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