Saturday, December 27, 2008

15 Random Facts About Myself (in no particular order)

I just visited and accepted her invitation to copy her post.

1. I love to visit Ruby's Readery (a local used and new bookstore) and buy books by authors I have not previously read.

2. I have increasingly alarming short term memory loss.

3. I can't stand it when people walk into work in a bad mood. Leave it at home, people!

4. I still worry about my grown children when the weather is bad. I will call my son (almost 28 yrs. old) to make sure he made it to work okay.

5. My favorite event of the year is NG weekend. That's the weekend I get together with my three sisters for about three and a half days. This year will be NG6.

6. I need to get back on track with Weight Watchers.

7. I didn't send Christmas cards this year.

8. I want a large print Bible but I don't want it to weigh ten pounds.

9. I never thought I would enjoy receiving email as much as receiving regular mail, but I do.

10. I like SPAM and I have several recipes that include it.

11. My job is very challenging but I love it.

12. I find myself referring to people I know only through blogging by their names as if we know each other. (I hope that doesn't scare any of you.)

13. I would still like to be a stay at home mom one day.

14. My favorite place to be is at home.

15. I go to an amazing church-First Free Will Baptist Church of LG.

Okay, just like Melinda, I won't tag anyone. Do it if you want to be random like us!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just think about what you're saying, please.

It is time to talk about a pet peeve. I want to preface this by saying that I love Christmas and all things Christmas. Yes, I know it can be a very busy time. I know that some people spend too much money. I know that sometimes the expectations that people have are not met so they are disappointed and disillusioned. I recognize ALL of that.

Here's my beef: I just shudder when I hear people say "I CAN'T WAIT TIL CHRISTMAS IS OVER!" Am I the only one who cringes when they hear this? Do these people think about what they are saying? Do they really mean they can't wait until we stop honoring and celebrating our Savior's birth? Are they that sick of the idea of being generous and giving and loving? Is being with family and friends that painful? Have they forgotten what it was to be a child and LIVE 364 days a year just for Christmas Day?

I'm just asking.

If you are one of those people, maybe it's time for you to step away from your baking and shopping and planning and going and doing and just BE STILL AND KNOW THAT HE IS GOD.

Let me share something with you from John J. Parsons: "Be still comes from the Hiphil stem of the verb rapha (meaning to be weak, to let go, to release) which might better be translated as "cause yourselves to let go" or "let yourselves become weak". But to what end are we to "be still" or "let go" or "surrender" or even "die to ourselves"? We "let go" in order to objectively know the saving power of God in our lives. We give up trusting in ourselves and our own designs in order to experience the glory of God's all-sufficiency. When we confess the truth about who we really are-weak, feeble, ineffectual-we can surrender our desire to control outcomes and entrust the care of the world to God."

Maybe the reason you are ready for Christmas to be over is because you think it is up to you to make Christmas be everything for everyone. Stop trying. Rest. Be still. Know that He is God.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another giveaway!

Go to Whitney's site at for a fun Christmas question. I can hardly keep up with all the giveaways lately!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Great giveaway at Tanya's site

You have to go to and check out her new giveaway. I want to win this one so badly that I can't wait for her to announce the winner. I get two more chances at winning by posting a picture that I want to have transformed into a beautiful work of art.

My picture is one of my family that was taken when I was about four years old. I am the blonde in the front. I love this picture of my sweet, wonderful family. It is especially dear to me now that my mother, father and youngest sister are in heaven. I would LOVE to have this on canvas to hang on my wall. Even better, I would love to have four of them so I could give one to each of my remaining sisters.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas at the Fletchers

I have had a time trying to upload my pictures this time. I tried for two days and was finally successful tonight. However, they seem to be a little random in order so just try to imagine a seamless, flowing presentation.

This is the dining room table. It is rather plain but I like something simple so that it is easy to remove for dinner time.

Dennis' Christmas Village:

Some of the pretties on the tree:

This Nativity is something from Dennis' childhood. His family had it as long as he can remember. (He is 53) The figures were made in Italy. The stable, however, is newer. The figures used to be set up on a heavy cardboard thing that opened up and the stable popped up but it deteriorated with age and we had to get rid of it.

One of the crosses on our tree. I love all the different crosses but this is one of my favorites.

One of the many nativity sets that Dennis has bought for me. I love to find new ones.

A shot of the tree from the living room. We decided to put it in the little breakfast nook and I love how it looks here. Our artificial, pre-lit tree was destroyed in the flood we had in April so we bought a living tree that will go out in the yard after Christmas. It is a white pine.

Our little tree in the foyer by the front door.

The little Nativity vignette on the tree. I love this.

I have used this little sleigh for a foyer decoration for years and decided to use it for our smaller Christmas gifts this year. I found the neatest wrapping paper at the GROCERY STORE for $1.00 a roll. It has baby Jesus in the manger with a sweet little lamb beside him.

Another shot of the tree; this time from the kitchen view.

The dining room window with my retro candle lights and choir boys. I found both of these at an antique mall. They just scream Christmas 1955, don't they?

The following nativity is my favorite that Dennis has given me. This one was a complete surprise. I had admired it but knew we could not spend the money for it. He surprised me with it for Christmas. I just love this one.

Another view of the tree and Nativity and sleigh and stockings. We don't have a fireplace.

I have enjoyed showing you our home. Come again.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Follow this link to a FAB giveaway!

You have to rush right over to for a chance to win one of her two great prizes. Myself, I am hoping for the glass friendship ball. Pick me. Pick me.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

In Everything.....Give Thanks

Those four words have been cropping up everywhere in the past few days. I know, you are probably thinking, well, duh Verla, we did just celebrate THANKSGIVING, hello? That is true. So, of course, thanks and thanksgiving have been very much in the air. What I mean, though, is those EXACT four words. A devotion that I receive daily expounded on those four words. Then, a good portion of Book Seven in the Mitford Series by Jan Karon, which I just finished reading last night, dealt with those four words. Our pastor's message included those four words today in his personal testimony. All of these different "arrows" have really pierced my heart and I realize that I was needing to hear these words over and over. It's easy to give thanks when I can see the good that will come from something. It's easy to give thanks when things work out my way and for what I think is the best. It's not so easy, however, to give thanks when you feel like you are stumbling in the dark or cannot imagine how any beauty will rise from these ashes. But I am commanded and challenged to go ahead and give thanks. So, I am just going to do that. Thank you God that in all of those circumstances and problems that I just don't understand I know without a doubt that you are near me and loving me and working things out according to your will.

Another contest at Check it out.

Whit's first Christmas giveaway is at You know you want to win so go there!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Another giveaway!

Go to for a fabulous giveway! Tanya always finds the neatest collection of goodies with which to tease us. You will love it and want all of it. While you're there you might as well check out some of her yummy recipes on previous blogs.

Friday, November 14, 2008

In the Mood

This is the first weekend in a long, long time that we don't have to be somewhere or do something except go to church on Sunday. I cannot even remember the last weekend like that. I am simply giddy with the possibilities. Which brings me to the subject of my post.

I have been in the mood the last few days for organizing. You know, making lists and stacking things and throwing stuff out and finding space-all of that good stuff. Now, just ask my family, I don't get in this mood very often so I have to jump right in and do those things before the urge leaves me. Last Saturday I organized my massive collection of cookbooks and my pantry. Tonight I worked on getting my loose recipes into a binder and plan to categorize them tomorrow into sections. I started a project in the the garage a few weeks ago and plan to finish that tomorrow. I am sorting through boxes of things I have saved for years and years and years. I am not kidding. Some of that stuff has been packed away since before we had children and our oldest is almost 28! Obviously, if I haven't needed it in almost 28 years, I probably don't need it.

I know, I know. I posted about this last month, the decision about what to throw out and what to keep. So, I won't bore you with too many details again. But I did start thinking about another aspect of going through boxes and files and such. What item do you have from a family member that means a lot to you? It could be something passed down through generations, such as a cradle. Or, maybe a piece of jewelry from a loved one. Tell us a story about something you possess that was "passed on" to you.

Here is my story. My treasure is a Bible that my Dad passed down to me. It is the Bible that he was using when I was born. I believe he gave each of us five girls the Bible he was carrying at the time we were born. Daddy was a preacher and receiving one of his Bibles was a big deal. I got it out tonight and was looking at it and wanted to share the images with you:
The Bible

The inside where he started the three page note to me

The sign-off

This is so precious to me. But I find myself wondering if my children will treasure it like I do. I ask this because I remember going through Mom and Dad's things and finding stuff that they had treasured and saved and the big question was "Who wants this?". Sometimes the answer was no one. Do you think about that? Do you wonder if things that you hold on to so tightly will mean anything to future generations of your family? Perhaps that is why it is so important to pass on to our children the things that really matter. Things like teaching them, by our lives and our words, to trust God and to love Him and live for Him. I want THOSE to be the things my children treasure when I am gone.

But, I still hope they treasure this Bible, too. For the sake of their PaPaw's memory and legacy.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Good Monday Morning!

Whitney has declared a winner-Contest over! Go on over to Whitney's site and enter her contest to win some fabulously funky dishes. Shame on you if you aren't reading her blog every day anyway.

I am looking forward to this week. We have a bank holiday tomorrow so that means a day all to myself just for me. I cannot wait. I have debated whether or not to run around or shop or just stay at home. Right now staying at home is the most attractive option. I never get a whole day to myself in my house. I love home, don't you? I don't understand people who can't bask in the simple pleasure that is home.

We are also having a community revival all week. It started yesterday and goes through Wednesday. It was great yesterday and last night getting together with other churches and community residents for one purpose-to worship God.

This week means that we are now just a little over two weeks away from my favorite holiday of the year! I get to see all of my sisters and their families and some cousins. I cannot wait to hug my sisters. It has been too long since we were together-May- and that was for the untimely death of our baby sister. It will be good to spend time together at a happy occasion.

Plus, we are taking a little short trip over to Branson with our 11 yr daughter and our 10 yr old grandson the weekend before Thanksgiving. That should be fun. We love that little trip. This time we are staying at the new Hilton for a couple of nights.

And, then we can start the countdown to NG6-our annual sister getaway! Woohoo!

I hope your week is full of fun to look forward to things also.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Which One Are You?

Since joining the blogger world I have been fascinated that some people find something to write about every day, hint, hint That impresses me so much. And, it got me thinking and wondering how people go about updating and writing and posting. I have questions.

1. Do you sit down on a regular basis and write posts archiving them somewhere so you can, with just a few clicks, have a new post every day? OR

2. Do you wait until something fun, sad, incredible, noteworthy, or everyday wonderful happens and sit right down to share it with us OR

3. Are you organized and creative like Tanya and have designated days with lots of fun pictures and tips and contests? OR

4. Do you sit and gaze longingly at your computer screen, fingers poised over the keys, just hoping for a burst of inspiration and, then, when it doesn't come, you settle for those mundane observations and thoughts that, at least, entertain your sisters OR

5. Do you have a job that allows you lots of free time to look busy while you update and comment and surf? (wouldn't want to get anyone fired) OR

6. Do you have adorable kids that need to be shared with those who live far away so you post pictures regularly?

Which one are you? What is your method? I would really love to hear your stories. Inspire us.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tanya's Contest

Go on over to and enter her contest for a cute apron giveaway. Even if she wasn't giving anything away you would need to visit her site. It's cute and fun and so is she!

Monday, October 27, 2008

It was Christmas at our house today. Yep. You read that right. We let Blair open her Christmas present. For those of you who don't know my family, Blair is our 22 year old daughter. Now, you might be asking yourself why we would let her open her gift in October. We have a good reason, really, we do.

Blair starts practical nursing school November 3rd! We are so very PROUD of her and excited for her. She has been working as a nurse tech at a hospital and is ready to jump head first into this career. We wanted to show her how we feel and just didn't see any reason to wait until December 25th. So, we didn't.

Can you guess what we gave her?

It wasn't a stethoscope.

Guess again.

It wasn't a pair of white support hose.

One more guess.

It wasn't one of those cool 1950s nurse hats.

It was a ..............................................


She was surprised and excited. It was fun to do something so totally unexpected.

Merry Christmas to you, too!

Sunday Baker (Tanya) is celebrating her one year blog anniversary. Go on over to and enter her giveaway! Tell her One of Nettie's Girls sent you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


It’s almost Thanksgiving and I cannot wait to gather with my family and friends for the annual Jernigan Thanksgiving. This year it will be in Hot Springs where my sister Debe lives. Of course, I am looking forward to being with my three dear sisters but……………truth be told, I look forward to the goodies, too. You know, the FOOD!

Here's the clan a couple of years ago at my house for Thanksgiving.

So, it got me thinking about holiday food and what makes it holiday food. In our group they include Mom’s Famous Lemon Fruitcake (don’t flinch til you’ve tried it-out of this world!) and Rhonda’s Cream Cheese Muffins. We only eat these at Thanksgiving. The first Thanksgiving without Mom I determined that we couldn’t go without her fruitcake so I am now the baker of that lemony, nutty sweet. You really should try some. I wish I could send a slice to everyone and forever lay to rest your misgivings about all cakes of fruit. The Cream Cheese Muffin recipe was found in a newspaper years ago and became a staple once served at a family gathering. These moist, gooey balls of dough filled with cream cheese and coated in butter and cinnamon are mmm, mmm good.

I am sure that some of you are like our family and there are items that you ONLY eat on certain holidays. Here’s your chance to tell us about your awesome annual delights.

What dish or treat is ONLY served on a holiday at your family get-togethers? And, is there a special story behind it? We love background!

I need to start my list of fabulous things to take to Hot Springs this year. I will be taking the Lemon Fruitcake as always but try to find something new to introduce each year, hoping that we will discover a new must-have, eat it once a year, only Auntievee can bake it that good treat. If you have any suggestions for me, let me know?

Fall IS my favorite time of year and I know it is because I will get to spend several days with my wonderfully dear family. I hope you are blessed as I am.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I have been going through some boxes in our garage, determining what needs to be kept and what should be tossed. I am not very good at this. Evidently I am afflicted with a condition that causes me to feel if I saved something at one time it must be saved for ALL time!
Here's a question for you: What kinds of things do you HAVE to keep and what are you comfortable with throwing out?
My sister Nora and my husband Dennis are not afflicted in this way at all. They have the ability to open drawers and boxes and, in one swoop, dump it all in the trash bin. They don't pick up every piece of paper and envelope and peruse the contents on the outside chance that some treasure has been hidden there for generations, or at least months.
So, Saturday found me sitting on a chair in my garage, surrounded by boxes of things that I have saved since before we had children. (Our son will be 28 in February!) I could not believe some of the things I have saved for over thirty years. Actually, there were things dating back to high school for me and I graduated in 1974! I fancied myself a writer back then and had a notebook full of original writings. Lucky for the literary world the notebook was somewhat water damaged in our flood last April so I threw it away. Yes, I cannot believe it myself.
There were cards from people that I haven't seen or spoken to in more than thirty years. There were old school assignments. And old term paper. Newspaper clipping detailing some big story in the news for 1987-remember Baby Jessica who fell down a well? Why I thought I would need to be able to chronicle that story escapes me. Cancelled checks from 1983? Seriously, why did I still have that stuff?
But, to be sure, there were some fun things. A great newspaper clipping of my sis Nora in an ad for the fitness salon-Venus de Milo. This was from about 1978:

I found beautiful letters from my niece Nikki when she was a child. She is now in her early thirties. Those I am keeping because, for some reason, she really does think the world of me. I may need proof of that sometime down the road.
I found one of my senior pictures. It was actually the one Mom and Dad had hanging in the hallway of their home along with the four of my sisters. Do you want to see it? Okay. Remember, this was 1974:

Right now I have three boxes out there: 1) Keep 2) Throw away 3) Shred. I am happy to report that the throw away and shred boxes are bigger than the keep box.
Tell me about your keepsakes and answer the question above.
BTW: My dear little friend Whitney is having a contest-go to

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Day To Remember

I have spent today thinking about my mom-the Nettie mentioned in my blog title. Today would have been her birthday. She died suddenly on March 2, 2005 at 4:15 a.m. after suffering a massive heart attack.
My own birthday came in August that year. (Well, it comes in August every year………but, oh well.) I think I felt her absence more that day than I had any day so far, even the day we buried her. It was the first birthday in my memory that I didn’t hear her say “Guess what I was doing X number of years ago today?” I loved the way she asked that question as if it were the first time every time. I can hear her voice and see her smile even now.
Then, along came October 17th that year and I wondered how I would get through her birthday. I felt like bursting into tears every time someone spoke to me and knew that I would have to find a way of coping at work. Leave it to my sisters to make that possible for me. Each one of them made sure to let the others know that they were thinking of them and thanking God for the gift of each other. Being reminded of the great treasure we have in each other made it possible for me to make it through that hard day.
Today was the third birthday for her since her passing. I didn’t spend the day in tears or even have terribly sad thoughts. I have been thinking about this day for about two weeks, wondering if I would be sad. I have thought about my sisters and wondered if they were doing well this week. But, I have spent most of my thoughts about her just remembering how blessed we were to have her for the years we did.
Earlier this year, after the death of my youngest sister, one of my nieces sent this note of encouragement to all of us:
“James Patterson wrote, “I won’t lie to you. I won’t say why God would take her now. But if the fact that she was sent here among us doesn’t point to a loving God, then I can’t help you.”
And so, maybe that is it. The Lord in his infinite mercy loans us those that have the power to shape us, people who are fallible, people who try their best and sometimes still end up short, people who inspire us to leave this world better than how we found it, people whose absence leaves those left behind with the uncertainty and sometimes the unwillingness to carry on without them. And maybe that too is a gift: to feel that deeply, to love that much, to have had them in our lives even for a short while.”
I do believe that God’s mercy is infinite and that His love is indescribable. And that He chose to give me almost 49 years with my mother and I am so thankful for that.
Happy Birthday Mom. I hope you are beating Daddy in a game of Scrabble using all those words you learned with the letter Z!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

How Long Has It Been?

If you are one of the lucky women in the world, you have a sister or two or, like me, three. How long has it been since you called her? How long since you let her know how much she means to you? When was the last time you wrote her a long letter? What was the last thing you saw and thought "I have to get that for my sister! She will love it!"?

Tonight I talked to my sister Rhonda for about an hour. We usually talk every Saturday night and we missed last week due to my crazy weekend activities. Tonight I didn't make it home from a community function in time for her call so I had to call her back as soon as I walked in the door. As always, she answered and said, "Hang up-I'll call you back." See, she has a plan where she pays one base rate for the month and can call long distance all she wants. So, we always talk on her dime.

We both agreed that two weeks without hearing each other's voice was just too long. We e-mail several times during the week and usually talk to one of the other sisters who can catch us up if we haven't talked to another sister. But, it is not the same as hearing her voice. Each one of my sisters can evoke certain emotions and memories just from the sound of her voice. I am most blessed to enjoy a best friends relationship with each of my sisters. It is interesting that the older I get the more I realize how much they have shaped me and made me who I am today. Sisters are your first playmates, your first friends, your first enemies, your first bodyguards, your first confidants. And, something tells me that mine will be my last of each of those roles, too. I plan to stick with them and I know they will do the same for me.

Nora, Rhonda, Debe - I love you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I NEED............ award winning dessert recipe!

This weekend is our town's fall festival which culminates with the S.P.I.C.E. Auction. (Special Partners in Children's Education) Part of this annual event is a dessert contest. Every year I say that I am going to enter and then I chicken out. This year I really do want to submit an entry. I just can't think of what to bake. The categories are cakes, pies and other. Obviously, the "other" category leaves the field wide open.

I love to cook and if I was entering a recipe contest for soup or chicken or casseroles, etc. I could think of dozens of things to submit. I have done my share of baking, but I don't seem to have a signature dessert. And, now I need one by Saturday afternoon! Here are the things I am considering right now. I have made each of these more than once so I am not pulling something new out to experiment.

Incredibly Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies - these moist, yummy treats have 2 packages of instant vanilla pudding baked right into them which give them a unique fluffiness and taste.

Pecan Cream Cheese Squares - these are very rich and so much easier than a pie.

Poppy Seed Bundt Cake - moist and tasty and even better with a light orange glaze on top.

German Chocolate Cake - a few years ago I found a recipe for frosting this cake that is the best I have ever tasted. It has real butter and real vanilla and sweetened condensed milk and is to die for if you are a GCC addict.

Anything there sound like blue ribbon material? Please vote and let me know. Thanks.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Our pastor spoke today about characteristics of the early church. We were studying the latter part of chapter two of the book of Acts. He pointed out some of the things the church was "devoting themselves to". One of those was fellowship. Being a Baptist I know that fellowship is often thought of as a potluck dinner after church. He alluded to that misconception in his sermon. He said many good things today that made me re-think my understanding of fellowship but one in particular stood out to me. We know that the church is to be light and preach about the Light-Jesus. People need to see that light. But, most people are looking more for warmth than they are light. People want to feel welcomed and loved and accepted and at home. So much of the time in our church life we concentrate on polishing our lamps and making sure our lights are bright but forget to make sure the glow from our light is close enough to warm anyone. Are we keeping our distance so that nothing makes our light go out? We are good at being light on Sunday but what about the rest of the time? What about our Monday through Saturday lives? What about letting them in close enough to see the cracks in our "my life is so perfect" facade? I get so caught up in my schedule and my routine and what I want that I seldom leave room for God to use me if He wanted to do so. I need to let God show me what He wants and where He wants me to open up my life. And, I need to do this without checking my calendar for availability!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I'm talking about a Mental Health Day. I needed one this evening after work. So, I called someone in my Wednesday night class at church and told them to tell everyone I wouldn't be there. You're probably thinking that I have a rather high opinion of myself if I think EVERYONE will care that I am not there for group. But, after all, .........................I am the teacher! I love my job. I love my co-workers. I am just dealing with some stressful situations at work and they came to an oozing, festering head today. (Oops, maybe a little too graphic there.) I left work and headed home. I know that for some people the drive home from work is a time to de-stress and get all that stuff out of your system so you are fresh for your family. I live maybe a mile from my job, so there isn't a lot of time for a cooling off period. I told my husband that I was not going to teach my class tonight because I needed a MHD. He is always supportive of whatever I do so he said fine with him. My sweet little eleven year old had already cooked dinner for us since it was my late night at work. I had to work until 6 and class starts at 7. I was just feeling a little crushed and closed in by my schedule and decided to relax. Hubby took child to church and I slumped on the couch with a plateful of hamburger stroganoff. Delightfully sinful, fattening comfort food. So good. I am already feeling better. Things at work haven't changed and I won't know the true outcome of things until tomorrow but at least I am taking care of myself. We have to do that sometimes. I forget that it is okay to have boundaries and to establish my own "border patrols" if necessary. So often people get entangled in the "you shoulds" and forget that they do indeed have choices. Take a Mental Health Day. Doctor's orders!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Goodbye to a Gentleman

Paul Newman -my all time favorite actor and celebrity died Friday. Not only was he an amazing actor who was blindingly handsome, he was a generous, charitable soul. If you haven't spent a Saturday afternoon on your couch watching some of his best movies, what are you waiting for? I could recommend several: Long, Hot Summer; Hud; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Cool Hand Luke. I found out recently that there is an entire generation out there who only knows Paul Newman from the label of a salad dressing bottle. Granted, his charity work is notable as his food products alone have generated more than 200 million dollars for philanthropic ventures. But, the label on the salad dressing and spaghetti sauce does not tell the story of the man with the astonishing blue eyes. When he looked into the camera and smiled - well, let's just sigh collectively AHHHHHHHHHHHH! He belongs to a generation and class of celebrities that has no equal in the mix of "stars" we are media-fed today. He came from an era that recognized talent was more substantial than starring on the latest reality show. Scan your cable guide for one of his films. I'm sure they will start playing them in honor of his passing. Watch a few and you will see what I mean. You'll probably end up with a favorite scene or character, like me. My favorite? His portrayal of Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. My favorite scene from the movie? The last five minutes. Watch it.
Go over here to my friend Whitney's blog and join her pinktabulous giveaway!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Way to go Mom!

A new favorite show of mine (and my husband's) is The Bonnie Hunt Show. I find her to be so unpretentious and sweet and just normal. Not too mention very funny. We tape her show every day and watch it when we have time. On yesterday's show, which we watched this evening, she asked two of her guests about their childhood memories. I started thinking about my memories. For a long time it has been a topic of conversation in my family that I seem to have big gaps in my memory for our childhood years. I know that some experts would insist that it means I have repressed memories or something. I really do think, however, that my childhood was just normal and happy. Every memory I do have is one to cherish. One stands out in my mind. It was in the 5th grade. We were living in Jerome, Idaho. This was in the day when we had home room mothers and moms were always involved at school for special days and parties. I don't know if I volunteered her or if the teacher asked her, but my mom was to do one of our class parties. I can't remember what occasion we were celebrating. It didn't usually matter to us. Come on, it was a party. Who cared why? My mom brought the food and drinks AND provided party games. I can still see her walking up and down the aisles of Mrs. Boing's classroom holding a cookie sheet covered with all sorts of household items. She walked very slowly, turning from side to side so that everyone could see what was on the tray. We were craning our necks and trying to memorize every item on the tray. This was a memory game and everyone wanted to be the winner. After all had the opportunity to study the items she covered them up with a tea towel. That's what we called them back then, not dish towels. Then we had to write down all the items we remembered on the tray. It was quite challenging and we were a very competitive group of lads and lassies. I don't know why I said lads and lassies. I never say that. I can't remember who won the game or what the prize was. I just remember the next day when virtually the entire class declared that "your Mom's party was the best one ever"! I was so proud of her. And, I must say, quite shocked. My Mom, that stay-at-home, mother-of-five, pastor's wife, was evidently cool enough to win the hearts of all of my classmates. Quite an accomplishment in the mid-60s. Way to go, Mom!
My 5th grade school picture. This is one of my Mom's famous hairdos. I lovingly refer to it as the year I had the hairy earmuffs on picture day!

Monday, September 22, 2008


My daughter Katie celebrated her 11th birthday last week. It is hard to believe that our little mid-life surprise is that old. It really seems like a breath ago that she was born and changed our
lives forever.

She wanted a slumber party. So, we went to work and planned one. First we found an idea for a purse cake and made it for the party:

We decided that the party should be a spa party of the homemade variety. We did foot soaks in the bathtub with our honey foaming bath oil (Katie is on the right):

We also did facial scrubs and facial masks with honey/oil hand treatments thrown in. And, of course, the prerequisite cucumber eye soothers:
And, here is the present opening. What a fun night for some little girls who have one foot in the world of dolls and toys and the other in make up and girlfriends.

They stayed up until 6:15 am! I dozed on the couch and checked on them once in awhile. They had such a great time laughing and whispering and staging an unbelievable fashion show. I promised no pictures of that would ever see daylight!
The idea of a slumber party makes a lot of moms shudder. I'm one of them. But, for a small amount of money and a lot of sleepiness the next day, it is a memory your daughter and her friends will treasure.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

She Could Have Been an NG

My mother's name was Nettie Lou. She passed away in March of 2005. It is hard to believe that it has been three and a half years now. I wish everyone could have a mother like her. She was the best. No one, other than Jesus, has made such an impact on my life. Anything good and loving and strong in me is because of her. My family consisted of Daddy, Mother and FIVE daughters. Daddy was a minister and travelled a lot. (He passed away a short 14 months after Mother.) My dad was a strong, charismatic man and I loved him dearly. I like to think that, growing up, I was the boy he never had! I would never diminish the role he played in my life. But, my sisters and I agree-we are Nettie's Girls. Mother did an amazing job taking care of us whether Daddy was home or not. She was my first best friend and we were friends until the day she left us. My sisters and I have often said that the best thing our parents gave us was each other. That is why we feel it is so important to keep that bond a priority.

My sisters and I get together every April for an annual "retreat". The one coming up in April 2009 will be NG6. (Yes, you figured it out "Nettie's Girls -Our 6th retreat"!) The idea for the first one (NG1) came about because our youngest sister, Vicki, (above: Nora, Rhonda, Debe and Vicki; I took the picture) had been semi-estranged from the family for years. It was a self-imposed exile due to her unfortunate fragile emotional health aggravated by her chemical dependency. We wanted to draw her back into our family circle and express to her how much we loved her and wanted her in our lives. So, we planned a weekend for her in Oklahoma City at Brick Town. We picked her up and took her to a hotel and spent three days laughing, crying, shopping, eating and just being sisters. It was our treat and we loved every minute of it. We left that weekend thinking that maybe we had made some progress in reuniting her with our close family. Sadly, that was not to be the case. Although we attempted many times to stay connected, she just couldn't seem to commit to the relationship. That was in April 2004. By the next April our beautiful Mother had passed away and our lives were drastically altered. Vicki chose not to attend our Mother's funeral and we only saw her briefly during that time. We got together for NG2 on Mother's Day that year to be with our Dad and each other, knowing how difficult it would be for all of us. Daddy was ready for us to go through Mother's things and we were saddened again that Vicki chose not to join us for that weekend.

NG3 took place in April 2006. Vicki didn't make the trip to Fort Smith, Arkansas with us. And, we were disappointed. Just a short few weeks after we assembled for that weekend, Daddy had a stroke and died. We saw Vicki during the days surrounding his funeral and then, nothing from her, despite many attempts by our sister Rhonda. They lived within thirty minutes of one another and Rhonda made every effort to be a part of Vicki's life. NG4 (Tyler, TX) came and went-no Vicki. We invited her to NG5 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She was a no show. Then, in late April/early May she was hospitalized. This was not an unusual thing for her. I would dare say that Vicki spent more of her life in the past five years in the hospital than out of it. A lifestyle of prescription drug abuse had taken its' toll on her body. But, this time, she was not to come home. In late May she left Nettie's Girls for the last time. My sisters Nora and Rhonda were with her at the end. They had been there for a few days and saw that she finally was at peace in those last days. We never imagined that we would say good bye to the baby of our family first. And, the baby she was. We have talked often about what an adorable baby, toddler and child she was. She was happy and loved and everyone delighted in her from the day she was born. Somehow, whatever demons she faced as an adult convinced her that she wasn't good enough to be accepted and loved. This is a picture of her with me when we lived in California. She is the little one on the left.

Sometimes I think about our childhood and cannot believe that my little sister is gone. But, mostly, I think about all the opportunity she missed by not being a part of NG every year. My sisters are my lifeline, my best friends and my greatest supporters and encouragers. We wanted to be that for Vicki. I am sorry that she didn't have that or couldn't accept that she had that. We so wanted her to be a part of us, a part of Nettie's Girls.
Sister and Mothers are gifts from God. Treasure them. Cherish them. And, if you are estranged from yours or time and distance have kept you from them, don't hesitate to fix that. It is true-we don't know what we have sometimes until it is gone. Don't let that happen to you.

Monday, September 8, 2008