Archive for August, 2008

The best wedding ever

My dear friend, Jo-Ann, is in her sixties.  She’s charming, intelligent, a snazzy dresser, a great bridge player, and a widow.  She married young, had three children, experienced the death of her oldest (teenage) daughter, and then her husband left her, destitute.  She’s a survivor and she endured homelessness and poverty for a time.  Eventually she met and married Jerry, the love of her life.

When I met Jerry and Jo-Ann a few years ago, they were both about 60ish and had been married for almost twenty years.  They were two of the most in-love people I had ever known.  Jerry was in poor health and I did my best to help her and be a friend through his final days, his funeral, and the terribly tough times that followed.

Jerry died almost four years ago.  I hadn’t seen Jo-Ann in a long time, maybe a year, but she stopped by the house the other day when she saw me out watering flowers.  “I’m getting married on August 30 to Paul Katz, a Jewish Christian man.  We love each other.  Please come.  It’ll be at 10:00 AM, and it’s very casual.  People will be there in jeans or shorts or capris or whatever.  I’m not wearing white!!! (loud laughter)  In fact, I’m wearing orange!  I so want you to be there.”

Scott and I went.  It was the best wedding I’ve ever attended.

The church was full of freinds and families.  Paul had been widowed, too (at least once), and between her kids and grandkids, Jerry’s kids and grandkids, and Paul’s six children, etc., there were more families than I could keep straight.  It didn’t matter.

There were orange and yellow ribbons on the family pews, the only formal decorations in the place.  Two pastors were officiating:  Pastor Barb Johnston (yes, a woman), who pastors Life Chirstian Center where Jo-Ann’s been attending for the past several years, and Pastor Sam Kaunley, who pastors The Sanctuary, where Paul and Jo-Ann have been attending recently and where the wedding was held.

To the song, “You Fill Up My Senses,” the bride and groom walked down the aisle, hand in hand.  He’s also in his sixties and wore gray pants and a yellow shirt.  They walked up onto the platform, and (and this was the neatest thing) Pastor Barb told us all that in most weddings, the congregation sees the pastor and the backs of the bride and groom, but that she knew we really wanted to see Paul and Jo-Ann.  So she turned her back to us, and had the happy couple face us.  How refreshing!

Pastor Barb then explained briefly the three things that marriages are built on:  she admires and respects while he loves and protects, doing the Word of God always, and walking in love.

Pastor Sam forgot to have them read their vows, and when reminded, we all laughed.  We laughed harder when Jo-Ann told us all that she had written out her vows and put them in a VERY secure place.  And that they were still there.  = )  She then spoke from her heart her commitment to Paul, and he did the same to her, with all of us as witnesses. Then he kissed her, and Pastor Barb had to say, “not yet, Paul!”  So he kissed her again, and we all laughed. . and cried.

A grandchild seated on the first row had charge of the rings and she trotted up when asked and gave then to Pastor Sam.  Rings were exchanged.

Communion was served to the couple up front and to us in the congregation while a woman played and sang a worship song.  Her ability and anointing reminded us both of Carroll Posey at Agape.  It was so peaceful and special.

Mr. and Mrs. Paul Katz were officially presented by both pastors in unison.  Then Paul followed Jewish tradition and stomped on their communion glass to shatter it, saying joyfully, “Mazel Tov!”

It was over.  There was a big lunch reception that we chose not to attend, but we did wait in a short line to greet Jo-Ann.  We all just hugged and cried with joy.  She has a husband now who loves her to pieces, will treat her like a queen, and is financially secure.

God is good, and it was the best wedding ever.

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Empty nest overrated?

Katie’s in Virginia, and this weekend the other three are at an AIM Family Camp.  That leaves just My Hero and me at home, and I must say that although it’s easier to get things done without all the interruptions, it’s much to quiet and odd around here.  We find ourselves with plenty of time and only deskwork to do.  We look at each other and try to figure out what to do next.  It’s so very strange. I didn’t think I’d say it, but I miss the kids.

However, Katie’s ongoing challenge of my Scrabble ability is helping to maintain at least a semblance of normalcy.  Right now, she is ahead, 204 to 182.  It’s her move, and since last night yielded only five non-consecutive hours of sleep, I will turn in.

Somebody remind me to write about Jo-Ann’s wedding this morning.

Outnumbered

Tonight we are minus one lady (our precious Katie, of course, who is away at college) and plus five men.  We are hosting a group of guys for AIM’s Midwest Family Camp, and we have with us Milton and his sons Jacob, Marcus, and Blaine, and Jacob’s friend, Jake. They are part of an AIM team from Tennessee.

Milton’s wife was also going to be with us, but a change of plans has landed  her (plus evidently all her little boys’ clothes!) staying in a hotel with the girls from their team, while Milton enjoys our entire third floor alone.  Jacob and Jake (teens) are sharing Josiah’s room, while Marcus and Blaine (five and six) are shaing Andrew’s.  This means that there are – or soon will be – eight of us sleeping on the second floor.  I was the designated “male monitor” (charged with making sure they all quieted down), Scott having gone on to bed due to a 7:00 AM meeting he will be leading, and I am now happy to report that as of 11:40 PM, I hear no noise from any of the boys.

Since I plan to get up early and cook for this crew, I will end this brief update now.

“That’s one small step for Mom. . . “

Herewith be ye notified that, for the first time in recent memory, the Mom hath yea and verily defeated the daughter on that ancient and noble field of battle, the Scrabulous (a.k.a. Scrabble) board. The Mom hath outscored the daughter by more than 50 points, however, the public will hereby be informed that on two different occasions, the daughter hath forfeited her turn by trading in her letters. Congratulations are summarily offered to the Mom and a re-match is in progress. May the best vocabularist win!

The game of Life

Give it to Mikey.  He eats everything.

Tonight we played Life as a family and it was an experience.  I ended up being a teacher who was a doctor on the side.  Josiah complained about absolutely everything imaginable for the entire game and ended up winning.  The boys had somehow lost the little plastic piece that the wheel spins against, so Scott made a cardboard one that had to be manually held in place for each spin.  Tedious, but we Robertses are resilient if anything.

In other news, we are back to three usable, insured cars here at home.  The maroon Toyota had sat most of the summer because the A/C in it doesn’t work and the car is too old to warrant replacing it.  After sitting on our long skinny used car lot, it failed to start once we reinstated its insurance.  It turns out the battery had died, so Scott got a new one plus an oil change at Wal-Mart today.

Few people are steadfast enough to spend an hour in Wal-Mart without buying anything, and Scott is no exception.  There’s the matter of his cell phone.  You see, he had bought Katie a new one at Christmas, but she didn’t use it and it somehow disappeared from planet Earth.  Then, while Aunt Kristy was here, Scott’s cell phone died.  Kristy had a cell phone, but she was leaving for Africa and needed to get rid of it.  She gave it to Scott (or maybe he paid her something for it; I can’t remember), and although it’s pretty bare bones, he has used it for several months.

However, we were all sure that when Katie prepared to move to college, the ensuing excavation would turn up that brand new phone of hers, which has lots of nice features.  Scott would then confiscate that one.  It was not to be.  As mentioned above, only God himself knows for sure where that phone is.  So today, while at Wal-Mart, Scott bought himself a Blackberry.  Now, I don’t know anything about blackberries, other than the fact that when I was a child we sure picked a lot of sweet ones back by the creek on my grandparents’ land.  Hey, I’m the person whose “Palm Pilot” is a wall calendar that measures 17″ by 24″!

As I blog, Scott, who HATES to read the directions, is sitting at his desk pushing buttons on his Blackberry and glancing occasionally at the extensive paperwork with which it arrived.  I fear the next thing will be to add text messaging to our cell phone plan, as Scott says that with this phone he will be able to check his email even from other countries!

O, technology.  It is part of our game of Life.  Tonight Josiah’s career was Tech Support.

I found a better auto repair shop!

Hip, hip, hooray!  In the dark ages, we took our cars to a heavy smoking Hispanic guy downtown named Ricky.  He did a good job at a fair price, but his place was really yuckky.

Next we used our neighbor, who had opened an auto repair nearly catty-corner to our house.  After a couple years he moved too far away, and then went out of business.

Scott then started taking cars to Rick’s Automotive in Springfield.  It wasn’t very convenient for me, but it worked well for him, especially because they would give him “free” rides across town to and from work.

Then Scott found Daytona’s, also in Springfield.  Mr. Daytona is not quite as ritzy as Mr. Rick, but we used them for a couple years.

However, when it came time to get an auto inspection, I refused to go to Mitchem Tire, one of the very few places in town that does inspections.  Through a series of phone calls, I learned about Economy Tire in Ozark.  Now, Ozark is 20 miles away, but it’s not nearly as far as Springfield.  Economy Tire is also nicely positioned close to both Wal-Mart (where we shopped for a year till the new Branson Wal-Mart opened) and Walgreens (where we get all our prescriptions filled).

They had me in and out for my auto inspection in about 20 minutes – unheard of in Branson.  Then, when Jessica’s car exhaust was damaged, they fixed her up quickly and at a great price.  I don’t know what they don’t do, but I know DO do tires, alignments, brakes, exhaust systems, and (hopefully this week) power windows.

The driver’s window in the van, the one that obviously gets the most use, bit the dust almost three years ago and we took it to Rick’s in Springfield, that being our preferred repair shop at the time.  They fixed it for one arm, two legs, and a pair of ears.

On Tuesday, the window started making a nasty popping noise as it reached the top.  Even I could tell it was not good.  I called Economy, and Fred (the man who works on power windows) told me that he’d replace the motor and the regulator.  It would cost $184.  He explained that he used to only replace the part that was bad, but he had an awful lot of people come back in later with it not working.  He does both and his customers are happier.  Sounds good to me.

Scott didn’t want to commit to it til he had checked with Daytona’s.  They wanted $292 for the same job, so as soon as I can schedule it, I will be spending an hour and half in the Economy Tire waiting room.

Getting here from there

Scott was planning to fly home from Dulles (Washington D.C.) through Chicago on Wednesday afternoon.  Katie would drop him at the airport midday.  Now, the parents were actually supposed to leave Wednesday night (not noon), but Scott had decided he didn’t really need to be there for the Wednesday afternoon and evening stuff.  Fine.

Wednesday afternoon, Our Friend Mr. United called to tell us that Scott’s flight out of Dulles was delayed 20 minutes.  Jessica and I looked it up and determined that he would have about 20 minutes to get off one plane and onto the other.  Scott is resourceful, so we thought that would still work out all right.

A few minutes later, Scott called.  I answered the phone and said, “Hi. I know your flight is delayed and you’re going out of gate so and so and you’ll arrive Chicago with 20 minutes to change planes, right?”

He replied, “Yes, my flight is delayed, and I will be arriving tomorrow.”

TOMORROW?!?!?

He had decided that he wanted/needed to be present for the Wednesday afternoon and evening events, so he had switched flights.  He’d arrive Springfield at 2:00 PM-ish and would I please leave a vehicle at the airport  so he could drive straight from there to work.  Yes I would and yes I did.

This morning, Our Friend Mr. United called to say that Scott’s flight out of Dulles had been delayed.  Then Scott called to tell us that his flight had been canceled. He was not terribly pleased.  Katie had dropped him at the airport with some tears, and now he was stuck.  He was booked on the next available flight and would arrive Springfield at 6:10 PM.  This was not good. Not only would he be unable to lead the work meeting he had already re-scheduled once; he would MISS HIS 6:30 SOFTBALL GAME, and that is very serious.

I guess the travel time between home and Patrick Henry is just going to be two days, by car or by plane.

Fin fun

Due to a change in plans today, it was necessary for me to drive Scott’s Honda to pick Andrew up from his tumbling class.  I was running late as I left, and I had less than an hour to go south 7 miles, retrieve Son #2, turn north and travel 49 miles to the airport, where I would meet Jessica and Josiah, who were dropping the van there so that tomorrow afternoon Scott could drive from the airport to his office, thence to hold a meeting he is currently scheduled to lead several hours before he is due to arrive.  So, I was in a hurry.

I spun gravel pulling out the driveway and as I passed the cemetery, I checked my rearview to make sure no one was about to crawl in my trunk.  But there was something hung on the fin.  (Scott’s car has a “spoiler” on the trunk, but we just call it “the fin.”)  What WAS it?  Why, it looked like a book, and it was flapping in the breeze, held in place by the fin.  In fact, it looked like a chemistry book!  How terribly odd.

And there was more.  Numerous books were hung on the fin, although I couldn’t tell what they all were.  I found a place to pull off, hopped out (hopping mad at the additional delay), and investigated.  Wedged into the fin, I discovered the following:

A chemistry text book,

A 14 year old male’s chemistry notebook,

A very thin calculator,

A Bible,

and a thick library book.

I grabbed it all, threw it in the back seat, got back on the road, and called Josiah.  Yes, it was all his.  He hadn’t been sure which car he’d be riding in (even though Jessica had told him), so he had set all that stuff on the trunk of the Honda.  Simply brilliant.

The story doesn’t end there.  Jessica and Josiah drove an even 65 mph in the van, while I sped almost 70 in the Honda.  They stopped to air up a tire.  I had already warned Jessica not to use the driver’s side window, as it started making a nasty popping noise yesterday, and to be aware that today the brake warning light started coming on.  However, they called me when they were in Springfield so that Josiah could tell me that the van was riding really rough and there were only 35 psi in one of the tires.  I told them to find a gas station, air up the tire, get to the airport, and I’d meet them there.

They did, the van was dropped, I retrieved them, and we whisked away to church, arriving at 6:43 PM for a 6:45 PM service.  Whew! Afterwards, Jessica (as a children’s ministry worker) had a 30-minute meeting to attend.  It was called by our pastor on one day’s notice.  While she attended the meeting, the boys and I went to the library to pick up holds.  I wanted to get gas while we were out, but there wasn’t enough time.  I didn’t want to leave Jessica standing out in the dark at church.  We got back there at 8:35 PM, and Jessica came tearing out the moment the meeting ended at 9:07 PM.  By that time, the boys had done SO much arguing (Mighty-Brites, windows, doors, etc.) that I was ready to pull the rest of my hair out.  Andrew had been banished from the car for the past 15 minutes, and I confiscated the one remaining Mighty-Brite and told them that NO ONE would read on the way home.

We had to stop at Walgreens in Ozark for a prescription, so I decided to get gas there at Wal-Mart.  Josiah pumped it, because I was too tired physically, mentally, and emotionally to let Andrew do it.  And then, at l-o-n-g last,  we could FINALLY go home.

Andrew habitually screams in the car.  During any ten minute car ride, he’s liable to yell, “MOM!!!” in a tone of voice that must mean either he’s bleeding to death or we’re about to hit something – two or three times.  It always means he saw a car, or a feature of a car, (especially a sunroof) and did I see it, and isn’t it sweet.  He’s been told and told and told not to do this, and he’s even been smacked a few times, but to no avail.  IF you are in proximity to Andrew, he WILL be talking, hollering, and screaming about cars.  The only time this can be avoided is when he is asleep or more than half a mile away.

So we’re at long last headed home, and Andrew looks out the back window and screams, “MOM!!!”  I did not care even one iota.  I ignored him and just kept driving.  “MOM!!!”  I still ignored him.  “MOM!!! The gas screw is stuck in the fin!”  (Andrew calls a gas cap a gas screw.)  Now this could be serious.  I immediately pulled onto the shoulder, saying, “Sweet JESUS, Josiah!”  We ground to a stop, Josiah hopped out, and sure enough, the gas cap was wedged under the fin.

Josiah must have really strong angels.  The Honda’s fin had securely held that gas cap for 17 MILES while we zinged along at 65 mph in the dark of night!  Josiah put it where it belongs (I hope) and we all survived the remaining journey home.

Wikipedia says, “The main design goal of a spoiler in passenger vehicles is to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency.”  To that, Team Roberts adds, “A spoiler may also function as a bookshelf (in town) or an auto parts storage unit (on the highway).”

Nobody told me it would be quite this hard

I think it’s a little like giving birth.  No one can really explain to you exactly how you will feel when your firstborn packs her stuff, cleans out her room, and leaves for college five states away.  The days immediately preceding the big event are full of a combination of excitement, dread, tears, discomfort, and hormones.  The event itself is difficult, scary, and emotional, but once the deed is done, things settle down a bit – and a new season of life begins.

Scott and Katie left Monday morning for the long drive to Patrick Henry College.  It’s definitely a two-day jaunt, and they were able to stay with distant relatives on the way.  Tonight Katie’s settled into her dorm room with her new roommate, a local AIM student(!) and as I type, she’s hopefully sleeping well in her brand-new bedding.

At home, the younger kids and I hugged them, took stupid pictures (why DO we moms feel obligated to take pictures of people crying as they say goodbye?) and watched them drive away.  Jessica, Andrew, and I cried while Josiah looked at us.  Then we hugged each other, prayed, and proceeded to make plum preserves, which may be another post another time.  Suffice it to say that it ended up being a great project to occupy our hands and minds, and we now have 35 half-pints of YUMMY plum preserves in the cabinet.  And, as Josiah reminded us, “We didn’t even plant the trees!”

On that note, this college mom will sign off and sleep.

Butterflies!

You may remember that this year I undertook a rather significant enlargement of the “ring” flower bed around a tree in our front yard.  I want to eventually have several perennials in there and mix in various annuals from year to year.  This is also the first time I have ever used mulch.  Mulch is a wonder drug, if you ask me.  No weeds, less watering, nicer look.  It’s all good unless you sow seeds in a to-be-mulched bed.

A few things came up from last year in that bed:  two of my three purple chrysanthemums and a couple clumps of pinks, but I wanted much more.  I planted a lot of impatiens (pink, white, and purple), several pink vinca, and both purple and red verbena.

I had saved seeds from my last year’s voluminous crop of marigolds, and I sowed them around the edges toward the center of the yard.  I splurged probably too much money on a lovely hosta.  It’s supposed to be a perennial  and I fervently hope it survives the winter and comes up again next year.  It did make a tall column of delicate pale purple flowers early in the summer.

In addition to the saved marigolds, I also wanted to buy some different seeds, but I was having a hard time finding seeds for flowers that thrive in shade.  (It’s shady under that tree.)  I looked in several places, and finally found at a Wal-Mart garden center one and only one package labeled “shady mix.”  Evidently the last of its kind, it was a jumbo pack, and I snatched it up.  After all the hauling and mixing and dumping and digging and planting, my back was sore, my legs were sore, and I was hot and sweaty.  I did not have the energy or inclination to dig neat little rows in which to sow that final pack of “shady mix” seeds.  Instead, I dumped the whole pack into my tired right hand and flung them across the bed.  Highly scientific.

What has come up is a thick, dense bed of flowering plants, full of color, and of varying heights and textures.  I love it!!  And so do the butterflies.  Yes, some of the unknown “shady mix” plants have crowded out several of my impatiens, and there is a relatively bare spot on the driveway side of the tree, but there’s plenty of variety, plenty of colors, and plenty of butterflies.

There are two of the same type that come around a lot.  I think they may be Eastern Black Swallowtails.  I don’t know how to tell if it’s the same pair, but they (or their look-alikes) spend a lot of time sucking nectar from our flowers.  They like the tall “shady mix ones” and they are particularly fond of my marigolds.

I have tried to take pictures of the butterflies, and it is a challenge, to say the least.  However, I have learned that when they are really hungry (or is it thirsty?) they are so busy sucking that they will let me move the camera in quite close – sometimes less than a foot!  Of course, I do have to take 326 pictures to get two good ones, and I have yet to get them out of my camera and into lickr, but when I do, faithful readers should be duly impressed.

It should also be noted that pictures from Jessica’s and Andrew’s Children’s Theater Workshop performances are now in my Flickr sets.  S-L-O-W-L-Y but surely, I am getting my photos organized online.

Today Josiah asked me how many pictures I had on my computer in my shared pictures.  I thought perhaps 2000.  I was wrong.  He told me I have just shy of 11,000 pictures saved!  When did I ever have time to even TAKE 11,000 pictures?  Oh, I guess it was when I was standing next to the tree bed shooting butterflies when I should have been doing something more useful.

But housework will be with me always, right?  The butterflies might not be.  Not to mention children.  But I can’t think about that, because I am not scheduled to cry again today.


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