Category Archives: It's All Relative



There once was a woman named Marla Kay,

This mother knew always just what to say;

With uplifting words,

Her kids soared like the birds,

Mom’s love still alighting on them as sun’s ray.


New Year’s Eve Appetizers


I love New Year’s Eve! All we do is snack! NumNum. Here’s our 2010-2011 NYE Menu. This post is really for my Lil Ditter, so reader beware.

And Lil Ditter, I have some of Dad’s old appetizer favorites, that I set forth below for your convenience.

Shrimp Dip. I learned about this in a wonderful entertaining/recipe book my friend Carol gave me and love it!

8 oz cream cheese

5 oz can evaporated  milk

1 can deveined bay shrimp

Dash of garlic powder

Dash onion salt

Warm Cream cheese and add shrimp. Stir in evaporated milk and season with onion salt and garlic powder. Serve with Ruffles or your favorite vegetable. Guess which one I use…

From The Gathering of Friends, Volume 1, p. 82.

Gouda Puff and Crackers. DEE.LISH.US! My friends Laura and Holly gave it to me years ago. Always a holiday favorite. The measurements are approximate because Holly never measures and I lost the note I wrote when Laura told me the recipe! Ladies, feel free to make corrections in the comment section! 🙂

Thaw Puff Pastry sheet according to directions.

Warm ½ cup of Butter, ¾ cup of brown sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon.

Remove wax from Gouda. Place pastry on the dish (Must bake and serve in same dish). Place Gouda in the middle of puff pastry. Put some of the sweet butter mixture over the top of Gouda, and then wrap it up like a cute little present (I think those were Laura’s instructions? 🙂 ). Pour the remaining sweet stuff on top and bake. Baking temperature and time have been debated. I am convinced it has to be at a high temperature for a relatively short amount of time to melt the cheese satisfactorily. I say 400 degrees for 16-18, or maybe even up to 25 minutes, depending on your oven. My oven runs hot. Watch the puff pastry for color. I am thinking of putting parchment paper at the bottom of the dish to help on cleanup and to help get to all of that caramelized yumminess – even though it’s not as cute….Suggestions welcome.

Hummus and Pita Bread (Or flatbread in a pinch) and Carrots. We buy it. I would make it, but I don’t have a blender or food processor. And I don’t want to buy one. Or store one in my cozy (i.e., tiny) kitchen. Hummus is awesome.

Mini Corndogs. Something hot for the kids, that gives the appearance of protein.

Spinach Dip with Tostitos. We bought it. It was fresh. It was on sale. And I am all for shortcuts this week.

Warm Salsa and Tostitos. A staple for the Hubby. Homemade Salsa recipes welcome!

Rice Krispie Treats. Again, a favorite for the Hubby.

Banana Muffins. Because our bananas were overly ripe.

Panettone and Mascarpone. Heavenly. At least I think so.

Lemon Pudding Cake. Another recipe from Holly that Jacqueline and I are making because she wanted to make a cake like the cake our wonderful neighbor brought to us On Christmas Eve Eve. Yummy.

1 yellow cake mix

1 package instant lemon pudding

4 eggs

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 1/3 cup whole milk

2/3 cup vegetable oil

Bake in Bundt pan at 350 degrees for approximately 35-45 minutes or until done.

Glaze: Mix 2 cups powdered sugar and juice of 2 lemons

Cookies. As many as we can make today, starting with Chocolate Chip (Nestle Toll House Recipe) , then Peanut Butter, Snickerdoodles and Chocolate Cookies (all recipes from The Gathering of Friends, Volume 1.  Let me know if you want any recipes.

Here’s some that my family loved growing up (or at least the adults did…)


2 pounds ground beef

2 packages taco seasoning

2 cans chili with no beans

1 large package Velveeta Cheese

Brown and drain beef. Add taco seasoning and cook as directed. Add chili with no beans and Velveeta Cheese in Crock-Pot. Add hamburger mixture into Crock-Pot. Cook ½ hour on low. Serve with tortilla chips.



1 jar Kraft Old English Cheese

1 jar Kraft Roka Blue Cheese

1 dash of garlic powder

1 tablespoon wine vinegar

1 8-ounce package Philadelphia cream cheese

Mix; shape into a ball.  Roll ball in parsley flakes.  Refrigerate.


1 8-ounce Philadelphia cream cheese, softened

1 package chipped beef, chopped into small pieces

2 green onions, diced

Mix. Refrigerate. Serve in Bowl.



1          Refried Beans

2          Avocado dip mixed with taco seasoning

3          Chili

4          Sour cream mixed with taco seasoning

5          Grated cheddar cheese

6          Minced onions

7          Tomatoes or salsa (right before you serve)

VARIOUS APPETIZERS (ideas other have given to me):

Mix salsa and cream cheese and serve with tortilla chips.

Mix salsa and bean dip over low heat, and serve with tortilla chips.

Emmy’s 66th Birthday


My mother-in-law, my mother-in- law…
What is her law?
To cheer and to sing,
While flying on wings,
To do good to others —
Yet she never smothers.
She is gracious and kind,
With an interesting mind —
Thus very fun to be with;
Makes good kin and kith.
She only sees the best,
And gives my heart rest.
As law made me a daughter
Her grace made her a mater.*

*And she knows Latin. 🙂


Who is like God? The Tale of the Birth of Michael Charles


Many people who hear this story say that it was a miracle. I, honestly, do not think of it as a miracle. I am not offended when someone says that, for I am also in great awe as to God’s actions, but I see no suspension of the created order in this story – this is no virgin birth! But what I do see, and what I hope to accurately display, is how God uses all his creation (especially, people and technology) as a means to extend mercy and to work His good will. In my case, He desired to be overwhelmingly merciful to me – granting things to me that not only did I not merit, but that I actually demerited. He gave to me blessings, when I earned His condemnation. My God is a gracious, merciful God who delights to do good to those who love Him. And I especially thank Him for his mercy and saving grace granted to me almost 11 ½ years ago! Who is like God? Who is like God that he would take a miserable sinner weighted down with guilt, rejecting God, and hating what He requires of her, and save her from her sins? Who is like God that He would save a sinner like me, and my baby, from physical death, that we might have time to enjoy and glorify Him a bit longer on this earth with our blessed family and friends (past and future)? And that is why the name Michael is perfect for our baby boy, for “Who is like God?”

17December2008, Children’s First Visit

On Monday, December 15, 2008, some facebook friends may remember that I was not feeling very well. I had worked pretty hard over the weekend preparing and celebrating the Third Sunday in Advent, which was glorious. I also had been fighting a cold and it was getting the best of me. And when I hit the last month of the pregnancy, I started feeling nauseated. In fact, the Thursday before I had gotten sick and thought I felt some contractions.


In any event, on Monday, after getting my eldest daughter off to school, I essentially watched movies with the two little ones and rested on the couch until lunch and nap time. After retrieving Sissy from school, I was still not feeling well. In an effort to procrastinate doing the evening activities, I checked email, facebook, bloglines, Drudge, etc. Then, with a strange feeling, and wondering if it was possible that my body was preparing for delivery, I used the potty. Without realizing what would have been obvious to anybody else (that I was hemorrhaging), I calmly asked the eldest to bring me the phone and called my hubby, told him I was bleeding profusely and that he needed to come home now. He told me I needed to call the doctor. I did so, and upon describing my condition, the doctor asked where I lived, who was with me (the three children), and how long until I could leave. I responded probably 15-30 minutes. His response was, “No, no, no, no, no, you need to get an ambulance,” or something to that effect. That’s when I began understanding that this may be serious. I called 911, they told me to go lie down on my left side and wait. I did so and called my neighbor and explained the situation and asked if she could come watch the children – she readily agreed (she is a dear and is always so good about helping us – a neighbor near is better than a brother far away). She was here in a flash, looked at me, went and got a wet wash cloth and started wiping my face (She told me later that I looked so pale that she was very scared, but tried not to show it). I called Sissy’s and The Boy’s teacher, who is also a beloved friend (because school is right around the corner and I suspected that she and her husband would still be there, and I thought the children would be more comfortable with her because she is more familiar to all the children, particularly my baby girl, who really only likes mom and dad). She arrived before the ambulance, although the fire department had arrived. I still had my wits about me and was trying to prepare the children, and urged them not to worry, and if they did begin to worry (because they were seeing me taken away by myself in the ambulance, all the emergency personnel in our living room, you can imagine the scene), then to pray to God and trust Him to take care of me and the babe. They know that God created all things and governs all His creation, and that we belong to Him, that He loves us and does everything for our good, and so it really was not difficult to keep them calm. Sissy was quite concerned, but was comforted at those words. I am not sure The Boy understood the gravity of the situation, and The Baby Girl was quite upset (she turned two today) – she is very perceptive. After doing what I could to prepare them, I put a movie on to distract them.

18Dec2008, First Bottle Feeding

In the ambulance, I started to feel nauseated and told the woman I thought I was going to pass out. I was trying hard not to. She kept saying we are almost there (without traffic, the ride is like 14 minutes – with traffic it can take 45 minutes). I remember being pulled out of the ambulance. I remember hearing someone say, “We got a sleeper,” so yelled out that I could be awake if they needed me to be. I remember hearing the baby’s heart beat when we got to the ultrasound machine. It was super slow. I knew then that there was no way that I would have time to try to labor. The doctor came in and said, “Wow, she looks pale, doesn’t she?” or something to that effect. My impression was he was surprised at all the blood and blood clots (there had been a load at home, too). I was only dilated to 1, and he got right in my face (He has been my doctor almost my entire marriage and has delivered all my babies and is a Christian and we have a great relationship – so it was in no way alarming), and he said, “I have to put you under now and do a c-section and that’s all I have time to tell you.” That was alarming. I knew then that it was a matter of life and death for me and my babe.

18Dec2008, Treatment for Jaundice

I heard someone say something about getting blood ready. I shouted my blood type and that my husband was the same as I and that he was on his way to the hospital.

20Dec2008, Also our 11th Anniversary

Then I felt overwhelmed. I wanted to cry. I closed my eyes. I began to pray fervently. I thought of losing my life — the affect on my husband, my children. I am not a Christian who rests easy in an assurance of my faith (which shamefully shows my lack of trust in God’s promises), but I can actually say that I was peaceful in what God chose to do with me. I was not scared. I truly believed I would go to heaven and not hell. But I begged that he would spare me and let me keep this earthly life I love. I thought of losing my baby, my child. How hard that is. But I remembered that this baby does not belong to me. He is God’s and God just lets us have our children for a time. I was willing to submit to God’s providence even if that meant the baby must die and go to Him. But again, I wanted him to live and I begged God to be merciful, to let this child live, and to let me have him much longer than the 9 months in utero. This year, I had reread Stepping Heavenward, and the main character lost a child and handled it so Christianly, so beautifully. Providentially, I think it was very helpful to me. Later, I also found out that my sweet hubby was praying at the same time and in the same manner as I as he was trying to get to the hospital.

20Dec2008, Pictures the Children colored for Baby Michael

They put a mask on me, and I was out.

I woke up and Andre was there, and I just remember asking him if the baby was OK, when I would get to see Baby, when I could nurse, and telling him that I was sorry for all of this happening. I was on the med Dilaudid and did not entirely have my wits about me. I did not like it at all – it was hard to communicate and often times I could hear myself speaking and not making sense…very frustrating under the circumstances. Andre had to go call his mom so that she could come to stay with the chirren and then they would not let him back in. I guess I finally was taken to the hospital room about 8 or 8.30pm and he was anxiously waiting for me, ready to do something a little drastic to see me.


I was still not really grasping the gravity of the situation (placenta abruption), but over the next several hours and days, I learned of such things as “it was touch and go” for me and the baby; that if “10 more minutes [had passed] bad things would have started happening;” that I had a thready pulse and there was fear I might have a cardiac arrest and code; that the baby was born not breathing; that the placenta looked horrible and was small; and so on.


But despite both Michael and I being brought so near to death, God may have used this to save Michael, for he had a true knot in his cord, though it was not yet tight. I would not have been to the doctor for another 4 days, and because the last week of school, also the week before Christmas, was to be very busy, I am not convinced that I would have detected decreased movements of the babe. I am convinced there was a real chance that he could have died in utero. Regardless, he was born at 37 weeks and weighed only 3 pounds, 7.9 ounces. I think it is fair to say he was not being nourished, and may in fact have the opportunity to thrive outside my womb. And seems to be doing just that, as he has progressed remarkably well considering all the trauma he suffered.

22Dec2008, The best mother-in-law a wife could ask for, a.k.a. “The Fastest Emmy Ever,” because The Boy expressed that he is impressed that she “goes in my room fast, puts her jammies on fast and comes back in the den fast.”

That God saved, and continues to save, my little baby boy is another reason his name is perfect. For another meaning associated with the name Michael is “Gift from God.” And as I look at that precious baby boy, I am reminded again and again that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17 (KJV).


The delivery of Michael, from start to finish, happened in manner that Andre and I would have never allowed (going by myself by ambulance; my having a c-section; my using general anesthesia; my being separated from the babe (I have never even let a baby go to the nursery, and if it was required that a babe leave the room, then I would “make” Andre follow the baby and nurse); and initially pumping rather than nursing). Although I still think in principle the way we would have chosen to do it, and the way we have done it in the past, is best, I love how God works through exceptions. As I have heard say: He draws straight with crooked lines; He overrules the bad in a situation and uses the circumstances to work good.

Christmas Day 2008, Coming Home

I am thankful for His mercy, life and blessings in this situation. And I am thankful for this trial and that He found my family worthy to go through this trial for the glory of His Holy Name.

You may call me AUNT Debby


My Lil Ditter is now a mommy; therefore, I am now an aunt! And, as Sissy says: “Baby Jasson” is soooooooooo toot!!!

I am a bit overpowered by the flood of emotions pouring over me at the news of this event – not that I didn’t have 9 months to prepare!

I was 10 years old when my sister was born. I remember running as fast as I could all the way home after school the day she and Mom came home from the hospital. I loved her so dearly. I was thrilled at the fact she would take a bottle from me. I was thrilled at the fact she would let me hold her for a whole hour. I loved dressing her up all the time: adding ears and a cotton tail to her feet pajamas; dressing her in my 3-foot Holly Hobbie doll’s dress, bloomers and bonnet; dressing her in a red turtle-neck, to match mine, then hugging her and hugging her and asking Mom whether she could tell whose arm was whose; dressing her in a sweatband and legwarmers and other various 80’s “fashion” to be “Libby John,” i.e. Olivia Newton John; and the list could go on. And this little baby, my Lil Ditter, is now a mommy with her own little baby.

And hearing her wonderful stories, descriptions, feelings . . . as a mom, I understand. I remember the births of Sissy and Baby Boy, the nursing and embracing of these tightly swaddled babes, the early months when they accomplish so much and reveal their personality. I remember the exceeding joy that a new babe inspires by his mere existence. And Baby (as we called Sissy) is now doing most things for herself, and is also folding my washcloths, helping me sweep and mop, telling stories, singing songs (mostly Holy, Holy, Holy, Psalm 4 and Tinkle Tinkle Little Star (not a typo)), sounding out words, “reading” her books by herself, expressing her preferences, answering her catechism questions, etc. And Baby Boy (who has not yet outgrown his “baby” name!) is exploring the WHOLE house via the commando crawl, eating everything he can find on the floor, chasing Sissy, trying to pull himself up – and falling down, feeding himself cereal, saying “mama” and “dada” (not necessarily in that order, unfortunately), leaning into Sissy’s line of vision and babbling to her to get her attention, understanding the meaning of “no,” “singing” at church during the hymns and psalms, etc. These babes are no longer babes.

It makes me sad . . . and happy.

I need a quick fix. HUBBY, I NEED ME A BABY!!!

Could someone get the smelling salts for the grandparents?!?

Happy Birthday Bubba


*singing loudly and out of key* Happy Birfday to you! Happy Birfday to you! Happy Birfday, Dear Bubba! Happy Birfday to you! And many more!!! *end bad singing*

On my brother’s 22nd birthday, I particularly thank God for him. He has been a cherished part of my life. On this day, it is especially fun to share a few memories of him.

A couple of Classic Bubba Moments. A little background may be necessary. First, he was “the baby.” Second, he was the only boy. Okay, enough background. One day he crawled up into my mom’s lap, much to her delight, and lovingly looked into her eyes, with his little head cocked, and gently said “Mom, I wish everyday was Mother’s Day!” Okay, now at the time I thought, “Brown-Noser!” but now I really hope my chil’ren do that! Then, let’s see, one evening during supper, when Bubba had been excused from the table, he came back into the dining room to do his nightly stand-up routine (he was always performing for us). Dad told him he may not come in while we were eating. Well, evidently this displeased Bubba because before any of us knew what was going on, the little tot had come up quietly behind Dad’s chair, raised his He-Man sword high above his head, proclaimed “I have the P O W E R! ” and with all his might, swiftly swung that sword square into the back of my dad’s neck. It was just so shocking that even my dad was laughing (though hopelessly trying to hide it).

Fond Bubba and Sissy (Yep! I was “Sissy” in my family!!!) Moments. He was my 12th birthday present (that’s right, I, too, have a birthday coming up!) – he and Mom came home from the hospital on my birthday – with a birthday cake in hand! Then, moving forward quite a bit, when I was a little younger than he is now, and in college, I would come home for the summer. During this break, we would go for “walks” together almost everyday. My stride was so much bigger than his, that he would ride his bike beside me as I walked along the bike path. He would just talk and talk and talk, telling stories and jokes, singing songs, sharing ideas and observations and asking questions. It was a most precious time for me to spend with just him.

Regrettable Bubba and Sissy Moments. I was so mean to him! My “lil ditter,” being almost 2 years old when Bubba was born, was my perfect little minion. From holding him upside down over the toilet for a swirly while my minion flushed, to putting him in the garbage can and hauling him to the curb; from threatening to throw him in the dog pen (and pretending to do so regularly), to holding him down, with my minion pinning his arms to the floor, and torturing him by pretending to tickle him while not actually touching him (he was so ticklish) – I was the wicked big sister! But, with God’s grace, I repented and he forgave me!

I love that young man and again say “Thanks be to God!”

So raise your glasses and toast the birth of my dear brother, Bubba!