May 31, 2010

please note...

I have not wanted to implement Blogger's word verification option, but due to receiving an annoying amount of spam comments, I'm joining those of you who are using this feature. I hope you will notify me if you have any problems or unusual frustrations with commenting. Thanks for understanding.

May 25, 2010

Hard times?

Image compliments of Holly

As Memorial Day is approaching, my thoughts travel back to the Greatest Generation, which was my parents', and to thinking about their stories of the Great Depression and World War II.

Just yesterday, my mom gave me a paper my older son had written back in 1998 when he was in his first semester of college. He had "interviewed" my parents to obtain information for the paper he was writing for his American History class at Kent State. What a treasure this paper is already, as Andy has gone on to not only graduate from seminary and become a pastor, but he recently obtained a Master's Degree in History from the University of South Carolina.

The gist of his paper was that even though two-thirds of our nation was living below the poverty line during the Great Depression, most people, like my parents and grandparents, did what they needed to do to survive everyday life and relied on their core family values, work ethic, and faith in God to see them through the hard times.

I love what Andy said here:

"The Great Depression was not a time of sadness about how little my grandparents had, but rather a time of hard work and thankfulness for what they did have. When it was so easy for the poor to cry, my grandparents did their best to make it a time of laughter. They knew nothing else but being poor. It was a way of life for them. Still, both families had a sense of pride in the hard work that they had to do in order to survive. Wastefulness was never an option, and innovation was a way of life. It was through this pride in their families, strong faith and morals, and hard work that so many Americans survived the Great Depression and managed to remain happy in times of despair."

He then went on to give example after example of the way this attitude played out in their everyday lives, such as this one:

"My grandmother recalled one time during the Depression when their family's dog brought home a loose chicken. This was considered a blessing to the family, and her family was soon asking the blessing over that chicken at the dinner table."

In these current days of economic recession, my husband and I often talk about how we really can't get a grip on what life was really like even a generation or two before us. I don't know a single family that would cook and eat a chicken the family dog just dragged home. I don't know a single child who would be over-joyed to receive a single orange in his Christmas stocking.

One of my father's brothers died unexpectantly in 1935 at the age of 15, in the midst of the Depression. My grandparents had no money for a gravemarker and buried their son in an obscure section of the local cemetery where there hardly seems like there was room to do so. My grandfather made a marker himself out of cement, with a pole in the middle of it that bore an American flag, and carried it to the cemetery in a wagon, a couple of miles away. At some later date another headstone was placed on the grave. No one has ever wanted to remove the original homemade stone.

Every time I visit the cemetery and plant flowers where thirteen family members are now laid to rest, I think and remember. I am filled with gratitude for the heritage that I have, and for the generations now coming along who inherit the same blessings of hope of our faith-filled ancestors. We continue to tell the stories of hard work, perseverence, sacrifice, and faith in God to the next generation. And we look forward to a glad reunion day.

Andy and my mom

May 21, 2010

Her majesty Victoria...

Hubby and I enjoy cheap dates in a variety of ways, and we often pick up a flick and a pizza and have our Friday date night in the comfort of our own home.

While I am neither a royal historian nor a movie critic, I would like to recommend a movie that we rented from Blockbuster last weekend. If you haven't seen The Young Victoria, you should. The movie was first produced in England and released in the United States this year.

The historical setting for the movie is 1836 - 1840. Though Victoria is remembered as long reigning dour widow who spent most of her years dressed in black, this movie seeks to uncover her early life and recall her romantic courtship and legendary marriage to Prince Albert.

Photo by Liam Daniel

Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend are stunning in both their acting and in their costumes. We got a couple hour's worth of entertainment as well as a great history lesson for about $3. While the movie is rated PG, we found it to be wholesome and redemptive in nature.

The royal wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on February 10, 1840
Picture is in the public domain

May 18, 2010

A quick trip to another corner of the world...

*This blog post has been rewritten and all names and other identifiable information and the photo have been removed for the protection of all parties concerned. After reading the post, the international student was somewhat fearful. She said she had never had her photo associated with anything she has said, and because she comes from a country that does not allow freedom of religion and many other freedoms we so easily enjoy here in the United States, she was not comfortable being identified so openly. This was a good lesson for me on several levels. If you enjoy the blessings of liberty in this country, please take time to thank God for that, and make a point to thank a veteran or an active service man or woman the next time you see one.

We had an interesting lunch on Sunday. We got to have an "international experience" without even leaving our area! One of our young friends, a college student, has made friends with a student from another country and we enjoyed lunch together. We've been trying to find the chance to meet our friend's friend for a while now, so we were thrilled. The girls are having a little break from school before summer classes start, so the timing was right.

Both girls are graduate students at a nearby University. They met this year when our friend joined a program to befriend an international student new to the school and country. While they have totally different majors, they have become great friends and have done many fun things together.

We did a lot of laughing at lunch because my hubby and I had so many questions for the international student that we barely gave her a chance to eat! We found out where she was from and a little bit about her family. Because she lives in a country with a political and religious culture very different from ours, we were curious about how her life back home differed from ours here in the States.

We also found out how she got into the international program at here and how she got interested in her field. She told us that she saw this program was available and not even knowing anything about it, she applied so she could have the opportunity to come to the United States to study. It is very intensive, and she will earn a masters degree in one year!

There is a great local church in our area which has an outreach program to the international students in the community. We found out that this student has attended services there and it has been a way she has been able to connect with some American Christians. Hubby, our friend, and myself, all being committed Christians, naturally were curious as to her religious background and status. I asked her if her family were Christians. She said they are not, and in fact they don't practice any religion. Amazingly, she said they she really didn't know anything about Christianity until she came to this country at the beginning of the current school year. I then asked her if, since she has been here, she has embraced Christianity herself. She thought a moment and then said, "I don't know. I really enjoy being around the Christians. I find them to be very kind." I know she will probably read this blog post, so I want to add a little personal note to her:

~~ That makes me happy, dear friend, that you have found Christians to be kind. As followers of Jesus Christ, Christians desire to become more and more like Him. We are not a perfect people group, but we know we have been forgiven of our sins, and we trust our eternity to the love of the One who loves us with an everlasting love. My hope is that you too will come to trust Jesus as your Lord and Savior. I would be happy to talk to you more about this if you are interested. We loved meeting you!~~

In addition to completing her degree by August, one of this students goals is to learn how to drive before she returns to her country, something she is very excited about. She will begin lessons soon.

I loved getting to know this student a little bit, and I love our friend's heart in befriending an international student this year! I would like to ask all my Christian blogger friends to pray for both of these girls as they each have many personal challenges. I believe that God has a plan for each of their lives. Please pray that He will reveal it to them in His own time and in His own way.

May 13, 2010

what's up with Jacque?

Thought I'd post something different and just give a snapshot of what's been going on with me lately...

We attended a Tea Party in Akron...This was something a little out of character for us, but we wanted to see what it was all about, and we found it to be very inspiring. There were a couple of really good speakers, a surprising amount of "God talk", and a keynote speaker, Ilona Trommier, an immigrant/citizen who was born and raised in Communist Hungary, who brought tears to my eyes.

My hubby and I took a day recently to spend some quality time together, and we drove a couple hours to Archbold, Ohio where we visited Sauder Village. Since the official opening of the season was still several days away, this potter, Mark Nafziger, had time to show us around and inspired us with his talent. I bought one of these beautiful oil candles that he made.

The ladies in our small group hosted a baby shower for the daughter-in-law of one of us. I was in charge of deciding the menu, and we all contributed. We had chicken salad sandwiches on mini croissants, fresh veggies and dill dip, fresh fruit cups drizzled with key lime yogurt, cake, lemonade, coffee and tea.

This is our 2010 Lichi-Vitale Family Reunion planning committee meeting which was held at our house. My hubby is missing from the picture because he was snapping it. We have a reunion every two years, and this year we are in a "transition" as the oldest (greatest) generation has handed down the responsibilities to the next one. We usually have about 75 in attendance, and it is held in our home town, nearby Cuyahoga Falls.

Our small group hosted "Mexican Night", an appreciation dinner for the junior high workers at our church. We got to use a condominium party room and we had the tables decorated appropriately...we served creamy chicken burritos, taco salad, rice, beans, and "fake" margaritas, as well as chips & salsa appetizers. As servers, we all dressed in black pants and white shirts, and the guys wore sombreros while the gals wore colorful matching sashes.

We bought this sandbox and 200# of sand for the grandkids to play in. Our neighbors must think we are nuts, at this stage of our lives. We put up a nice wooden swingset last year that was given to us for free! Since I have these two here three days a week, it is nice to have fun things for them to do right in my own backyard.

We took Elylah to the Ohio Ballet's production of Sleeping Beauty at the historic Civic Theater in Akron. She brought a little giggle to the people behind us when she said softly, but loud enough to be heard, "Grandma, please promise me he will kiss her and she will wake up!"

We continue to volunteer at our local furniture bank, CORE, once a month, and I maintain a blog for them, posting once a week. You can see it here. The photo in the header is a picture of a house that belonged to my great-grandparents for years.

I am also documenting a little history of my father and his roots, what we know of them. I hope to publish it in a small book at some point, probably with one of the on-line publishing companies. You can see it here. The above photo is of my paternal grandparents with their first three children, and grandma is expecting the fourth. My father was number 5 of 8.

Ethan and I are off now to take Elylah to pre-school and perhaps run a few errands. Life is good. I am overwhelmed with blessings.

"From the fullness of His grace have we all received one blessing after another."
~~John 1:16

May 10, 2010

A different kind of Mother's Day...

We didn't plan it, but mom, Rachel, has on a "#1 mom" charm that I gave her years ago, and I have on a "Proverbs 31 woman" pin on that she gave me years ago! Mom is 81...doesn't look it, does she?

What I really wanted for Mother's Day this year was just a little "down time"...often family "events" happen at our place, and I love it, but this year I just wanted a no-obligation kind of day. I mentioned it to my hubby, and we came up with a "different" kind of plan...

We decided to take our mothers, both widows who live in the same condo building just a few minutes away, out to dinner on Saturday night, to a nice place about 50 miles away. My mother-in-law was then free to have dinner on Sunday with a friend who has no family, my mom was free to be with some of her other kids, and I was free to just take the day as it came.

My hubby, Bob, and his mom, Olena. I thought she looked exceptionally pretty at 83.

I was trying to get a shot of the beautiful restaurant, but it was too dark in there. It is called Brio's...a Tuscan style Italian restaurant. We had a great time and the food was SO GOOD! We took our time, just like the Italians do, and started with appetizers and ended with dessert. taking my Mother's Day as it came, without any obligations or set plans...

On Sunday I sat in church with my younger son and his family...and then our granddaughter wanted to come home with us. It was a chilly but sunny day so I had an idea of where we would take her after we came home and had a simple sandwich for lunch.

Before we took off, my son in South Carolina gave me a call and we chatted for a little while.

Then we went to a nearby park where Elylah enjoyed the playground...

And I knew we could find this:

Next we drove to another park...and look what we found...someone else enjoying Mother's Day!!!

Before heading back home, we made a stop at Barnes & Noble where we used a gift card to buy some coffee, milk, and cookies...and I read a book about how to be a princess to Elylah. Back at our house, Elylah had a bath and I tucked her into bed. We were all asleep by 9:30!

I don't think this is how I would want to celebrate Mother's Day every year, but it seemed to be just what I needed this year. I enjoyed every moment and I know I'm just as loved as if we had a big cook-out here like we did last year. And I thank my hubby for being such a good sport all weekend and supporting my need for down time.

And I thank God for the blessing of motherhood!

May 7, 2010

Dear blogger friends, all...

Especially to Shirley, Brenda, Jess, Rose, Patrina, Rebecca, Wanda, Pat & Jamey who took the time to comment on my last post. I thank you all for those heartfelt thoughts and words. I appreciate each and every one of you and I felt like we were all sitting around a table, enjoying coffee and conversation. (Oh if that would ever be possible, how wonderful would that be!)

I do not consider blogger friendships to be "virtual" because they are really real! We may not have met in person, but we have shared our days and parts of our real lives with each other. When my hubby and I took a day trip recently to Northwest Ohio, I knew I was very close to Rebecca's stomping grounds, for example, and she was on my mind throughout that day! God can use methods we can't even conceive of to brighten our days and bless us in so many little ways. And blogger friendships have blessed me more than I can even begin to describe.

I thank you all for giving me "permission" to prioritize my days as I need to without having to feel like a failure for not keeping up with blogging the way my heart would take me if I let it run wild!

I never thought it would be like this when I got into my '60's...But my husband still works a full-time job an hour from home, which translates into 12 hour days for him, and precious little time for us to share on a daily basis.

As you know, I have the two grandchildren here 3 days a week. I don't try to do much of anything else when they are here except fully devote myself to them. From comments I have heard from those of you whose grands have grown up already, I'm getting the picture that grandparenting is much like parenting in the respect that those precious formative years are fleeting, and I want to make the most of every minute I have with them.

With part of our family living in South Carolina, we are constantly looking to the "next" time we can be together...which it looks like my daughter-in-love will bring the boys up here around Memorial Day! So more busyness coming up, but I will live intentionally through every moment of it and savor it like, uh, sweet tea!

My mom, who is 81 now, is facing more challenges as she continues to deal with widowhood, macular degeneration, forgetfulness, an increasing number of doctor appointments, and frustration at not being able to drive any longer. A good chunk of my time now goes to helping her get around. I'm grateful I am in a position to do this for her in spite of the physical and emotional components that go along with looking out for aging parents. Someone told me recently that "you'll never regret anything you do for your parents" and I know I feel that way about my dad, who has been gone for two years now. It is such a blessing not to have to live with regrets.

So it all brings me back to where I started originally with this blog: my life in the sandwich generation! While some have told me I don't "have" a life, I prefer to say, "this IS my life." And I thank you one and all for sharing it with me. God bless you!