Sunday, August 31, 2008

Go Sooners!

Ben and Chandler went to the OU football game yesterday. Ben heard there was a 10% chance of rain before he left, but he said he had been to games with an 80% chance of rain and got all prepared, took ponchos and all the rest of the garb that would be necessary and... no rain. So he wasnt overly concerned of 10%.

Well, it rained. And rained. And lightning-ed. So bad that they postponed the game for 72 minutes and evacuated the stadium seats so that everyone was underneath. And then waited. Now, alot of the fans left. The score was 50-0, and most SANE people would have called it a night. But not my wonderful husband, who is a die-hard OU fan. No. Absolutely drenched, tired and waiting, they stayed for a bit and THEN left. (and yes, Chandler's painted hair was running everywhere!) But anyway, that was not the end of the waiting for them.

They walk the long walk to the place where the van was parked. It was in the grass, on a slope, in a large field. Which was not a problem going into the game, but it was after a couple of hours of rain.

He forgot he was not in his 4 wheel drive pick-up.

He also forgot to release the Parking Brake.

He also forgot to bring the cell phone charger.

He was stuck - in the mud - without a phone.

So, he was able to call me and ask me to get a tow truck to Lindsey in the field behind Braums. So I call 2 places and they are backed up hours. Apparently, lots of ding-dong men did the same thing. Imagine that.

The last place I called, the last place available in Norman said they would be right out. Well, 2 hours later, he is on the road home.

Tired, wet, tired, muddy and tired, they get home after 1am.

And guess what? They still had fun!

After all OU WON!!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Flashback Friday

This is my family. Alot of them anyway. Clockwise from my mom in the blue striped sweater is Becky (above mom), Mike D., Mike (my brother), Buddy, Marilyn, Lisa (my sister), Kandis (her daughter), Me, Steve (my brother), and then Lisa Dawn.

I vividly remember when this picture was taken, the smells, the texture of the rusty glider we were perched on and the heat of the Mississippi summer night. I have no idea who took the picture, or when this was. It looks to be about 1989? Kandis at 9 and me at 15 years old? Sounds right.

Summers in Mississippi. Good times, good times.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sisterly Love

Ain't love grand?

They looked so cute half naked and sitting on the couch together, but boy... when you go get the camera and tell Keira to "cheese", she takes it upon herself to pose Chayse onto her "yap". (lap in Keira speak)

Now to explain the nakedness... I decided that in order to spur myself into actually getting them dressed, I must first remove their pajamas. Well, that and the spilled breakfasts on their shirts. Otherwise, they would not get dressed all stinkin day on some days.

Yes, thats the kind of mother I am. The cat is out of the bag.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A life without left turns

My father never drove a car.

Well, that's not quite right.

I should say I never saw him drive a car. He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

"In those days," he told me when he was in his 90s, "to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it."

At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in:

"Oh, bull——!" she said. "He hit a horse."

"Well," my father said, "there was that, too."

So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars — the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford — but we had none. My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

Our 1950 Chevy

My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we'd ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. "No one in the family drives," my mother would explain, and that was that. But, sometimes, my father would say, "But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we'll get one."

It was as if he wasn't sure which one of us would turn 16 first.

But, sure enough, my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown. It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn't drive, it more or less became my brother's car.

Having a car but not being able to drive didn't bother my father, but it didn't make sense to my mother. So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving. The cemetery probably was my father's idea. "Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?" I remember him saying once.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps — though they seldom left the city limits — and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.

The ritual walk to church

Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn't seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage. (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.) He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin's Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish's two priests was on duty that morning. If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home. If it was the assistant pastor, he'd take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church.

He called the priests "Father Fast" and "Father Slow."

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he'd sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio. (In the evening, then, when I'd stop by, he'd explain: "The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored.") If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out — and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream.

As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, "Do you want to know the secret of a long life?" "I guess so," I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.

"No left turns," he said.

"What?" I asked.

"No left turns," he repeated. "Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic. As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn."

"What?" I said again. "No left turns," he said. "Think about it. Three rights are the same as a left, and that's a lot safer. So we always make three rights."

"You're kidding!" I said, and I turned to my mother for support. "No," she said, "your father is right. We make three rights. It works."

But then she added: "Except when your father loses count."

I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing. "Loses count?" I asked. "Yes," my father admitted, "that sometimes happens. But it's not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you're okay again."

I couldn't resist. "Do you ever go for 11?" I asked.

"No," he said. "If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can't be put off another day or another week."

My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90. She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102. They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom — the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.) He continued to walk daily — he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he'd fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising — and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

A happy life

One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news. A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, "You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred." At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, "You know, I'm probably not going to live much longer." "You're probably right," I said. "Why would you say that?" he countered, somewhat irritated. "Because you're 102 years old," I said. "Yes," he said, "you're right." He stayed in bed all the next day. That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night. He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said: "I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room is dead yet." An hour or so later, he spoke his last words:

"I want you to know," he said, clearly and lucidly, "that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have."

A short time later, he died.

I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I've wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long.

I can't figure out if it was because he walked through life.

Or because he quit taking left turns.

Michael Gartner has been editor of newspapers large and small and president of NBC News. In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008


You know, as a mom you pretty well have your kids "figured out". Certain kids act a certain way and you learn to accept and expect certain behavior. Some kids overreact at the smallest thing, some kids are compliant kids and Parent Pleasers (I don't have any of those kind, trust me) and some kids just kinda go with the flow.

So I have Kaylee pretty well "pegged". I have learned to know what to expect from her. Certain situations cause certain reactions from her. She is apparently her daddy's daughter. From what I hear of Ben as a child, she is the spitting image. Rotten. ;) Thats about the best way to put it. That is sooooo challenging for me. (Because as you know, I was a perfect child!) I don't understand her way of thinking most of the time. It doesn't "flow" with mine. I take different steps to achieve the same outcome and she goes in the "wrong" direction from me. But we end up in the same place and if I just let her do it her way, we will both be happier. This small realization has taken me 5 years to come to, and is still hard to overcome.

So with that said... she has broke completely out of any "mold" I had her in. She has so totally busted my pre-concieved notions on how she would react in Kindergarten. Way above and beyond what I would have expected from her. She has absolutely blossomed! Such a sweet, big girl. So independent, so suddenly. I am telling you, it was overnight.

I was hesitant if she was even ready for Kindergarten. She is a bit young. She has toilet "issues". She would probably take a nap if you made her lay quietly in her bed (not worth the fight, and yes I mean FIGHT!). She is not real crazy about doing anything for any amount of time. Only said Hi to her teachers once all year last year, all the other times she stood at the door with her head down and stared at her shoes. No amount of prodding could even get her to look up enough to get her backpack even on the hook. She acted very shy, but she isnt. Of course, after I would leave, and a fair amount of time, she would integrate with the other kids. But still would not participate in many of the activities. So, truth be told, I was worried about Kindergarten.

I prayed and prayed and prayed. And then I laid it in God's hands. I said whatever happens is meant to be and was able to come to peace with it and go for it. If she doesn't do well, then we will face that bridge and make a decision. If she has to repeat Kindergarten, fine, no problem there. So, we go for the first day, and I almost didn't know how to react to this Little Miss Independent. I was just dumb-founded. Smiles (doesn't say Hi, but smiles) at her teacher, goes to her locker, hangs up her backpack and runs to the table to find her name tag and begins coloring. Hardly even a second look to me. Then a smile, hug and kiss and "Bye Mommy!" I stood there waiting for the reaction I had geared myself up for, and got nothing. Whoa. Who is this kid? So off I go and honestly, geared myself up for tomorrow. Because surely, it would hit the fan on the SECOND day, right?

No. Every day since, perfection. (At least as far as I can tell. I have an informant because the Teachers Assistant is a dear friend of mine, so I will let you know what happens after I leave later!) She gets up and gets dressed with out being asked. She makes her own bed, beautifully too! She brushes her teeth, and that right there was a major fit thru the summer. I was trying to get her in the habit of brushing before school every day (its hit or miss in the mornings around here) and she was in total rejection of that idea ALL summer long! She gets her hair fixed without a major fit. Eats breakfast relatively quickly. Amazing, every bit of it. All of these things were hesitations for me for the last several months. I would think "good grief, it is 9:30 and Kaylee is still at the breakfast table, playing with her cereal" or "how in the world am I ever going to get a ponytail or bow in her hair if she wont even let a brush pass thru it without ear-piercing screams?" Or after the 43rd time of "Kaylee put your shoes on!" she finally slips on two different flip-flops. These are my concerns only a day before school starts. But now I have seen what my little girl is becoming. A glimpse of the woman she is going to be.

I have seen the hand of God in so, so many little things lately. And this is one area where he has definitely shown Himself in our household. I am so humbled by the way that He chooses to touch my life. Little ways that I hadn't even really asked for, or I had asked for and He chose to go way above and beyond and better! I know, I know. You read it or hear it all the time. But when you see it and feel it, it feels great. Having your needs and wants and desires met and exceeded by my great God is an amazing thing.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Gina needs...

Okay, here is fun little meme to do today. All you have to do is go to Google and type in Your Name followed by the word "needs." Then only using the first two pages pick out 5 and put them on your blog. Make sure you let me know you're doing it so I can come give you some comment love on your blog as well! :) Seriously, there is some funny stuff out there in Google land!

Gina needs to borrow bail money from Sheneneh.
Right off the bat I get this one? Seriously. Too funny, because Ben and I always use Sheneneh as our "joke name". Its like the name we were gonna name our 4th child (not!) and some of the kids in my sisters class she taught a couple of years ago who always gave her fits, Ben's make-believe girlfriend is even given this name!... the lists of uses we use this "generic girls name" goes on and on.

Gina needs You! Boy, do I ever! I need ya'll like nobody's business! More than most of you realize. I thank God for You daily.

Gina needs to be clarified.
Yep, some clarification would be nice. Clear the mind, clear the body, clear the soul. Clarify me!
(Is someone trying to tell me something???)

Gina needs a back-to-basics rethink.Wow. Ok. So, yes... someone is trying to tell me something. Get back to whats really important. I hope I havent strayed too far from this, but it is always something I strive for. Get back to basics.

Gina needs to get her oar wet.What? I have no comment on this one, just laughter!

Also on a side note on the picture of the billboard above... its caption said it was after Hurricaine Charlie. The billboard was torn up to reveal the one that was covered up... hmmm...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Seriously, why is it that EVERY TIME my husband puts a new roll of toilet paper on the holder it is upside down?? Now, thank you dear, for replacing it at all, for THAT I am grateful. And I realize that it is only because he is a man, after all, and is simply not paying any attention what-so-ever to which direction the toilet paper comes from. Me? I like the next sheet to rest on the top. Not hanging down underneath and I then have to dig for it or fumble around, spinning and spinning to find the end. If it is loaded properly, then when it is ripped off, the next sheet will be readily available to the next user. Seriously. Does he not realize how convenient it is when he is next, after I have corrected the roll mishap? But if it is happening "accidentally" then why is it 100% of the time wrong?? Shouldnt it be more like 50-50 and sometimes he gets it right? Seriously.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dad and Son Time

Chandler and Ben had some good Daddy...oops ..I mean DAD And Son Time this weekend. As you know, Ben is the baker of the family. Especially when it comes to cookies. That husband of mine can make a CRAZY GOOD cookie. Probably the best I ever had. Any kind too! Quite talented I tell ya.
Anyway, they made chocolate chip cookies together. And saying "they" might be stretching it. Chandler darn near did it himself! Ben just directed. He said "3 cups of this, one tablespoon of that, then mix it together..." They turned out great and just in time, too. Keira got up from her nap just in time to watch them bake and then eat a nice, warm, gooey cookie. Are ya'll hungry now?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Dry Gulch, USA

Chandler had a wonderful time at Camp Dry Gulch. He was gone for 4 nights and 4 days. I actually pulled alot of stories out of him. This is one area where girls are definitely better than boys...storytelling! But he shared quite a bit. They rode horses, go-karts, bumper cars, learned about Jesus, had water gun fights, late night scavenger hunts... the list of activities goes on and on. It is a wonderful camp, truly. He made some friends and some lifelong memories and hopefully, grew in his relationship with Christ.

He came home a "big boy". He has been SOOO good to his sisters. I suppose some of that is just that he is refreshed and not sick of them, yet. But regardless, I am glad to have him back and so is Ben. He was needing some more Boy Power, to help him with all of the girls around here!

Well, here are the only pictures I got. 4 days and 7 pictures? What is up with that??? Well, I can only imagine the rest of his adventures.
From the eyes of an eight year old...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Flashback Friday

I guess this was probably about 1975. I was about 1 1/2 years old, I would guess. I am with my mom and dad and oldest brother, Steve. Everything about this picture makes me smile! The outfits! (The amount of polyester in this photo...!) The hair! And my face!

(correct me if I am wrong of the year, Lisa or mom)