Thursday, November 20, 2014

Career Day at the Elementary School


Meet your future Hazmat Civil Engineer!

Today is Career Day at Warm Springs Intermediate School.  Organized as a fundraiser for the fourth grade field trip to the National Zoo, each student is encouraged to come to school dressed as a career which interests them.  Each student brings $1 to participate!

So, imagine the excitement from Levi when he announced that he wanted to go to school dressed as a Hazmat Engineer!  I thought his daddy was going to burst at the seams as well!  I am not sure what was more fun for Levi; looking like the Hazmat dude in the Godzilla movie or his suit moving in and out when he breathes.

A retired civil engineer for Chevron, my hubby Dan was able to round up the professional mask and hazmat suit pictured here on Levi on his way out the door this morning.  Since Dan closed his environmental engineering firm in 2008, providing our 9 year old with his career day clothes made him just as giddy!  You should have seen them both!

Levi also has bathroom duty today.... a task for which he is well prepared!

"...For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise."  (John 5:19)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Politicans and Parkinson's Disease Always




U.S. Senator Cory Booker.  Do you know him?  Honestly, I really don't have a clue who he is. With the recent election, politics have invaded my family time with incessant calls on our home phone - always during dinner!   I am not the most political savy rower in the boat, that's for sure!  But, when the National Parkinson's Foundation shared this link, I listened!

Even if I do not follow politics closely on national matters as well as I should, my radar always perks up when I hear any elected representative of the people speak on Parkinson's Disease.

U.S. Senator Cory Booker's message in this short video is no exception!

I especially like what he says about recognizing the early signs of Parkinson's Disease.  For this, I congratulate and admire his promotion and support during this Caregiver Month:  November.  Countless times, someone will ask me how Dan (my husband) knew that he had Parkinson's Disease.  We eagerly share the story from 2008 when his neurologist gave him the news:  "You have Parkinson's Disease."  In fact, a cousin just asked me about the specifics and how to get help.

Well, here is the answer!  Thank you Corey Booker, U.S. Senator, whereever you are!  With this helpful video, resources from the National Parkinson's Foundation are ready and waiting to assist!  In my experience, all you have to do is ask; and a friendly compassionate person from NPF is waiting to guide you!

Now, go watch and share this clip!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Funerals Are Fun

Are you kidding me!  Then why do these guys look so happy after attending the funeral for Violet M. (Smoot) Hott? Sure, we shed some tears today, didn't we...but, we also were surrounded by God's unending love of our family and friends,... including Ms. Gina and Abbygirl.

About 30 minutes after we all arrived home following what was the end to a very long week, our dogs began to bark.  It was dark outside.  We had just shed our funeral clothes, poured our first beverage, and began to discuss the remants of a very long day saying goodbye to Dan's mom when on our porch came Ms. Gina carrying this:  a pumpkin pie!

Still warm from her kitchen, this pie was so much more than the standard loving gesture of food folks deliver at these awkward times.   After celebrating my mother-in-law's life by posting "Permission to Eat Pumpkin Pie" during her final days on this earth, receiving this gift felt like a message from her in heaven.  Maybe it was the perfect timing of its' arrival or maybe feeling the warm pan in my hands.  I cried one more time today.

Sometimes, life has us do some pretty hard stuff, you know...like saying goodbye to someone you love.  Going to the funeral today was, indeed, one of the hardest things I have ever done.  You see, the family asked me to read at the service.  Have you ever met this Hott family?  Well, they are loud and cranky, and with 141 direct descendants I knew I was in for a tough crowd.

Oh, did I ever want to say "No way!"  But just like some of the crazy things Pastor Andrew asked me to do, somehow the Holy Spirit had other plans for us today.  Saying "no" sure would have been easier, right?  Like, if I never stood up there then I never would have risked disappointing you guys or felt weird for saying something goofy.

But typical fool that I am, I said "yes" and read at the funeral today.  Here is my unedited presentation:

(Today, I am here to share with you a post from my online blog called “Excuse me, can I tell you something?”.  Both Uncle Phil and Aunt Pam asked me to read for Grandma Violet’s service today, an indescribable privilege for me.  After Mrs. Hott passed on Saturday morning, I was hanging out down at the house with many siblings when their request that I share “P to Eat PP” both surprised and, honestly, scared the bejebbies out of me.  You see, I began blogging about faith and family in 2008 as, now - don’t you laugh,…oh, ok, you can laugh – the blogging “Hott Mama!”  Looking around this room, I can see many more “hott mamas”.  Saturday, Phil called me, instead, the family poet laureate – “ah” I think I like that better, quite a compliment.  Once, Mrs. Hott called me Sonie,…an even better compliment.  While Mrs. Hott was in the hospital last, I posted this story you’re about to hear.  Within an hour, it was trending on facebook.  In fact now, if you google pumpkin pie, it comes up third after a Better Crocker recipe.  Hahahah….imagine that!  So, someone out there is reading it.  Honestly, I’m not sure if I can today.  In fact, I tried to get Caity to do this for me but she said “no;” so…. Here I am.  You’re stuck with me, uhhh your blogging Hott Mama.  So, please bear with me.)

Before I start, I want to show you something.  You see, when I was little, I always heard my mom comment on the participation of my brother’s girlfriends/wives in kitchen work.  Woe to the woman who did not offer to assist my mom with supper dishes!

Being used to lending a hand, I thought it was customary to assist as well.  So, imagine my surprise during my early visits in 1995 to the Hott Farm when supper was underway, and dishes began.  You see, with a small crowd of… oh…90 or so on any given Sunday back then, supper dishes began as soon as the first round at the table is cleared with just say 82 mouths waiting to be fed. And, each mouth had to sit at the table too.  There would be none of that eating a plate of food in front of the tv or on the couch.  So, I jumped up and offered to wash! 

I can only imagine the thoughts of the several other daughters-in-law there!  Today, it’s HER turn!  Hah! LOL!  I stood there for three hours as the endless pile of dirty plates never disappeared.  I know for certain I saw the same cracked plastic yellow plate with flowers in the middle come through my soapy water 4 or 5 times!  Check this out…Here it is! 

Grandma Violet's Dishes
This is a simple, plain ‘ole dinner plate from Mrs. Hott’s kitchen.  I borrowed it from among the stack of many chipped and worn plates used to serve a flood of fabulous country food…even today.  Today, this yellow plate from the 1950’s “genuine melamine, made in the USA” that once held Mrs. Hott’s famous Sunday dinner, now holds a special corner of my heart.  I’ll tell you why.  Here… pass it around.


There was another time Dan and I happened to be early for Sunday supper (this never happened often…in fact, Ronnie would always look for snow when we showed up, even in July)  So, observing the Sunday supper preparations, I offered to help out in the kitchen.  Asking what I can do,  Grandma Violet assigned me to the task of peeling potatoes.

Oh….easy smeazzzzy!  Right? I can do that!  And, surely it won’t take forever like washing dishes around here!   And, once I get these potatoes peeled, I can play outside with Caity while they cook on the stove!  So….

“Sure!  I can peel potatoes!”  Immediately, Grandma Violet vanishes to the basement of her farm house (the basement - a place, by the way, to this day after 20 years of visiting I.have.never.seen! and do not care to venture full of critters and creachers– too spooky – Thanks for the scare Uncle Dump!)   After hearing all the ruckous below, Mrs. Hott emerges from the rickety old steps carrying something.  With ease, Grandma Violet then crosses the few feet to the sink to deliver to me

A 5 gallon bucket.

Of potatoes!  FULL!

Oh?...ok!  Wondering how this little lady managed to lug this 5 gallon bucket of potatoes from the depths below, I reached down to lift them and nearly pulled my arms out of my elbows.

Looking up and thinking this won’t take so long, I asked Mrs. Hott, “So,…. Uh…How many of these do you want me to peel?”

“Well, ALL of them.”  Then, thinking what a dummy I was, she turned around to stir gravy.

Of course.    

No,… Wait? She was serious?  “All of them?”. 

Just like the dishes, three hours later and four hand blisters later, I was still peeling potatoes.  That was the last time I offered to peel potatoes at the Hott house!  How do they do this?

So, proceeding to Phil and Pam’s request for me to read…. Here is my post called

PUMPKIN PIE from “Excuse Me Can I Tell You Something?”

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching and the leaves softly landing, this time of year brings to mind one of my many favorite treats:  pumpkin pie!  In fact, I have already enjoyed a homemade delicious slice of the orange fruit (or is it a veggie?) while visiting my cousin Tammy.  As I gaze out my kitchen window at the W. Va. fall foliage, crystal blue sky, and puffy clouds passing, Thanksgiving 2001 was my induction into the Hott's "permission to eat pumpkin pie"!

Well, I don't know about where you grew up; but where I come from we traditionally had a pumpkin pie or two to celebrate the season with family.  It was in 1995 when I made my first holiday venture to the Hott Family Thanksgiving Traditional Dinner.  Surely there will be plenty of turkey and the favorites;... wonder if there will be a pumpkin pie?!

So, how many pumpkin pies do you think there may have been? One..... maybe two pumpkin pies?

Nope.
Three pumpkin pies?

No.

You're wrong!

Not 1.  Not 2, or even 3!  --   28!  TWENTY-EIGHT!!!

Mrs. Hott had personally baked,... from scratch, with REAL pumpkins --  28 pumpkin pies! 

And I am sooo not kidding you!  Following a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner, pumpkin pies emerge from everywhere!  Apparently, desserts always are hidden out in the "milk shed" until supper is over. Mrs. Hott lovingly manages her kitchen table much like that of a New York City traffic cop; allowing for nearly 90 family members to each sit for a meal (not only on Thanksgiving but for each and every Sunday afternoon).  Once your plate is empty, you have to get up in order for someone waiting to eat to have a place to sit down.   Her farm house home is so crowded with relatives slowly inching their way, shoulder to shoulder, to the table.  Woo… Talk about a close family!

To this day, I am not sure from where all the food came!  Like a flood, endless plates of fresh garden vegetables, mountains of mashed potatoes, home-cooked casseroles -- all from seemingly bottomless pots and pans!  It really is kinda magical, you know.  Or, a bit like Jesus feeding the masses with just a fish and five loaves of bread!

Finally when she authorized permission to begin dessert, there was formed a caravan of grandchildren carrying inside 28 pies of pumpkin among a plethora of other delicious delectable desserts!

So, as Thanksgiving quickly approaches this year I stumble across my favorite picture of Mrs. Violet Hott, the matriarch of the family.  A certain photo I LOVE is from Thanksgiving 2001! With rosy cheeks, twinkling eyes, snowy white soft hair… hers is a face to rival Mrs. Claus!  After six years of sitting at her table for the same holiday, it is this year that she allowed me to have pie early.  In fact, after a few brothers-in-law yelled at me and tried to get me in trouble with Mrs. Hott when I found a pie on the counter, with a twinkle in her eye she came to my defense!  I got pie first that year.

And, well...so did Heath (another Hott nephew)!  Grandma Violet hid an entire pie just.for.him!  (Really, she did!  I saw him eat it whole and am still amazed!)

You know,… I do like to write.  If God ever let me recreate that verse in Matthew 25:35, it would go something like this:  “You are never a stranger at the Hott Farm.  If you're hungry, Grandma Violet gives you food; if you are thirsty, she gives you a sweet tea; and if you're a stranger, well.... it's only for a second. And, if you're lucky, you just might get permission to eat pumpkin pie early!”  

Today, Grandma Violet is now 93.  She is surrounded here by her large loving Hott family.  As we remember our sweet angel, the strong, hard-working woman whose 141 descendants span the hills of West Virginia to the shores of the Potomac, the mother of my sweet-loving Dan, number 10 child among her 13, the grandmother to many, including her last granddaughter - my very own Violet, I am thankful to God, who waits for her at His Thanksgiving table with her very own fresh slice of heaven, and a plate flooding with His unending love and amazing grace, exactly like my early slice of pumpkin pie.  

Feeling a little lost in her crowded and noisy house, I found favor in my mother-in-law that day, when I thought she never noticed me.  Funny how in something like just a piece of pie there was an expression of her grace, not unlike Your grace, God, in the smallest smile or twinkle in her eyes, waiting just for me, among the many, many Hotts.  

 I also saw she had countless expressions of her grace waiting for each of you. As this plate is nothing fancy, just an old plastic yellow plate among the pile with stains and chips, circulates empty here today, it was once flooding with countless meals.  From corn cakes or sausage gravy, to dumplings and ham, fresh peas from the garden to even nasty kale Davey tricked me into eating, maybe it is Saturday night burgers fried in the iron skillet or salty Sunday country ham, or fresh lettuce with egg and hot grease, back bones and sourkraut, pumpkin or corn meal mush (whatever that is!)… or… perhaps even Stacey’s own personal boiled potatoes set aside just for her from the mountain of mashed, Mrs. Hott’s plate from the farm held something special for each of us here.    But for Grandma Violet, I know it was not what was on the plate that mattered, but who was sitting in the seat at her table.

Thank you all, Hott Family, for showing me a little slice of heaven through the grace of your precious mother, Violet Mariam Smoot Hott.  A woman able to see through the crowded room into the heart of a stranger with just a seat at her kitchen table and small piece of pie.  If ever you feel lost in this crazy world, like the crowds are many and your plate is empty, I want you remember Violet Hott, and know by the miracle that was, no is she, there is always her grace, and the grace of Jesus waiting to fill your empty plate.

Even though it will be hard to imagine this Thanksgiving, or any dinner, with our Grandma Violet…and all the pumpkin pies,…as of today,  Her chains here are gone.  She’s been set free. Her God and Savior, her ransomed be. And like a flood, His mercy reigns, with unending love….She sits now at Your table, serving Your amazing grace.

I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.  Genesis 22:17


Amazing Grace...for Grandma Violet

Friday, October 17, 2014

Permission to Eat Pumpkin Pie

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching and the leaves softly landing, this time of year brings to mind one of my many favorite treats:  pumpkin pie!  In fact, I have already enjoyed a homemade delicious slice of the orange fruit (or is it a veggie?) while visiting my cousin Tammy just the other day.  As I gaze out my kitchen window at the W. Va. fall foliage, crystal blue sky, and puffy clouds passing, Thanksgiving 2001 was my induction into the Hott's "permission to eat pumpkin pie"!

Well, I don't know about where you grew up; but where I come from we traditionally had a pumpkin pie or two to celebrate the season with family.  It was in 1995 when I made my first holiday venture to the Hott Family Thanksgiving Traditional Dinner.  Surely there will be plenty of turkey and the favorites;... wonder if there will be a pumpkin pie?!

So, do you think there may have been one..... maybe two pumpkin pies?

Nope.
Three pumpkin pies?

No.

You're wrong!

Not 1.  Not 2, or even 3!
28!  TWENTY-EIGHT!!!

Mrs. Hott had personally baked,... from scratch, with REAL pumpkins --  28 pumpkin pies! 

And I am sooo not kidding you!  Following a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner, pumpkin pies emerge from everywhere!  Apparently, desserts always are hidden out in the "milk shed" until supper is over. Mrs. Hott lovingly manages her kitchen table much like a New York City traffic cop; allowing for nearly 90 family members to each sit for a meal not only on Thanksgiving but for each and every Sunday afternoon.  Once your plate is empty, you have to get up in order for someone waiting to eat to have a place to sit down.   Her farm house home is so crowded with relatives slowly inching their way, shoulder to shoulder, to the table.  Talk about a close family!

To this day, I am not sure from where all the food came!  Endless plates of fresh garden vegetables, mashed potatoes, home-cooked casseroles -- all from seemingly bottomless pots and pans!  It really is kinda magical, you know.  Or, a bit like Jesus feeding the masses with just a fish and five loaves of bread!

Finally when she authorized permission to begin dessert, there was formed a caravan of grandchildren carrying inside 28 pies of pumpkin among a plethora of other delicious delectable desserts!

So, as Thanksgiving quickly approaches this year I stumble across this picture of Mrs. Violet Hott (hotthubby Dan's mother), the matriarch of the family.  I LOVE this photo! Just look at her rosy cheeks (a face to rival Mrs. Claus)!          This is Thanksgiving 2001.  After six years of sitting at her table for the same holiday, it is this year that she allowed me to have pie early.  In fact, after a few brothers-in-law yelled at me and tried to get me in trouble with Mrs. Hott when I found a pie on the counter, with a twinkle in her eye she came to my defense!  I got pie first that year.

And, well...so did Heath (another Hott nephew)!  Grandma Violet hid an entire pie just.for.him!

(Really, she did!  I saw him eat it and am still amazed!)
Eventually, Thanksgiving dinner outgrew Mrs. Hott's old farm house and the family now gathers not far away in Pennsylvania.  Pictured here is the 2005 holiday.  Yes, this is her immediate family.  All 165+ of them (really, I counted)! 

"I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies."  Genesis 22:17

You are never a stranger at the Hott Farm.  If you're hungry, she gives you food; if you are thirsty, she gives you a sweet tea; and if you're a stranger, well.... it's only for a second.  (Matthew 25:35)  

And, if you're lucky, you just might get permission to eat pumpkin pie early!  

Today, Grandma Violet is now 93.  After suffering from a stroke 4 years ago, she is surrounded by her rather large family for what I am told may be her final days.  As we remember our sweet angel, the strong, hard-working woman whose descendants span the hills of West Virginia to the shores of the Potomac, the mother of my sweet-loving Dan, number 10 child among her 13, please keep us all in your prayers.  Let her know, Lord, that like my early piece of pie, You are waiting for her at Your Thanksgiving table with her very own fresh slice of heaven.  

Among the crowded and noisy house, I found favor in my mother-in-law that day, when I thought she never noticed me.  Funny how in something like just a piece of pie there was an expression of her grace, not unlike Your grace, in the smallest smile or twinkle in her eyes, waiting for me.  As the woman who opened her heart to countless people with a just seat at her kitchen table prepares to pass from this world to Yours, please allow us to rejoice in her reunion with You as she receives her place at Your table. The legacy of Violet Mariam Smoot Hott is a story to celebrate.

It's just so hard to image a Thanksgiving (or any) dinner without her...and all the pumpkin pies.



Monday, October 13, 2014

Why I Love the Apple Butter Festival



Tradition.

Beautiful Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, hosts an annual fall festival where the community pours into the streets to make, of all things, a delicious blend of locally grown apples and well, sugar.  Joined by travelers from around the country to stir the mysterious golden blend of goodness, apple butter is cooked in enormous kettles over a blazing old time fire.

Tradition.

I was nine years old when the Apple Butter Festival began as a fall event to bring tourism to my artsy little "home among the hills".  Now, my youngest Hott child is also nine.

Tradition.

Now it's Monday morning and our purchase of a pint of apple butter is nearly empty from a weekend of sharing it's ooooey sweetness on everything from wheat toast, warm bread, bagels, and yes, even bananas!

Throughout the 41 years of celebrating old town traditions from stirring apple butter, turtle races, parade, crafts, funnel cakes, and egg tosses, we always treasure the times we are priveledged to share the Apple Butter experience with our "newbies" -- or, first time participants!  This year was no exception.  And, it is always my honor to show all who ride to Apple Butter breakfast at First United Methodist at a ridiculous 7:00 a.m. and those who venture back to my house after a long day of festivities the above picture.

See that old guy?  Well, that's my Pap!

Pap Pap, or otherwise known as Marlin McBee LOVED the Apple Butter Festival.  He would stay down town all weekend sportin' his favorite hat and stirrin' the huge kettles till he was nearly 90 years old.  I was delighted to share the Apple Butter Festival Memory Book 25th Anniversary Edition with our new family members once again this year.  Pap managed to make the glossy cover as well as a few other featured photographs, even with then Governor Arch Moore!  Cousins and kids in the family are featured in turtle race memories as well.

From my Pappy at 90 to Levi at 9.....Tradition.

Tradition.  I guess among all the crazy things that have evolved over the years at the Apple Butter Festival, from beard contests to hog hollering, one thing always stays the same -- Columbus Day weekend I can roam around my home town and always find an old friend from 40 years ago.  As we stop along Fairfax Street and reminise about old high school days and farting brothers, it is always fun to see the new traditions developing as well.  We catch up on the latest babies being born; accomplishments of our children; share family stories.  And, for some reason, it never fails, my crazy family manages to provide updates for the Apple Butter Festival Turtle Race.  Want to know what happened?  Find a Hott/McBee!  Because likely, they were all there.

It's a tradition.

2014 "newbie" Rob with Crystal, Grandma, PapPap (Bobbie McBee) Isaac,
Levi, and Cotton Eyed Joe, a turtle campion!

"So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, 
either by our spoken word or by our letter."  2 Thessalonians 2:15

Tradition.  That's why I love the Apple Butter Festival.  Tell me, why you love it; or, if you never been before, maybe we'll see you next year and start a new tradition.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Why I Love School Sports

I'm still taller!  Well, maybe not (keep reading)!

Last night was the Warm Springs Middle School's final Cross Country Meet.  Following yet another season of trials and tribulations for hard working young athletes, I saw this picture just now on facebook (Thanks Ken Reed!) and I still have goosies!  This 49-year-old-grey-haired-hott-mama-of-4 will forever treasure this photo.  Ken captured Isaac's dimple -- a rare event that only emerges when Isaac is truly pleased with himself.

Why is he so pleased?  Did Isaac finish in the top of the race?

No.

Did Isaac receive a medal for his speed?

No.

But he finished!

He finished the cross country season a first time runner in the sixth grade.  He finished each and every practice and meet telling mom, "I had fun!"  Our solo "techie" kid finished the season with a new understanding of being a part of a team, showing encouragement to his teammates. He finished the season running his best mile ever last night.  He finished every meet with an improved personal record.

At 10 years old, he finished with a smile on his face! (See the dimple?)  That's why I love school sports.

And when he was finished his race last night, his first act was to offer water to his fellow team mate, who also ran with endurance.  (But his friend, Erin, got there first...hahaha!...go figure!...lol)

(Leaning on mom, Isaac really is taller....)

"...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Moving Day Chicago Meets W.Va. Team Co-Captain...ME!

Hello,

My name is Angie Hott.  My husband, Dan, has Parkinson's Disease.  We have four children and live in rural West Virginia.

I am tickled to be an honorary co-captain for Team Martini Shakers participating in the upcoming Moving Day, Chicago.

Like the picture I chose to tag?  I.LOVE.IT!


The reason I selected this picture is because I strongly feel that this represents how with God's love, a positive attitude, and some pretty awesome neurologists, we can kick this stinkin' thing called Parkinson's Disease!

You see, when Dan was diagnosed in 2008, one of the crazy things that scared me was how his symptoms would progress.  At the time, our boys were just 2 and 3 years old.  I worried if he would be able to dance at our two daughter's weddings.
Well, here he is at Caity's wedding on June 8, 2014...six years since his diagnosis.  He not only danced at the reception; but he walked Caity to a beautiful alter of sand and sea before our closest friends and family.

Although we will not be in Chicago in a few days to walk with you, we will be there in spirit!  For what we do today to help bring awareness to Parkinson's Disease will have Dan dancing at Violet's wedding next!
She's only 14 now...so let's get busy!!!!

And, so you know this is a nation wide event, check out the National Parkinson's Foundation spokesperson, Katie Couric, she is also involved because her father suffered from Parkinson's Disease.

To donate to Parkinson's research and learn more about Moving Day, see here:  Team Martini Shakers  Then click on "Angie Hott" (in blue) if you feel so moved to donate.  If not, that's fine too...thanks for spending a little time on this site and send it along by sharing!

Now,...here is the remainder of NPF's Moving Day info:

Walk For Parkinson'sI am participating in the Moving Day Chicago walk, benefiting the National Parkinson Foundation on October 19, 2014.

The event will take place at the Grove 2 at Lincoln Park and will be a fun-filled, family-friendly event for all ages and abilities. We will be able to enjoy a variety of movement activities yoga, dance, Pilates, Tai Chi, stretching and much more and celebrate the importance of movement in our lives.

Please consider being a part of my team or sponsoring me, and I encourage you to get your friends, family and coworkers involved.

Why Get Involved

The National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) continues to bring help and hope to the estimated one million people in the United States, four to six million worldwide, who are living with Parkinson’s disease. NPF is the only organization with a singular focus on improving the quality of care in Parkinson’s disease. NPF programs reach more than one million people a year through its network of 39 chapters, 43 Centers of Excellence and 900 support groups. Since 1982, NPF has funded more than $180 million in care, research and support services.

Thank you for helping me reach my fundraising goal to support the vital work of the National Parkinson Foundation.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dazzling Diamonds, Royal Rubies, and Boney Elbows? A Book Review of "Treasury of Bible Stories"

One can not open a "Treasury of Bible Stories" without expecting a few jewels, among them diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, right?  So just how, you may ask, did this 49-year-old-grey-haired-PD blogging-hott-mama-of-four manage to find within this treasure chest of Bible classics a load of boney elbows?  Hummm...just ask Levi, my 9 year old!

Treasury of Bible Stories  -     By: Kelly Pulley
I was happy to read and review this darling collection of classic Bible stories to share with you.  When it arrived from David C. Cook, I immediately snuggled up with my 9 year old at bedtime and cracked open the cover of this colorful treasure of all our Bible favorites.  From "A Wall of Water," the towering tale of Moses crossing the sea to "Food for a Fish," a 'whopping' story of Jonah, Levi and I were mesmerized by this unique clever collection of Bible tales.

Author, Kelly Pulley, is an expert at "rhythmical rhymes of Biblical times".  He manages to take familiar stories of our favorite tales from Daniel in the Lion's Den to the beautiful Resurrection Story and convey them in clever lyrical rhyming verse.  I was impressed as I read with ease his combination of words and how they effortlessly read aloud with my son, almost as if by magic.

Assisting our ears was a colorful depiction of a Bible journey.  The illustrations in Pulley's "Magnificent Tales" series will entertain parents and young readers alike.  Perhaps it was just my 9 year old in all his boyhood that immediately recognized an unusual theme that carried across every character drawn:  boney elbows!

Do you want to know something strange?  I never noticed it!  However, Levi barely heard the first page when he said "Mom!  Check out those boney elbows!"  And he was right.  The characters do have some circular appendage on each and every elbow (and knee!) joint.

Photo: Sugar plumAsside from this unusual comment from my child, we thoroughly enjoyed the delightful collection of rhyming cover to cover!  So much that I plan to share my copy with my newest family member.  Meet my great-niece, adorable Adalaide!


Isn't she a gem!?  Which got me thinking.  A book like "Treasury of Bible Stories" is so much more than the retelling of a story we moms have heard a million times.  It takes these old stories and uniquely rhymes them for a moment we will share with what is our true treasure:  our children.  Kinda sorta makes me wish my Levi was three months old again.

So gather up your little diamonds in the rough and shower them with the magic of "Treasury of Bible Stories" by Kelly Pulley.  For the gift of God's book for us is meant to share!

And I am sending a copy to Adalaide today!  Her big brother Nathaniel, a first grader learning to read this year, will enjoy this series of Magnificant Tales too!  (I wonder if he will notice the bone structure like his cousin...)  For yours, just click here or register to win a free copy from David C. Cook by commenting on this page.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I Saw Robin Williams at Church This Sunday

Maybe someone should have warned Pastor Stan.  He IS new after all!  Barely on assignment here in rural West Virginia for a month and Robin Williams shows up at his service.  As our contemporary band closes their set of songs for the beginning of church, the congregation closes their eyes and lowers their heads for the morning prayer.  As I join in prayer, I find myself lowering my head.  Please don't tell the new pastor, but my eyes were open and, well honestly, I wasn't listening to the prayer.  Not at all.

As I stared at the floor with a heavy heart from the week's happenings, still confused about the suicide of the world-loved comedian Robin Williams, rolling out from under the chair next to me came something unexpected.  Ours is a service that happens in a bit of an unconventional setting.  My family was sitting house center under a basketball net.  Scattered around is evidence of a vibrant youth community.  Well, it's a bit of a mess; but it feels like home.

So as I sat there, quietly (which is really hard for me), praying... I notice something small rolling across the floor and stops just shy of my left sneaker.  It is a little red ball.

As I bend down to pick it up and hold it in my hand, from this little red ball emerges a blanket of comfort.  And yes, even at church (and during prayer), I am blessed with a smile across my face.

It really is a good thing no one was looking.  Because just then I looked up to God with Robin's red ball in my hand as a small tear of relief rolled out.  "There you are."  I saw Robin Williams at church this morning.

Before you find me delusional for the blog title "I Saw Robin Williams at Church This Sunday!", please bear with me.  Dan (my hotthubby) may argue that I do manage to miss many major news events, the recent alarming press of the suicide of world beloved actor Robin Williams did, indeed and sadly, not miss my radar.

How could it?

Every reporter and columnist across the globe shared Robin's sad and shocking story of suicide. After reading everything from Matt Walsh to listening to facebook tributes, I struggled with the confusion and wonder too, just like the rest of you.  My Netflix que now has every Robin Williams movie I could find.  I just did not want to let him go.

Although it is hard to imagine, my heart was even heavier two days after Robin's death when it was released that he was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.

Parkinson's Disease, or "PD", is a chronic and progressive movement disorder for which there is no cure.  Many of the visible symptoms include tremor, slowness, stiffness, and impaired balance issues. Additionally, the non-motor issues that arise from the brain's inability to produce a chemical called dopamine, can cause a patients loss of smell, sleep disorders, as well as mood disorders.  Finally, depression is an invisible element of this already debilitating disease on top of it all; yet, quite prevalent for dear Robin.

Depression.   I found myself rather irritated that people seemed to almost justify Robin's suicide with the news of his recent diagnosis of Parkinson's.  Or, maybe they were just holding on to an answer, I don't know.  But for me, I was pissed at the seemingly "now his suicide makes sense".  No...  suicide never makes sense, but you know what?  Neither does Parkinson's Disease!  Pardon my bluntness, but I've said it before, Parkinson's "sucks."  You see, although you can not see a visible tremor, PD hurts in other ways. I guess it was the invisible symptoms Robin suffered that took us all by surprise.  Even David Letterman said, "Beyond being a very talented man and a good friend and a gentleman, I am sorry I-like everybody else-had no idea that the man was in pain and that the man was suffering."

But, then I actually discovered my fear.  And this is really hard to share with you.  For you see, Susan Schneider (Robin's wife) and I share something in common as well as Diane Rehm, of NPR, who recently lost her husband after a long battle with PD.  In fact, her husband John didn't want to live another day. Our husbands all have Parkinson's.

Suddenly, I was scared.  Depression comes as a partner to Parkinson's just as I am married to it as well.  If these famous women suffered the loss of their loved husbands, what does that mean for me? Although, my husband is not depressed, he remains involved and participates with depression research through the Michael J. Fox Foundation at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Would he ever reach this point in his disease?  God, I hope not.

And if so, where would he spend eternity?  Are there people in heaven who took their own lives by suicide?  Not to sound crazy, but I was worried where Robin Williams was spending eternity.  How could a man, who played Patch Adams (the humorous and whimical physician) with such talent to make me laugh one second and cry the next spend eternity in any place other than the loving hands of his creator, God?

Is suicide an "unforgivable sin"?  No... at least I don't believe it to be.  After investigating this extensively, I stumbled across a site with none other than that red ball again (ask.com).  What does the Bible say?  "The Bible tells us that at the moment of salvation, a believer's sins are forgiven (John 3:16; 10:28). When we become a child of God, all of our sins, even those committed after salvation, are no longer held against us."

It goes on to say that in Ephesians 2:8,
"God saved you by his grace when you believed.  
And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God."  
So, we are saved by God's grace, not by our own good deeds.  In the same way that our good works don't save us, our bad ones, or sins, cannot keep us from salvation" when we believe. Robin believed, and so does Dan.

Then I saw the red ball roll next to me and I knew exactly where Robin was.

Friday, August 15, 2014

How old should a girl be to get hair highlights?

Violet and I have only just returned from visiting "Hair by Hillary" at Total Image, the local beauty shop, and I have the burning question:  What is the right age for a girl to get highlights?

NEVER!

I have come to this undeniable conclusion!  ALL teenage girls are TOO young to have their hair highlighted...and fourteen is much.too.early!

That's it!  No debate.  No discussion.  Our daughters should not be allowed to have hair highlights until the following criteria is met:

1)  They have reached the minimum age of well...let's say 35!
2)  They never leave the house once this hair transformation has occurred!
3)  They are gainfully employed to finance this dramatic investment to hair care!... AND
4)  They promise not to get another day older.

You see...this summer has been full of so many changes I can't even begin to discuss them with you.  So many, in fact, my now 49-year-old-grey -haired-hott-mama-of-four brain just can't seem to process it all.  From weddings to robotics... first time high schoolers to first time athletic endeavors... my heart is so full of summer mommy moments and memories that, well... it is just too mind boggling that I really don't know where to begin blogging, where to start.  In a way, some moments are just too precious to share.  

Too boggled to blog...that's me!

But it's coming.  Just as daily in the midst of all this chaos here on Hott Mountain, I continue to feel God nudging me as he whispers... "Excuse Me, can I tell you something?"... This time, who knows?  Maybe that book is about to write itself!  LOL!  

Until then... check out today.  History repeats itself ten years later as Violet gets her first highlights.  Is 14 the right age?  Oh, I don't really know.  But we had fun.  And, thank you Hillary for being a part of this mom's memory of her baby girl's frosted baby tips to her first hightlights.


BEFORE


DURING

Violet's new highlights with Hillary
AFTER