So, yesterday morning I heard a noise on my roof.  Not unusual. I went outside and looked on the roof and didn’t see anything. I figured it was a squirrel running up and down the gutter and didn’t think any more about it.

Yesterday afternoon, the 11yo and I headed to downtown Wheaton. We had tickets for a presentation of Little Women at the Wheaton Drama Playhouse and needed to eat lunch. The weather wasn’t too cold, but the wind was blowing. I headed to one restaurant I had been to before, but they were full (and reservations stretched to closing time). Another restaurant was closed.

But then I saw The Ivy and so we decided to try it. Very cool – it’s in an old chapel (I heard maybe a funeral home – but looked more like a church with stained glassed windows and a balcony.) Christmas lights hung from the railings giving the place a majestic look. The restaurant was rather fancy and expensive, but not overly expensive. The 11yo (who proudly noticed she could NOT order off the kids’ menu because she was no longer 10) had French toast with fresh strawberries. I had the beef tenderloin and poached eggs.  The rolls that came with the Sunday brunch were blueberry scones.

So, good place.

The play was great too.

Anyhow, came home. Went to bed.

This morning I was wakened by the same annoying noise on my roof. I went outside again, looked up and this time saw a squirrel. I walked around to the side of the house and could not believe my eyes!

That squirrel had literally chewed a hole into my house and chewed and scraped off a ton of paint in the process!

What a mess!

The hole was too high for us to do anything about without help.

But we did call someone to fix it and tonight it is temporarily sealed and waiting for permanent sealing.  The fix-it guy said this is actually very common this time of year.

So beware!


This has been a difficult week for several reasons – but in the midst of the difficulty, I definitely had some high points.

I spent yesterday cleaning out my office, packing up everything from the last paper clip to my computer itself. Sad to be leaving my window cubicle, the one “under the tree.” I loved having a front row seat to the rain and the snow (although mostly when I saw the snow, I worried about my drive home.)

I will be moving up to the third floor (and wondering if I have to change the name of my blog.)  My window view is gone – although I can still see out the window – many, many, MANY feet away. The only thing moved so far is my priceless picture of Sparky holding my Modern-Day Joseph book, drawn by Sparky artist Joel himself. I should’ve taken a picture of my office before I left. When I come back after Thanksgiving, it will be all moved.

Anyhow, I decided it was time for a thankfulness check – after all, Thanksgiving is only a few days away.

So here goes —

1. I am thankful for God’s peace propping up my mind – Isaiah 26:3. (Chin up!) even when life and circumstances and people let me down.

2. I am thankful for my job (even though our offices are being switched around.)

3. I am thankful that when I was at the clinic for my test this morning and the nurse didn’t come back and didn’t come back and didn’t come back, it wasn’t because anything was wrong, but because they were all watching Oprah. They were watching a co-worker’s daughter on the “Oprah’s giving away all her favorite things” show.

4. I am thankful for brown, red, yellow and orange leaves – especially when they’re on the tree and not in the yard, but even in the yard is ok.

5. I am thankful for laughter.

6. I am so thankful for my bargain-hunting daughter who clues me in on things like Lowe’s Facebook page giveaways and photo-book bargains. (Though I’m the one who found the $25.00 Giordano’s coupon for $2.00 this week.)

7. I am thankful for my son who checks in every morning giving me my daily laugh.

8. I am thankful today is the 11yo’s birthday. When Ken first died, we were concerned about the anniversary of his death and the 11yo’s birthday being so close, but I have changed my perspective. I think it is good. This is the tapestry of our family life.

9. I am thankful for books. Need to do a book review post soon.

10. I am thankful that I have Someone to thank.

(And I am thankful for the phone call that happened between point 10 and actually publishing the post.)


1. Before you go on the race, be familiar with a stick shift (and learning to drive a truck wouldn’t hurt either).

2. Learn a little about the countries of the world (The number of countries is around 200 – so a read through once a day for a few weeks should help you enough not to think that Mexico is a part of New Zealand.  Ten minutes a day should be enough to make you sound fairly smart on national TV.)

3. Before you take a cab somewhere, make a quick stop to ask someone the location of the next stop. Then ask the cab driver if HE knows. That will at least help you a little bit.

4. If you’re driving somewhere yourself, ask, ask, ask for directions over and over until you’re sure.

5. Know that you will either have to climb to the highest heights, swim the deepest sea, eat something gross, do tasks that are somewhat physical, etc. You’re on the Amazing Race, so don’t act so surprised when you have to climb, swim, eat, sweat.

6. Don’t trust other team members for advice.

7. Oh, good grief!  Read the directions on the clue. Even if it takes five extra minutes, read them twice. That’s better than getting lost or getting a penalty.

8. If you’re doing a road block where you have to look for something in a massive amount of stuff. Work methodically. Then when you’ve looked through 3/4 of the stuff, don’t stop and do the other road block because you’ll never find what you’re looking for!  You’ve already been through 3/4 of the stuff and it’s there, so keep working methodically and don’t give up!

9. Don’t worry about the progress of the other teams. Keep going!

10. When you win because of my tips – share the money with me. 🙂


This afternoon I had the privilege of watching one of the semi-final matches of The National Bible Bee. Kids are participating in three age groups at the Marriott Renaissance in Schaumburg.

The competition began with 360 local contests with more than 17,000 kids involved. (The bee is associated with the Shelby Kennedy Foundation.) The top 100 participants nationwide (in each age group) are invited to the Nationals. Last year they were in Washington DC and this year in Schaumburg.

The prize for the senior champion is $100,000.

For juniors $50,000.

For primaries $25,000.

The round started with the grand entrance – all 100 kids competing in the primary round, marched in with great fanfare.

We then watched the primary semi-finals where kids from 7 – 13 went through five rounds of quoting Scripture – some passages 1-8 verses along. During the two hour time limit, only five kids were eliminated.

It was interesting to listen to the kids – you could tell how they learned their verses – some would

People filing in for the preliminaries.

rattle them off, others would say them slowly and steadily, emphasizing each phrase, still others used a lot of expression, emphasizing individual words.

Then there was the poor girl who got a bloody nose and had to be on the jumbo screen with tissue stuck in her nose.

I had my camera, but the battery went dead after the three pictures above – unfortunately – because I could’ve gotten some cute pictures.

The Shelby Kennedy Foundation is not connected with Awana, but Awana is a sponsoring partner in the Bee.








Compared to my mom who says she does not have a green thumb, but who is the only person I know who can actually inspire a thriving avocado plant to grow from an avocado seed …

And compared to my husband who took a dead fern and nursed it to overwhelming thrivingness and who won the Martha Washington award for growing the best zinnias in town when he was like 16 months old (ok, maybe a little older, but not much) and who one year grew enough lettuce in our backyard, suburban (on the side of a parking lot) garden that he had enough to give to every lady in our church Bible class – which might not seem impressive unless you realize that was about 120 ladies.

Compared to them, I do not have a green thumb – but it’s not an entirely brown thumb, either. I do have a weeping fig tree that I have moved to three states and have actually had longer than either of my kids. I also have two sheffleras that are thriving. But there are a lot of plants that have lived in my house THAT haven’t made it.

One plant I could never grow is a miniature tea rose.  Though I have read that it is about impossible to do so, because greenhouse temperatures are exactly right, as is the moisture. But you always see these fragile-looking beautiful plants around Valentine’s Day and of course, you want to buy one, because by then, everyone is ready for some flowers.

Any how, last year I came in to work on my birthday and there was a miniature rose plant on my desk. My friend had had a dinner at her house the previous Saturday for her son’s birthday and bought the plant to decorate the table.

“Now, you take it,” she told me. “I can’t grow plants.”

So, I left it on my desk. The roses died, but the leaves stayed healthy and about a month later, I had more blooms. We finally decided it was in just the right place, with just the right amount of light. Keeping it alive became an obsession. When I was gone, my friend would care for it. The plant lasted through my trip to Scotland and conference season.

And then suddenly and sadly I learned I was losing my coveted window office. (Worked hard for that office.) Besides knowing I would miss my office so I could watch the snow and the rain, I wondered what would happen to my rose.

Well, it’s almost as if the rose knew it was soon to lose it’s happy home. It grew about nine inches in three weeks and now, nine months later, has once again produced a fragile and beautiful rose.

This picture is not good – I had my inexpensive camera and the battery was going in and out and I took it in a hurry.

But you can see the rose.


I have a special guest blogger today!

I first met Jeanne when she was in her mid-teens and a kid in our church in Michigan.

Then we had a major contest and the two winners got a trip to Chicago with Ken and me. Neither girl had been to Chicago before and we had a great time. While there, Jeanne turned 16 and we took her to Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor (I think it was at Woodfield at that time) where they sang and gave her some monstrous ice cream creation.

We also went to the Museum of Science and Industry and here we are in front of it. That’s Beth (the other winner), Sally, me, and Jeanne – Jeff and Kelli.

It’s been awhile (though Jeanne looks the same), but we’ve stayed in touch. Jeanne still lives in the same town, so who better to tell us ten things to do in the thumb area of Michigan.


1. Lumberman’s Monument . . . outside of Oscoda on the Au Sable River.  Used to go camping here when I was a child and I’ve gone back to visit several times.  Although it has changed a lot over the years, it’s still one of my favorite places to visit.  There are steps where you can go right to the river, it’s just beautiful there.

2. Iargo Springs . . . also outside of Oscoda on the Au Sable River, just down the road from Lumberman’s.  There are natural springs that run out of the hill side as you take the steps down to the river.  Lots of information provided on the way down about the springs, plants, natural area environment.

3. Tuscola Ball Park . . .nothing beats the ball park in summer time when it’s filled with people and games are going on.  I remember when I was a kid, my “girl” friends and I were influential in the park becoming a co-ed program.  Prior to that time it was boys only and only two ball diamonds, small concession stand and out house bathrooms.  Now it’s very co-ed, there are 4 diamonds, a nicer concession stand and flushable toilets 🙂 No outside lights though, like there used to be.

4. Cheeseburger in Caseville . . . Caseville is located midway north on the west side of the thumb.  The Cheeseburger festival there is so fun and festive, it’s held in mid-August and hosts a variety of activities that involve all age groups.  I just love the atmosphere there!

5. White Rock . . . is a roadside park on the east side of the thumb, right on Lake Huron.  White Rock is a rock that is in the water, that was orginally used by the Indians for different rituals and ceremonies.  Then the US Military started using it in WWI (I think) for target practice, which reduced the rock greatly in size.  It’s a very serene place.

6. Porcipine Mt.  . . . is located in northwest area of the upper pennisula.  The scenery is beautiful there.  Also, from the Mt. you can see Lake of the Clouds which is at the base of the mountain.

7. Barn Theatre in Port Sanilac. . . I was introduced to the Barn Theatre about 3 years and have gone there yearly since with a group of friends.  It is an old barn that has been turned into a small town theatre where throughout the summer plays are held.  It’s far from Broadway, but a lot of fun.  My friends and I stop at the Stone Lodge, also in Port Sanilac for dinner before the show and it’s just a good time, lots of laughter 🙂

8. East Tawas . . . I love being near the water.  Walking out on the piers, on the beach, bonfires w/ friends.  I have been fortunate enough over the past few years to go yearly with a group of friends where we rent cabins that have a piece of their own little beach.  So peaceful and relaxing.

9. Canoeing . . . I don’t have a favorite place that I like to canoe, but I like going canoeing and Michigan has alot of rivers that offer the opportunity.  My most recent canoeing adventure was in Omer last summer.  It was great time and no tipping 🙂

10. Tuscola (the town) . . . Home!  It’s just a small town in the middle of nowhere, but I love it here.  My roots are here and now my grandchildren will get to experience being raised in a small town and for that I’m grateful.  Surrounding Tuscola are several other small towns that each have their “fun” to offer and things to do, most with ing just a few miles.


Took the two girl munchkins to see Secretariat.

Very good movie which I would highly recommend.

There were some parts that were kind of over their head, but they got the overall point about the racing and the 9yo said it was her favorite movie ever.

It does start with a sad scene with the mom dying, and then the dad gets sick and also eventually dies.

But it is a true story and sometimes life is sad.

Another part that was rather sad (but I don’t know that a kid would pick up on it) is the lack of support from the father. In fact, the Tweedys were divorced within the year.

A cool addition to the movie – the real Penny Chenery played a bit part.


So, today our department got together for a get together.

We were all supposed to bring something for lunch that would go along with sandwich stuff.

I decided I wanted to bring dessert, a bar cookie in particular.

Now, I have some good bar cookie recipes, but decided I wanted to try a new one.  Therefore, I went online and typed in “best bar cookie ever” and determined to make the first recipe that came up.

Which is this.

So, how did they turn out?

Very rich. Very, VERY rich. Very, VERY calorific.

But good. Don’t know if I would say the best over, but definitely good. Actually, they were better this evening with some whipped cream on them.


2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups oats (like Quaker Oats)

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 cups melted butter

2 cups milk chocolate chips

1 12oz. jar of caramel ice cream topping

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour


1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.

2. Grease a 9×13 pan,

3. Stir together the flour, oats, sugars, salt and baking soda. Then stir in butter.  Put half of the mixture in pan and press, forming a crust.

4. Bake for 10 minutes until lightly brown.

5. Put chocolate on crust. As they melt, spread on the crust.

6. Stir the caramel into 6 tablespoons flour. Spread on top of the chocolate.

7. Crumple the rest of the crust mixture on top of the caramel.

8. Bake for 15 minutes.  Cool and cut into bars.