Monday, February 27, 2012


Wichita School District has announced the 2012 Distinguished Classroom Teacher of the Year awards and our dear Esther received the K-2 teacher award. There were seven categories; new elementary teacher, new secondary teacher, primary teacher Pre-K-2, intermediate teacher 3-5, middle school teacher, high school teacher, and support teacher. To say we are very proud of Esther is an understatement!

Esther was told of her award a week or so ago. Brett took us to dinner to celebrate. We enjoyed a really great time at Famous Dave's (Esther's choice).

We had a fun time reminiscing how Esther began her teaching career. It was 1997. Los Angeles, and for that matter, the entire state of California, were really hurting for teachers. Esther was working in an insurance company and not happy. She had graduated from Westmont College the year before with honors in double majors. Rich was working "downtown" and had lots of contacts throughout LAUSD. He kept encouraging her to go into teaching and he'd work to find her a really "plum" position. Well, she agreed to give it a go but she wanted to find her job on her own. But thanks anyway!

She ended up way down in the southern part of the city, in a school that she felt was a "mission field". She began the school year mid-year. The school was so crowded that she shared a classroom with another teacher. One teacher and students faced one way in the room, the other teacher and students faced the other. Talk about being thrown into the lion's den! She went through the District Intern Program, where she received her CA credential. She taught there while Brett completed seminary and then they moved to Waco, TX, where she taught for four years before moving to Kansas.

So she's credentialed in CA, TX, and KS! She's had four babies during her career, supported Brett through his education, and received her master's of elementary education in 2011. All with a LOT of blood, sweat, and tears. Her "kids" are her passion and it really shows in her work. And for good measure throw in her roles as wife, mother and pastor's wife. She is "one kind of woman"!

Wichita School District has 50,000 students and is the largest district in the state. There are 61 elementary schools, so her award is really significant. The recipients will be recognized at a school board meeting in March, which we are looking forward to attending. At that time, an announcement will be made as to who will represent the district for the prestigious Kansas Teacher of the Award.

We are thrilled for Esther, Brett and their family to receive this honor! Esther's comment was "so Esther". She said, "I'm just happy for Cloud (her school) to get some positive recognition". That's like her, thinking of her school and students instead of herself!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


In addition to being a hair stylist and salon owner in California, my niece, Julie, opened an on-line business selling sports-related apparel and accessories for moms with kids in sports of all kinds, as well as on dance and cheer squads. She features footwear, rhinestone sport jewelry and tees for any sport you can think of. There's definitely lots of bling!! I would have loved wearing this one to any number of baseball games played by our three sons back in the 80's-90's! Julie says it would have been cute with my Jordache jeans and Cherokee heels! Girlfriend, THOSE were the days!!!

Her website is:

Check it out!!! Baseball/softball season will be here soon!  Then get ready for all-stars, football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, you name it! You'll be the best dressed mom in the stands or on the sideline.

I love the quote from her website: "Motherhood is a full-contact sport!"

Way to go Julie! Proud of you and love you loads!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


When I opened up the drape over our kitchen slider this morning this is what I saw!! The farmer's wheat field across the road was filling up with geese!! Man-a-live they were coming from every direction.

Since I was going to the gym, I turned the other direction to take these pics. Counted 20-50 in every flock. The sound of their honking and flapping of wings was incredible. The white ones are snow geese. We were told that they don't usually integrate with the Canadians. Well, I guess this wheat buffet was too good to keep them apart! :)

I've never seen so many in one field. Rich suggested that one of them "tweeted" the others. They certainly got the "call". And I came away without being "bombed" on, although my shoes were very muddy from tromping around in the field. Bet the farmer wouldn't appreciate that!!

Any way, the sight of the geese is one of the things that gives some "charm" to this place. They are fascinating to watch.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Father-Daughter Dance 2012

 Last Saturday was the annual Father-Daughter Dance at Jeff's school. He alternates taking his four daughters and this year it was Jordyn and Lauren who attended with him. It was Lauren's first year to go with her Dad as a student, in addition to being his daughter. My guess is that Jeff not only "busted a few moves" on the dance floor, but also busted a few buttons of (healthy) prideful joy over his girls!

Lauren (on far right) and Jordyn (third from right) with their group of friends. I'm so impressed, lovely girls, very stylish yet very appropriate! Fathers of some of the other girls also teach alongside Jeff. Good job, everyone!

Our two oldest granddaughters. Lauren is 14 and in eighth grade, and yes, the tallest, and Jordyn is 16 and is a sophomore. They are lovely girls who are strong in their Christian faith, work hard at their studies, play hard, and love life! Couldn't be more proud! Couldn't love them more!

Jeff and his good friend, fellow history teacher, Brad, also the father of one of  Jordyn's friends. Jeff sent this with the question, "guess who's standing on the bench?" Brad is about 6'8", considerably taller than Jeff. Taken during the line portion of the dance. Looks like they were having a blast!!

I would say a "good time was had by all!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Renee!

Today is our daughter-in-love, Renee's birthday! She's a real "sweetheart" in so many ways! We are so blessed to have her as Jeremy's wife, Maddie's mommie, and our daughter-in-law! Love you sweetie!

God has shown me these Bible verses for YOU!

" ... we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dessert Auction

Brett's church has the greatest Super Bowl Sunday tradition! It's a Dessert Auction!

The church bakers bring their best homemade desserts for a silent auction. Desserts are to be self-contained, i.e. the containers, dishes, pans, go with the dessert. Nothing is returned. Everyone gets to view the display, make their bids and soon after services conclude the bidding concludes. It's a fundraiser to assist with tuition for the church's college students who are going to a Mennonite school. Over the years tens of thousands of dollars have been raised! The lucky bidders have a dessert to take to their Super Bowl party. Talk about a win-win!!!

This was Brett's contribution this year! It's a French Apple Almond Tart featured in the October 1997 issue of Bon Appetit. Isn't it beautiful!!!

It was a process to come up with this gorgeous dessert!

On Wedenesday evening, Brett came to our house with this beautiful fruit tart for tasting.

 He, Moira, Audrey, Rich and I tasted and critiqued and unanimously agreed this wasn't the one. It was GORGEOUS, but we didn't care for the filling or the crust. We found a recipe for a citrus tart that sounded nice, so it was back to the drawing board with that one. On Saturday evening, Brett came over with that creation, complete with candied orange peel for garnish (sorry no photo), but again, it was nixed. So at 7 pm, we poured over my cookbooks and recipe box and came up with the Apple Almond Tart recipe, which Jeremy made for our 1997 Christmas Eve dinner. I've never made it but we remembered how delicious it was, so that was the dessert of choice. Because it was getting late, we didn't want to go to the store, so we combined the ingredients we both had and Brett asked me to walk him through this recipe. We had a great time! (I really love cooking/baking with my kids!!)

The auction was great! More desserts this year than last with prices as low as $30 or so and as high as $100!! There was a particular chocolate cake that the girls wanted, so Brett was busy ensuring their bid, but the last he looked his tart was at $60!!!

Here's the recipe.

French Apple Almond Tart – Bon Appetit, October 1997

For crust:
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons Calvados or brandy (we used brandy because that's what we had)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces

For filling
1 1/4 cups blanched slivered almonds
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons Calvados or brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

3 tart green apples, peeled, quartered, cored, cut into 1/8-inch-thick wedges (used Jonagold and Pink Lady apples because that's what we had)
1/4 cup apricot preserves

Make crust:
Stir egg yolks and Calvados in small bowl to blend. Combine flour, sugar and salt in processor. Add butter; cut in, using on/off turns, until butter is size of small peas. With machine running, add yolk mixture. Process until large moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap dough in plastic; refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Let soften slightly before rolling out.). (We put in freezer for 30 minutes, to speed up the process!)

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 14-inch round. Transfer to 11-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Fold overhang in and press, forming double-thick sides. We didn't do this because we didn't want it to be too think. So just made sure crust was even all the way around. Chill while making filling.

Make filling:
Combine almonds, 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, 1 tablespoon Calvados, extracts and salt in processor. Blend until soft paste forms. Add 4 tablespoons butter; blend 10 seconds. Spread in crust. Chill until firm, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir apples, 1 tablespoon Calvados and 1 tablespoon sugar in large bowl. Let stand 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Drain apples; overlap in concentric circles atop filling. Melt 2 tablespoons butter; brush over apples. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake tart 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F. Bake until apples are tender, about 45 minutes. Transfer to rack. Stir preserves and 1 tablespoon Calvados in small saucepan over low heat until preserves melt. Strain into small bowl; brush over apples. Cool. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Bon Appetit recipes often have lots of ingredients and steps, but the results are worth it!

Proud of you Brett for tackling such a recipe! Wouldn't we love to taste it!!! I'm sure it was delicious!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Friend Susan

My dear friend, Susan, passed away in December after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Today her family is hosting a Celebration of Life service. Sadly, I am not able to make the trip to California and so I will share some of my treasured memories here.

Susan and I met in 1978 at Rockwell International Air Monitoring Center. I had been employed there for about a year as a secretary in the Marketing Department and Susan came in as a secretary for the Purchasing Department. Our sons were at the same schools and played in some of the same sports, both of us were Iowan-born (which she took great pride in). We were both women who balanced home, husbands, sons, and a busy job outside of the home, so we had lots of things in common.

She transferred to the Rockwell Science Center in the early 80s and was instrumental in helping me make my transfer in 1984. There our friendship really flourished. In 1984 we were learning how to use a Mac 56 computer! Boy, were we living on the edge when we moved up to a Mac 128! We were both department secretaries and in 1985 both of us made our way to the "front office", where we supported technical directors and their direct reports. We became a strong team, along with other administrative assistants in the "front office", helping each other during times of vacation and working hard together on a daily basis. We laughed together and ah, yes, even grumbled together. We all were on the forefront of learning new software programs called Excel and Power Point! Wow!  And this new thing called the Internet and "email"!  "Those were the days"!! Honesty, integrity and a keen sense of ethics were our hallmarks. We became a close knit group, celebrating birthdays, and whatever else.  We worked together until I retired in 1999 and Susan retired a few years later. Since moving to Kansas, I always looked forward to lunch with Susan, Phyllis and Jeannette whenever I returned to CA! Still lots to laugh about!

Here we are in 1995 at a "Happy Hour" in Phyllis's home. Susan is holding the daughter of one of our co-workers. (What do you think of the "stirrup pants"?!?!?!)  We were an "odd-couple", height wise. In heels Susan was nearly 6', and in heels I was, shall we say, height-challenged at maybe 5'5"!

I have so many wonderful memories and I've spent a lot of time trying to sort them out. Two things stand out for me. The first is the great fun Susan and I had in sharing our menus, food preparation and presentation plans for our large family holiday dinners, especially Thanksgiving. She gave me a subscription to Bon Appetite magazine and we shared recipes and ideas. For each of us, no group was too large, in fact I think we were really challenged and motivated by it. Sit-down dinner for 25? No problem!

The second memory I have was travelling vicariously with Susan and her husband John on their many trips, especially to Hong Kong. I loved hearing about her plans and adventures. I was the very fortunate recipient of many lovely pieces of jewelry that she brought back from these expeditions (the stories of getting them through Customs were often hilarious!), and I enjoy wearing them to this day.  I have Susan to thank for my love of really fine jewelry!

Before I moved to Kansas she sorted through her jewelry and gave me a lovely cross of Black Hills gold, because, in her words "she knew I would appreciate it". I was touched! When I wear it, she is especially close to my heart. In addition to the cross, she gave me a gorgeous sterling silver serving spoon that belonged to her Grandmother. I use it at every holiday or "special" meal in her honor! Susan was exceedingly generous, to say the least!

Susan loved flowers and it was especially exciting when John would send huge, gorgeous bouquets to her at work. EVERYONE could tell they were for her. The bouquets were so large that there wasn't room for them in her work space so she left them at the receptionist's desk for all of us to enjoy. SO like her! She loved the color purple, big dogs, chocolate and all things UCLA. She loved HOT weather - like Palm Springs or Las Vegas summer hot. She said she was part lizard!

I worked with Susan for over 20 years and will remember her as a gracious, dignified, elegant woman. She had been a model and was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside! She was a loyal friend with a caring and generous heart, open ears, wise and perceptive mind, a discreet tongue, and a ready smile. She had a fierce love for her family of sons and her girls and grandchildren, which also extended to her brother and family, aunts, uncles, cousins, and their children. She was a deeply devoted daughter. Susan had the capacity to make EVERYONE feel as though THEY were her best friend. She was my best friend at RSC, indeed!  For me, she was the epitome of a real lady and I miss her deeply.

Farewell, my Friend!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Rain! Glorious Rain!

Thunder, lightening, hail, and rain woke us up around 1 am today! It was a glorious sound! It's been so very long since we've had a thunderstorm, almost a year! How quickly I forgot what it sounds like. It was L.O.U.D! Hail was probably pea-sized but it sounded like God was throwing rocks at the house. It did a number pealing paint on the deck rails! Anyway, we have been praying for rain and we are so grateful for it! We don't have a rain gauge set up, so we'll have to watch TV news to see how much we received. All we know was that it was a lot because we have "Dewey Lake" in our backyard, which we did not have at all last spring and summer! Thank you Lord!

"Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills." 
Psalm 147:7-8