Monday, December 31, 2012


I love this picture!  This explains it all! NOW, every serious element of all previous celebrations were thrown out the window.  It was time for GAG gifts and more fun than the law allows.
Bill (the funniest man on earth) Donna (the OLDER sister) Me (in a borrowed robe) and Honeybuns (sporting a cap with lights under the bill)

It was just the four of us Christmas morning, unwrapping underwear, hankies, FRUITCAKE, Duck Dynasty videos, books, and tote bags!  HEADLAMPS FOR EVERYONE - Priceless!
Honeybuns took this picture with his left arm/hand while we huddled together, shining our lights for all the world to see.  This moment will go down in family history!

Mid-morning we packed up ourselves, cookies and gifts for the drive over to Quincy, Illinois to the Illinois Veterans Home. Uncle Bub has lived there since last March. This would be his first Christmas away from his house in Concord.  As a surprise I organized a "card shower" and he received over 100 Christmas cards.  We/he read each one as we explained to him who had actually sent him greetings.  So many folks from all over the US took a minute to brighten this WWII veterans day. He was thrilled. He's doing so well, content, happy and physically stronger.  (He continues to insist that at one time he played third base for the St. Louis Cardinals for many years. (!) I suppose if you're 88 you can be anything you want to be! Who's going to argue??) 

This man has known us since birth!  We have lots of history together!  And we are very grateful to him.  What a cutie-patootie!

I took him this singing, dancing Christmas tree!  He shook his head and rolled his eyes at me.  AND SMILED!  I'm sure he expected it!

It was a great CHRISTMAS DAY!



Arcadia, Illinois was the destination for Christmas Eve.  Linda and Eddie hosted the annual Braner Family gathering. Their children/spouses/grandchildren started arriving in early evening.
What a wonderful, loud, hysterically funny good time! It's always a contest of one-liners with each one outdoing the last! So much good food, gifts and a game of "dirty Santa" involving gift cards from fabulous restaurants that will go down in history.


Three Braner brothers and wives!  This group has been through some life challenges for lots of years now and we love them!
Linda and Eddie, Jewel and Jim, Me and Honeybuns! (We'll ALWAYS be younger than the rest of them!)  Counting all the kids  grandkids, and girlfriends, 23 total! They always want to take pictures of the "old folks."  Evidently they're worried that someone won't be around next year!  Perhaps!  But no time soon for these old boys, they come from "good stock!"


After unpacking from Colorado, doing a little laundry, packing up again and sleeping for a few hours we were off to Illinois.  We flew to St. Louis, drove two hours and settled in at the Leischner Family Farm/Barn near Arenzville, Illinois.  My sister, her husband and their children/spouses/grandchildren filled their beautiful home.

These are the grandchildren: Kelsey,  Lauren, Luke, Chloe, Alex and Oliver!  What a fun time to see them all together!

We were thrilled to see Mark, Sherrie, Julia and Matt!
And so proud of them!  (Shouldn't those boys still be 10 and 9?)

 What would Christmas be WITHOUT UGLY SWEATERS!


 The "hit" gift was GOATS! Alex and Chloe "received" goats sent to Africa to feed a family there!  After lots of food and fun, we were off to Christmas #4! 



We hit the ground celebrating!  Our first minutes in Durango, CO were spent at Maggie's school concert.  Singing and band music filled the auditorium. The Braners took up an entire row to support Maggie.  It was SO GOOD to see the Fab5 and their parents!!
 The next day Maggie and her classmates sent their hot air balloons up into the clear Colorado sky!  What fun!  Christmas parties at the elementary school topped off the day!
Their beautiful Colorado home was filled with Christmas cheer!
Sat. morning was designated as CHRISTMAS MORNING which involved lots of gifts, of course! It was a year of headphones, jewelry, clothes, toys and a special "daddy only" Wii! THEN, we piled into two cars for an ART CLASS in downtown DURANGO!
Everyone painted a TREE!  Hidden talent revealed!! What a great memory! We love these people to the MOON AND BACK!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


When family is scattered all over the US, we go to THEM!  The upside of that plan is that we get to celebrate several times. Whoo Hoo! We just might hold the record for the distance Grandparents travel!

Christmas #1 was with the Dallas Braners.  We loaded up my red truck with gifts and drove 4 hours to Dallas to meet Philip, Nancy and family for lunch at Northwood Country Club.  It was a beautiful setting with Santa, Madrigal Singers, A wooden soldier making animal balloons, great food and that busy  little (?)  family.  Philip says his family isn't little, just SHORT! Hereafter they shall be known as the FAB4.

Then it was off to their house for gifts, singing and playtime! 
Mollie does a great "Twelve Days."

This was the year of "fingerprint" gifts, the kind made by hand.  Honeybuns made Thompson a tool bench that he LOVES.  (He is busy making a house now, so no need for alarm clocks anymore.  He wakes everybody up with hammering!)
Also, Gracie is going to be Mary at their church Christmas Eve, so "who you gonna call" when you need a costume?  She knows who!


Betsy loves her pram, it carries her SNACKS!
(No, we did not make that buggy.)

Christmas!  Isn't it great!  Distance isn't going to stop us from this kind of fun!
Kid-fun last for such a short period of time, we're going to hug it at every opportunity. (Watching their parents parent, PRICELESS!)

Today I'm packing my snow boots for COLORADO, the FAB5 and Christmas #2! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Three of my favorite 7 Braner females!  WOW! Maggie and Gabby are growing WAY too fast!
Jamie is as beautiful as ever!
These girlies make my heart sing! In ONE week I'll be squeezing them until their eyes pop out!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

3D TV....WHAT????

We've moved into a new era!  Smart TV has arrived in our den. We've postponed this agony long enough, yesterday we pulled the trigger and shelled out the cash. (This news will delight our children and grandchildren, they think we been living in a cave with Fred and Wilma.)

So, we unpacked the thing and Honeybuns spent all yesterday afternoon and evening plugging things in and out of the back of it. 

It looks sharp, I must admit.  But, it is VERY smart AND intimidating!  We're going to need a 4 year old to come stay a few days to help us figure it out.

Late in the day a picture finally appeared on the screen, hurray!  Success!?!?!
Well, NO!

Evidently we are able to receive a few local TV channels, purely by the grace of God.  Our Direct TV receiver is so old that NO plugs, wires, USB's or bent paper clips will fit and thus a call was made to them. (YES, they answer on Saturday evening.)  The ever-so-patient man explained that we truly HAVE BEEN living in the cave with Fred and Wilma and technology has raced right by the cave door.  We were light years BEHIND the latest and greatest equipment.

An appointment has been made and an expert is coming to the house NEXT Saturday to, no doubt, spend a day or two.  I hope he brings his jammies, I'm sure he will be an overnight guest! He'll update all our equipment on the roof, in the attic and hook it all up new and fresh.  The Direct TV guy laughed and promised that when this transition was complete our new TV would all but cook dinner and clean the potties.

Well!  I'm looking forward to THAT!

While waiting for next Saturday, we've been playing around with the new remote, hoping to access all the bells and whistles, not having much luck.  BUT, it is a time-consuming activity.


This morning I woke up with a new plan.  There would be NO more new technology in our house.

After registering on Instagram this week, Face Timing the CO kids,  plugging in my phone and IPad, continually monitoring my text messages and Facebook account, I proclaimed the END.  This Smart TV has pushed me over the edge.  I simply have NO MORE time to spend with this technological addition!

We must go "cold turkey."  We must "shut it down," "turn it off," "unplug," and  return to a normal life!  The end!

Honeybuns agreed! 

A few hours after that proclamation and the freedom it gave, we stopped by Best Buy for an additional cable, one that would connect the Wii to the new Smart TV! (So much for the disciplined life!)

AND right there in front of the TV section of the store was the BIGGEST SCREEN I have ever seen. The picture was an underwater scene of blurry but colorful tropical fish.  The price was more than our first house!

SO much money for a really bad picture of fish!

THEN, Wah-La!  The salesman gave me a pair of magic glasses.  3D TV!!!!!  WOW!!!

Those fish literally JUMPED out of that skinny black box and headed right for my face! Incredible! I could feel the water on my face and smell the salt!   I was IN the ocean with those fabulous  fish swimming all around me. I reached out to catch the mantra ray bare-handed as he calmly swam out of my reach. It was an out-of-the body experience!

YEP!  3D TV is  reality! 

I'll be moving furniture to make room for that hulk of innumerable pixels!

I'm a sick woman, looking for a 12 step program to join!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Tis the season, for......... fundraisers!

What a great time!  Today a friend and I attended the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary Christmas Luncheon & Fashion Show, downtown Tulsa.

This has been going on for years, this was my first experience.  It was fabulous!

The silent auction was fun, the convention center beautifully decorated, the tables festive, my table mates delightful, the style show "interesting," and the CAUSE: PRICELESS.

I learned so much about this incredible organization. They do marvelous things here and abroad.

Local efforts include emergency shelters, Angel Tree, meals, financial assistance to needy families, a Boys & Girls Club, an adult rehabilitation center, etc.  The list goes on and on!

I spoke with one young couple that shared their knowledge of the work being done in the brothels of India.  The "Army" goes into a brothel there and actually buys young girls and women for the sole purpose of freeing them from that awful slavery.  The young women are taken to a safe house where they are counseled, cared for and taught a meaningful trade. Their products are sold and they become self-sufficient! (No war on women here!) GREAT STORY!  And that is just a "drop in the bucket" as far as good deeds.

Story after story of salvation, redemption and restoration were shared.  A moving testimony given by one brilliant young man brought a hush over that huge crowd of women.  He was successful, highly educated, talented, employed, a father....AND a heroin addict. He credited the Salvation Army with his recovery and his very life!  He proudly announced that he, as of today, is 11 months "clean."

Today was their annual fund-raiser and the Tulsa ladies came to give, BIG. During the year the organization is mainly funded by donations of furniture, clothing and household times that are repaired (giving many people jobs) and then sold in the thrift stores. The money (93%) of it goes back to help needy people.

There are SO many wonderful organizations that truly lend a hand-UP , this just happens to be one of the best!

The "church" knows how to do it folks!  And Americans  are extremely generous and giving.
They simply need to be educated as to what goes on behind the scenes, the stuff that never makes the national news cycle.

IF/WHEN the "church" rises up and returns to it's calling, people are rescued from all sorts of evil from without and from within.

 The "church" is not the enemy of democracy, the state, or the people.  It is the tool that is SUCCESSFUL in SO many places. Who loves ALL of humanity like the church?

The Salvation Army is a very good thing!  I'm thinking I'm going to clean a closet or two or three!

What a great opportunity to support an ARMY that is committed to the welfare of all sorts of folks. They're doing it RIGHT!

Sunday, December 2, 2012


It has to be one of the best church services of the year!  The traditional "Lessons & Carols" performed by the choir of Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church of Tulsa.

They did it again.....hit it out of the park, that is.

Today the sanctuary was filled with a full orchestra, an extremely talented choir, soloists, speakers, Pastor Tom Gray, music director Ed Tackett and a very appreciative congregation.

There were nine Lessons from scripture, beginning with the Genesis account of God's promise of the Messiah. Next came the promise to Abraham, the prophets prediction of the birth of a king, the prophecy concerning Bethlehem, Gabriel's visit to Mary, the birth of Jesus, the shepherds reaction, the arrival of the wise men, and the explanation of the incarnation.  (Three men sang "Mary, Did you Know" and nearly brought down the house!)


Handel's  Hallelujah Chorus was the grand finale!

Mixed between all the scripture readings were the appropriate carols expanding on the story.

Love was in the air!  Hope revisited the congregation! Tears of pure worship rolled down cheeks!

It was a fabulous morning!

No war on Christmas at church today!  Nothing but pure joy and humble thankfulness!

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Every woman does it!  Morning chores!  SOMEBODY has to take care of those nasty DALEY details of life so the family doesn't come down with the heebie jeebies or some other deadly disease.

AND I'm confidant every woman does it in her NIGHTWEAR!

The schedule goes like this at our house:  wake up, breakfast, CHORES BEGIN!

The stuff that must get done:  clean up the kitchen, make the beds, throw SOMETHING in the washing machine, pick up mess from night before, hang up the laundry that should have been hung the day before, throw out a few items that have grown legs in the fridge, fold a few towels that were left in the dryer from yesterday, spray a disinfectant on faucets and bathroom fixtures, and give the air a couple of squirts of Lysol! DONE!

The time it takes to do all this is directly related to what fun thing is NEXT on the schedule. If I'm headed out to go shopping, meet a friend, attend an important meeting, or head to the airport  I can "fly" right through this schedule with a "lick and a promise."

The attire for this activity is simple:  whatever I woke up in, plus my bright yellow crocs!  (You know, the shoe that NO ONE has EVER complimented as "cute.")

Yes, I join all women across America who think its foolish to shower, wash hair and dress BEFORE DOING morning chores.  How silly!

This habit is DANGEROUS! 

I was reminded of this yesterday as the doorbell rang RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of cleaning the bathroom. My neighbor was coming up the side walk!

What to do?  Hide?  Fake deafness? Run out the back door?  Make her wait by the door while I quickly showered, washed my hair, dried it, chose an outfit and put on my shoes?

I swallowed my pride, slapped on a robe and answered the door.  I was sure I looked like something a truck had run over, backed up and run over again.  MUCH to my surprise she was NOT instantly blinded!  She had something important to say!

Reminds me of the story of the gal that was doing her laundry in her basement.  A leaky pipe above her washing machine caused her to slip on her son's football helmet to keep her head dry while loading the wash.  As an afterthought she slipped off her jammies and threw them in the water as well.  There she stood, butt naked, but SAFE in the shadows of her basement.

About that time the plumber arrived to fix the leak. Her husband had let him in the house and directed him to the basement.

He took one look at her and said, "Lady, I don't know who you're playing for, but I want to be on YOUR team."

ONE of these days we'll ALL learn.