To Dee


“A noble man makes noble plans and by noble deeds, he stands.”

My grandfather passed away today. He was 93. I love him so much and will miss him. I have never lived a day without Dee in my life. He is and was a solid, loving and stabilizing presence that shaped who I am.  I’ve never thought of a world without him, but here on this day, January 10th, 2013, he’s gone and I want to honor a great man who loved me and who I loved.

Memories have flooded over me the last few weeks as we expected his Home-going.

I remember little things like the Silver Dollar Ceremony.  He and Nana had a pool in their backyard.  As each of his grandkids reached an age where we ventured into the deep end and started diving, he would say, “Let me know when you are ready for that silver dollar.”  We’d practice over and over diving down to touch the drain at the deep end of the pool until we could finally hold our breath long enough to reach it. Then we’d run tell Dee “I think I’m ready for the silver dollar!”  He’d ceremoniously bring out the silver dollar and swim down to the bottom of the deep end and put it right on the drain.  Then, with cousins, parents, aunts and uncles to cheer us on, we’d dive off the diving board and swim to the depths of the pool.  I remember feeling a moment of panic, could I do it? But determination set in.  Then, clutching that precious coin we we’d push off the bottom of the pool with all our might and crash up through the top of the water, coin-hand outstretched, and look over for Dee’s proud smile.  Such a little thing, but a right of passage we came to expect. We don’t have too many rights of passage today and I don’t know why. It gives a child such a sense of value and accomplishment when they’ve worked hard to reach a goal. I guess Dee knew that.

I remember that Dee and Nana always gave us the most unexpected Christmas gifts. They were creative and useful things that I wouldn’t have thought to ask for, but even in those gifts there was a calling up, a chance to be older. One year a fishing tackle box with hooks and bait. I loved that gift. One year a Snoopy Duffle bag. I still have it. It was perfect. I used it for my very first sleep-over.  My favorite year, Dee made home-made stilts. This is still one of my favorite Christmas memories of all time. Dee made small stilts for the little kids, tall ones for the adults.  We ran all over that yard laughing and racing and face-planting.  I am determined to make these for my kids this year. A kid needs stilts. Dee knew that.

My favorite thing to do with Dee was to go metal detecting.  To me it seemed a wonderful adventure with endless possibilities for finding buried treasure. I would ask him every time I went to his house. He’d pull out his metal detector and we’d canvas the yard. I was the “digger” and he was the “finder”.  I remember when the metal detector would start beeping really fast, I’d throw myself down at the spot and start digging. He’d take each scoop in his big hand and we’d run it under the metal detector until we found the scoop with the metal. Then he’d open up his hand and I’d rifle through the dirt until we found the treasure. In reality, we mostly found bottle caps, but that didn’t deter us.  It was fun and we were together and it is one of my most precious childhood memories.  He kept a big coffee can on his work bench in the garage with all his “finds” and every time we went over, I’d pull it out and we’d talk about all the new stuff he’d discovered.  If he found anything really special, he would take it inside to a jar in his closet. He found some neat rings and jewelry over the years, those went inside or he’d give them as a gift to one of the grandkids.   Dee went through several models of metal detectors in my life. He knew I loved it so he gave me one of the early ones, which I still have in the garage. I am going to take that to a repair shop and get it fixed so I can take my children treasure hunting in his honor.

What Dee taught me:

It strikes me that the strongest and most meaningful memories I have of Dee are from my early childhood, which makes me realize that even though I’m now 38, I never out-grew those early impressions of who he was.  This is encouraging and cautioning to me.  If I was so molded by my first 10 years, my children and grandchildren will be too.  I want them to remember feeling about me, the way I feel about Dee.  He was available, positive and present in my life. He was reliable and caring.

In my child-mind, Dee was never busy. That’s ridiculous of course because he had a large family and a thriving business but I remember him as available.  He took time to listen to me and he spent time with me. He gave me a sense of self-worth.

Dee was simple. Even though he made and lost millions in his lifetime, he and Nana were never fussy, never put on airs. They wore simple clothes, ate simple meals. He ate an orange after dinner every night a tradition I keep regularly. He worked in his garage. He drank coffee with his wife and friends. He played cards with his wife.  They kept their life simple and I always felt at ease in their presence.

Dee was hospitable.  I always felt wanted and welcome in their home. I was always greeted warmly with hugs and kisses and lots of love. They had special toys and food they kept just for us. People dropped in unannounced and were greeted enthusiastically.  All were welcome.  Their doors and hearts were always open.  They welcomed my husband into their lives. Dee liked John. He was interested in him and in his work. They talked shop and guns and business together and makes me feel good to know that my grandparents loved him.

Dee loved Nana. They were happy. They flirted back and forth. They laughed together, they played together and they worked together.  Their love stood the test of time.  When Dee spoke at my grandmother’s funeral, he called her his sweetheart. I’ll never forget that moment because it was exactly true. She was his sweetheart. I never heard an unkind word pass between them. They showed each other respect and it made a big impression on me. When my grandmother became sick with Alzheimer’s, he stood by her. He packed up his whole life and moved into a trailer outside of her nursing facility just so that he could be with her every day.  In my adult mind, this is one of the noblest acts I have ever seen.  It makes a huge impact on the way I choose to live and love my husband every day.

Isaiah 32:8  “A noble man makes noble plans and by noble deeds, he stands.”  This is Dee.

I love you so much sweet Dee. I will miss you but I’m glad you are with your Lord and your sweetheart. Thank you for everything you have made me.



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To My Girls – Your High Notes are Found in Your Low Notes

Happy Anniversary to My Sweetheart

To my sweet girls, today is our 14th wedding anniversary. I love your daddy so dearly and since anniversaries always make me feel introspective, I wanted to take a moment to write to you what is in my heart. I don’t feel qualified to offer marriage advice, especially in light of so many mistakes we’ve made, many of which you know and you’ve seen and if you haven’t yet, you will see them. But I do want to write this letter of encouragement to you first and foremost and also for anyone along the way that could be encouraged by these words.

I once had a voice teacher who loved loved loved to have me sing scales. In fact, almost our entire lesson every week was spent on scales. I am a soprano, but every week she would have me go lower and lower on the scales and every week she would say “Your high notes are found in your low notes.” It was irritating at the time, I just wanted to sing, but I knew she was trying to impress upon me something important, that the low notes were actually strengthening my vocal chords so that I could hit powerful high notes with ease.

Those words have come back to me so many times in life and are really at the heart of what I want to say to you. I love marriage. I love the idea of it and I love the reality of it, but anyone who’s been married any length of time knows that the idea and the reality of marriage are far apart most days. I look back at the years your daddy and I have been married and I blush with shame at how much we’ve hurt each other. We’ve been stupid, fought viciously, argued about the ridiculous, acted out of selfish ambition, held on to resentment, idolized unobtainable expectations of each other and quite frankly just been totally self-centered a lot of the time. Truly it hurts my heart to think about it. Daddy didn’t deserve this, I didn’t deserve it, but there it is for all to see, immaturity and sin that wounds the very one you vow to love with your life.

Amazingly though, as ridiculous as it sounds, we’ve also done everything right. Somehow, God has used all our low moments to stretch us, teach us, and strengthen our resolve to do better next time. He has allowed us to struggle together and in that struggling to overcome each obstacle that has threatened to take us down. My encouragement to you; Embrace the struggle together. Don’t give up! Remember and fight for your love. When you argue viciously, repent just as passionately. Forgive freely. Laugh often, I repeat – Laugh as much as you possibly can. It’s a choice. Laugh at yourself, laugh at the absurdity of life, laugh when you feel like crying. Nothing can take that away from you. We’ve been very poor at times but we could still laugh together. And when you hit those low notes, lift up your eyes and heart and ask God for help, He will come. Somehow, miraculously, He uses the fragile, imperfect person you married to teach you to love. True love. Sacrificial love. And somehow, the more you struggle together the sweeter that love grows. He takes all your low notes and turns them, oh so slowly, if you don’t give up, into sweet music and beautiful high notes.

To my girls – I’m so grateful for your daddy. I’m so grateful that every time he could have walked away, he stayed. I’m so grateful that he humbles himself before God to embrace this impossible challenge of staying married to me his whole life. Ha! No easy task I assure you. The impossible challenge to teach and raise 4 busy little girls into beautiful women. The impossible challenge to work his body to exhaustion to take care of us and ease our burden, all because of love. Find a man just like your daddy, don’t settle for less, and then hang on to him – he’s a keeper.



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On Yoga

I downloaded a new yoga app to my phone today. It’s awesome! It goes,
Mountain Pose (stop to answer ringing phone)
Greeting Pose (Shake baby off leg while you “breath normally”)
Downward Dog (Yell “No you can’t have a cookie before dinner!” while you “invite pleasant thoughts and realize how much you have to be grateful for”)
Deep Lunge (pull a muscle jumping up to chase toddler into the bathroom to get my phone back before she throws it in the toilet)
Corpse Pose (daydream about maintaining this pose for the rest of the night)
Ninja Pose (this is an improvisational pose I just made up to keep toddler from jumping on my stomach)
Breath Normally (pour a glass of wine, sob quietly into the arm of the sofa and order bigger clothes online).

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On Boogers

One of the best things about parenting are the fascinating conversations.  This is not sarcasm.  Nothing is Taboo with kids.  When you don’t bare the weight of social propriety, life is your conversational oyster.

Last night I had a lengthy conversation about boogers.  More specifically about one booger.  We were driving home from a pleasant evening with family.  It was late.  It was quiet.  I thought the kids had fallen asleep in the back seat when suddenly a little voice,

“Will you turn the light on?”

“Why Savannah”?

“I need to see if I got it. Yep!  Where shall I put it?”

“Put what Savannah?”

“My booger. Can I just throw it on the floor?”

“No!” (frantic search for a Kleenex begins)

“Can’t I just wipe it on my jeans?”

“NO!”  (John and I start looking around for the candid camera crew. Are we really having this conversation?)

“It’s just a small one.”

“That is not the point Savannah.  That is NEVER the point.” (I find a yellow, sticky note.) “Here Savannah.  All I can find is this sticky note.”

“Fine.” (She inserts booger into sticky note.) “Here Mom.”

“I don’t want it!”

(She’s shocked.) “What??? What am I supposed to do with it?”

“You’re supposed to hold it until we get home.”

“Can’t I just hang it on the baby’s car seat?”

Like I said – nothing is off limits, and even though I would have sworn under oath that we’d done everything possible to instill our traditional family values which are “boogers are very gross”,  we spent our entire drive home talking about the proper disposal protocol for boogers.  You just don’t get that as an adult unless you are blessed to have children.


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Why do leaves change colors?

Leaves have lots of colors in them but all you see is green because they have so much green Chlorophyll.  In the winter when the leaves start to die, the Chlorophyll goes away and you can see the other colors that were always in the leaves.  These colors are called pigments.

To show you what I mean, we did a little experiment.  My dad and sister and I went out and collected 3 different types of leaves.

We put them into 3 different glass bowls.

We tore them up into tiny pieces.

Mom poured alcohol over the leaves.

Then we put all 3 bowls into a large pan and filled it with hot water.  This cooks it with energy from the alcohol and the hot water.

We covered them up and let them sit for 30 minutes.  We timed it on the microwave timer.

After 30 minutes, my mom put strips of coffee filters in them and we let them sit for over an hour.

The coffee filter paper absorbed all the mixed up color pigment and separated them.  This is called chromatography. (Crome-a-tog-ra-fy)

You can see that all sorts of yellows, greens, reds and browns were in the leaves all the time, you just couldn’t see them because of the green Chlorophyl.


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$100 Cheeseball

Italian Cheeseball

Years ago some friends and I were going on a cruise.  On our way to the coast, we stayed the night at one of the girls aunts  home.  This woman’s generous hospitality caused her to order a gigantic cheeseball from her caterer for us to enjoy.  When I say gigantic, I’m not kidding, it was the size of a mixing bowl.

The 4 of us, together in the room with the cheeseball lost all sense of time and space.  It was as if we were alone in the universe with this cheeseball.  After some time had passed we became slightly self conscious of our  feeding frenzy.  Due to social etiquette only, we stopped eating  having already consumed half of our beloved ball of wonder.

We asked the aunt for the recipe and were politely declined.  She said it cost $100 and the caterer would not part with the recipe.

I’ve spent several years trying to perfect my version of the recipe.  This is where I am so far.  I actually like it better than the one we had.  It is still pretty expensive to make and I recommend doubling it.  In fact you may consider tripling it so you can hoard one cheeseball for yourself and then serve the rest to company.  It is very beautiful and makes an impressive display.  Here is the recipe.  If anyone discovers something to improve it please let me know.  Enjoy!!!

Cheeseball with Pesto and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients - I splurged, but you can use less expensive ingredients.


32 oz cream cheese softened

8 ounces of goat cheese softened

2-3 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning

2 clove of garlic crushed

About 4 ounces of prepared basil pesto

About 4 ounces of prepared sun dried tomato pesto

½ Cup of sun dried tomatoes chopped in processor.

¼ cup toasted pine nuts (toast them on the stove or in the oven if you can’t buy them toasted)

1 sprig of fresh basil


Roast Pine Nuts on stove with a little olive oil.


Roast Pine Nuts in a little olive oil.

Cream together: cream cheese, goat cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic.

In a separate dish mix chopped sun dried tomatoes with tomato pesto.

Cover the inside of a bowl or pot with a cheese cloth.


Cover inside of bowl with cheese cloth.

Layer in this order on top of cheese cloth:

  • cream cheese mixture,
  • basil pesto,
  • cream cheese mixture
  • sun dried tomato mix
  • End with cream cheese mixture

Layer cheese with pesto.

Fold excess cheesecloth over the top, press firmly and chill for at least 2 hours or over night.  Invert cheese ball onto serving dish and remove cheesecloth.  Garnish with pine nuts and basil. Serve with fancy crackers.


Your family will try to STEAL  and eat your cheeseball before it’s ready.  BE ON THE LOOKOUT!

Hannah Faye STEALING Cheeseball!



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Perseus and Medusa

When I was a kid my dad loved the movie Clash of the Titans.  I remember watching it and being completely horrified and utterly intrigued.  That was about the extent of my exposure to Greek Mythology growing up.  My daughter, Savannah’s 2nd grade class is studying Greek Mythology and next week we are having a big Greek Festival complete with Olympic games, Greek food and Artisan exhibits.  As the room mother, I’m in charge of planning.  I thought it would be hilarious to recreate one of the famous scenes from Clash of the Titans.  The scene where Harry Hamlin who plays Perseus, holds up Medusa’s head.

I made this face-board for the kids. Hope these parents have a good sense of humor cause I can’t stop laughing.


Perseus and Medusa


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