Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Has anyone seen Old Man Winter?

Actually, I'm not sure that old gentleman was ever here in Nashville this year. Oh wait, there was the snow day that they had when the roads were clear by 8:00am. And I know it's been getting down in the 30s at night some.

I realize that many people I know will not like what I'm going to say, but I want some snow! I would like to have some actual winter temperatures and weather. In my book, it's supposed to be cold in the winter, not wavering between the 50s and 60s in January!

The thing is, I don't have a real vested interest in it being cold and snowy outside. I'm not a teacher, nor am I a student, so I will have to go to work as long as the roads are safe to drive on. But that's fine. I like my job. I am blessed with employers who are flexible when it comes to things like that, so we don't sweat the snow days.

I just like for it to be cold in the winter, with some snow thrown in for fun. So, as we move from January into February this week, would you please join me in praying for some real winter weather, at least for a month? I'm OK with spring weather coming around in March. Along with the early spring flowers. Right now, the poor crocuses and forsythia think it's time to bloom, but I'm afraid they are going to be very surprised when the cold weather hits. And so will all "you people" who have been happy about these mild temperatures in January! :-)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sometimes I wish . . .

  . . . that I could have an electronic message board on the back of my car that I could program from inside whenever someone behind me was doing something annoying.

Like the lady behind me today when I was waiting for a pedestrian to cross the street before I turned right. HONK! I pointed to the man in the crosswalk. He saw me and thought I was being impatient, so then I felt the need to try to let him know that the lady behind me was honking at me.

Yeah, that message board could have come in handy today . . . or it might have gotten me into some deep trouble. One time a few years ago, I was mentioning that idea to Daniel while we were driving home on the interstate. I said something about how it would be nice if I could have a way to talk to the other drivers. He looked at me and said in his awesome middle-school wisdom, "Mom, sometimes that wouldn't be a very good idea."

I guess it's a good thing I'm not an inventor. I'll just have to let my wishes be wishes.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Downton Abbey Craze

Have you gotten caught up in the Masterpiece Classics series on PBS, Downton Abbey? According to NBC Nightly News, it's biggest thing to come out of Britain since the Beatles! I must admit that I was a little late to the party, only finding out about the series around Christmastime, when I was watching Christmas at Belmont on PBS and saw a commercial for the upcoming premier of the second season of Downton Abbey and it piqued my interest. And the buzz on Facebook got me even more intrigued, so I decided to find out for myself what all the talk was about. I watched the first season online and got hooked immediately.

If you are like me and this is new to you (and might even have not read the title correctly and thought the show was shot in some downtown setting), it would be easier if you just go to PBS.org and read up on the series. Or you can watch the first season on Netflix. Or buy the DVDs (and you can get me a set while you're at it).

I can't decide what it is that has drawn me in the most about this show:  the characters, the storyline or the setting. Maybe some of all three. I love the characters, both the family that lives in the estate (Downton Abbey) and the servants who work for them. Of course, there are some characters that you love to hate (Thomas, O'Brien, Edith), but there are many that quickly make their way into your heart (Mary, Matthew, Lord Grantham, Lady Grantham, Mr. Bates, Anna--yes, I realize that these are not real people).

The storyline grabbed me, too, since I love history and haven't watched a lot of things that are set during the first World War. It's also interesting to me to have it told from the British perspective. I think it's kind of fun to have the cobwebs of my brain blown away a little bit by historical and political references from that time period that I studied way back in high school and college.

I also appreciate that except for a couple of instances, the writers didn't choose to make immorality and language the emphasis in order to boost ratings (as is the case in TV shows and movies). In fact, while some of the story lines have been about bad choices that the characters made, there was a refreshing scene in the second episode of season two that made me like the character involved even more (don't worry, I won't give it away).

And the setting of the show and the cinematography (if you can call it that when you're watching on a TVset from the 1990s) is outstanding. Makes me want to jump on the next plane to London and go spend a month touring England!

So, if you haven't already gotten caught up in the Downton Abbey craze, come join the party! At the very least, you'd then be able to know what everyone is talking about around the proverbial water cooler on Monday morning! And you'll understand when all of us Downton Abbey crazies are crying on February 19 after the last episode of season two airs. Good news, though:  I heard that they've started production of season three, so there's hope that this show will continue on for a little while longer!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Favorites: Scrapbooking

It is high time for a Friday Favorites blogpost! And what better thing to talk about today than scrapbooking, since I'm getting ready to spend the WHOLE weekend away with friends doing one of my favorite things! How fun is that? And I'm so excited!

I have been doing some form of scrapbooking since I was in high school. Granted, in those early days, I was using those horrible magnetic page albums and had little to no supplies besides index cards (to make my photo labels) and regular scissors to crop with. Or did I even do any cropping back then? Who knows? All I know is that I have taken lots of pictures for most of my life and loved being able to do something with them so that they could be viewed.

Soon after Daniel was born, I went to a Creative Memories workshop and learned all about "photo safe" and "archival" and had a whole new world of tools and stickers and die cuts opened up to me. Ka-ching! I decided that I would become a Creative Memories consultant and help others learn about scrapbooking and then I'd be able to get my supplies for a discount. I seemed to forget about one of my major personality characteristics:  I hate to sell things and even feel embarrassed to ask people to buy anything from me. So that little "career move" was short-lived.

Once I got out from under the business aspect of scrapbooking, I got back into the fun part full-swing. At that time in my life, I could go to a crop once a month on a Friday night and all day Saturday. Boy, did I get a lot of scrapbooking done! I think Daniel has three books for the first five years of his life. And then there are the family albums, holiday albums, travel albums. The thing about scrapbooking is that if you continue to take pictures, there is always something to scrapbook about. I never get finished!

These days, I don't have as much time to scrapbook, so I have a lot of pictures just waiting to be put into albums. I've had to adjust my strategy through the years and have ventured into digital scrapbooking for some things and have changed my standard of scrapbooking chronologically (although that's still a long-term goal). I would like to finish Daniel's "school years" albums by the time he graduates from high school next year. I think I left off in his 4th grade year, but the good thing is that after elementary school, there's a lot less to scrapbook (it's not cool to have your mom go on all the field trips when you're a seventh grader).

My other new scrapbook obsession has been doing first year books for Erica and Mary Lane. And not just one each, but one for me and one for their family. That's what this weekend will be about:  getting Mary Lane's baby book done for her family. Mine can come later, but not too much later, I hope.

Two of my favorite things about scrapbooking are the time it gives me with friends who also scrapbook (like on retreats and crops). It's like the quilting bees of days gone by. There's a whole lot of relationship-building that happens around the cropping tables. The friends who I scrapbook with are some of my dearest friends and I look forward to time we can spend together.

The other thing I love about scrapbooking, and the underlying reason why I do it in the first place, is the end result. Whether it is one of several traditional albums I've made or a digital book that I created online, my family and I get endless opportunities to revisit the events and memories that initiated the photos being taken. I love being able to sit with my nieces and look at scrapbooks together and it's always fun to find Daniel looking at one of his albums. Even the scrapbooking skills I used to create the display of photos at my dad's memorial service gave me and everyone who attended something tangible to look at and remember times past spent with him.

I know that scrapbooking can be overwhelming for many people, and in some ways, it is for me, too. But whatever form of memory-keeping you choose that works for you, it will bring a great return and will give lots of joy, both to you and to the ones who will come after you.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Special Christmas gifts

I have been such a slacker with my blog lately! Here it is the seventh day of January and I haven't written anything about the new year, not to mention posting anything about our Christmas gatherings.

In spite of my slight anxiety over what the Christmas holidays might feel like this year, we had a wonderful time as a family. Yes, we missed my dad, and yes, the first part of Christmas was more quiet, with just me and Mom to fend for ourselves (we had lots of fun things to keep us busy). But God was so faithful and gave us lots of joy throughout the entire Christmas season and into this new year.

One cool thing is how we included Dad in our Christmas, even in his absence. One serendipitous thing that happened was on Christmas Day, when Mom and I went to brunch at Joel and Patty Anderson's house. They had invited several families to come and when it came time to pray before dinner, Joel had everyone join hands and then suggested that we sing The Doxology. I just turned to Mom and squeezed her hand extra tight, because this was something that my dad would have done. Unknowingly, Joel helped us give a tribute to Dad that warmed both of our hearts.

After Christmas, when Jeanette and family, as well as Daniel, got back to Nashville, the quiet side of Christmas was over and we got to celebrate as a family. During our gift-giving time, Jeanette and Mom each had some special tributes to Dad/Grandpa that made it feel like he was still a part of the festivities.

First, Jeanette had made some special gifts for me and Mom:  framed 12x12 layouts with some pictures and words of wisdom from Dad's emails to her in the past. Jeanette got a little help from scrapbooker extroidinairre, Barbara Tenpenny, but put together very meaningful mementos that Mom and I can put on the wall. Here's a photo of the one she made for me and below it is what is written:

Dad's Wisdom
11/18/96  Be encouraged today

"From Proverbs 3:5-7 (CEV) "With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow. Don't ever think that you are wise enough, but respect the Lord and stay away from evil."

God can bring order out of chaos and good out of evil, as shown in the OT story of Joseph and his brothers. They put him in the pit and sold him to foreigners, but years later they needed him in time of famine and Joseph said: (Genesis 50:20-21, NEV) "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children. And he (Joseph) reassured them (his brothers) and spoke kindly to them."

Remember all day today that your parents love you and are proud of you.
Mom (Grandma) also had some special Grandpa-related gifts for Daniel. One thing she put together was a photo album of photos of Daniel and Grandpa together through the years. Daniel was the first grandchild and was almost three years old when GM and GP moved to Nashville, so they had many photo ops during the past thirteen years. Some of the photos made me laugh, some brought a little tear to my eye, but all of them showed the special relationship that Daniel and Grandpa shared.

The other gift for Daniel was very unique and will be a treasure for Daniel to keep for years to come. Grandma gathered up many of Grandpa's personal keepsakes (medals, cuff links, buttons, etc.) and made a shadow box for Daniel. She included a list of each item and what its significance is. I'll include this list after the photo.

Memory Items from your Grandpa DeLane Ryals
(October 19, 1936 - October 13, 2011)
First row:
"A Father's Love"
Home Mission Board Medallion
Home Mission Board Years of Service pins (10, 15, 20 years)

Second row: 
Stonewall Jackson Jr. High Oratory Award
Metropolitan NY:  United Nations pin
"I Love NY" button
Baptist Convention of NY 25 pin
NYC subway token
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1958-1962) cuff links

Third row:
DeLane's dog tag made in his dad's (M.D. Ryals) machine shop
Oklahoma Baptist University 50 year pin
1936 silver dollar given to DeLane by his brother, Dean

Fourth row:
"Striving for Excellence" Capitol Hill H.S., Oklahoma City, OK (1950-1954)
National Honor Society pins
Capitol Hill H.S. 50 year reunion pin (1954-2004)