Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Highlights

Watching Stephen carve the turkey for his Dad.

  • Dinner in Grand Saline complete with 2 turkeys, ham, mashed potatoes, the best sweet potatoes ever, the best green beans wrapped in bacon ever, 2 kinds of yummy dressing and a never ending sideboard of desserts including chocolate chip bourbon pecan pie.

  • Watching my boys play tennis ball golf with their older cousins and uncles.

  • Taking my first ride on a four wheeler.

  • Watching the boys take a dip in the upstairs hot tub.

  • Flipping through my great-great grandmother's burned bible to find family teasures pinned to pages.

  • Playing dress up in Uldene's costume jewelry with the girls.

  • Trapping a skunk and Stephen shooting him with a 9mm.

  • Being thankful for 2 large, kind, beautiful families with many generations of dear saints before them all of which who love me and my own little family.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Advent Calendar

This year we decided to change up our advent calendar. We have a box with little doors and typically there has been a piece of candy in each one. After reading my Family Fun magazine for December, we came up with a better idea. Stephen and I made a list of things to do each day instead. Some may be crafts, baking, winter activities, showing kindness, or reading something specific.

Here are a few ideas if you are interested in doing the same:

  • Make paper snowflakes.

  • Look for a surprise in your lunch box.

  • Drive around and look at Christmas lights.

  • Go caroling.

  • Read Luke 1.

  • Shop for a toy to give to a needy child.

  • Something fun is happening tonight, wait and see!

  • Snowman pancakes.

  • Go ice skating.

  • Wrap a present for your brother.

  • On Christmas Day it will say "Find the reason for the season hidden ____ in the house." And there they will find the nativity baby Jesus wrapped up.

Hopefully, they will enjoy the change and look forward to it just the same as well as save a few calories and tooth rot. :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving and a New Year

As I sat this morning reading the Dallas Morning News, something I only do in Grand Saline, I was drawn to the Guide section and the front page article written by a professor at SMU. It was all about how he loves Thanksgiving and July 4th because they aren't driven by "God or gifts." As I read on I became even more dismayed and disheartened at his description of those around the dinner table, no longer in the "Old World Manner" of grandparents, aunts, uncles and younger cousins. This article but made me even more thankful for the true "Old World" family of which I have on both sides. But, this is not the reason I wanted to blog this morning. It is just the jumping off point.

This Sunday marks the beginning of Advent, the start of the liturgical new year, or the new year in the church calendar. It only makes sense to me to end my year here as well. My season is over and it is time to reflect and begin anew patiently awaiting and preparing for my King to arrive.

This year God has spoken to me more than ever and my faith has grown immensely. It wasn't a point of conversion, as I have always believed, but it was more a sense of growth. The changes in my life this year were not coincidental. They were God-incidental. He had a plan and he spoke it to us as we could handle it and needed to know. He guided us to the right practice and literally showed us a "sign." He provided a home and a guided us to the school for our children and even though we had no idea at the time, it was all in preparation for us to spend a majority of the next 4 months in Grand Saline to be with Stephen's Dad in his final days. And through this tragedy and the passing of 4 other relatives my view of eternal life has been strengthened.

Here, I could begin a list of what I am thankful for this day beginning with Stephen and my kids, but what I am most thankful for this year is what God has done for me. He sent his Son in human form to earth to die on a cross to take away our sins. The blameless Lamb of God was sacrificed. He paid the ultimate price for us and is relentless in forgiving us. He never tires of forgiving and he never waivers in his love. How blessed we are, and all we have to do is believe in Him and receive His love.
So, for a SMU professor to say that today is not about God ultimately breaks my heart and I feel sorry for that man who has not found the joy and His purpose in life. Today, along with all of my many thanks for my many blessings, I pray and intercede for those who have not found Him. To the rest of my fellow believers I pray that you have a God-filled Thanksgiving and give thanks to Him who has given us plenty.

"I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life." John 5:24

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Namesake

This morning my grandmother, Eleanor Brown Greve went to join the rest of the saints to rejoice in heaven. My sister beat me to the punch and wrote a beautiful blog about her, "Instead." I can't top it but what I do want to add are the things I remember about this soft spoken, classy woman and what set her apart and why I hold her dear.

I had so many connections with Gran besides my middle name, of which I am the 4th. She was one of the first memebers of the Centenary College Choir and I savored every minute that I was able to stand next to her to sing "Tenebrae." I remember my freshman year in Chi Omega sorority seeing her at my initiation and having her pin her Chi-O pin on me. In keeping with all these "passing ons," we shared a love of geneology. My high school geneology project led us to find a new ancestor together and I was honored when I was asked if I would like to keep her notes on the family geneology.

Growing up, her kitchen was a wonder to me. It was the classic blue and white with beautiful violets in the window above the sink. (I have tried to grow them myself, and have always wished to have them in my own kitchen to remind me of her, but have been very unsuccessful.) She made the most incredible lemon squares, just sour enough with tons of powdered sugar on top that it made a huge mess. I never ate dressing until after I was married, but I came to realize that she made the best with Jiffy cornbread mix. I loved sitting on the kitchen stool watching her cook, mix or make Jell-O, of which she was the master of the Jell-O mold.

Having been through the Great Depression, Gran was the queen of recycling and was probably the first "green" person I knew. She saved every plastic bag and any type of plastic tub. That was her tupperware. I loved going over to her house because I always had a water bottle in the fridge with my name taped to it. (This was way before bottled water was cool.) This was usually an old lemon juice squeeze bottle, the triangular version. It was so fun to squeeze the water in my mouth. But, she also had really cool bumpy green glasses to drink milk or Vernor's Ginger Ale out of.

But, maybe the one memory that I have of her that maybe none of my other siblings or cousins do, is that I would help her perm her hair. Instead of going to the salon, I would spend the afternoon handing her the tiny papers or rollers and then squeeze on the solution. It was a wonderful time to spend with her and I wish I could have been there to brush her hair during her final moments.

So, she is gone, but not forgotten in my heart. If only I could have a girl and name her Eleanor as well so her name lives on. Maybe Cavett (which is Gran's mother's maiden name) will have a girl and name her Eleanor.

First picture is with Kendrick and the second of Cavett and the four generations (pardon my post-partum-ness). I also finally found the picture I had been searching for of Cavett with Grampaw.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Four Funerals and a Wedding

I know, it's backwards from the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral with Hugh Grant, but that has been the story of the past 8 weeks. But, let's highlight the happy part of this--the wedding. It was my Dad's niece/my cousin, Leah Dahms. We travelled to Austin for the ceremony and got to spend some time with friends the night before. It was Kendrick's first time in a hotel which both boys were very excited about. They both slept in the same bed and they went to sleep fine (from what Crystal said). Saturday, while I was Bridesmaid brunching, the boys headed to the Inner Space Cave just north of Austin. They had a great time and saw some really cool formations while I hit South Congress Street to shop with my sisters, sister in-law and my neice.

That evening we drove into the hill country to a gorgeous mansion. The ceremony was supposed to be outside, but it had rained too much the day before. It was a different kind of ceremony than I was used to, but it was still fun to watch my 88 year old grandmother dance back down the aisle for the recession. Dinner was a full spread of yummy BBQ followed by dancing. We all got our groove on and had a great time. Cavett was way into dancing and shook his little booty all over the place. I never seemed to get a good pic of AG and Cavett dancing, but there was much of it. Unfortunately, the camera was in the car during the majority of the time and I didn't get a pic of the beautiful bride, but it was so good to be around the Dent side of my family and have some happy.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Budding Artist

Cavett isn't into drawing, but since we have been reading, Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk, he has taken a bit more interest. He wrote an autobiography of sorts and sent it to Nana. Just about all he likes to draw is "roller coasters" and "zig-zags", but every now and then we get a self portrait. Yesterday it was on the windows with window crayons. We have to be careful to do this activity when Kendrick isn't around, because Kendrick loves to draw, especially on walls. What he drew is a whole body picture and then just a big face. Hard see, but very cute.

Soccer Party at Chuck E. Cheese

Lucky kids. Cavett's end of the season soccer party was at Chuck E. Cheese, a pure treat. It was a first for Kendrick and I think he was a bit overwhelmed. Cavett got a trophy and all had fun.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oma Uldene Hill

Today we celebrated the life of a 94 year old woman I knew for a mere 12 years. But, in those years I discovered one of the most strong, independent and wise women I had ever met-Uldene Hill, Stephen's paternal grandmother.

One of my earliest memories of her was before Stephen and I married. We were at his sister's house to celebrate the Eagle Scout accomplishment of one of Karen's sons. I went to use the bathroom and in the middle of doing my business, in walks Uldene and proceeds to tell me, "Oh, it's ok, honey. Just keep doing your thing and don't worry about me." So, I pulled up my pantyhose in front of her, washed my hands and got out as fast as possible. She was no nonsense, matter of fact and all business.

After the passing of her husband in a car accident before Stephen was born, she was the matriarch--the boss. What Uldene wanted, it happened. People sprung into action. The thing is, she did it all in love and kindness, gaining the respect and honor of her entire family. She led a long, full and rich life selling real estate in her white Bronco up until the age of 85. She left a rich legacy and heritage in her family.

The preacher who was also a relative used the most wonderful scripture to describe Uldene. It fit her perfectly.

Proverbs 31:25-31

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.

When she speaks, her words are wise and she gives instructions with kindness.

She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.

Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her.

There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!"

Charm is deceptive and beauty does not fade, but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Funny thing is though. She was beautiful last night. The best I have seen her in a very long time. Her skin was porcelien and so smooth. You might have thought she was only 60, instead of 94. Grandmama called it a "gravity" facelift. But, her beauty was deep all the way to her heart.

I am privileged to be married into a family where you can be a part of the love, but also take a step back and process and analyze all that you see. I'm one lucky girl to be a part of this wonderful family. I am blessed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dinosaurs Alive!!!

Tuesday afternoon we headed out to the Heard Museum, a mere 5 miles from our house. For those of you from Shreveport, this is like Walter B. Jacobs on a larger level. They were having an exhibit of animatronic dinosaurs which were placed along one of the nature trails. After viewing the indoor exhibits, we bounded down the stairs and headed for the trail. The first dinosaurs we came across were very small and didn't make any sounds. The boys crawled right on top and I caught the photo op. We continued down the trail and the boys stopped dead in their tracks. I wasn't looking at what was ahead and Kendrick started running the other way. As soon as this dinosaur roared, I jumped! It was pretty creepy. Kendrick proceeded to stay glued to my neck for the entire rest of the trail. At first Cavett had to run past the dinosaurs, but eventually he became very comfortable. Finally at the end, there was one large T-rex that was for photo ops and Kendrick finally left my neck.

Afterwards, we found the live animal area and Kendrick was enamoured with the kangaroos. There were at least 5 smallish ones that just kept bounding back and forth--such interesting animals. Next came a mile long trail which took us through the prairie, the forest
across a road and then through the swamp. Along the way, we searched for the largest leaves they could find. Mission accomplished. They both walked the entire way. They wore themselves out.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

All Saints Day

There is so much to say that I don't even know where to begin and I feel like I don't even have the words to write about it this year. I had so many Saints to be thankful for having in my life this year. My sister blogged about her thoughts, and surprisingly, or not, it was somewhat what I have been feeling.

Stephen's Dad passed away a week ago and we had the funeral this past Wednesday. We were blessed with so many friends and family who called, texted, wrote, helped with kids and were there to support us. It was such a quick passing, but he isn't suffering anymore. We spent the entire week in Grand Saline and came home this evening. It was hard being there for a couple of reasons--#1 it's hard to mourn with kids hanging on you, but it gave me strength which is what the family needed and #2 I went through the very same thing with my dad 7 almost exactly 7 years ago. He was such a great, strong, loving man. I knew I was loved and I loved him just as if he was my own Dad. I will miss him dearly and I mourn for my kids, especially Kendrick who won't remember his time with him. Cavett did get to go to the funeral and the graveside service and he did very well. Hopefully, it will help engrain his memories of Grandaddy.

In September, I also lost my Mom's Dad, my Grampaw. Ultimately, it too was from a fast growing cancer. I pray for Gran, his wife, today as she celebrates her birthday without him. I have fond memories of sailing with him and waxing the boat, the smell of his woodshop, and fighting with him over the marrow in the bone of the Sunday roasts. He was a kind, gentle-hearted man with a joyful spirit. Also in September, I lost Great Aunt Alice who was also just as sweet as can be.

I pray that these three saints, along with my own Dadoo who went to be with Jesus 7 years ago today, will leave a lasting legacy upon me and my family and that they are rejoicing with God in heaven. I will miss them all here on earth, bu I know we wil be reunited again someday soon.

"In the end is our beginning; in our time infinity;

in our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity.

In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,

unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see."

~ Natalie Sleeth, 1986 Hymn of Promise