Tuesday, December 23, 2008

O Holy Night

Well, not exactly O Holy Night, but a happy night indeed. Bethany arrived here in South Carolina this past Sunday. Tomorrow night, or Christmas Eve, is when we pick up Jordan at GSP airport. Although our time together will be short, we're going to make the best of it. A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, Jingle All the Way, silly games, Wii and pictures by the tree.
The time before Jordan's flight arrived was eventful. You see, we drove around Greenville for more than 30 minutes trying to find a decent place to dine as his flight was not due in until 9:15 pm! What we learned that night was that very few good restaurants stay open on Christmas Eve. And even fewer cater to last minute chow hounds needing a "vegetarian fix" like Bethany did. We settled for Indian Palace on Lauren's Road. Was this akin to Ralphie's family eating Peking Duck on Christmas day? Maybe just a little. The Palace's menu featured an entire page of vegetarian choices which we though would be a good thing. However, Bethany ordered an entree full of curry that reminded her of a bad food poisoning incident in Kenya--the one where she got sick from eating nasty Ethiopian goat. No offense to Ethiopian cuisine intended here.
Fast forward to December 29th. Christmas has now come and gone. The Ziegler family managed to squeeze in hugs, lots of loving and plenty of vegetarian side dishes. Jordan is now back in PA and is hard at work. Bethany is heading out tomorrow for Kentucky to celebrate New Year's Eve before her next semester at ACC starts. Dad & I loved having both kids home and can't wait until we are all together again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Update on my 101

Here is a very boring update on my 101 list. I have been flossing once a day now like, for real. Isn't that exciting? My dentist will thank me one day.
However, it is exciting to me that my teenage friend Rachel has now started her very own 101 in 1001 days. I cannot wait to read it. I have heard through the grapevine that she too wants to go skydiving OR jump out of an airplane wearing a parachute. She also insists that she goes for this adventure "tandem" with an instructor.
My best friend Sonja who lives in Florida, went skydiving several years ago. Thus, this crazy idea stuck in my brain. For Sonja though, she will never, ever skydive again. Upon landing, she broke her ankle in several places and had to have screws put in place to fix the break. Okay, call me crazy but I guess I am willing to risk a badly broken ankle. I will however be praying nonstop that we stick the landing just right, if and when I get up the nerve to jump. Her instructor had never had an accident before and took care of all of her medical bills though. I went to visit Sonja after the surgery and we joyfully paraded through Wal-mart on the motorized geezer cart with her crutches in tow. You would not believe the nasty looks we got from the elderly and infirm. Well, that's another story. Until next time, breathe. And Rachel, if you're serious, maybe we just "do it" together when we get up the nerve.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I'm a Virgo but I'm also...

While shopping in downtown Greenville I bought myself a magnet describing my zodiac sign (Virgo) and the supposed negative qualities I possess. Being a Virgo simply means I was born between August 24th and September 23. I don't like the sound of the negative adjectives used to describe me and my fellow Virgos. Virgoes?

A Virgo is the Virgin. Whatever. She is overcritical. Fussy. Pedantic. Indecisive. Shrewd. Annoying. Bi#@chy. Always complaining. Who me? Anal-retentive. Hmmm. And the top 3 words used to describe us are and I quote, "OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE and ARGUMENTATIVE. Now wait just a bleeping minute here. I think that I object to many of these words. After all, wouldn't you? This is certainly not a complimentary list in my opinion. What about all of the positive, constructive we possess? Then it hit me. There must be another magnet out there, a positive magnet for a Virgo. Behold my other half.
Observant. Dedicated. Sympathetic. Creative. Organized (not very often). Reliable. Analytical. Kind. Sensual. Efficient. Witty. I do like that one. Helpful. Charming. Thoughtful. Industrious. Compassionate and the winningest title, *Sexy as Hell.*

As one who does not read my horoscope or follow astrology, I can probably just say goodbye for now. I guess its not all bad being a Virgo. Until next time, breathe.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ziegler Family Faves

J & B as Cowboys, Mom with big 80's hair.

Some traditions are just worth talking about. Christmas traditions are always fun to talk about because each family's are uniquely their own. We Zieglers have worked hard to keep some specific traditions alive year after year. Here's a brief rundown of what we do, what we refuse to do and what we hope to do in the future:
1. We cut down a real live tree, usually a member of the fir family. We use either a hack saw or a chain saw if we want to cause a scene-- (some tree farms refuse to let you cut down their trees, but Daddy-O is very persuasive).
2. Before we pick the tree we walk around the entire tree farm and invariably come back to the first trees we looked at. Some years we "mark" our territory by draping a scarf over the tree branches lest we forget where we started our trail. Bread crumbs would also work in the woods as they did for Hansel & Gretel.
3. Dad is in charge of putting the lights on the tree, but Mom must also look over his shoulder to make sure he hasn't missed any branches. And then Mom criticizes Dad's handiwork one time too many...
4. Jordan, Bethany & Denine decorate the tree because Dad's work is done once the lights are on the tree.
5. We watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation while decorating the tree. Our favorite lines from this movie are, "Say the blessing," and "Clark, he's got a little leg hound in him so it's best to just let Snots finish once he gets started." One of Dad's personal favorites is, "The shitter was full."
6. We attend Christmas Eve service together and come home to dine on a buffet of appetizers. Friends are usually invited over for games and we let Jordan & Bethany open one stocking stuffer present just before bed.
7. We typically buy Christmas pajamas for the entire family to wear Christmas morning. We stay in our pj's for most of the day.
8. Again, referring to food we fix a sausage, egg, and cheese casserole for breakfast called JB's Victorian Delight. Some years Jordan begs for homemade sticky buns.
9. We take turns playing Santa every year. Santa is in charge of passing out all the presents. Santa must also wear the required Steeler's Santa hat.
10. We travel to either Pittsburgh, Virginia or Indiana nearly every year. This may be the first year we will be home for X-mas and New Year's.
11. Mama Z. cries every Christmas morning. Sometimes this is a direct response to receiving bling bling. Other times I'm just so happy that we're all together for the holidays.
12. Daddy uses the best adjectives of all when opening his presents. Adjectives such as: excellent, amazing, phenomenal and OUTSTANDING!
Well, I've talked alot about what we do or have done. I suppose I will conclude by saying that we've decided to visit our kids when they are away from home with children of their own, our grandbabies that is. We'll traveling the highways and byways to see our chillins. We will resist the temptation to play Scrooge and cry Ba humbug.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Let me just say...

Christmas is not about presents or trees or even Christmas carols. Sadly, sometimes it is even too much ado about quality time with family. But it is our time to reflect on the Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Lord of Lords --Emmanuel, or God with us. So much emphasis is placed on Jesus, the baby born in a manger that we neglect to worship our coming King. If this life is all we have then ok, let's focus on this precious baby who was born under terrible circumstances. But if we truly want to live in the here and now, we can worship a child who was born, a man who died to take away the sins we could not take away on our own, and the One who was and is to come. Charlie Brown and Linus were onto something I think.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

When will it be Christmas?

I spotted my first Christmas trees of the season at our neighborhood Piggly Wiggly. I've driven through Uptown and noticed the bright lights adorning the lanterns. And yes, I have witnessed the ever-growing traffic jams as Black Friday draws near. But for me, it is not Christmas yet and I'm just now getting to the place where it is "Thanksgiving in my heart." You see, this year will be so different that I am not sure when it will truly be Christmas. Let me try to explain.
Growing up in a big Italian family meant Christmas would be spent opening presents on Christmas morning and visiting relatives. It amounted to a lot of noisy, boisterous fun with delicious food and goofing off with my favorite cousins. The adults talked over each other but it didn't really matter. That's what Italian families do.
As I grew up and moved out of state, Christmas took on different meanings as my husband and I worked hard to develop new family traditions first for us as a couple, and later as the parents of our own 2 children.
One tradition that we embraced early on was cutting down our own Christmas tree. For years we took turns choosing the perfect tree at a nearby tree farm. It was never enough to just buy a half-dead tree off the lot at Home Depot. It's still not good enough for our family. Nope, our tradition must involve a hack saw or a chain saw. Last year was Bethany's turn to pick out a tree so we trudged off to Davenport's Tree Farm here in Greenwood. She picked a beauty, a Leland Cypress, a variety we'd never had in PA or MD.
Right now the Ziegler family is in a state of flux. Allen & I live in SC, Bethany in Atlanta, and our son Jordan still calls PA his home. We are renting a condo, building a new house and have decorations stored in several locations. Will we see relatives this year? It's highly unlikely as we are not sure of a move-in date. Will we go to the tree farm this year? Maybe, but it will be only Allen and I choosing the perfect tree. We've already decided not to exchange gifts this year and so this is another tradition put on hold partly due to economics, partly due to practicality.
A second tradition of utmost importance in the Ziegler family involves decorating our tree while watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. You know, Clark Griswold, Cousin Eddie and that crazy Aunt Bethany who wraps her cat and says the blessing. We all don Christmas pj's for this occasion. I realize that I'm starting to sound like Clark Griswold himself as I reflect on how different this Christmas will be. If I'm really honest, I'd want both kids to be home for this time honored tradition.
We all reach a point when Christmas actually feels like Christmas. For some, it is when Christmas carols resound for the month of December. For others it is on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning when children wake up early to open their presents. For me, this year Christmas will become real when I transition from Thanksgiving to rejoice in Christ my savior, and when we put up a tree, regardless of which house we live in. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Man I Feel Like a Woman!

Man have I felt like a woman these past 2 weeks. I've cried tears of joy, tears of confusion and tears of pain. While we have Shania Twain to thank for this karaoke phrase, it's been my experience that "men" know very little about us women folk. I feel more like Lucy here rather than the gorgeous Shania when I do cry cos once I start, I can't seem to stop the floodgates. My eyes become puffy and red and I can't even breathe out of my nose.
Does a man truly understand this female (and sometimes hormonal) phenomenon? Somehow I don't think they do. Case in point, I posted this phrase on my FB update and received 2 comments from men. One kind soul replied, "Woooohooo!" Come again? And the second male wrote, "Way to go swell guy." As if my husband was responsible for making ME feel like a WOMAN! Thankfully, one of my girlfriends understood where I was going with all this Shania emotion. I'd had a few physically painful days and was merely venting my frustration over this. I was also sad to say goodbye to my family as they returned to Pittsburgh. And then I cried again while saying goodbye to my daughter as she drove back to college.
My girlfriend responded and I quote, "Why do you thing Z has anything to do with that??? She might have cramps or something. LOL
My husband tells me that he is trying to understand my torrent of emotions. He just does not have enough estrogen to get it right every time. So girls the next time you feel the tears welling up, grab your box of Kleenex, your nosespray and call me. Besides, men just like to take credit for everything, especially if it involves their baby Feeling Like a Woman.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Living in My Skin

I'm coming to the realization that I am not Bethany, my ever deep thinking, thought provoking daughter who manages to blog at an incredible rate. Nor am I Karl (aka Allen, theswellguy) who cracks us up with Redneck Tuesday Editions or his own brand of provoking prose. I'd love to be Rob Bell who I admire so much for his simple, down to earth sermons. But no, I am Denine, a one-time freelance writer living in a family of Bloggers! If Jordan ever takes up blogging I am surely doomed. Actually, writing again has been good for me in several ways:
It has forced me to rediscover my once creative self.
It has caused me to release some hurtful experiences that occurred during my years as a freelance writer in the "christian market. " Ya'll need to keep praying for me on this journey as a blogger. I truly want to write again and yet I've often compared myself to my husband and my daughter in this sense. So, the good news is that I'm here and that God is moving in my spiritual self and the one thing I can hold on to is my identity in Christ. Denine, aka Neenbob. Until next time, breathe.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fight the Good Fight

President Elect Barack Obama is in. It's now official. It may not be the outcome you hoped for but I believe it must be part of God's bigger plan. Many, many Christ Followers stood in line to cast their votes and do their duty as American citizens. If we continue to follow Jesus and live daily for him, we must continue to pray for our country as never before. We must continue to pray for our new leaders, our President Elect, our local and state officials who were voted in.

Now is not the time to wallow in our loss, nor it is time to sit on our hands. If we want to see this country turned around, we cannot put our faith in any man, but in God. Man will let us down every time, but God is ever present. He remains our hope, our redeemer and our source of strength. America has asked for a king, just as the Israelites asked for a King when they took their eyes off of God. Remember it wasn't long, though, before the Hebrew people were tempted to be like those other nations and wanted a human king, one they could see and touch and worship. Something whispered inside the Israelites that they needed a king "to be like other nations"----a paralysis of faith and imagination. They still didn't get that they were to be a people "set apart" from the nations and from the patterns destroying them.

People, Jesus is my King. I hope He is yours.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fall Fever

I'm quite honestly a "summer," not a spring, fall or winter person. This week here in Greenwood we finally had some fall like days complete with morning fog, dew, rain and temps in the 50's. And if I'm being honest, I have been complaining that lake recreation has come to an end. I'm also lamenting the fact that I have been indoors on the days that are most gorgeous and 80 degrees. Many of you know that our daughter Bethany came home last weekend to celebrate her 21st birthday. It was a great time of BBQ, laughter and fall traditions. You see, Bethany is all about Autumn and has been for many years. Having a late October birthday fits her personality to a tee. So, when I speak of fall, or even think of fall, I see my daughter carving a huge Jack-0-lantern on the floor of my kitchen. She takes care to gather every pumpkin seed so she can roast them in the oven and sprinkle them with salt and/or seasonings. Last weekend she came through with delicious cinnamon and sugar pumpkin seeds! I'm afraid Bethany's love for Autumn is rubbing off on me. Just today, I whipped up a huge batch of Roasted Sweet Potato & Apple soup, italian herb focaccia bread and a crockpot full of Beef Vegetable soup. To top it off, I found myself craving some of her delicious cinnamon sugar pumpkin seeds. I think there's a pumpkin or two in my future. Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just what is POO-POURRI?

I'm not normally one to recommend products, but this one caught my eye on Oprah. Of course, any thing Oprah recommends or puts on her favorites list is sure to be a hit with women. The product of choice is simply called POO-POURRI. It is not cheap, but it does what it claims to do.

Okay, POO-POURRI claims to create a barrier to embarrassing bathroom odors. You know what kind of odors I'm talking about here. The label of the bottle reads: There once was a young lad from Rhone whose odor he'd rather disown. Now he's taming his poo by annointing the loo and now happily sits on his throne! Corny right? It also tells you to Spritz the bowl before you go and no one else will ever know. http://www.poopourri.net/
Suppose you go to a swanky dinner party and have to use the bathroom. You like me will either look high and low for a can of Lysol or Renuizit or a match. You've also got to pray no one will enter the bathroom for 20 minutes and put the fan on high. With POO-POURRI all you need to do is this. To anoint: Shake well, lift throne (toilet) lid & seat, spray directly onto the surface water until covered (4-6 sprays). Proceed to use throne as usual. Now please note that this product is a blend of Natural Essential Oils. It is natural and non-toxic, biodegradable but for external use only. Avoid Eye Contact. Haha. It is also a choking hazard and must be kept away from children. It was never tested on animals and is actually made in the USA. So, here's the bottom line. I think it works but am afraid to ask my housemate for a second opinion. A .4 fl. ounce bottle cost me $14.95, but my bathroom smells lemony fresh. You be the judge. At least the spray bottle is recyclable too and comes in a convenient travel size.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Have you ever lost something for say 2 months only to have it magically reappear just as you are about to re-purchase that item? Or better yet, after you've bought a replacement? Well, this past February I took a trip to Hawaii with my husband. For this trip I packed my all important U2 iPod and a book entitled, "God's Blogs," by Lanny Donoho.

About a month ago my husband searched through a suitcase of ours and found my Ipod. I'm telling you I was sure the thing had been stolen from our swanky hotel room in Waikiki. That was also the last time I saw my devotional book. I was really bumming about losing the book, yet rejoicing over my newly found iPod. My friend Cindy and I happened to discuss devotionals and I mentioned my lost book. Cindy is a generous person and she gave me her copy of said book with the inscription, To Denine: Let the lost be found! Man I couldn't believe she'd done such a nice thing for me.

A week later my husband found my copy of the book while rooting through another suitcase. I'm beginning to think I've lost my mind at this point, not just my personal belongings. The following Sunday I re-gifted my book to Cindy at church. We had a good laugh, an over 40 laugh if you will. Below is an excerpt from God's Blogs. The subject is Laughter and here it goes:
I put laughter in your system to make you stronger and healthier and happier, and it is, as I have said before, a great medicine that gives life. And postpones death.

I created funny. I created laughter. I created the ideas behind funny words, like...juxtaposition and funny people and I did it all for You.

Life's too short there on earth to take everything too seriously. So...look around, lighten up. I wanna see you laugh. And when you do, I'll be laughing with you. GOD

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Reflection on 9/11

I'm sure that I am one of millions out there contemplating this life changing day. My heart goes out to all of those who have lost loved ones. My heart goes out to the thousands of workers who are now suffering ill effects from the debris, dust, ash and smoke they ingested during the days that followed the attacks. However, my heart was not as heavy today as at was in years past. Perhaps it is because I did not spend hours glued to the television screen this morning... perhaps because I was just too busy to truly reflect. I consider this a shame given the fact that a mere seven years have passed since 9/11.

My good friend Annette reminded me that as Americans we're to take time out to pray for our nation. Unfortunately, I did not hear of this appeal until after lunch time. Again, I found myself preoccupied and too busy to slow down long enough to pray.

When I arrived home tonight at 7:30 p.m, I had time to eat some pizza and to check my Facebook account. There I saw that another friend had sent me a piece of "flair" admonishing me to remember 9/11. So friends, it is now time to reflect, to remember and to pray for this great nation we do live in. Excuse me while I block out all of my personal distractions to pray.

Until next time, breathe.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dad is Great

I'd like to follow-up on my week long birthday celebration so if you'll just bear with me, I'll make this brief:

First of all, root canals are of the devil! But and this is a big but, pain meds and antibiotics are truly miraculous.

Having said all that, I have not had the best week. Somehow I managed to develop an infection and/or mouth sores from all of that dental work. And so going to the dentist reminds me of Mr. Bill Cosby. Bill Cosby is one of my all time favorite comedians. While on pain meds two of his best routines came to mind. Nearly everyone has heard his infamous take on going to the dentist. "Mybba lip iz in my lap! Mybliiipizmybylap." Now he says rinse to cover his mistake of the drill slipping.

After my grueling 3 hours in the dental chair, I drove to the pharmacy to pick up said miracle drugs. I arrived home in pain as the novacaine had already worn off. I dragged myself to the sofa and popped some pills. When I awoke, my darling husband of 24 years was in the kitchen preparing a gourmet dinner for us to celebrate my birthday. I'll admit it was hard to think about food, any kind of food. But there he was seasoning filet mignon, baked potatoes and vegetables. And to top it off he had stopped by the Piggly Wiggly for a birthday cake. Not just any birthday cake, but a small, round double-layer chocolate cake with coconut icing. I started singing another Bill Cosby classic, "Dad is great, give us the chocolate cake." Oh yeah, my Man, now he's the greatest.

Until next time, breathe.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"The Musings of a Middle Aged Mom"

At my age birthdays are a scary thing. I know this because I've got one coming up way too fast. The days of 29 or even 39 seem almost mythical. Did my husband and children really throw me that "39 Forever Party?" or was that a figment of my imagination? And if it was real, hmmm, how many years ago was that?

Well, dear friends this year I've decided to write down a few thoughts on turning older before I forget them.

1. A relative today suggested to me that I view my impending birthday as not getting older, but growing younger. This is like. I'd like a Red Rider BB gun, please.
2. I've lost the last 30 days of my life, but have gained 8 pounds this month alone. I would not have known about the weight gain the evil Nurse Ratched insisted on putting my toes on a scale last week in the Rheumatology office.
3. Yes, I said Rheumatology, as in your grandmother's rheumatism. I can now predict the weather, thank you very much.
4. After 40, no one asks you what kind of birthday cake you'd like.
5. Facial hair is not something women talk about nearly enough. Instead of focusing on our men's hairy earlobes, I'd like to suggest that we encourage regular facial waxing just amongst ourselves. Nuff said.

For the record, that doctor's office scale lies... like a rug. Until next time, breathe.