Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chick Flick Of My Choice

So I up and mowed the lawn.

 That is normally a job for Monte. 

But he has been so busy lately at work

 and the grass was getting so tall that the dog was starting to pee on the driveway. 

 Nigel can be so dramatic sometimes.

Nigel blending in with the white fur pillow behind him. I have
actually pet that pillow before thinking it was him. 

So I woke up yesterday and decided that I would surprise Monte and mow the lawn.

I started early so I could beat the heat

it was expected to be close to 90 yesterday.

Then I found that my iPod was dead.

What is this? The 17th century?

I can't mow the lawn without music.

So I plugged it in for a quick charge while I downloaded the new Amy Grant album.
Her concert was the first concert I ever went to.

She sings a song with James Taylor.

I like it!

When all that was over

I had to pick up all the twigs that our enormous Sycamore sheds on any given day.

We could never have a pool

it would be filled with sticks and leaves the size of my face.

Then I had to pick up all of Nigel's 

well, you know.

My grandmother always told us to watch out for the cow "toy toy" when walking in the pasture with her.

Yeah, she called cow patties "toy toy". 

In honor of my grandmother (wait, would this honor her?)

I am bringing "toy toy" back.

I had to pick up 2 BAGS of Nigel's "toy toy".

You guys, the dog weighs 13 pounds!

How can he have that much "toy toy"
 inside his little white furry self?


then I had to move the hammock

the glider

the chaise lounge.

All weighing in at a half-ton each.


I started mowing.

It was so over 80 degrees by this time.

I sweat so much that I had to take off my sunglasses 
and wipe them off.

Then I felt bad for "thought judging" the guy down the street that I always see wearing a sweat band when he mows.

Brilliant move, mister. Brilliant.

Then I had to move back the hammock, the glider and the chaise lounge.

I amazingly lived through the experience.

I texted my husband of my surprising deed.

He was so thrilled that he said I could pick 


for the evening--no vetoes.
(He vetoes often.)

This was big.

This was HUGE.

This was rare.

And I was drawing a big. fat. blank.

I am always looking at movie titles and thinking to myself

"The next time Monte is out of town, I am SO watching this."

Except I couldn't think of a single one of those movies.

So I sent out a group text to some friends for idea help.

Here are some of their suggestions:

•The Intouchables.

The trailer looked awesome and I am putting it on my list (in my head) of movies I want to see when Monte isn't around (that I will hopefully not promptly forget that I want to see). I decided against this movie since it is French and there are subtitles and I thought that might be a wee bit taking advantage of Monte's sweet offer.

•French Kiss.

I can not believe I have never seen this! Great suggestion and that goes on the list but I really think I might be able to get Monte to see this even when his veto power has been restored (Kevin Kline is in it) so therefore I didn't want to waste it.

•While You Were Sleeping

I have seen that and liked it but wanted to try something new.

•Safe Haven

Now I do love me some Nicholas Sparks. But for some reason I had the impression this was going to be about domestic abuse and I did not want that emotional roller coaster. I was assured it was not but filed it away for another time. I do want to see it. The Notebook is on my list of all time favorite romantic films ever.


I have never seen this movie all the way through. Does that make me not a woman? I don't hate Monte, so I did not even seriously consider it.


Okay. Maybe my friends hate Monte.  A musical? A woman trying to pass as a man? Not Monte's cup of tea. Plus, isn't it like 4 hours? I couldn't torture him.

Through all the texting fun, we did decide that we needed a girls movie night.

You know, to watch the movies the guys always veto.

I decided that I wanted a period piece.

Something Jane Austenish.

So I picked Becoming Jane with Anne Hathaway.

It is about Jane Austen before she has written any of her famous books.

It is about how you pretty much HAVE to marry for money.

And how she wanted to marry the one she loved but ultimately couldn't because he needed to marry for money and she had none.
(Ironically, because her mother had married for love instead of money.)

It was good and a bit sad.

I felt the need to tell my girls this morning at breakfast to be very thankful they were born when they were 

because we have options now.

Like opting to mow my own lawn and that not breaking some sort of unladylike etiquette law (if there ever was such a thing. Although, I might vote to bring that one back.)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


It happens in so many different ways

this "mothering"

whether it is the way we mother our kids

or the way we are mothered by our own.

Or both.

I was at a graduation party yesterday

in the middle of a conversation with a friend

when out of the corner of my eye
(who am I kidding?
I flat out full-faced stared)

while the mother of the hostess

picked up a color-coordinated decorative napkin

walked up to the lamp that was on the buffet table

and began to dust all up in the lamp.

The room was packed with people.

From my vantage point

I could see all the dust particles unleash onto the cookie platter 
and bowls of peanut M&Ms below on the table.

I found it

so. funny.

It was one part sweet:

"Let me help you out, sweetie."

One part rude:

"Let me help you out, sweetie, since you clearly
didn't take the time to dust."

One part just funny:

"Oh, that story is just so interesting, but I am having trouble focusing since there is SO MUCH DUST 
all up in that lamp over there."

I had forgotten all about it until my friend texted me last night to find out if I had seen the lamp dusting.

I delighted in the moment MORE knowing she had seen it too!

Heaven knows, the Lord protected us from knowing the other knew lest I turned around, gave her the look and we both ended up on the floor laughing.

Or worse.

We made her mom feel bad.

It was not taken as an offense

which was the lighthearted luxury of the entire situation.

On this very same weekend my other friend was having a not so hot visit with her mother

that wasn't funny or lighthearted a single bit.

I started getting the prayer request texts Sunday night

for strength and patience 

and for the Lord to give her the ability to honor her mother

or just flat out staple her tongue to the floor

whichever was the easiest for the Lord 
to get the results HE intended.
(Ok, I added that part.)

It struck me curious that sometimes this "mothering" isn't fair.

I can't imagine a strained weekend with my own mother.

Heck, I am trying to get more weekends WITH my mother.

She lives in another state 4 hours away.

I'd help her and Dad pack 
if they'd just sell the house 
and move closer already!

My mom and Ellie this past Christmas
wearing Ellie's presents on their heads.

I am acutely aware that this isn't my friend's position on her mother.

Mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted

my friend couldn't wait to wave good-bye to her mother's visit.

I am sure I will get the details later but it doesn't matter if I do.

I want to BE GRATEFUL for what I have

a light heart when it comes to my mother 
because of the way she mothered me.

Speaking of mothering:  I had to stop writing this post because of the panicked plea from upstairs:

"Mom! I need you NOW!"

There was a very fast and dramatic descriptive presented of the sheer enormity and ferociousness of the bug waiting just inside the shower curtain.

It was a convincing tale. 

I heard myself say,

"Come with me! Don't make me go in alone!"

Because I'm crazy courageous like that.

So I killed this 1,000 legged part bug, part dragon with a large bubble wand that someone handed me like a scalpel in an operating room.

It was all funny

in a heart palpitating screaming kind of way.

And we celebrated as I used the shower nozzle 
to hose 400 of the dismembered 
part bug, part dragon 
legs down the tub drain.

I hope my girls will remember these funny days in the future

when they receive me with open arms

into their homes

and I decide to pick up a decorative color-coordinated napkin

in a room full of people

and begin to dust the underside of a lamp

all over the cookie platters.
katherines corner

A Royal Daughter

Friday, May 24, 2013

With Friends Like These…

As we made preparations to leave for Indiana for my grandmother's funeral,

I asked my girlfriend, Carisa, to pick up our dog Nigel from the boarder

so he'd be home when we got home Saturday night.

That meant Carisa had a key to our house.

[Can anyone else hear the foreboding dramatic music of doom in the background?]

Yeah, neither did I.

Which is why I gave her the key to our house.

On our drive home, 

I got a sweet call from my friend Sumita asking about the funeral.

She was with Carisa

in my house.

She called to let me know Nigel was okay.

And to see if I was okay.

As we talked I got the distinct feeling she was distracted.

I heard muffled giggles.

(Said like Seinfeld saying, "Newman!")

I asked if Carisa was trying on my clothes.

Or hiding a clown on my husband's side of the bed.
(Which is basically the same thing as attempted murder.)

I got a distracted sing-songey "Noooo" for an answer.


Then the pictures started coming via text:

Sorry for the squat picture. I have no idea why it is this way.

Yeah, that is Carisa drinking RIGHT OUT OF the milk carton.

I texted her back that there was a 
really good chance that was expired. 

We aren't so much for milk around here.

Friends don't eat friend's custard.
As soon as Carisa heard of my grandmother's passing, 

she was at my door with a fruit custard.

She said, 

"I'm Southern, we bring food."

We sat at the table and ate a piece of it together.

It was very precious.

FYI:  Whole Foods makes THE BEST fruit custard. 
Or is it called tart? 
Now I'm getting confused.
But it is so good!

On MY bed.
On MY side.
Reading MY book 
(Phil Robertson's "Happy, Happy, Happy" 
that I haven't even started yet, 
thank you very much!)
With MY dog.

Now she is using MY lip balm.

From the driver's seat, Monte told me to text back this,

"That isn't lip balm!"


the pictures kept coming.

Sorry for the sideways view, but it actually looks better this way.
Sumita napping with Nigel at the apparent party in our bedroom.

Some guard dog Nigel is. 
He is powerless against snuggles.
Again, sorry for the squattiness of this picture.

Sumita perusing my necklace selection.

Yes, my necklaces are displayed on a branch from my backyard shoved in a bottle.
I have an issue with "Out of sight, out of mind."
Which is probably why there is a pile of stuff 
on the floor of my bedroom behind Sumita. Ahem!

Sumita in McDaniel's room 
wearing her SIZE 10 Mickey Mouse slippers.

This is adorable since Sumita has a smaller foot than my 5th grader.

Really Carisa? Really?!

We had all of our toothbrushes with us so  "Whew"!
Sigh of relief.


After a quick text to Sumita to make sure Carisa was indeed CLOTHED

I told them we were only 45 minutes away 

and I may or may not have told them to get out of my house.

Lessons learned:

•always clean your house before you leave town
(you just NEVER know)

•train your dog to be an ACTUAL guard dog
(not a snuggle bunny little muffin man 
who will not defend your property
or your dignity)

•get your key back
(Um, I don't recall ever getting it back.)

•thank God for friends that pitch in to help
and make you laugh when you need it most.

Love you guys!
(But seriously, about the key…)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Love Blooms

Lilacs and peonies always remind me of my grandmother.

I came home from her funeral this past weekend to find that my peonies had bloomed.

They smell wonderful!

What a lovely reminder

that she lives on

in heaven.

My grandmother lost her younger sweet sister, Vivian (Bibby if you are family) back in the winter.

Aunt Bibby and MaMa.

Aunt Bibby got scarlett fever when she was quite young. She became very ill and her mother (my great grandmother, Mabel), asked her 6 children at the time (there would eventually be 9) to go out into the yard and find a quiet spot to pray. 

Pray hard.

For Bibby to be healed.

That is Bibby on the left on her mother Mabel's lap. My grandmother, Mary is behind them next to Betty and Bob (who married Monte and I and my parents). In front of him is Barney on his father, Gerald's lap. Twins Gene and Jeannie are in the front and center. Janet and Beverly would come later.

God saw fit to heal Bibby and the family committed themselves wholly to walking with Christ and never looked back.

But the illness weakened Bibby's heart.

She had surgery to repair some of that damage this past winter but never recovered.

At her funeral, my dear sweet grandmother told Bibby's daughter, Gwen, something she had never told anyone before.

"You know where I went in the yard when Mother told us to go pray for Bibby to be healed? 
The outhouse! 
I couldn't think of any better place to go pray."

Cousin Gwen told me that at my grandmother's funeral

to make me smile.
It worked.

Gwen decided to plant 8 rose bushes on the grounds of her church in honor of her mother (Bibby) and my grandmother (MaMa).

Pink rose bushes for Bibby.
Red rose bushes for MaMa.

She went to water the plants Sunday

and found one single pink bloom from Bibby's bush

and one single red bloom from MaMa's bush.

Two sisters are together again

blooming in heaven.

God is so wonderful to not only offer us eternal life in heaven so we can be reunited with our loved ones

but COMFORT those of us still here on earth

until we can see them again.

That faithful comfort has come by his creation

peonies and roses

and also floods of memories 
that I haven't thought of in years.

Isn't God wonderful?

katherines corner

A Royal Daughter

Monday, May 20, 2013

Adjustable Spirit

My grandmother, MaMa, went to be with the Lord May 14th.

She was 87 years old and due to be released from the hospital after a bout of pneumonia the day she died of a sudden heart attack.

My aunt Connie said it best when she said the doctor told her she could go home on Tuesday:

"We thought the doctor meant home to her apartment, but he meant HOME home."


I have a fabulous family of deep faith.

Our family reunions always included singing of hymns and lots of talk of "our friend Jesus".

There is no question where my grandmother is right now.

She is home.

But oh, how she will be missed.

I am 43 years old and still had a grandmother until a week ago.

I don't feel like I have the right to complain about grief when I know people my age who have lost their parents


And here I sit with the absolute privilege that my husband knew both sets of my grandparents.

They were at our wedding.

PaPa, me, Monte and MaMa at our wedding 17 years ago.
They prayed for Monte when we thought he had cancer in our first year of marriage.

My grandfather, PaPa, hugged and told Monte he loved him every time he saw him.

Monte never got that from his own grandfathers

so he treasured it from mine.

My girls knew their great-grandparents, great-great-aunts and great-great-uncles.

We won't even get into 2nd and 3rd cousins.

Over and over at MaMa's funeral we heard stories of how she just took people in.

Made them her family.

She was honestly an aunt to many

but took in more where no blood relation existed.

You know, it was before my wedding that I was told that two people who had always been in my life were not blood related to me.

I was shocked because they had always been there, 
at every family event.

I spoke with the only one who is still living of the pair this past week.

Joe asked if he could call me and stop by when he was in our area.

I was so touched

and I couldn't say yes fast enough.

I haven't had a grandpa in almost 11 years

and Joe was one of the many that my grandparents took in.

And he is paying it forward to fill in the gaps for me now that they are gone.

And bless his heart,

I'm going to let him.

My mom, Joe and Aunt Connie.

The stories of my grandmother and grandfather were aplenty this past week as we gathered to honor her.

Knowing she is not only with Jesus now

but also once again with my grandfather.

These stories told of how MaMa mothered everyone around her.

How she could gently advise you with a "Oh, Honey" with such gentle grace that you didn't feel lectured.

How she quickly adjusted to being a farmer's wife 

driving tractors
dealing with cows
and chickens
and mice (that she despised and feared)
and an outhouse
with a quick and easy proficiency

as if she didn't grow up 
with the conveniences of being in town 
with indoor plumbing.

The farm.

Her brother Barney talked about this "adjustable spirit" at the funeral. 

How it was the best part of her.

Like when she had to start dialysis.
It was tough.
And just wiped her out some days.
But she "adjusted".

The doctors told my mom and aunt that most people her age would only be able to withstand dialysis for about 5 years.

MaMa endured it for 11 years.

She had this ability to take what was given her

and be better for it

not beaten by it.

And laugh about it along the way.
She was so funny.

And could sing!

There are certain hymns that I cannot sing without hearing her voice and smelling the inside of her small church or tasting the flavor of the butterscotch Lifesavers she'd sneak me to be good and sit still during the sermon.

One time, when my McDaniel was just a toddler, MaMa and PaPa drove over to see us and got McDaniel a balloon.

McDaniel's little hands lost hold of the balloon in a parking lot and MaMa took off like a deer chasing that balloon into traffic practically getting hit by a bus.

I looked at my grandfather in amazement and he just said something to the effect of,

"Let her go. She won't be happy until she gets the balloon back."

When I was about 9 or 10, I got to spend a rare few summer days at the farm with my grandparents all by myself.

Coming from a family with 4 kids, this was a rare treat.

They had an ENORMOUS garden that we would tend to most evenings. 

MaMa decided to teach me which end of a red chili pepper was the hottest and to never eat.

She bit the opposite end of what she had just told me was the hottest

and preceded to take off 

like a rabbit on fire 

to the garden hose.

I had never seen MaMa run that fast before

(until the balloon incident 20 years later).

MaMa sputtered and moaned and prayed out loud a bit as she guzzled water from the garden hose

with me watching her wide-eyed and open-mouthed the whole time.

Finally, she just laughed and laughed and laughed saying,

"Boy, was I wrong!"

I don't eat red chili peppers to this day.

She could make chicken and noodles and macaroni and cheese and yeast rolls that would make you cry

and her sugar cream pie was the stuff of angels.

She was never quite happy with the way I made her sugar cream pie (even though she worked with me and wrote out extensive instructions).

One Thanksgiving I made the pie and she pointed to it and asked with a teence bit of confusion,

"What is this?"

She wrote out the instructions for the pie all over again, walking me through it out loud

all the while my brothers looked on in laughter.

Me and MaMa in her kitchen. 

All of those wonderful dishes were served by her church after the funeral.

They were good but not quite the same.

My mother commented how odd it was to be in a fellowship hall without my grandmother in the kitchen doing the cooking and serving.

She was such a doer.

Always planning a party

decorating a table

crafting centerpieces

teaching Sunday school

sewing a costume

writing out a card.


sounds a lot like my mom and aunt

and me 
(minus the sewing part).

My mom, MaMa and Aunt Connie. All cut from the same cloth.

Yesterday as I helped with a surprise birthday party

decorating tables

crafting centerpieces

and making MaMa's macaroni and cheese,

I felt so incredibly blessed to have MaMa's blood coursing through my veins

and the legacy of her faith in Jesus beating in my heart.

She lives on.

And I will see her again one day.

katherines corner

A Royal Daughter

Saturday, May 11, 2013

10 Favorite Things

I have never done this before

even though it is very popular in the blogosphere

you know, to list some of my favorite things.

Not Oprah style

I am not giving anything away.

Although, that is popular in blogland too--giveaways.

If you have actual sponsors

and more than 20 people who follow your blog.

But quite frankly,

I usually just hit delete when I see a post about a giveaway.

I don't have the storage and/or counter space for an orange Kraftmaid mixer

and as much fun as I think I could have with a Silhouette machine,

my practical side says,

"You don't need that."

Funny though,

my practical side was pretty quiet when I recently purchased 

1) a rusty old food scale
(see how I transitioned right into my 10 favorite things without getting too far down the rabbit trail?)


  and 2) 5 silver spoons and 5 silver forks.

It was important to me at the time.
I found these treasures at this great little shop by my girlfriend's house. They have an AMAZING collection of vintage dresses labeled by decade.


Ellie looking a little
"Toddlers and Tiaras".

Then she got stuck in another 80s beauty:

Ellie didn't panic so she doesn't take
after me.
Luckily, my friend Sumita was there to help because I was too busy laughing

and taking pictures.

 The 60s are alive and well at this store.
I LOVE this on McDaniel because:
1) It fits like a glove.
2) That peacock color is awesome.
3) It is LONG enough for her 6 foot tall(ness).
 Can you hear
the "Hallelujah" chorus?
Too bad the dress was $125.

I know! 

I found this scene in progress.

Apparently trying on vintage dresses makes one overheated.

3) Going to vintage shops with friends and family DEFINITELY counts as one of my favorite things.

McDaniel bought an old milk bottle with her own money.

Love that!

We went around the yard in the rain clipping flowers from our yard to fill it with

which she put together into this:

She thought it looked like her hair which is
why she is hamming up that face.
The bouquet included tulips, lilacs, some white blooms from a bush that I have never been able to identify, and then spider grass.

Which transitions nicely into my next favorite thing:

 4) This is my dwarf lilac tree that Monte brought home for me 7 or so years ago. 

Isn't it adorable? 

Can't you smell them? 

Lilacs always remind me of my grandmother.

She'd always cover her lilac bush with a sheet 
whenever there was a cold snap in the spring.
(Hello, it is the Midwest. 
There is ALWAYS a cold snap in the spring.)

5) This is my phlox in bloom. 
I bought them in a clearance section of a garden store years ago half-dead. 

I am so happy they could be nursed back to life.

They are coming!!!

6) My peonies are budding and the ants are doing their job eating away the layers so they can bloom.

Can't. Wait.

Peonies always remind me of my grandmother too.

I have pink and white peonies.

But only the white are fragrant.
(Are you yawning yet? This is getting boring. Sorry.)

A white-pinkish viburnum at church.
Smelled amazing.

A Korean spice viburnum at my friend Beth's house.
Smelled a lot like a lilac.

It was on her patio by this fragrant bush 
that she introduced me to another fave:


The fun we have had with this little iPhone app!

It changes your voice to sound like you have been sucking on helium

or turned into one of the Chipmunks.

It is ridiculous and hysterical.

I can't figure out how to get some of our videos uploaded on this post.

 So I am going to need you to imagine what Monte and I sound like singing

  "Close To You" by The Carpenters


"Muskrat Love" by Captain and Tennille

but as Simon, Theodore and Alvin.

Beth also introduced me to another iPhone app called Heads Ups.

It is a cross between 25,000 Pyramid and Charades.

You use your phone to give clues to others whose job it is to get you to guess the right answer.

The kicker is, they are being videoed by the phone you are holding up to your head.

Pretty funny stuff.

Especially when my family was trying 
to get me to guess flying squirrel. 

I can't wait to play this with a big group.

9) Pear Chobani Greek yogurt. 

You guys, there are actual pear chunks in the yogurt! It is so good.
("You guys" or just "guys", is the Midwestern version of "y'all".)


Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle is just fantastic!

The best book I've read in a while and the kind that I didn't want to end.

I laughed out loud yet teared up with the sweetness of how she writes about being a mother. This girl has a writing style that makes you feel like you are talking to her on the phone.

She has a blog called The Big Mama Blog, which I enjoy very much as well.

So go get this book! I am giving away copies for Mother's Day.

Wait. When I say "giving away" I don't mean "giveaway". 

Happy Mother's Day!

katherines corner

I Can't Make This Stuff Up

If I could, I wouldn't be so surprised when crazy things happen. And they do. All the time. Much to my surprise. We went o...