, we’d become accustomed to the routine; been there/done that so many times that we just take it in stride – another trip to the ER.  But yesterday’s trip was not just another trip – yesterday was our last trip to the ER with Mom.  At around 4:00 in the afternoon, her time here on earth came to an end and she went to meet Our God.  So this post will be a little tribute to my mother-in-law, Frances Krause, and I’ll write about Andrew on another day.

“Mother-in-Law”.   Seems like there can be a lot of emotion attached to that label – and unfortunately, it seems more popular for the emotion to be negative instead of positive, but I was blessed with a very loving mother-in-law and enjoyed my relationship with her.

"Mother-in-Law" they say, and yet
Somehow I simply can't forget,
Twas you who watched his baby ways
Who taught him his first hymn of praise,
Who smiled on him with loving pride
When he first toddled by your side.
"Mother-in-Law" but oh, twas you
Who taught him to be kind and true,
When he was tired, almost asleep,
Twas to your arms he used to creep.
And when he bruised his tiny knee,
Twas you who kissed it tenderly.
"Mother-in-Law" they say and yet
Somehow I never shall forget
How very much I owe
To you, who taught him how to grow.
You trained your son to look above,
You made of him the man I Love
and so I think of that today.
Ah! Then with thankful heart I'll say
'Our Mother'.
(Author unknown)

I saw this poem hanging in a gift shop in Solvang many years ago.  In those days there was no money in our budget for such things, but it so eloquently described the way I felt about my mother-in-law that I stood there and jotted it down in shorthand.  The following spring, I wrote it out in calligraphy, framed it and gifted it to Mom for Mother’s Day.  She hung it in the hallway of their farmhouse, where it stayed until she moved to a retirement community a few years after Dad passed away.  And then she hung it not only in her first apartment there, but the second apartment and then again last year when she moved to an assisted care facility.  Each time I looked at this poem hanging on her wall, the words became more meaningful.

She was a very loving mother-in-law and we had a wonderful relationship– yet I did get a little irritated with her at times, so maybe that’s why she hung the thing on the wall all those years –because she knew that my husband is very much like her in many ways and I needed to be reminded that she made of him the man I love!

My mother-in-law didn’t marry until she was in her mid 30’s, and with marriage to J.C. Krause came three boys (Dennis, Darrell and Don, ages 11-16) who had lost their mother to cancer several years earlier.  That’s a brave woman, right there.    About the time the youngest of those boys became a teenager, she had her firstborn (my husband, Danny), and then five years later, the Krause family finally celebrated the birth of a baby sister for all those boys -- Denise!

I don’t know if it was due to the number of children, the ages of the children, or if more likely it was due to her age and maturity, but Mom kept a tight rein on the younger children and limited their extracurricular activities to nothing more than boys and girls clubs at church on Wednesday nights.   By the time he got to high school, my husband had some resentment about this decision because he felt his lack of experience put him at a strong disadvantage for playing high school sports.  He even carried this resentment with him into adulthood for a time, frustrated that his softball skills were less than he would have liked.   We may not know her reasons for that decision, but I don’t think any of us can argue with, as the poem says, “You trained your son to look above”.  

I have no doubt that Frances Marie Kopper Krause will receive a “Well done, my good and faithful servant” for the way she raised and taught her children.  Early on I realized that my husband’s depth of knowledge of the Bible goes beyond what you receive from merely attending Sunday School – and I believe it’s because he had an obedient Mom who took seriously the commands of Deuteronomy 6: 

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

I have many fond memories of my mother-in-law and I learned many valuable lessons from her.  As I write this, I’m recounting things she taught me and blessings she bestowed on me, realizing that I need to write them down for the sake of my children.  But I’m going to close this little tribute by sharing just a few that stand out to me most today. 

When we got our youngest son, Michael, as a foster child, I was trying very hard to guard my feelings because just a few months earlier we had said goodbye to 4-year-old foster twins and the grief was almost unbearable for me.  At that point I was determined to meet the needs of this baby without becoming emotionally attached because I didn’t want to face the same grief when it was time for him to go.  After having him for a few days I took him over to meet my mother-in-law.  I was sharing with her that he seemed very distant, empty, non-respondent.  Immediately she suggested that he may be deaf – not hearing us at all.  About a week later, after we had spent several days in the hospital for tests, her suspicions were proven true.  And when the doctors explained that his loss of hearing was an emotional response to neglect and abuse, my mother-in-law called me daily for the next few weeks to remind me that she was praying for his hearing to be restored, and for me to be able to give him the love he needed.   Michael regained his hearing and I fell madly in love with him, but she never stopped praying.  She had a special place in her heart for Michael and he always considered himself one of her favorites.  She was his confidant, his cheerleader, his encourager, and much of my sadness today is because I know how hard this loss will be on him.

Just a few weeks ago I sat and listened to my husband’s end of a phone conversation with his mom.  He was giving her some Scripture references and quoting some Bible verses for her, and the end of the conversation went something like this:  “Mom, I can bring you some brochures and some literature, but you don’t need it -- you’ve got this – you can do this – you know your stuff.  You know your Bible, Mom, don’t be nervous and don’t be intimidated, just share from your heart the things you know.”  How awesome is that?  At age 89 she wanted to share Christ with her caretakers and she didn’t need someone who had invested years of his life honing his athletic abilities through organized sports, she needed advice and encouragement from one she knew had spent his life learning and studying God’s Word – and that just happened to be the boy she had so diligently taught.  

With tears in my eyes, a heavy sadness and yet an indescribable joy and peace because I know that she has eternal life with Jesus Christ our Savior, it is with a thankful heart that I say goodbye to 'Our Mother'... 

In Loving Memory of
Frances Marie Krause
June 10, 1923 – March 20, 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cake Shakers

That's what Lisa and I are going to call our cupcake business someday.  Oh, don't be looking for it anytime soon -- considering the fact that it took us about 6 hours to turn out 48 cupcakes, we won't be quitting our regular jobs anytime in the near future.  But we did have a great time baking together and it was a fun way to spend a day.  These recipes came from Pinterest and are pinned on my "Party Food Ideas" board.  Triple Lemon Cupcakes and Ghirardelli Chocolate and Strawberries Cupcakes -- both were yummy and worth repeating.
The Triple Lemon Cupcakes were very lemony!  The lemon cake was dense, more like a pound cake, with a lemon curd filling and cream cheese lemon frosting.  If you like lemon, this one's for you.  The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cupcakes were dipped in a chocolate ganache and then topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting.  The chocolate cake had a dark chocolate flavor with some strong coffee in it -- yum!    
All this baking was for a bridal shower that we hosted on Sunday afternoon for our friend Stephanie, who graduated last year from our high school youth group at church.  Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures of our baking process and when it came time for the shower, we were a little rushed getting everything ready between the time church was out and 2:00 shower time -- so there was no time for professional foodie pictures.


 Congratulations, Stephanie!