Thursday, December 8, 2011

2011- The Year of Changes

I'm actually posting twice in one year! 2011 has been a year of changes- mostly good ones!
    We got an offer on the house in KY in March while we were at Bryce and Heather's house for Bryce Eric's 2nd birthday. That began a whirlwind of activity!! We closed a few weeks later and moved on April 22nd, the day before Easter. Bryce, Heather and the boys came to help us pack the truck, drive down and unpack. I can't even begin to say what a blessing they were! My friend, Sandy, also came down the last week we were there to help me finish packing. I don't know how I would have done it without her, as my asthma went crazy with all the dust and I was a mess! It was so hard to leave all the people we grew to love in KY, but it is so good to be home!
     The last 7 months have been consumed with unpacking, organizing and getting the house back in order. We just finished remodeling the dining room, installing tile floors and cabinets to hold all my craft/sewing stuff and seasonal dishes and decorations. I can't wait to have people over for dinner, or any meal actually. I still have a lot of work to do, but it's all coming together.
     Which leads me to our next big change: In 23 days, on New Year's Eve, Ashlee will become Mrs. Matthew Berchen. He proposed to her on the beach Saturday morning, September 17th. We are thrilled! We are having the wedding at my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's beautiful home in Myakka Valley Ranches. It will be an outdoor wedding at 3:30, with a formal dinner following and then relaxing and partying until we ring in the New Year together. I am very excited and plans are coming together very nicely. They have had 3 wonderful showers and are about to decide on a place to live until they move to CA next summer/fall. Matthew was sworn into the US Navy on September 8th and reports to Boot Camp on April 3rd, 2012. He will be gone for a few months and then she will move out to San Diego to join him.
     Another big change has been our diet. Ashlee has been battling some health issues for the past 2 years and had changed her diet, but we all decided to join her on a program called GAPS. It has changed my life! I have lost 15 pounds, feel great, have more energy and don't feel at all deprived. My next post and hopefully many others to come are going to explain what GAPS is and how I've implemented it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Reflections of 2010

The last year has been a time of limbo. It has lingered and yet flown by all at once. We have traveled much, but arrive at the end in the same place we started. I lost my Mom and friend on Jan. 22, 2010.
We had her funeral in Sarasota on Feb. 22. It was a bittersweet time for our family to come together, laugh, cry, remember, and begin the healing process. It was a beautiful day. We chartered a boat to take us (just the 6 siblings) out to the inter-coastal waterway to scatter Mom's ashes in the Gulf of Mexico she loved so much. Aunt Joan (my Mom's baby sister) and Uncle Leroy's children had sent a lei from Hawaii to toss out with the ashes. The water was VERY choppy. The captain took a long time driving the boat back to the marina, which gave us time to comfort each other and compose ourselves a little bit. Many people, both friends and family, then gathered at the beach house we had rented, had our own special memorial service and shared a meal. While we were in FL, Ashlee began a relationship with a life-long friend, Matthew Berchen.
When we returned to KY, we began "staging" and preparing to sell our house. We had garage sales and packed much. It is hard to pack away all your personal possessions and keep the house ready to show at any moment. We drove to PA to celebrate Bryce Eric's first birthday. He is so sweet!
We officially put the house on the market in April.
In June, we celebrated as Ashlee graduated from high school. Sandy Berchen and Matthew came for the week and we had a great time of reconnection. Tiffany and Heather were here for a week. We headed back to FL for a funeral two weeks later. While we were there, Grandfather Ditchfield had a stroke. I spent a little time each morning with him and he even woke up and spoke to us on Friday after being in a coma all week. That was his last goodbye though, and he passed away on Saturday, June 26, as we were driving back to KY. We attended a summer camp with our church the last week in June. Christina went to PA to attend the Gettysburg Civil War Reenactment with Bryce, Heather and Bryce Eric.
In July, we were in FL again for Grandfather's memorial service. We also celebrated Karabeth's 3rd birthday with a party at the fountains at Island Park. It was a rainy day, but we had a good time!
We thought we would be home for awhile, but on August 13th we got a phone call from Bryce that Heather might be in labor! She was not due for three more weeks, but Bryce Eric had been three weeks early, so it was possible. We made arrangements and quickly headed to PA! Heather's labor stopped and we spent the next 4 1/2 weeks visiting and waiting patiently for Sweet Pea to make his/her debut! We spent time with friends, made awesome eggplant parmigiana, enjoyed sharing recipes and information, went on lots of walks and even celebrated Rebecca's 13th birthday with a trip to Hershey, PA! On the evening of September 14th, Heather began to suspect labor was starting. She slept most of the night, then we called Bryce to come home from work. The midwife arrived about 7 and Conlan James Reckner was born at 12:37pm, Sept. 15, 2010! He was born in a birth pool in the kitchen. It was all very peaceful and natural. He weighed 8 lbs 8 oz and was 20.5 in long. We spent the next two weeks helping out and went home to KY on Oct. 4. It was an honor and a privilege to be there at his birth!

In October, Matthew came to visit for a week. November 23 we were headed back to FL for Thanksgiving and "Mary" Christmas. All of my children and grandblessings gather together each year to celebrate Thanksgiving together. Then Friday we shop and put up the tree and Saturday we celebrate our Christmas as a family. It is a busy, but blessed weekend. It is also when we get our annual family picture that I use on my Christmas Cards (that Tiffany designs).

We stayed in FL through my birthday and enjoyed special times with friends, including the Downtown Sarasota Christmas Parade and the Ditchfield Family Christmas Concert, a highlight of our year!! We went to my sister, Peggy's house for Christmas day and my brother, Tom was there! Our year ended on another bittersweet note. My "only friend, Janet" and her dear family bought a
house in St. Louis and moved there on Jan. 13, 2011. She was the first new friend I made when we moved here and we have become like sisters in the past 4 1/2 years. I am so happy for her as she begins this new chapter in her life and thrilled that it is in St. Louis, where I will surely see her again!

Here we are, still trying to sell this house and move back to Sarasota. Once I get there, I think I shall stay there the rest of my life! We will see what God's plan is for 2011. I hope to blog more than once a year! May the Lord bless you and keep you each day of the coming year!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I am pleased to announce that I am going to be a Grandma again! Heather and Bryce are going to be welcoming their second blessing in September! I am so excited for them.
And it is with great sorrow that I said goodbye to my Mommy on Jan. 22, 2010. She was awake and alert until the day before she died. My sister, Peggy, was in St. Louis visiting and called to tell me she wasn't doing well. She was having some trouble swallowing and was on an oxygen level of 10. I decided on Thursday to go to St. Louis. She was sleeping peacefully at 6:00 pm when I arrived. She never woke up again. I just tried to talk to her and let her know I was there. I hope she heard me. The nurses said she probably wouldn't make it through the night, but she did. She took her last breath at 6:00 am. Peggy and I were there holding her hand. It was very peaceful- no struggle or pain. The nurses were incredibly kind all night and that morning. They told her goodbye and that they loved her and would miss her. Two very special nurses even dropped their purses in the hall when they heard someone was needed to clean her up and get her ready for the funeral home to pick her up. They were off-duty but asked to be allowed to do this last thing for her and us. That was love- not duty!
I am so blessed to be in a close-knit family. My brothers and sisters are so wonderful and supportive. We will hopefully have all her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren together in Sarasota on February 22, 2010 to tell her goodbye as we deposit her ashes in the Gulf of Mexico that she loved so much!
I will miss my Mom so much, but I hope to see her again one day. So I say, " Hello new blessing and Goodbye precious Mommy. I love you both!!"

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year- A New Decade

Today is the beginning of a new year. I don't feel like I was quite finished with the old one. August, September, October, November and December passed in a blur.
August was a busy, but wonderful month. Bryce, Heather, and Bryce Eric were here for Lyndsae and Russell's wedding and then we went to Florida for Karabeth's 2nd birthday. It is always such a blessing to be all together, but this was even more special because we had tickets for everyone to go to Disney World! It was an amazing day, culminating with a spectacular fireworks show! It is so much fun to be with my children and grandchildren with no other responsibilities and just spend time enjoying them. We had a new family picture taken which became our Christmas card. Thanks to Mark Jellema for always making time to be our family photographer and to my amazing daughter, Tiph, for taking time to design a Christmas card that I am so proud to give to friends and family! It was so much fun to take the babies to the beach and relax in the surf. Sarasota will always be home!
September was a stressful month. We started back to school and my Mom went into the hospital. Her cancer had been stabilized and she had stopped chemo the month before and suddenly she just stopped eating and drinking and shut down. She went from there to rehab, where we realized she needed to be in a more assisted living place.
In October,Christina came home, there were 2 weddings, a 50th anniversary and a funeral that we assisted with and attended. Arrangements were made for Mom to move and Peggy, Christina and I spent an emotional weekend in MO cleaning out Mom's old place and moving stuff to the new apartment. It was so nice, but not meant to be. Exactly one week later, after only 3 days in her new place, she said she was too tired and couldn't do it anymore, and we returned to move her into 24 hour skilled nursing care with hospice.
We spent the first week of November in St. Louis with Mom, not sure whether to stay or go. It is so hard to be so far away from her, but I finally had to resign myself to the fact that I probably will not be with her when she dies. I just try to enjoy every opportunity I have to be with her until then. Bryce, Heather, and Bryce Eric came for Tyler's ALERT graduation and then stayed until after Thanksgiving! Tiffany and Karabeth flew up the week before Thanksgiving and we went to the Aquarium Restaurant for lunch and enjoyed the Nashville Opry Mills Mall for the day. Bill flew in for Thanksgiving and we had 34 people here, including the Reckners, the Clarkes and the Rhodes families. The next day the girls, babies and I went shopping in Evansville. We put up the Christmas tree that night and Saturday morning we celebrated Christmas!
I got up early and prayed everyone would stay asleep a little longer. It was perfect. I took down all the Thanksgiving stuff and put the Christmas tablecloth and dishes, candles and music on. When they woke up, the presents were wrapped under the tree, breakfast casserole was in the oven, bacon was sizzling, Santa's White Christmas coffee was brewing, cinnamon rolls (from the Yoders across the street) were ready, along with wheat-free pumpkin muffins. We ate a leisurely breakfast and then opened presents. Everything just seemed magical! Some years Christmas feels like just another day, but this year is a year I will not soon forget!!
Almost everyone left the next day, but Tiffany and Karabeth were able to stay a few more days. We made another trip to St. Louis so Tiffany could see Grandma and say goodbye. That was so hard! Mom has never been a "baby" person, but she and Kara really bonded and enjoyed each other.
The first week of December we drove to FL to take Tiffany and Karabeth home, celebrate my birthday and so the girls could babysit for the Ditchfields during their busy Christmas concert week. I was blessed to be able to take Grandfather to the concert and spend some time with him. The end of the month was spent cleaning for people and trying to figure out why Ashlee has not been feeling well. The Dr. took many vials of blood and tested her for numerous things, only to conclude that everything was "normal". That was not acceptable, so after much research and searching, we suspect she may have a case of candida albicans, or yeast build-up. More research resulted in a very strict diet of mostly meat and certain vegetables- no sugar, carbs, fruit or fermented foods such as pickles or vinegar, and no caffeine. It is hard, but only for a month and she is so ready to feel better and be able to concentrate on school, with this being her Senior year.
We spent Christmas at the Nursing Home with Grandma. We wore our pajamas there that morning and opened our presents with her. We went back to Judy's house and made a full Turkey dinner with all the trimmings and took it back for dinner. It was a special time. We have seen many family members more often than usual because of her illness and that has been a bright spot in a dark time. In the foreseeable future, when she dies, we will all gather again in Sarasota to be together and put her ashes to rest in the Gulf of Mexico, where she loved to spend time.
It will be another year of changes, learning, growing and remembering who we are and why we're here. May God strengthen each of us as we face the future. May we be unafraid of what's to come. We don't know what tomorrow holds, but we do know who holds tomorrow.

love and blessings, Marmee <3>

Friday, July 24, 2009


This summer has been a time of ups and downs:
I have not seen Tiffany since March, and that has been very hard. I miss being with them and watching Karabeth grow. I am so blessed that we have the technology to talk as often as we do. I am also so blessed by her faithful blogging that gives me a glimpse into the ordinary, but so miraculous daily happenings in their lives. We are praising God for bringing Bill and Tiffany through the last 16 months of unsteady employment and his new job! I pray that God will bless the company and Bill with much success!
Christina has been in Maryland (and PA) since May and while I miss her so much, I am also thrilled that she is spreading her wings, learning from a Godly friend and experiencing so many new things away from home. I'm so grateful she has had time with Heather, Bryce and Bryce Eric. When your babies are far from home, there is comfort in knowing they are together.
Heather and Bryce are incredible as parents and as a couple. It is refreshing to see them grow together and closer to God. I have had the chance to see them a few times this summer and Bryce Eric is such a blessing! I love getting my daily pictures on the phone and watching him grow!
Ashlee has been gone more than home this summer. She, too, has had some new experiences, made new friends, faced some trials and hopefully learned from them and come through stronger and more reliant on God.
Rebecca is blossoming into a self-sufficient young lady-wearing make-up, making new friends, growing and learning. She is not a little girl any more!
I have had more time this summer to be still and hear God speak than I've had in a long time. I can't say I've always enjoyed being by myself, but it helped knowing that God was with me through it all. It has been very challenging trying to get everything done without my helpers and realizing how much I will miss them when they are all grown and gone. Time truly does fly! I had to continuously give my children back to God, and ask him to lead, guide and protect them as I can't. He has been faithful to do just that! I have spent every third weekend in St. Louis with my Mom as she undergoes chemotherapy for cancer. She is getting tired of the chemo and accompanying fatigue and lack of quality of life. It's so hard to see her go through this and not be able to do anything but pray and love her! I can't make the hard decisions for her. I just wish she wasn't so far away.

*That seems to be the theme of my summer~ far away from loved ones, but closer to my Lord!*

On a lighter note~ The weather here in KY has been incredible!! My air conditioner has a freon leak so each season we spend a couple of miserable, extreme temperature days waiting for the man to come and recharge it. The last time was the end of June. It was 96 degrees in the house by evening and I felt sick I was so hot! The next day we had a storm and the heat broke and we have had record cool temps ever since. Our days are in the high 70's-low 80's. The nights are in the 50's-60's! Our windows have been open all month and we haven't even had to use fans much. But I do need to deal with the problem as I realize this won't continue forever. We have two systems-each 20 years old. I think I might need to replace them with one efficient unit that will keep us comfortable. It will be exciting to see how God works that one out!

In 7 days, Christina, Bryce, Heather and Bryce Eric will be here!!! Bryce's sister Lyndsae is getting married August 1, 2009. Bryce will return to PA, but Heather, Christina and the baby will stay with me that next week and drive to FL with me on Aug. 8th. Bryce will fly in on the 11th! We are all going to Disney World on Aug. 12th!! I can't wait! I am hoping to stay in Fl until the end of the month, if I can get some cleaning jobs and make a little money. I am so excited about this vacation!! I love being with my children and grandchildren!

So this summer has been a stretching, growing time that has changed us hopefully for the better and drawn us closer to the Lord! Where would I be without Him? I don't want to know!
What surprises does Autumn hold? I don't need to worry about tomorrow. I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy Mother's Day Tiffany and Heather!

I found this picture and love the way it shows the love of a mother. There is nothing so precious and fleeting as the days of mothering babies. One day everything is so overwhelming and busy and the next you are watching your daughters mothering their babies. It has been a joy and an honor to watch my daughters blossom into loving, Godly Mommies. I am amazed at their wisdom, discernment, passion and commitment to their families and the Lord. I pray they will put the busy-ness of life aside and make memories that will stay in their hearts forever. May the Lord bless them and their sweet husbands and their precious babies with a peaceful day of loving each other. I love them so much and miss them every day!! <3
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My grandblessings!

This picture was taken on March 26, 2009. Karabeth is 19 months old and Bryce Eric is 16 days old.
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