Friday, October 30, 2009

October The Thirty-First

October The Thirty-First

By Diane Dunwell-Hoffman © 1991

Halloween is in the air, ghosts and goblins everywhere.
Witches, pumpkins, big black cats.

Through the dark fly owls and bats.

The moon is full up in the sky,

while werewolves look for you and I.

So if you are out on October the thirty-first,

beware of vampires who are dying of thirst.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lord Lift Me Up

We all need a little help sometimes.

This is a short blog, it is meant to guide those who have adult loved ones who suffer from mental illness. I certainly do not have the answers, but I do like to research all sorts of things on the Internet. I did a search and came up with two great sites.

Goals of the World Fellowship for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders

WFSAD is the only worldwide grassroots education, support and advocacy organization focusing on families of people with schizophrenia and allied disorders.

Our Vision: Families and individuals with schizophrenia and allied disorders living meaningful and productive lives without discrimination.

Our Mission: To support and empower families through development of family self-help, education and advocacy.

Family is defined by caring relationships between people with schizophrenia and allied disorders, their relatives, friends, and supporting individuals.

Our Values: Accessibility and Inclusiveness, Respect and Integrity, Importance of Family, Responsiveness, Transparency.

Hopeful Stories

The National Alliance On Mental Illness

Isaiah 40:31

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Marvelous Mattie

A Letter from the lovely mother of Mattie Stepanek, please pass this around and buy the book if you want to be truly inspired by one of this world's most intuitive peace keepers.

Hello friends,

I am asking for your assistance and enthusiasm here. Please pass this info to folks in your email address book, your facebook page, your twitter followers, your co-workers, your church, your friends and relatives... everyone. This matters a lot to me.
This Monday, Nov 2, I will be on Good Morning America to release "Messenger: The Legacy of Mattie J.T. Stepanek and Heartsongs." Early reviews of the book have been wonderful, and folks say there are left smiling, and re-remember why Mattie inspired us so profoundly with his words, his message, and his wit and wisdom. The book is available on online sites like amazon for pre-orders. And on Wednesday, Nov 4 at 7 pm, the book release event will take place at the White Flint Mall Borders Bookstore on Rockville Pike/North Betheda, MD. Please visit Mattie's website (http://www.mattieonline.com/) for info about the book and updated info about publicity.
Thank you so much my friends,
Jeni ("Mattie's mom").
Jennifer Smith Stepanek, Ph.D.
MDA National Vice President
Chair, Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation
402 King Farm Blvd. #125
Rockville, MD 20850



Monday, October 26, 2009

This Is The Day The Lord Has Made...

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

I had a truly wonderful birthday today. I spent the day with my youngest daughter Jamiann and her family. We took a short walk along the Schuylkill River in the Hamburg community park. This park is less than a mile from my home as the crow flies. We drove there, and then walked along a path to the foot bridge.

What a peaceful renewing way to spend any day.

I received so many lovely birthday wishes on Facebook, MySpace, CRPS website, and on the telephone. I have so much to be thankful for, and so many beautiful family members, and friends. Thank you all for stopping by to read my posts, and commenting on them. May God Bless you all.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Does Size Matter?

"Inside this body lies that of a skinny lady. But I can usually shut her up with chocolate."

One of my favorite CBS TV shows on Sunday morning is "Sunday Morning". Today's theme topic was Size Matters, t
he obesity epidemic affects adults and kids across America. And those extra pounds that weigh us down as individuals are all adding up to a big health challenge for our country. A Cover Story is reported by Seth Doane.

To begin with I was born on October 26, 1951 weighing in at a robust 9 pounds, to always be known as the largest of all five of my parent's children. My mother once told me that I would cry
and make a lips puckered up sucking sound, leading her to believe that I was hungry, so she fed me. Perhaps, I was just wanting a kiss.

Now I am not blaming my mother for my rotund figure, which she had described as chunky, and even a Mae West figure. My mother was however a wonderfully creative cook, who included potatoes in nearly every meal. A tradition that I have carried on all the years of my adult life. In fact I do believe I enjoy potatoes more than chocolate.

I have never been an over eater. I know this may come as a surprise to those who can obviously see that I am obese. I have never eaten more than one hamburger at a sitting, nor have I ever super-sized a meal. If I have an appetizer at a restaurant, I never have room for dessert. I rarely eat bread with a meal, and I gave up carbonated, sugar filled soft drinks four years ago. But, soda and potatoes have been my weakness most of my life.

While growing up, I always thought of myself as fat. I had two extremely thin sisters. I now realize that I just was a different body type than them, and resembled my father's side of the family. Both of my sisters resemble our mother who was usually thin, and rarely ever gained weight.

I put on a few extra pounds during puberty, and as a young adult I was approximately twenty pounds over weight. It wasn't until after I had my first child, my daughter Jennifer that I began to really pack on the pounds. Retrospectively, I feel it was mostly out of inactivity, and snacking out of boredom and depression.

That was the catapult that led to thirty plus years of yo, yo dieting, diet pills on occasion, and a continuing process of raising the plateau level of sustained obesity. I am now exercising two to three times per week at Aquabilities pool. I have a professionally planned regimen to follow. I haven't conquered my love of potatoes, and I am not ready to even try.

I am a creature of tradition. Family traditions include family meals. Those family meals include foods that many people can eat without gaining weight, but I know that is not true in my case. My favorite family meal is a chuck roast beef, mashed potatoes, with the pan dripping gravy, and peas. I can eat proper portions without overeating.

So, I will never have the body of Sally Field. I exemplify Sally Field as she is what I would consider to be a woman of my age that I really would love to look like. Facing the truth, I never had her body type to begin with. I could however be happy with a Mae West figure, or even Aunt Bea on the Andy Griffith show. As long as I am healthy, can walk without getting out of breath, and can still fit into a movie theater seat I can be content.

When I was just twenty pounds over weight I felt self conscience over what I looked like in a bathing suit, and now that I am obese I could care less what I look like in my bathing suit. I am comfortable with my self image, I am happy in my own skin. I do love myself, and know for sure that I am worthy of love and respect. I really like the place I am in today.

I am more disgusted with the attitudes of people who wish to lump all body types into one category, who think that a buff or extremely thin body is the only beautiful or healthy body. In fact it is just as dangerous to be too under weight as it is to be too overweight.

I had a full body check up recently which included blood testing. My blood pressure is 118/80, my cholesterol level is normal, my blood sugar is normal, and the only level that was low was vitamin B12. I am presently taking B12 supplemental vitamins. I had an MRI/MRA of my brain, and I do not have Alzheimer or any other brain malfunctions, and a complete body bone scan that did not show arthritis. My only health issues are a direct result of a fall that I had in September of 2004.

It was because of these issues that I began aquatic physical therapy, and have now joined the fitness program at the pool. The injuries I sustained are permanent, and I must now learn how to live with the affects of these injuries. I know that without the exercise program at the pool, my life span would be shortened by the devastating affects of inactivity.

Once when my late Aunt Dot came to visit, we watched "What's Eating Gilbert Grape". Each time I went to put something fattening into my mouth, Aunt Dot would say, "They're going to have to burn the house down." with a chuckle.

My cousin Carol(the daughter of my dad's sister Margaret) had the bariatric surgery and almost died afterward, and then ended up with cancer of the little bit of gastric tract that she had left. She presently is terminally ill and on kidney dialysis because of the medications and infections. Although many have successfully lost weight and maintained a healthy life style with the surgery, self control is just as important as it would be in changing eating habits. Exercise is also very important after bariatric surgery.

In conclusion, I am happy with my body type, I will continue to exercise, I will try to eat more fruits and vegetables. I still love my fruits in pie, and on waffles.

And To Each Season

While driving up Route 61 north of Hamburg, PA the other day, passing through the gap in the Blue Mountains where the Schuylkill River runs parallel to the road, the site of the autumn leaves on the mountain were absolutely gorgeous.

And then it came the "flash" that L.M. Montgomery spoke of in her book Emily Of New Moon. That moment when God's infinite glory became so clear, and inspiring. It was a spiritual moment when a metaphor of the seasons of the year, became the seasons of a life. Perhaps it was an epiphany, or intuitive insight that lead to me delving into deep thought on the subject.

I know that it is not some new idea, man has written about it for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. John Keats expressed it in his sonnet The Human Seasons. In it he wrote:

His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings He furleth close; contented so to look On mists in idleness--to let fair things Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.

My fifty-eighth birthday is approaching swiftly. I guess you could surmise that I have been taking stock these past few days by the contents of my recent blogs. I have been in a nostalgic, and introspective mood.

I am not bothered by the thought of reaching fifty-eight, quite the contrary. I have come upon the conclusion that I am in a very good season of my life. Like Autumn I am wearing my leaves in the glorious colors of the experiences, all that is perceived, understood, and remembered of my life throughout each season, and as the trees shed there leaves to add nourishment for the renewal of Spring, I pass on to my daughters and their children an education from my course of existence.

During my journey to pick my granddaughter Abby up from school that day, I reasoned that the first twenty years of my life were Spring, the next twenty years were Summer, and I am now eighteen years into the Autumn of my life. I told Abby that when I reach sixty that I am allowing my hair to turn white like Paula Deen's hair. Abby wants me to stay blond. White hair would be the perfect assimilation to the Winter of my life, "snow on the roof" and all that cliche.

I am thankful that God allowed me to have children, and grandchildren. Grandchildren are just wonderful. They get excited when we arrive at their home, run to greet us with arms opened wide, and provide hours of pure unadulterated entertainment. We aren't especially responsible for any of their behavior, and can send them home to their parents after we have spent the day spoiling them, a reality that aunts, and uncles, have always embraced.

I have realized that while learning some lessons in the Spring, and living through the mistakes of the Summer, I kind of like this Autumn time of my life the best so far, and I really would like to stick around and weather out the Winter with my new Paula Deen hair color.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fondly Remembered


Do you remember this doll attached to a bamboo cane by elastic string? Perhaps you were at the Phillipsburg Halloween Parade, The Great Allentown Fair, or Bushkill Park. If my memory serves me right, I think there was also a celluloid monkey with lots of feathers attached to a bamboo cane.

Who doesn't have fond memories of Bushkill Park?

How about a ride on old Route 22 passing by the Dixie Cup, did you always sit up trying to get the first glimpse of the huge paper cup on the roof of the factory?

When we lived in Alpha, we would hop on the Trans Bridge Bus to shop in Easton, PA. We disembarked in front of the Easton Sweet Shoppe. Does anyone remember when the bathrooms were under the Center Square? Look closely at the above photo, lower right hand corner, and you will see the (green house type covering)top of the steps that led down to them. This photo is looking toward N. Third Street corner.

Well, if that picture brings a nostalgic tear to your eye, check out this next one.

--I have a fond memory of Christmas shopping for my mother, and getting a Bing Crosby with the Andrew Sisters Christmas Album for my sister Irene at that Woolworth's. I sure miss the old downtown Easton shopping district. Does anyone remember John's Bargain Store?

Have any of you gone sleigh riding/sledding down the iron stairs of Phillipsburg? Well, my late brother Buddy did, and lived to tell us the story.

There were two pairs of these stairs, one between Bullman and South Main Streets, and the one on which Buddy tried his dare devil stunt was situated between Washington Street and Shimer Alley/Tyndal Avenue. This one was torn down, but the one between Bullman and South Main still stands.

We had climbed the one to Washington Street many times to go to the movie theater on the corner of Hudson and Chamber Street. Was it called the Philmont Theater?

Speaking of movie theaters, The Boyd on North Third Street in Easton was my favorite. I loved the winding stairs, and the Spanish style of architecture. I would purposely go to the bathroom so I could wonder around and relish the regal surroundings.

Now, I would like some feed back on this blog post from those of you who hail from my neck of the woods.

My question is this: Is it menopause, or nostalgia that makes tears well up in my eyes when remembering these places and things from our past? How about you, do you tear up too? I am so thankful for my memories, for these places, and fun little things from my childhood.

Can you remember when the Halloween parade was just the Phillipsburg Halloween Parade? Does anyone else remember the blue and pink rubber cars or the windmill spice cookies that they sold at the South Main Five and Dime? Did you ever buy a Christmas tree from the Jersey Hose in the lot next to it, or hot dogs from Bill's in that same lot?

Nostalgia for what we have lost is more bearable than nostalgia for what we have never had...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Once Upon A Time There Was Walp's

In 1936 Robert and Blanche Walp decided they wanted to cook and serve home-style dinners. They pooled their money, took out a loan, and convinced purveyors to supply them on a short term credit basis.

After finding a suitable piece of land at North Fenwick Street and Union Boulevard in Allentown, Pennsylvania, they erected a small restaurant building. A coffee counter with stools, a few booths, a small kitchen, and a juke box were installed along with two AMOCO gasoline pumps at the front of the building. A bunkhouse was erected in the back of the building to sleep truck drivers passing through the area, for Union Boulevard was then national route 22, a highway heavily traveled by cars, trucks, and buses.

The baking (shoofly pie, a specialty) was done by Mrs. Walp, the business end was handled by Mr. Walp, and daughter Thelma Walp Barnes coordinated the customer service.

Walp's was an immediate success and within four years out grew the original building. In 1940, Walp's was moved to it's famous location at Union Boulevard and Airport Road in Allentown. After World War II, son Donald Walp returned to Allentown after U.S. Navy service in the Pacific Theater and became a partner in his family's business.

Local folks would take the family for an auto drive into the country and always made a point of stopping at Walp's for lunch or dinner. A tradition was soon born.

In 1956, Frank Nikischer, Sr., a brother-in-law of Donald Walp joined the management team at Walp's.

After the death of Blanche and Robert Walp and the retirements of Donald Walp nd Thelma Walp Barnes, Walp's Restaurant was sold to Frank,Sr. and his wife Judith Nikischer. In the ensuing years Frank,Sr's three children, Frank, Jr., David, and Wendy joined the organization as managers and then as part owners. They were major factors in the continued success of the restaurant.
On November 29, 1998 Walp's Restaurant closed. The property was sold to the Rite Aid Drug Company. It was an emotional event for the entire family, the employees, and the many patrons, but after 62 years of serving the Lehigh Valley, the time had come to pass another Lehigh Valley landmark into the annals of history.

My daughter Jamiann and I had dinner at Walps on November 15, 1998 just two weeks before its doors were closed forever. The elderly waitress who tended our table told us that the owners were finding it very hard to find reliable help, they wanted to retire, and there was no one in the family who was interested in keeping the restaurant going. It was certainly a sad day for the Lehigh Valley, and travelers passing through.

The owners had the good sense to publish a cookbook to pass on it's many wonderful recipes, which include a great deal of Pennsylvania Dutch delectables.

For the next few weeks up until December 23, 2009 I will be posting recipes from this cookbook.

Blanche Walp's Famous Shoofly Pie

Wet Bottom

Liquid: 1/4 cups dark molasses ~1 1/2 cups boiling water ~ 3/4 level tsp. baking soda

Crumbs: 1 lb cake flour, 1/2 lb granulated sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 5 oz. margarine

2 unbaked 9 inch pie shells

Prepare crumbs first and set aside, then prepare liquid, and set aside. Pre-eat conventional oven to 375 degrees. Place 1 1/2 cups of the liquid ingredients to each of the two pie shells. Next add 1 1/2 cups of the crumbs to each pie. Let stand for 2 minutes. Next add remaining crumbs. Immediately place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 320 degrees for the next 40 minutes. Remove from oven.

Pie Shell Recipe:

2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cups shortening
5 tbsp cold water

In a large bowl with a pastry blender, cut shortening into flour and salt until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry dough holds together. Shape into 8 ounce balls and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour before using.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wednesdays With Walps

Smoky Potato Soup

When I was a little girl my mother put hot dog coins in her potato soup. About twenty years ago I decided to take her soup in a different direction. I added smoked sausage coins to replace the hot dog coins, and added cheddar cheese. I have never changed the recipe since. Anyone who tasted my potato soup loved it. My granddaughter Abby sure loves it, and requests that I make it often.
After I picked Abby up from school yesterday we went to my house. Because she would be staying for supper, I gave her a choice of chuck roast or potato soup. You guessed it, she chose the potato soup.

This crisp cool Autumn weather is perfect for soup, and especially for soup made with new potatoes. I usually use red potatoes for my soup and my potato salad. The slightly sweet taste of red potatoes reminds me of the taste of chestnuts. Any of the many varieties of potatoes will do just fine for a delicious bowl of smoky potato soup.


Two quart sauce pan

4 large or 5 medium potatoes

1 large Bermuda or Vidalia onion

1 package of smoked beef sausage or kielbasa

1 can of evaporated milk or 1 pint of heavy cream

1/2 stick of butter

1 teaspoon of seasoned salt or soul seasoning(Dollar General)

1 tablespoon of onion powder

2/3 cup of shredded cheddar cheese or any Velveeta(Aldi's also sell their own brand) processed cheese

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

About a quart and a half of water

Peel potatoes and onion. Cut potatoes into eighths or fourths, and dice the onion.

Cut smoked sausage into coins or diagonal slices. You may also wish to skin the sausage.

Sautee the onion and sausage in the butter until slightly browned.

Add potatoes, and add water just to cover the potatoes

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add seasoned salt, pepper, onion powder, gently stir and then add cheese gently stir again. Once cheese is melted, add milk, and gently stir. Turn heat off. Gently stir again and serve.

Serves four or five.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Gift You Are...

I posted a link to this video yesterday, but felt the need to re-post the actual video. It is such a wonderful view of the man who touched so many hearts. The song's message brings tears to my eyes, tears of joy. John Denver was a gift to us all. His words, voice, and caring nature have made this world a better place. He wrote a song, What One Man Can Do for Buckminster "Bucky"Fuller, an architect, inventor, designer, and author, who was committed to a successful and sustainable future for all of humanity. www.bfi.org

In this song he sings:

What one man can do is dream
What one man can do is love
What one man can do is change the world
And make it new again
Here you see what one man can do.

John too lived his life in a way to make this world new again. He devoted time, talent, money, and wisdom to this cause. His voice and songs touch all who hear them in a positive uplifting way. There are so many of them too. I think I could write a blog a day on the positive influence of his words and music.

He had his faults, as we as humans do. I sometimes think that he was too sensitive to deal with the in-sensitivities of this world. In the Don McLean's song Starry Night that he wrote for Vincent Van Gogh, he wrote, "This world was never meant for one a beautiful as you." I often think of those words when reflecting on the fate of John Denver. I am so thankful to the Lord that in HIS infinite wisdom HE gave us John Deutschendorf Denver to bring to this world so much beauty, and inspiration.

Two years ago I posted a video slide on YouTube that I had made in memorial to the tenth anniversary of the passing of this prolific singer, lyricist, musician, actor, and humanitarian. That video slide received 72, 529 views to date, 111 five star ratings, and 102 positive, loving comments. It is clear to see that John Denver is loved and greatly missed by both men and women. A link to my video/slide: Dear Johnny
We must all strive to be like John, to inspire others to be all that they can be, to fill others with the hope to achieve something better. Let us change the world and make it new again. Let us see that we all are a gift to each other.

A link to the John Denver Foundation, Windstar  

The John Denver Sanctuary, Aspen, CO

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Last Night I Had A Wonderful Dream

Last night I had a dream about my parents. My father passed away in 1985, and my mother in 1992. In my dream they were with me, participating in my normal day to day activities, in the here and now. I realized that this should not be, but yet believed that no matter what they were real and here in this place and time. My mother was holding one of my grandchildren even though my first grandchild was born seven years after my mother's passing. Although, I felt that it was impossible, it still seemed so real, and I was so content, and happy.
My parents, and brother Buddy
My dream suddenly switched to a scene where I was walking into our former store/luncheonette that stood on the corner of Third and Central Avenues in Alpha, NJ. Realizing that it had been torn down in 1966, and I could not be in there, it seemed so right to be there. I was helping my dad who rarely waited on customers in the past. We were waiting on a Priest, a Nun, and a man in a business suit. The Nun was short on money so I ran a tab for her, and the business man was in a hurry. I felt so alive and happy to be helping my dad.

When I started to come out of my dream, I was realizing that my parents and the store were only part of my past. When I woke up my chest was actually hurting, as in a stressful situation. I also felt let down.

My granddaughter who is ten and I had a discussion about this dream. We decided that it would be so wonderful to have one wish come true. We both would like to spend one Christmas Day with all of my family members who have passed away, joining all those who have since been born to celebrate Christ's Birthday together. We would forfeit any material gifts for that day.

In conclusion, we each are a truly wonderful gift to give each other, when spending time together in the here and now.

Surprise, Surprise, a John Denver song comes to mind...The Gift You Are This song appears on four albums, and was first released on The Flower That Shattered The Stone Album, and has also been released on the Stonehaven Sunrise, The Gift You Are and The John Denver Collection - Annie’s Song Albums.

The Gift You Are

The gift you are
like the very first breath of spring
The gift you are
all the joy that love can bring
The gift you are
all of our dreams come true
The gift you are
the gift of you

You are the promise of all the ages
You are the Prodigal Son
You are the vision of prophets and sages
You are the only one

Dream of a bright tomorrow
Know that your dream will come true
Carry your dream in a sparkling crystal jar
Then you will know the kind of gift you are

The gift you are
like the very first breath of spring
The gift you are
all the joy that love can bring
The gift you are
all of our dreams come true
The gift you are
the gift of you

The gift you are
like the very first breath of springtime
The gift you are
all the joy that love can bring
The gift you are
all of our dreams come true - yes they do
The gift you are
the gift of you
The gift you are
the gift of you

For a real treat click on this link to see John sing this lovely song: Gift

Another song by my friend, and mentor, Rod McKuen... Simple Gifts

Though the gift be small and simple
if the wish is wide
just the simple gift of giving
makes you warm inside.

Though the thought is ever fleeting
if a thought at all
remember all the mighty big things
started out as small.

So if you’ve a gift worth giving
let it be your smile
let it be a kindly word
that makes a stranger stop awhile.

Let it be a simple gift then
if the wish is wide
just the simple gift of giving
makes you warm inside.      Another Treat Click Here

Friday, October 16, 2009

Picture Perfect Children

Many adults enter parenthood with visions of "picture perfect" children. They imagine a warm and loving home, as well as respectful and polite kids, all eagerly doing whatever is asked with only an occasional explanation from Mom or Dad. As a veteran parent, you know this is not reality. But many parents have the idea that kids are just smaller versions of adults: reasonable and unselfish. This is the "Little Adult Assumption." Moms and Dads who embrace this myth often prefer the "modern method" of discipline-talking and reasoning. Unfortunately, many times words and reasons alone prove unsuccessful. Sometimes they have no impact at all, and then parent and child fall into the trap known as the Talk-Persuade-Argue-Yell-Hit Syndrome.

This tragic sequence results from the very best of parental intentions. Your child is doing something you don't like. You tell them to stop. She continues their misbehavior, so you try persuading them to see things your way. When persuasion fails, you start arguing. When arguing is not successful, you yell. Yelling fails, so – feeling there is nothing left to do – some parents turn to hitting. The two biggest parenting mistakes – too much talking and too much emotion – trigger the Talk-Persuade-Argue-Yell-Hit Syndrome.

Getting your child to go to bed by themselves:

Leave the room with the door open and sit in the hall or somewhere that your child can see you. If he/she gets up walk them back to their bed without saying a word, you may have to do this twenty times, just be patient. If he/she cries simply ignore them, but stay where they can see you. It will take a few nights before your child will probably stay in bed and go to sleep, but if you are consistent they will soon realize there is no point to getting up, he will just get wordless lead back to bed.

When this is working well, go through the bedtime routine and leave the room and close the door. Your child will probably cry the most at this step, although some take this without any worry at all. If your child comes out of their room wordlessly walk them back to bed and shut the door. If he/she just cries or is too little to get out of bed and open the door, after five minutes go back into the room and give them a kiss and leave again. This will let them know you didn’t leave them and it’s no big deal to have the door closed, you are right outside it. If he/she wakes up in the middle of the night and comes out just walk them back in and put them back in bed or go in and give them a kiss and then leave. After a few nights your little one will be putting themselves to sleep and will feel safe knowing that you are still there. Goal accomplished.

Take Care of Yourself First!

If remaining calm, patient and gentle is most often a struggle for you, perhaps your life needs a little work. It’s very hard to be a good parent if you don’t take good care of yourself first! Make a schedule for your time at home, just as you do for your time at work. Allocate time for chores, children, and yourself. Perhaps the time may be just two or three days a week where you allocate an hour or so just for yourself.

Discipline: Originally meant to teach or train.

Learning: Is a lifelong process.

Organize: Synonym: Order

I have often heard the expression "Children are a gift from God." We are all gifts of God. He gave us to this world to make it a better place, a physical extension of His glory. Children are entrusted to us by God.

Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them,
"Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me."

Mark 9:36-37

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Get Thee To The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire

In 1980, a two-day jousting festival called the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire was held in the winery parking lot to attract visitors. The event proved popular, and expanded in the following years.

In 2009, the Faire which hails a two million a year profit, was held on a 35-acre site with 90 shows performed daily on 12 stages, hundreds of costumed characters, and a recreation of a 16th-century English village with authentic Tudor buildings. Musical performances, Shakespearean plays, and other acts were offered, twenty-three "Royal Kitchens" served food and drink, and Renaissance merchants were on-site. The Swashbuckler Brewing Company was founded on the grounds in 2000, and its product is available at the Swashbuckler Brew Pub.

Mt. Hope Estate

Two distinct architectural styles are visible in the Estate. Originally constructed in the Federal Style for Henry Bates Grubb between 1800 and 1805, Mount Hope Estate was the most formal iron master's mansion built in the area between 1750 and 1850. In 1895, Daisy Grubb oversaw significant changes, adding a Victorian ballroom, a billiard room, chandeliers, and parquet floors, and converting original hinged doors to sliding doors, while still maintaining much of the original construction, including the original facade and fireplace mantels.

The three-story bay window which rises to an octagonal turret at the west end of the house was built as part of the 1895 re-modeling.

The south-facing two-story facade, made of locally cut red sandstone, remains substantially unchanged from the original 1800-05 construction. The wooden porch running the length of the facade appears to be a reconstruction, as part of the 1895 remodeling, of a similar original porch.

The entire west end of the house went through substantial changes in the 1895 re-modeling. This included the construction of a striking three-story bay window rising to an octagonal turret with a patterned roof, and a two-story bay window near the southwest corner.

The most significant additions made during the 1895 remodeling are located at the rear (north) of the house. These include a conservatory with a polygonal glass dome, a greenhouse just east of the conservatory, and an enlarged kitchen.

The eastern end of the house was also remodeled in 1895, in locally cut red sandstone to match the facade. Aside from several Gothic arches from the original construction, the entire visible structure at this end was built in 1895.

The interior of the mansion, like the exterior, is a mixture of original 1800-05 construction and decoration, blended rooms, and Victorian construction and decor.

The entry hall is almost entirely original construction. Nearly all the woodwork and decoration in this area dates to the 1800-05 period, with the exception of several balusters and newel posts on the spiral staircase, which were Victorian replacements. The major change to the entry hall was the construction of false walls, allowing the conversion of the original hinged doors into sliding doors. The second floor central hall and Washington Room (on the second floor, in the southeast corner) were also changed very little in the renovation.

The dining room, on the other hand, saw extensive remodeling in 1895. The room size was increased by the construction of a bay window, parquet floor was installed, and the room was decorated in cherry woodwork, with a gilt and crystal chandelier and sconces. The only original item remaining left in the room was the fireplace mantel. The Pink Room, named for the pink damask which covered the walls in 1895, the library, the Best Chamber (Daisy Grubb's bedroom), was also extensively remodeled.

A number of new rooms were added to the house as part of the 1895 work. A billiard room and ballroom were added in the rear of the house, and several ornate bathrooms were added on the second and third floors.

At one time there were nearly 30 outbuildings on the estate, as well as a wall surrounding the estate, all constructed of the same locally quarried red sandstone as the mansion, "of which there seems to be an inexhaustible supply on the estate". Some, like Hope Church, are on property that was given away or subdivided over the years, and today, only four remain on the estate, all located to the north (rear) and northeast of the mansion.

The smokehouse is a square two-story building with a hipped roof, and is believed to date to the early 1800s. East of the smokehouse, a 1 1/2 story building with a three bay facade and a gabled roof was used as a school in the late 1800s, and may have served as a originally. The manager's farmhouse stands 2 1/2 stories high and is L-shaped with a porch. The springhouse is also 2 1/2 stories.

A fountain in the Mount Hope gardens.

The overall plan of the gardens, based on English formal gardens, can be traced to the original 1800-05 construction. Although some flower beds, ornamental urns, and the round fountain in front of the mansion were installed at the time of the 1895 remodeling, the overall plan was not changed, leaving the garden as "a very rare and largely intact example of a documented American formal garden predating 1840."

My take on the faire:

Fantastic! I was impressed with the details, enjoyed a step back into a time of merriment, got a kick out of the way some of the visitors come in the garb and all talk Elizabethan or Gaelic. When I spoke to some of the entertainers/characters they spoke it at all times, and stayed in character whether it be a royalty, wench or a pirate.

I really want to go again, and again.

Monday, October 12, 2009

What One Man Do, Remembering John Denver

Anyone who knows me, knows that I loved the words, music, and life purpose of the late great John Denver. As I reflect on this day, these twelve years since his passing I can't help but think that the good Lord took him home as so he did not have to see that his message of so many years seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

Chunks of ice bergs are falling off into the ocean, birds in the rain forest are mimicking the sound of buzz saws that are destroying them on a daily basis, and skin cancers are at an all time high. Change is desperately needed, and now!

When we finally begin to see programs put into place to create alternative energy, let us not complain about the dollar cost, as the cost to the future of this planet is much higher. As the planet is destroyed so will it's inhabitants be destroyed.

John would be so upset to see there is yet another war waged since his passing. He had always sung songs of Peace.

I miss him.

Song: On The Wings Of A Dream
John Denver

Yesterday I had a dream about dying
About laying to rest and then flying
How the moment at hand is the only thing
We really own

And I lay in my bed and I wonder
After all has been said and is done for
Why is it thus we are here
And so soon we are gone

Is this life just a path to the place
That we all have come from
Does the heart know the way
And if not, can it ever be found
In a smile or a tear or a prayer
Or a sigh or a song

And if so, then I sing for my father
And in truth you must know I would rather
He were here by my side
We could fly on the wings of a dream
To a place where the spirit would find us
And the joy and surrender would bind us
We are one anyway
Anyway we are more than we seem

There are those who will lead us
Protect us each step of the way
From beginning to end
For each moment forever each day
Such a gift has been given
It can never be taken away


Though the body in passing must leave us
There is one who remains to receive us
There are those in this life
Who are friends from our heavenly home
So I listen to the voices inside me
For I know they are there just to guide me
And my faith will proclaim it is so
We are never alone

From the life to the light
From the dark of the night to the dawn
He is so in my heart
He is here he could never be gone
Though the singer is silent
There still is the truth of the song
In the song

Yesterday I had a dream about dying
About laying to rest and then flying
How the moment at hand is the only thing
We really own

And I lay in my bed and I wonder
After all has been said and is done for
Why is it thus we are here
And so soon we are gone
Oh, why is it thus we are here
And so soon we are gone

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