Monday, April 30, 2012

Layette Basket Details

I have been putting together baby layette baskets for new and needy mothers now since last September. Since starting the project, with many, many donations from the ladies of my church, I have given the local hospitals over 100 baskets. 

Since I have been at it now for over six months I have gotten a good idea of what should go into the baskets, and what are some nice little extras to include in them from time to time.   

I have learned where to find wonderful "gently used" items: the local Salvation Army and Goodwill stores.  I have shopped Wal-Mart and K-Mart alot.  And, I buy baskets (woven or plastic) and small bathing items for the layettes at the Dollar Tree.  They have the biggest selection and best prices. 

I am ALWAYS accepting donations!   So, here's a complete, detailed list of what works best in the baskets:

* Newborn sized, or up to 6 months, onesies, and other newborn size sleepers and outfits
* Receiving blankets
* Baby towels and washcloths
* small sized bibs and hats
* booties and infant socks

* Trial or small size baby shampoo and "head to toe" soap
* Small packages of baby wipes
* Newborn size disposable diapers

* Small pacifiers
* Rattles
* Beanie babies or other small sized stuffed toys
* sample sized Qtip packages

* No baby powder.  The hospitals don't want babies breathing it in.
* No "Daddy" sayings. We don't know the family situation.

I need baskets all the time!  They can be traditional woven baskets but I find the plastic ones work well too and come in pretty "baby colors."  

I include a hand written note with each basket, so I need basic stationery. Oh, and I'd love to have others write a note too! 

I can't think of a better gift to give a new mom, perhaps young and unsure of how to take care of a baby, then a layette basket full of these items AND a note or two letting them know we care...and that God loves them! 

I remember when I had my first child and my hospital room filled up with vases of flowers and balloons, and people called me on the phone. It was a joyous time!  Unfortunately, it isn't always like that and this layette basket gift is a perfect small way to give a new mother a few items and some encouragement and love.

If you can help, THANK YOU!  If you want to know more, email me at

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hodgepodge time

This week's questions from Joyce, and my answers...

1. William Shakespeare's birthday is celebrated on April 23rd. When did you last read Shakespeare?  What's your favorite play?   Truth be told I haven't read much Shakespeare.  The last time I read any of his works was in a college literature course and you can guess how many years ago that was!   My favorite?  Well, of course it's "Romeo and Juliet".  At least I can recite some of the lines AND I loved the "modern" movie version of it with Leo DiCaprio as a young Romeo and Claire Danes as Juliet.   When I was in Verona, Italy we went to the famous spot where Juliet stood on her balcony and said "Romeo, Romeo, whereforth art my Romeo?" 

2. What food(s) would you recommend a foreign visitor to try when they visit your home country?  The US is so large and diverse that I'd have to narrow it down to "my part of the country" and suggest some "southern cooking."  I'd recommend some pulled pork bar-b-que, homemade mac & cheese, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and cornbread.  Finished off with pecan or peach pie!  

3. What's a lie you often tell yourself?   The serious question of the day!  Geez, Joyce. I have been sitting here thinking.  I don't try to lie to anyone, including myself.  I think I have learned to face the hard realities of life due to my faith. No need to lie. 

4. What's something you are good at that might surprise us? Remember this is a family friendly blog. I'm glad you said "good at" not "great at".   I play the flute.  I have since childhood.  I played through high school and then put it away for years.  I was the typical band geek. But, I got it back out when my daughters started learning instruments in elementary school.   We had fun playing together.   I have gotten brave enough to play at my church. 

5. What is your favorite animal character from a book?   Why is this a tough question?  I guess because the books I read don't have animals in them.  Wait, I read "Marley and Me" and loved Marley!  Other animal characters are from children's books: Gus, the mouse, in "Cinderella"....  and all the Sesame Street animals!

6. April showers bring May flowers. Do you have a green thumb?  I have a "light green" thumb.  I really enjoy growing flowers and keep a pretty nice yard & garden.  Not all my planting endeavors are successful, but I'm getting better at it.  Here's another surprise about me:  I worked in a florist with a huge greenhouse while I was in college.  I loved that job!  I worked the front area most times but occasionally got to spend the day in the "garden planter" area in the greenhouse, making up plant dishes and arrangements. 

7. Speaking of rainy days, which one of the following activities would you most want to spent time doing on a rainy day?  Sort photos & create albums, bake cookies, read a good book, hold an all-day movie marathon, organize closets, cupboards, or book shelves, try a new recipe, or fix something that needs fixing?   I don't think I could do only one thing all day.  I would enjoy everything listed EXCEPT the kitchen choices. ha!  I only bake cookies before Christmas, and I am not into trying new recipes.   Can I add some rainy day activities?  If so, then I have to add doing crosswords and playing on my computer!  Of course! 

8. My random thought. I'm curious about my blogging friends' pets.  My pug, Miss Honeybee, is turning one this Thursday.  Happy birthday Miss Bee!  I named her after Blake Shelton's song "Honeybee" that was popular when I got her last summer.   She is my first pug. I have grown up with Boston Terriers and little Poodles.  Miss Bee is something else!  She's affectionate, still pretty ornery, stubborn at times, and downright adorable!  What kind of dog do you have? 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Why, oh why?

I have been spending part of my day having a FB conversation with some people I don't know personally.  They are friends of a friend of mine.  My friend asked a "hot topic" question this morning about the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, and the discussion just took off!  People have opinions!  That's for sure!

The online conversation went from this one tragedy, to profiling, and to racial labeling, and then....oh no, on to politcs and our current president.

Alert! (ha! Like I really have to tell you this.)  People are very committed to their belief about President Obama!  People either love him, or hate him. Should I say it's white and black?  (That's meant as a joke. )  Some people think he has his heart in the right place, or some think he is subversively trying to turn our country to communism.   I can't recall meeting sanyone who sits somewhere in the middle about him; who thinks he does some things right and some things wrong.  It's all in or all out.  God's gift to America or Satan's secret agent.

All I can say is, I'm sure glad I'm not judged that way.  Marla: love her or hate her?  Is she honest or slippery as a snake?   Look at her white European face!   German background...  and we know about THOSE Germans!  

It's terrible what we do and say about each other.  Believe me, I've been very disappointed in a lot of our elected leaders (elected, remember?  We voted them in.)  I'm also disappointed in the business and financial leaders who steal or don't take care of their hard-working employees, and I'm disappointed in the educational system at times...and the list can go on!  

Back to the online conversation today:  one person got a little nasty in his description of our US President, the elected leader of our country.  Words can hurt.  Mean words can be polarizing.  They do NO good. We had a good discussion going and then he blew it.  He turned me off.  Not because we differed but because how angry he sounded.  He scared me. 

Do I scare him? 

I have tried to keep myself from being "apathetic" about politics. I care. I like the discussion.  But, somehow that "all one way or all the other way" thing happens.  Then walls go up and and people get hurt - and angry.  

I don't know what else to say.  That's all.  It's just sad and frustrating.   I wish we could find a way to converse about finding a way to a common joy and value in life.  We all really want the same thing! Right?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Music makes the world go 'round!

I don't believe in reincarnation - but if I did I'd like to come back as a musician.

In this life I am not a trained musician by any stretch of the imagination, but I know enough about it to realize that those who are adept in playing an instrument, or in singing, are very special people.  Some are lucky to be born with some natural talent for it, but some work hard and never give up. (I should have stuck with my piano lessons! ha)  The end result is the ability to produce a piece of music that moves the listeners. A musician can produce a special moment in time.

And like a poem, it's a work of art that lives on forever.

I have often wondered "after I'm gone, what will I have left for this world?"   It seems to me that music is one of the best things possible to leave.   Unfortunately I have to find something else to leave.  I don't think at this point in my life I can sit at the piano and write music and lyrics.  But I wish I could.

So, thank you to those out there who write the songs, and to those who play and sing them so beautifully.  You make my days so enjoyable!  Music makes my world go round! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Time flies!

I'm a bit embarrassed to say this but sometimes I have to stop and think "what year is this?"  No, not because odd things are happening to me, or that people are doing crazy things,, it's because time goes by SO QUICKLY.     I truly forget what year I am in! It's that simple! 

Yes, it's 2012 now - and a third of this year is almost done.  Just like that. Snap your fingers. Gone.  Can you believe it?  Are you like me and think the days just fly by, and they turn into months, and years? 

I remember going from 1999 to 2000 like it just happened!  All that talk of computers failing, and calendars getting all messed up.   People wondered "will the world go on?"   I remember Sept. 11, 2001 like it was yesterday too!  I remember where I was and how I felt.  That tragedy was over a decade ago. 

And, now, Dick Clark passed yesterday and he was in his 80's.  I remember watching him on "American Bandstand" and on all the New Year's Eve specials.   He never seemed to age.  He always looked young to me.

I know people say as you age yourself, others start to look younger...or at least don't look "old".  And, I suppose that's true. I now have a really hard time identifying a grown person's age. They could be 55 or they could be 70. It's hard for me to tell.   Dick Clark certainly didn't look like a man in his 80's. 

I would really like to slow down time sometimes.  I'd like to enjoy the moments more... and soak it all in.  I'd like to relish it all!  

But, time marches on.  Or, as my father has always said "time is inexorable."   

I look forward.  Don't get me wrong.  I look forward to what the future brings.  I'm excited about the unknown each day. 

But, sometimes I am just amazed how fast time goes.  And, I find myself remembering someone or something from the past.  And I think, wow, it seems like yesterday but it was so, so long ago. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hodgepodge time about birds, baseball, and more.

This week's Hodgepodge questions from Joyce - and my answers:

1. Spring is in the air and the birds are singing!  What is your favorite bird? I love the beauty of the egret.  They are long, and white, and graceful.  We have them here, and they love to hang out in the marshes looking for fish. People around here photograph them alot - and artists even paint their elegance.  (But, they don't sing.) 

2. Speaking of birds....   do you tweet?  Even if you dn't, let's pretend here that we do. In 140 characters or less, sum up your week so far.  I do not tweet but somewhere out there I do have a twitter account.  I tried it - but didn't like it.  I couldn't stay on top of it enough, and found most of the tweets I followed boring or silly. I much prefer Facebook.  But, to tweet my week so far I'd say: "1st week of riverhouse = cleaning. Reward:  wine on dock at sunset."

3.It's been reported that employers are not only viewing FB pages of potential hires but they're also requesting your Facebook password to have a look at what you have kept from public view.  What say you?  I say it's wrong!   The only way I could see the "need" to check out private comments and pictures is if a person is applying for a job that has to do with moral issues.  Perhaps a religious leader or a childcare provider.  But even then I'm not sure.  It would be the same as requring someone to bring in transcripts of phone conversations, or family photos from home.... and that seems crazy.  I think if I was applying for a position and the employer wanted my password I would deny it - not because I have sexy or weird things in my private messages (I don't) -  but I would tell the employer that I am trustworthy, honorable, educated (check my resume, call my references) but I keep work & my personal life separate. 

4. It's April and Major League Baseball is back in action.  What's your favorite baseball movie? This question is alot easier to answer than the one before.  My favorite baseball movie is "Bull Durham"!   Why?  It's very funny, and sweet, and touching... and Kevin Costner was at his peak of cuteness in this movie!  Some scenes are amazing (Kevin ironing & dancing.)  Lines are memorable:  "Oh my!"

5. Something else this season brings: asparagus. Yes or no thanks?   Yes!  I love asparagus!  My favorite way to to have it: as a side veggie, steamed with a little butter. Preferably with a grilled steak and a glass of wine!

6. What drives you?  Joyce has an interesting way of putting questions!  When I first read this I thought...  what do I drive?  A Highlander.   Oh, but this is a tougher question!  What drives me?  hmmmm.  I think I would say my love of God, and my love of my family.  I am so blessed and want to give back to thank God for all I have.  I am driven to do good deeds - not for a "heavenly reward" but as a "thank you" for the GRACE of God and love.   I want to serve God.

7. April 18th is International Juggling Day. Can you juggle? No, I can not juggle balls, or oranges & apples, or swords...  AND I can not juggle lots of tasks at one time either.

8. Random thought: I have become a bit too over-the-top addicted to "Words with Friends" lately.  I have many games going at one time.  I have always loved doing crosswords and playing Scrabble.  So, since being turned on to "WwF"  (thanks cousin Kay & Bill) I carry my phone around all the time and am constantly playing!  I guess I now get why Alec Baldwin didn't want to stop playing when the flight attendant told him it was time to turn off all devices!    Are you also addicted?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The weekly Hodgepodge Questions

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend!  Some of our family gathered in Charlotte for the weekend and we had a great time together, we had wonderful weather, and attended a beautiful church service together at Ascension Lutheran Church in Dilworth. I especially enjoyed ALL the beautiful  Easter music at the service.  There was a 4 piece sax group, a timpani, an adult handbell choir, the senior choir, and a childrens chimes group.  All played at various times throughout the service. Oh, and there was a pipe organ!  I loved it!

Here are the Hodgepodge questions:

1. Have you played golf? Are you interested in it? Does a significant other love the game? Did you watch the Masters this past weekend?   I "play at" golf  weekly.  I play with a group of women each Thursday at the golf course right here where I live.  We are a very social group (thank goodness), and we encourage each other with our play.  We are NOT competitive AT ALL, and we have become good friends, spending time together on the course. We share stories of our kids (and grandkids for those who have them), and places we lived before, good books, etc.  I am fortunate to live in the self-claimed and promoted "Golf Capital" of the US, the Grand Strand (Myrtle Beach) of South Carolina.  We have endless golf courses here.  So much beauty!   As I said before I'm not a good golfer but I love the time with friends, the beautiful scenery, and the exercise I get being outdoors.   My hubby has played golf for years and has reached a point of frustration with it.  We all get frustrated at times, but he has decided to put the clubs away for awhile and try boating! ha!   I didn't see the Masters this past weekend because I was with family, but I do enjoy watching golf on TV, especially the final round of a tournament on Sundays.

2. Hats are back in fashion this Spring. How do you feel about wearing a hat?  When was the last time you wore one?   I wear a visor golfing each week.  But, the only other time I wear something on my head is when I'm at a live country concert...and then I wear my cowboy-style hat!  Hubby and I are going to the CMA Festival in Nashville in June (again - we went last year and loved it!)  So, I'll wear my hat for those 4 days alot.  Everyone is "country" there. Plus, it helps keep the sun off my face during the daytime concerts.

3. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 meaning "very proficient", and 1 meaning "I'd starve", how adept are you at using chopsticks?  I think I'm pretty proficient, so I'd give myself an 8.  If we are eating out at a chinese restaurant I will use sticks.  At home, I use the easier fork!

4. Has technology taken over?  Definitely!  Last week I found myself sitting in front of my bigscreen TV, with the remote by me, with my laptop on my knees, my Iphone next to me to play "Words with Friends", and my Kindle on the end table to read my book during commercials!  Oh my!  I was definitely multi-tasking ALL with technology!  Craaaazy!

5.  In the course of a day, how often do you look in a mirror?  Usually as little as possible!  In reality, I do use the mirror in the morning - while brushing teeth, getting dressed, and putting on makeup.  Then quick looks during "potty times" throughout the day.  And, again at bedtime - brushing teeth, etc.

6. Tulip or daffodil?   I love daffodils.  They last longer than tulips and come back each year - and they even multiply on their own over the years.  Plus, the deer leave them alone.

7. I am proud of myself for _______.   First answer:  my family.  My daughters are such wonderful people and not that I take "credit" for them, but I am proud of the way they turned out.  I am also proud of myself for making an effort to give some time to help others.  I think if everyone did, then in general we would all be less self-centered and more caring to others...and more accepting of all kinds of people. 

8. Random Thought:  I still love to watch "American Idol".  I've been a fan of the show since it's first season.  Do you watch?   I'm still amazed at how much talent there is out there!   When the show gets down to the top 10 they ALL are excellent but have different styles.  Then it comes down to what style of music you prefer. I will say though that I have picked the big winners most times. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I want to write this morning about something that can turn some people away from reading my blog posts.  It's a subject that is often "taboo" in social circles. It can make eyes roll, and some people will even think "Marla is getting all holy on us again."  

But, today is Tuesday in "Passion Week", the week Christians remember Jesus's last week on earth.   Now I grew up a pastor's daughter and therefore grew up hearing this "story" over and over.  But I will admit that as a kid and a young adult I didn't think too hard and deeply about what happened back then.  Call me slow... that's ok. I can handle it.  Maybe because I DID know what happened to Jesus from early Sunday School classes on I just accepted it, and thought of it in a "pretty picture" way. You know, when you are little the pictures of Him look almost serene.  And teachers don't want to scare young children with graphic pictures.   I thought "sure, Jesus died on a cross - but it was all part of the plan, and he rose....  and now everything is good."  

Thank God I am learning more in my "midlife years" and I'm looking at "the story" (which is a wrong term because stories are fiction, so I think even calling the events a story makes it sound too easy).  It REALLY happened.  Jesus was belittled, he was abused, he was put to a very painful death.  Nailed to a cross.   He didn't fight back - He didn't chastize the persecuters.  Why did this happen to Him?  He didn't hurt anybody (in fact He healed people), He didn't steal (He provided for the hungry),, He didn't kill anybody (in fact he brought back life.)  

As I go through this week, I think about the example Jesus showed us.  Acceptance, non-violence. Belief and faith in God the Father's plan.  

Easter is a joyous day - but ONLY because we know what God, the Father, and the son Jesus Christ did for all of us.  The father had His only son die on the cross for US!   Think about it this week.