Monday, March 31, 2008

Maria is Officially 16

The 3 dears sitting in church Sunday morning

Maria glowing during the singing of Happy Birthday

Maria had a good day yesterday. After being greeted in the morning with a "larpy birthday" from her big brother, she was busy with church, a TEC meeting and a friend's profession of faith. At night, she graced us with her presence and we went to the Olive Garden. She is almost ready to get her driver's license - after a few more hours behind the wheel, segment 2 of driver's ed, and some parallel parking practice. The question is, are we ready for the parallel parking practice?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Happy Sweet Sixteen!

maria 4th b-day
Maria, 4th birthday, 1996

Today, we are celebrating Maria's 16th birthday. Maria was born on her Aunt Andrea's birthday so we are also applauding Andrea's birthday in spirit from afar. John loves to tell how Maria would blow her bangs instead of her candles when she was young. I'm not sure yet what celebration the day will bring since Maria will be spending the afternoon with friends. We can party tonight!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Who's Your Daddy?

I have been amused by recent stories of the U.S. presidential candidates geneological ties: Obama is 10th cousins 1 removed to President Bush and is related to at least 6 US presidents. Mc Cain is a 6th cousin of first lady Laura Bush. Clinton is related to mostly entertainers. I thought it was about time for me to reveal my family connections:

Rutherford B. Hayes - 7th cousin, 3X removed
Herbert Hoover - 9th cousin, 1X removed
Grover Cleveland - 8th cousin, 2X removed
Franklin D. Roosevelt - 7th cousin, 2X removed
Richard Nixon - 10 cousin, yes it's true
General Willam Tecumseh Sherman - 4th cousin, 5X removed

And if that doesn't qualify me to be a blogger, I don't know what does. Hey, it gave me a topic to blog about for a day!
Note: This only adds to the feeling that something really, really great and good is going to happen someday to me.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Flash Back Friday 63

maria bridget broken arm
Little girls and kitties and stickers and . . . broken arms. What's not to smile about?
August 2000

This morning, I picked up Bridget from school because she wasn't feeling well. She told me she managed to get the highest score on a practice quiz on the bones in science that morning to her surprise. I told her it was because of our broken bones and she agreed. She decided after studying the bones, it didn't sound bad to be a nurse anymore. I have been telling her she should think about it since it suits her kind and caring personality.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This Good Day

So the day finally arrived yesterday when I needed to wear the dress I affectionately referred to as a "hot babe dress." John & I were invited by our amazing friend Cathy to a benefit down at the Amway Grand Plaza featuring my all-time favorite singer, Fernando Ortega. During the day yesterday, I remember exclaiming to my girls between the orthodontist appointments and the haircut appointments, "This day is going so good." This Fernando song was the soundtrack to my day:

If the rain clouds come
Or the cold winds blow,
You're the one who goes before me
And in my heart I know
This good day
It is a gift from You.
The world is turning in its place
because You made it to.
I lift my voice
To sing a song of praise
On this good day.

We met our friends in the Ambassador Ballroom with great anticipation at 7pm. After supper, he sang his music while playing on a grand piano. If you have ever heard him, you know what a humble artist he is. He told us these really sweet and funny stories between songs that make you appreciate how he sees the world. He sang many of my favorite songs - I think I have 11 cd's of his music.

When it was over, Pastor Henry, who was at our table, went up to him and got his autograph for me. You can't miss Henry - he's 6'8". It said - exact words - "Julia, Grace and Peace to you, Fernando Ortega" I was so touched! Henry urged me to go up there, so John & I did and talked to Fernando for about 5 minutes. John took our picture together:

fernando ortega

So what do you talk about when you meet your favorite singer? Leave it to me - I'll come up with something! I remember at one point telling him about how John is the Chevy Chase of vacation dads and we went to the Four Corners National monument once...

He closed the night with a favorite:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Join the Carnival

A very awesome blogger-friend, Sarah from Virginia, is hosting the first ever Carnival of Modern Home Dwelling on her website. She's looking for entries in the following categories: Art and Craft, Eco-fab, Interior Design, Fashion, Food, Green Living, Organization, and Outdoor Living. Go check it out - you can even win a prize. Go check it out!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

New Life

This past Friday afternoon, it started snowing profusely. We headed downtown to our Good Friday service in near whiteout conditions. A friend of mine at church said it reminded her that we have been washed whiter than snow - you gotta love that in a girl! She was trying to make the best of the situation.

Though we are just a month shy of having 3 teenagers in the house, we still had these:

Easter eggs on snow

Last night, I was going to bed just after eleven and John was headed out the door. He said he was going to get some dye so he & Maria could make Easter eggs. And around midnight, when Edward & Bridget came home, they joined in too. The best part is we get to have egg salad for supper.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

He Lives

I love how the 93 year old lady in this video talked to her mugger. Thanks to my cousin Jodi in California who sent me the link!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Flash Back Friday 62

julia paula silhouette flipjulia paula silhouette
Little sister, Big sister......................Big Sister, Little Sister, 1988

This morning when I was looking in the mirror blow drying my hair, I had a brainstorm that I should post the infamous silhouette picture taken of Paula & I on the boat in Lake Erie. We laughed about this one for years.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Spring!

Bridget & friend Jessica eat marshmallow bunnies on the ride home from church last Sunday

Today is the first day of spring and we are having a beautiful day here in GR with the shining sun. I had to work downtown this morning and met a friend to walk down there in the afternoon. What a blessing that was! The weather, work, the new space, the friend, walking, the Ford museum, the new bookstore with the drinking fountain. It's all good.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Monumental Cooking

As much as I wanted to keep the kitchen as a monument unto itself, I decided on Monday already that I needed to make chicken. When my kids were younger, they would all whine together, jokingly, "Why do we always have to have chicken?" I love that this one makes enough for 2 days in a row. When it was over, they all said, "That was good."

Chicken and Rice Casserole Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

2 (14 1/2-ounce) can green beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups diced cooked chicken
1 medium onion diced and sauteed
1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup
1 cup mayonnaise
(6-ounce) box long-grain and wild rice, cooked according to package directions
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix all ingredients together and pour into a greased 3-quart casserole dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Such is the Life of the Jewels

John returned home last night from his travels. After jetting around all week with the likes of congressman, multi-millionares, college presidents, professors, and computer geeks, he is happy to be home with that one lady who cleaned the kitchen... :) We are of course thrilled he is home - life can go on now.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Super Hero Photo Challenge

maria bridget 2

Last Friday on Shutter Sisters, the Super Hero challenge, which takes place every other week, was to share a photo with the subject's eyes closed. Usually when the subject closes his or her eyes, you consider it a throw-away, or delete it, but sometimes, it shows an extra special intimacy between the subjects or trust of the photographer. I love this photo taken of Maria & Bridget in January. I was even going to frame it, but Bridget didn't like that idea. We'll see.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cleaning and Shopping and Keeping On


John has been out of town this week, first to Washington DC, then to Arizona, so I have been motivated to do some deep cleaning. I spent about 10 hours on the kitchen cupboards and last night, I organized the 2 junk drawers. Doesn't that sound fun? It was!

I did have a couple of birthday lunches with friends which felt like gifts to me as much as to them, you know? Deep in the recesses of my cupboards, I discovered some jam jars of my friend Lori on her birthday. So I took a cleaning break for a birthday lunch!

It turns out, my friend Cathy loves three-cheese Olga's as much as I do and we only ever eat them with our mothers. What's that all about? So we met at Olga's, and ended up shopping for a hot babe dress (for me) and pants and a bathing suit(for her). Those are the completely hardest things to shop for if you ask me, so it was a good feeling to have succeeded, and it was a plus to have had so much fun doing it. Another bonus: when I got home, Bridget approved of the dress! This is huge.

Note: I never knew I could have a hot babe dress, but I have been told since I am a hot babe, all of my dresses are hot babe dresses. Now that makes sense to me. :)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dear Computer

I'm going to ignore the giant sucking sounds coming out of you today while I try to get the house cleaned. It will be fun! You'll be okay - hope you can have fun without me. Jewels

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Sisters

February 29, 2008

Perhaps some of you are still waiting, well one of you might be, for the 4 sisters picture taken recently (at the wedding). We are getting older and suffering from winter pale, so I made it a small one.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Netherlands Nuesday 20

gemeentehuis cross

Bouquet of flowers on table at Hotel Gemeentehuis
Bedum, The Netherlands, 2007
Photo cross-processed in photoshop

Monday, March 10, 2008

Just Checking In


Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh," he whispered.

"Yes, Piglet?"

"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw, "I just wanted to be sure of you."

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Greener Pastures

maria wc2
Watercolor by Maria

Today in church, Pastor Amy talked about shepherds. At the end, we read Psalm 23 and were given the opportunity to pray silently about the phrases in that chapter. I was thinking about how God lets us rest in the green pastures and how His goodness follows us always. When we got home, Maria showed me the painting above which she just finished - a good reminder of very green pastures. Durning Bible times, the pastures weren't nearly so lush which makes the verse even more meaningful. If we follow Him, He leads us to what we need even if we are going through more arid times. I especially love the last verse - how His goodness follows us or pursues us always.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Close to You

Last weekend when we went my mom & dad's house in Ohio for the wedding, we saw their new baby grand piano. I thought it was a bit unusual that they got this piano when neither of them really play that much, but even a novice like Maria made a beautiful sound from this instrument. Yes, that's me, swaying in the mirror, sorry.

Another video brought to you by Bridget.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sometimes We Are Out Past Our Bedtime

Josh Ritter on stage
photo by John taken with Palm Pilot, a time I wished I had my camera

The other evening, John and I went downtown to the former Ladies' Literary Club to see Josh Ritter in concert. This old historic property was donated by the club to Calvin College to carry on their tradition of lectures and music for the community, and I have been wanting to go there. John had heard that Josh Ritter was like a new Bob Dylan, so I was expecting something more melancholy and out of tune, you know, but what we saw was a very exciting, high-energy concert. He was so funny in between songs when he would make references to the Bronte sisters and Wuthering Heights or Jane Austen and said he was used to playing in places with names like Doc Willoughby's or Elixir. Anyway, it was fun, but a little late for old people on a school night.

Note to Netherlands readers: Josh Ritter will be in Groningen on March 23!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Posing With Blogaversary Earrings

Mother-Daughter Diptych

I brought the earrings that Marianna had won in last week's drawing to the brunch that the bride's mother gave to watch the opening of the gifts the morning after the wedding. As we waited for the bride and groom, my niece Tiffany was eager to try out the earrings which matched her eyes and her outfit. I thought it would be cool to juxtapose this photo with one I had taken of her mom. I can just hear Tiff going "Ooooooo." But really, it's cute.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Cousin's Wedding

Right before our very eyes, the younger generation is getting older, which means that I am too. We were witnesses to the marriage of my nephew Trey to a beautiful young Celeryville girl, Tara. My sister said, with tears in her eyes, I'm so lucky [to be getting such a winner of a daughter-in-law].

waiting for wedding
The cousins all waiting to see "Cousin" get married. Trey is the oldest cousin.

trey tara
Trey and Tara were ready for this day.

The best moment is always when the new husband and wife are announced and they begin their walk up the aisle.

Though I struggled a bit with the camera thing at the event, I managed this shot of their first dance.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Driver

Maria blue tex
Maria in the snow, Feb, 2008

Maria needs to get 50 hours in driving since she has her learner's permit and she has about 20 to go. Since the weather has been so horrible, we haven't been too aggressive about getting them done. The plan yesterday was for her to drive the 4 hour trip to the wedding. Winter. Michigan. Need I say more? The snow keeps coming and coming and coming this winter. We saw many cars in the ditch on the way and furthermore, she got to experience having a car slide across the median into the cars in front of her forcing her to the side of the road to avoid an accident. Later, a snow plow in front of her going about 60mph left a wide trail of airborn snow causing severe white out conditions for her. She remained calm, but after 3 hours and stopping for lunch, she decided John could drive. When we got to Ohio, the roads were fine, but our usual 4 hour journey took us 6 today! We arrived in one piece to the wedding and all was well. Pix tomorrow!