Mothers & Daughters · Uncategorized

Grab someone’s face today.

Here I am . . . home, or am I . . . merely “back?”  It feels like “home” when I’m in Wisconsin, but then again, home has been South Florida for the past 17 years.  At any rate, I’m writing this to you from my kitchen in hot, sticky, humid, pretty-darn-mildewy Florida. But enough about the weather, I wanted to encourage you to grab someone’s face today!  Before I go any further, please enjoy this sweet pic of Winnie grabbing her own face:Face-grab Winnie

I’ve had a couple of face-grabbing experiences over the summer and it occurred to me it was something pretty special.  I wish I would have done more of it in the past and am convicted to grab more faces henceforth.

I just spent a few weeks in my hometown of Washburn, Wisconsin (probably the best place on earth) and spent a good bit of time with my 92 year-old Mom.  She lives in an assisted living facility there where she is looked over by a wonderful staff.  Want to see a picture of her?  Here she is just after we went out for a “stroll” (stroll is in quotes because it involves me pushing her in her wheelchair.  Not exactly level streets, mind you.  It’s an effort to push her up the street and then a task to make sure I don’t lose my grip when we’re headed back down.)  She loves fresh flowers so we picked a sweet little posey.

GG with flowers
Lookin’ like a movie star in her shades.

It’s not really easy to hang out with my Mom.  She’s very hard of hearing, so you have to shout and you can count on having to repeat almost everything you say 3 to 4 times.  God forbid you want to ask her something that requires discretion; speaking in a hushed tone is not going to work with her. And it’s hard work getting her in and out of a car (you can actually hear her bones knocking against each other in her knees. Oh, the thought makes my stomach flop) but she absolutely loves to “go for a ride,” so struggle we did, so she could enjoy the beautiful summer.

Something else my Mom loves is to hear my sister and me play the piano.  I should add that my sister, Chris (Chrissie to me) is really good at playing the piano and I’m just . . well, I like to say I’m “pretty good at being a fairly average piano player.”  There’s an out-of-tune piano in the dining room where my Mom lives and several times we’d play and our Mom would sing along.  We’d go from “Amazing Grace” to “Beer Barrel Polka” just like that!  (Honestly, in Wisconsin The Beer Barrel Polka is considered a sacred song, I think.  I’m fairly certain even the most devout church-goer would not be offended by a rousing round of Roll Out the Barrel, even at the most reverent of moments!)

When it came time to say good-bye to my Mom for the summer (she “walked” Kevin and me to the door when it was time to leave), I got down in front of her to hug her and give her a kiss. (I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about this – every year I wonder if this is the last time I’ll do this.)  She grabbed my face in her hands and looked straight into my eyes and told me how much she loved me.  After a summer of being exhausted from strenuous walks, listening to bones crunch and shouting in her “good” ear, that all went away in that single face-grabbing moment and all I knew was my Mom loved me.  I felt like a little girl.  Of course, I cried as we slipped out the door,  still feeling her cool hands on my cheeks.

Flash forward a bit to just a couple of days ago.  My daughter, Maria, was dropping me off at the airport to come home . . or . . back.  I had just had a complete meltdown with Winnie (Olive was napping so she was spared this mess) on the kitchen floor as we said good-bye to each other.  Winnie feels her feelings very strongly and lets it all out – I love that about her.  But, man, when she cries and says, “I don’t want you to go, Maga!” and throws her arms around my neck, I’m completely undone. But I had recovered on the 30 minute ride to the airport.

As we were pulling up to the drop-your-person-off area, I spotted another Grandma getting dropped off by her daughter.  This Grandma was little farther down “Maga Road” than I (I noted her grandkids to be about 8 and 10 years old).  As we got my bags out of the back, I looked over to my “sister in Maga-hood.”  She had properly hugged the kids and now was saying good-bye to her daughter, her daughter a bit older than my own.  She had her daughter’s face grabbed in her hands and was telling her something up close.  The daughter was crying and I so wanted to know what her Mother was telling her. It was a sweet moment and I felt a bit ashamed being the voyeur, but  I’d like to think she was telling her daughter to hang in there!  “You’re doing a great job with these kids!  I know it’s tough, but just keep at it.  They’re going to be grown-up before you know it and you’ll wonder where on earth the time has gone.” Things I should say to my own daughter more often as she’s in the throes of child-rearing right now.

So let me do that right now!  I’m doing a virtual face-grab – to my own sweet Maria and any other Mama out there who’s wondering if there’s life after toddlerhood.  You can do it!  Maria – you are the sweetest, most gentle soul I know and those girls are beyond blessed to have you as their Mother.  I know there are more trying moments than easy ones right now and you’re wondering if or when on earth your kids are going to “rise up and call you blessed.” (Oh, that Proverbs 31 woman and her to-do list!!)  Just keep on keepin’ on!  You can’t even imagine the rewards coming your way!  *smooch*  (A face-grab is best followed up with a kiss.)

In closing, I’d like to sing this:  “Oh, give me a home, where the small children roam, where the Barbie’s and toy horses play!  Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the dishes stay dirty all day!”

I love you Mom.  I love you Maria. Considered both of your faces grabbed!



My Better Half

Kevin II

Can I tell you about my husband?

I know this photo doesn’t exactly show you a whole lot . . . but actually it does. This is my perspective of him a lot of the time.  He’s way ahead of me.  He walks faster, thinks faster, accomplishes things much faster than I.  Faster than probably most people.  I’m usually trailing behind at some distance, struggling to keep up.  His brain works very fast.  I can’t tell you how many times he’ll ask me something, or make a remark and I just look at him, completely befuddled, but not wanting to let on, and scrambling to guess what on earth he might be talking about.  He’ll be thinking about something and then comment or ask a question, not realizing I have no idea where his mind has been.  It can drive me crazy, and it can make me just love and appreicate him even more.

He is so the opposite of me it’s not even funny.  We could be the perfect example of “opposites attract.”  He grew up avidly watching all kinds of sports with his family. My parents took me to the opera.  He can do mathematical equations in his head, lickity-split.  I still add on my fingers and say words like “lickity-split.”  He is a logical thinker.  I live in Dreamland most of the time. He is perfectly comfortable talking to anyone under the sun and could strike up a conversation with someone who doesn’t even speak English.  I feel awkward in many conversations, walking away asking myself, “Why did you say THAT, you weirdo?!”  Yet we’ve been married for 32 years now.  Something must be working.

There can’t be anyone else on earth that works harder than he does.  As I sit here on the deck of our cabin, looking out over Lake Superior, I hear him inside, up at his desk, on the phone.  Working.  He’s always working.  Even as we travel cross country to get here, he’s working as he drives, making phone calls.  Stopping along the way to accomplish some sort of business for his business.  It’s enough to make a woman crazy.  And it’s enough to make a woman feel so very secure.

I’ve never worried a day of our marriage about whether or not we could buy some groceries, make a payment here or there.  Though, I know he’s lost sleep over those things.  Not that we haven’t had our share of lean times, mind you, but somehow I always knew we’d be OK.  He’s been that sort of provider for me and for our family.  Sometimes, while in Dreamland, I wonder why in the world I’m so blessed.  How did I get such a wonderful husband when so many others don’t?  I have to say, sometimes I feel like the “scales” are going to swing the other way and balance out and “calamity will befall me.”  But enough about me and my issues, this is meant to be about my hubby, my better half.

Want to know something funny?  We joke with each other about who’s going to die first.  Isn’t that hilarious??  No? Well, we do if in a funny way. It’s a bit of a competition.  Not who’s going to live the longest – but the shortest!  I’ve informed him he may not go before I do.  I am much more dependent on him than he is on me.  In fact, he always says he “never looks back.”  I (jokingly . . . or not) tell him he’ll maybe miss me for two and a half days.  Then, forward he’ll go.  On to getting something accomplished.  I don’t know what I’d do without him.  God forbid.  I look back way too much, too much for my own good.

I don’t deserve him, that’s for sure.  But I’m very glad God brought us together.  Does God orchestrate future husband and wife meetings in little college bars?  Yup.  Wouldn’t it be nicer to say we met in church?  More proper, perhaps, but not true for us.  No matter where we started, we’ve been traveling through this life together . . . me, a few steps behind, him ever ahead. But always within sight of one another.  I love him so.


Maga? What on earth is a “Maga?”


In case you were up last night wondering what a “Maga” might be, or a “Maga Chronicle,”  let me clear that up right here and now.  If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good night’s sleep so without further mildew . . . that is, adieu . . .

Well, I just happen to have two adorable granddaughters.  They are the joy of my life.  Oh, I have lots of joys, actually, including my husband and kids, but Winnie & Olive?  They’re over-the-top joy-inducers.

So, it all began when Winnie first started to try and say the word “Grandma.”  (Side note:  When my friends found out I was going to be one of these for the first time, they all wanted to know what I was going to be called.  I did not know there were so many options.  Where I came from, there was “Grandma” and “Grandpa.”  It wasn’t till we moved out of the midwest that I became aware of such names as “MomMom & PopPop,” “Mimi & Papa,” Nana,” and the list goes on.  I was perfectly content with “Grandma.”)  Well, when little Miss Winnie’s perfect little mouth was first trying to get the word “Grandma” out, it sort of got turned inside-out and the word “Maga” was born.  Want to see that gorgeous child?  Elmo shirt Winnie

What’s that?  You want to see another?  Oh, alright . . . . . . Sparkle Water Winnie


And now there’s another little sweetheart to call me “Maga.”  Her name is Olive.

Rocking Chair Olive


Still haven’t had enough?  I know, right?  Aren’t they awesome?

Juice Box Olive            Lunch at Moe's

Want to see where these two beauties came from?


Can you see why Winnie & Olive are so darn cute?  Look at their parents!

So, that’s how I became “Maga.”  And the things I write have become my chronicles, thus “The Maga Chronicles.”  I’m so glad we cleared that up and you can thank me later for that good night’s sleep coming your way tonight!!



Soup lessons.

photo-8One thing I can never claim is to be a great cook. My motto pretty much is “Why make from scratch what you can purchase already made?” Take soup, for instance. Aren’t there already hundreds of varieties in cans already? Yet some people insist that homemade is much better. (Actually I can’t really argue that fact, though MY homemade probably doesn’t apply here.) I do like those little packets, however, that you can pick up at gourmet cooking stores, the ones where you just pretty much dump a bunch of stuff (of course, I have to know WHAT stuff, don’t make me guess) into a pot and it’s pretty darn close to homemeade. So my sister and I were at such a store recently and we both picked up a package of dried-soup-starter-stuff. Apple Sausage and bean soup. I’m not even a big bean lover but for some reason it caught my eye that particular day.

Well, lo and behold, wouldn’t you know – record low temps hit mid-July this summer and by golly, if it wasn’t perfect soup weather! The recipe called for “chicken apple sausage.” That sounded pretty yummy, but I couldn’t find it at the local grocery store and the grocer had never even heard of it (oh dear, my first clue this was going to be a challenge). I ended up with some Italian turkey sausage (don’t laugh – what do I know?) and set about the task of making the soup. First step . . . soak the beans for 4 HOURS or OVERNIGHT!! What??? Who soaks beans and why so long? I’ve never done this before so how I was I to know you needed to soak beans! (Oh, and also it said to “rinse, drain and ‘pick over'” – – huh? pick over? I don’t even know what that means.) So, needeless, to say, we went out for dinner that night.

Next day: I soaked those puppies all day long. It wasn’t till about 6:00 I got to the business of finishing the soup. Step two . . . cook the beans for and hour and a half! Come on!! This is turning out to be the soup from hell! And after you cooked the beans, you added some stuff and cooked it for another hour!? OK – dinner out that night, too. What does one do with REALLY soaked beans?? How would I know. I stuck ’em in a baggie and put them in the fridge. I was just about ready to toss them and cry “uncle” when we decided to finish the job and have that soup for dinner (on the third day!). Turns out I bought chicken stock instead of chicken broth, and only half the amount I needed (could 4 cups stock + 4 cups water = 8 cups broth?? Don’t ask me, I never was any good at math.) Oh, and one last thing, I was supposed to put spinach in shortly before we were to eat it. Totally forgot. This poor pot of soup had so many strikes against it, it should have been “out” a long time ago. Turns out, it was pretty darn good!!

I like when I can be pretty sure of an outcome.  Some may say that is a quality of a “control freak.”  I say . . . . . dang it, that’s probably right.  I like to follow recipes!  Not all willy-nilly, “Well, I don’t have ‘this’ so I’ll add ‘that’ instead.”  You just don’t know what it’s going to come out like!  Predictability!  That’s . . . that’s . . . . oh my, that’s boring.  Could all this soup hoo-haw be God trying to tell me something?  I can see two things here – one I should have learned in the 4th grade.  I remember my teacher, Mr. Nevala, telling us to read through the instructions COMPLETELY before starting a task.  I could never be bothered.  I just want to get to it and get it done.  Sit and read through all the steps?  Well, it would have helped me in the soup-making process.  It wouldn’t have taken three days.  That’s not such a spiritual lesson learned, but lesson #2 – I can’t predict every (or any) outcome.  Only God can do that (thank God).  I’m really glad He’s sovereign and not me, now if I could only trust Him more completely.  Immediate gratification isn’t always best. Some things take time.  And even when you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, it doesn’t mean the end result can’t be pretty darn good anyway.

So this might not be a life-altering lesson, but as God is my witness, I will never “not read instructions all the way through” again!  (Mr. Nevala would be so proud.  Well, maybe he’d be more so if it didn’t take me 45 years.)


Smacked by nostalgia.


Pardon my ignorance – – did this show up?

Hot diggity – it did!  So, what I wanted to say was that “smacking” can either refer to a kiss or it can refer to a punch in the face.  I’ve felt the latter the last few days.  Sometimes our past comes back to us in sweet, smile-inducing thoughts and other times in “whap-you-on-the-back-of-the-head” abrupt moments.  I guess being in my hometown is bringing back lots of nostalgic feelings.  So many things are different about where we currently live (South Florida) that everything is catching my eye.  Catching my eye and then registering some old feeling. I’m feeling sorry for everyone else in the world who did NOT grow up here.  In these woods.  On this lake (Superior).  Does everyone think THEIR childhood was the best?  How could someone who grew up in . . let’s say . . . Louisiana or Utah . . . possibly have had a better childhood than mine??  Poor things.  They just don’t know what they missed.  We’ll be here for another week and a half so I can count on many more memory-provoking moments.  Each one with an accompanying song that will then go through my head for the next couple of hours, until the next memory/song comes along.