Tuesday, April 29, 2014

About Bill

He planted this grove of pine trees 41 years ago on his 3 acres of land.  (David was just 4 years old when they finished their new house.)

I felt his presence here as the wind whistled through the majestic tree tops.  (And a loud whistle at that!)

The deer, red foxes, wild turkeys, and birds love it here.

The grandchildren love it here, too.  Grandpa Bill was notorious for hooking up a trailer to his riding mower and taking the grandkids (and grown up kids including myself)  for endless rides.

Bill's hand is all over this beautiful landscape.  Everywhere I look, I see my father-in-law.

I watched as some of the grandkids helped Grandpa Bill by clearing two dead pine trees, preparing the wood for a special bon fire.

Bill was a tinkering-kind of guy.  His own father passed away from TB when Bill was only 6 years old.  Bill was self-taught on mechanics.  He and a couple of his sons built a space to house all of his toys  tools.

He taught all of his boys how to fix and repair mechanical things.

And the tradition continues.

Bill had a degree in Sociology from St. Ambrose in Iowa.  He dedicated his life to helping the disabled find jobs.

He had so many hidden treasures.  (Sometimes we overlooked the treasures and focused on the quirks that drove David and I nuts.  We all have quirks, though, do we not?)

My father-in-law was a champion of the unborn.  He honored life from the moment of conception to death.  And his own death was so very hard due to his battle with Alzheimer's.

For years, on a weekly basis, Bill would go walk and pray the rosary outside the (now shut down - praise the Lord) abortion clinic in Rockford, IL.

(Such a tearful and bittersweet moment.)

David (second from right) with his brothers at their father's wake.  David is the youngest of six children.

Bill loved his Catholic faith, his wife and children, and his country.  He was a Korean war veteran.  His father was a WWI veteran.

The American flag that draped Bill's coffin was his father's and had only 48 stars!

After the wake, the family remembered Grandpa Bill with a special bon fire made from those dead pines the grandkids cleaned up.  (He would have enjoyed seeing that.)

There was a beautiful funeral mass the following morning, followed by an Honor Guard outside the little, Catholic church.

The family that Bill was so very proud of (minus 4 family members.)

As I reflect on the person Bill was and type this post, I feel more blessed than ever to have married into Bill's family.  His traditional values have been passed down to his son, my beloved, and we will continue to strive to pass them onto our own children.

May the souls of the faithfully departed rest in peace.

~  Patty  ~

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bluebonnets on Easter

Thank you so much for all the kind words and prayers.  It has been a humbling feeling to know so many people had our family blanketed in prayer.  We arrived safely back in Texas, and I look forward to sharing with you some amazing stories about my dear father-in-law.


For now though...some Texas Bluebonnets to share with you.

Early Easter Sunday morning, as we were driving out of Texas,  I mentioned to David how the plans I had for taking Miss Clementine's first-ever photos in the Texas Bluebonnets would have to wait another year.  (Bluebonnets only bloom in early - mid April.)

"I know a spot near the Dennison damn if you want me to stop."  (On Lake Texoma.)

For an impromptu photo shoot, and not having my good camera with me, I think they turned out cute!

Every Texan needs a bluebonnet photo taken!  



~  Patty  ~

Thursday, April 24, 2014

My Easter Basket

*I started writing this post prior to receiving the call that my father-in-law had taken a turn for the worse on the evening of Palm Sunday.  Being Holy Week and knowing that the hearts of our children were a little heavy, I remained focused on creating moments of simple joy in our house and continued recording them here.

My own Easter basket, it isn't made of white wicker, gingham plaid pastels or tulle netting.  There are no remnant aromas of jelly beans and chocolates, even though that smell is so yummy.  My Easter basket is even sweeter than the left over smells of candy!

As a bundle of memories, my Easter basket's appearance actually changes each year.  I still hold it near to my heart.  Some years my Easter basket is fuller than others, depending on when Easter day arrives on the calendar, and it never lets me down.

This year it was filled with precious memories  beginning on Palm Sunday.

We celebrated two, very important days in our house.

Ester's baptism birthday on April 13, (2001).

Ester's precious heart was not in the best of health at birth.  In fact, by just 2 weeks old, she was in Congestive Heart Failure.  We kept her home, away from strangers and germs, waiting for her surgery date.

Living 120 miles from the closest relative, our elderly neighbors, Charles and Eleanor, helped us out a lot.  They were Ester's proxy godparents during a very small & private baptism (at 6 weeks of age.)


We celebrate our baptism birthdays each year in a very simple manner.  This year, we gave Ester a leather-bound book, Daily Meditations with the Holy Spirit.  (I found it at a local Catholic gift shop.)

I thought it was appropriate since she is about to enter her 2nd year of Confirmation preparation.

You can also find it on Amazon, here.

Then there was Stan's Gotcha Day celebration April 9, (2006).

Wasn't he just a doll?!

On April 9, 2006, they officially placed him in our arms forever before driving us to the airport.

That photo above was actually the 2nd leg of the trip home out of 3.   (Seoul, South Korea to Tokyo, Japan.   Tokyo, Japan to Chicago, IL.  Chicago, IL to Springfield, IL.)

His big sisters met us at the airport with joy! joy! joy!  hugs galore, tons of kisses, and balloon & signs!

That photo above makes my heart just thump so hard!


Each year we celebrate April 9, trying to do something to involve his heritage.

He's getting older now and has more of a say in matters.  Due to a busy calendar, he agreed to postpone his celebration by a few days and instead of a Korean restaurant, he chose to dine in at In and Out :)

It was just Stan, David and myself.  Some good one-on-one time with Stan the man!

(Check out those delicious burgers!)

For an extra special dessert to celebrate both events, we made Black Bottom Cupcakes (recipe found here) and then turned them into the traditional Easter basket cupcakes...

Inside those delicious cupcakes was a special cream cheese, chocolate chip filling...

My kids LOVE these!!  They are SO good!

This year, my Easter basket was also filled with bittersweet moments, when we received word on Wednesday of Holy Week that my dear father-in-law passed away.

Remembering the man he was prior to the devastating effects that Alzheimer had on his body helped us find some peace knowing that his pain and torment was gone.

We started to prepare for the trip back "home" to bury Grandpa Bill.

Trying to keep it somewhat "normal"....I continued focusing on simple, colorful moments  during Holy Week ::

Little fingers coloring Easter eggs for the first time...look at her smile :)

I placed some Easter eggs on the mantel...

Set out some bunnies....

I just love my table cloth!  My mother and father brought it back after a trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia where my mother's family is from.

Pulling it out of the drawer each Easter makes me so happy.  Each year, as I run my hands over it to smooth out the wrinkles, I dream of taking a trip to Slovenia .... some day....

Simple Easter decorations this year, but they kept our children feeling secure with routine.   Feeling secure is a good thing especially when a grandparent has just passed away.


*We are off now, driving a GREAT distance for my father-in-law's funeral and then stopping in to visit my mother for two days before starting back for Texas.     I have my lovely neighbors watching the house.  (Such great neighbors.  Truly.)

Thank you for all the kind expressions of sympathy you have passed along and the prayers.  If I may ask, please continue to pray for our safe journey, (we still have the 1,000 mile trip back to Texas.)

God bless you and Happy Easter!

~  Patty  ~


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