We hope your year has been especially healthy and happy. As usual, we’ve had some ups and downs in the Leo family, but thankfully they were mostly ups. The only real down was my unexpected retirement about 2 months ago. I had planned to work another year, until Tony qualifies for early Social Security. But my major account abruptly went away when the doctors decided to outsource their transcription to the Philippines. No one in my network of transcriptionists had any extra work to send my way; everyone is clinging to what they have because times are tough everywhere, and it didn’t seem rational to seek other employment for 1 year. Tony encouraged me to consider this early retirement, which is actually a very good thing because.....
Next month we’re having 2 new grandbabies! Erika is due Jan. 12 with her 2nd, a little girl, and Jenni is due Jan. 26 with her 3rd, a surprise. We, of course, are very excited, and my retirement has proved to be an enormous blessing, providing availability to help the kids without having to juggle schedules, vacation days, etc. Now the trick is to figure out how to make the most of my time without the discipline of a job. The project/bucket list is growing!!
The kids are all doing great! Everyone is healthy and growing, especially the girls’ tummies. Zoey will turn 4 Dec. 28 and is beyond precocious. She keeps us on our toes always, and she’s already quite a nurturer. Leo turned 2 in August and is so sweet. He’s very different from the girls, and we’re all enjoying the difference. He loves all things boy, and he’s very loving and tender. He’ll be a great big brother. Ruby, 21 months on the 21st, is class clown. She’s afraid of nothing and must be watched constantly for her safety. She’s very funny and full of surprises. A month ago she suddenly decided she wanted to start using the potty and goes several times a day. She’s absolutely adorable!
I turned 60 in April and my dear sisters flew me to Jacksonville for a week of girl fun. Little did I suspect that part of the fun was a 5-day cruise to the Bahamas! We had an absolute blast and made the most of every moment. The night before we left on Carnival’s Fascination, they honored me with a family dinner at a lovely restaurant at the beach. As soon as we walked in, there was my precious best friend since 3rd grade, Jan Brown, and her husband Bob, who had driven down from North Carolina just for that occasion. Jan wasn’t able to go on the cruise as she had a grandchild due to be born very soon, but we did enjoy the time we had together, and I’m so appreciative of everyone’s thoughtfulness and planning. It was the BEST birthday!
When I returned to Texas, my sweet daughters continued the celebration with a wonderful birthday brunch. They truly are party planners extraordinaire! All my favorite local friends and neighbors joined our family for delicious food and fellowship. It was such a special day, and again, I am humbled by all the attention to detail and everyone’s willingness to celebrate with us. 60 has definitely been my most memorable year, and I am blessed with good health, a loving family, and treasured friends.
Recently--the first week of December--Tony and I met Lisa and Bob in New York City for a belated 60th birthday celebration for Tony. We had a wonderful, jam-packed 4 days of shows, Christmas festivities, great food, a little shopping, much walking, and Sunday worship at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. It took a few days after returning home to recover from the frenetic pace; I guess we’re not as young as we think we are! The 4 of us really enjoy traveling together and hope to take at least 1 trip a year, especially after Lisa and Bob decide to retire.
If you’re on Facebook and we aren’t FB friends yet, be sure to “friend” us. Tony is simply Tony Leo, and I’m listed as Mona Warski Leo. I must admit I spent too much time on FB, but it’s such a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. I also have a Skype account, which was absolutely essential this past summer when Jenni and family were at Kanakuk for the summer. Video chatting is the next best thing to actually being there. If you Skype, call me some time!
Our prayer for you this joyous season is a wonderful Christmas holiday and the best of everything in the New Year. May God bless each and every one of you abundantly, and please keep in touch. God bless our country as it finally begins to recover from the ravages of the past 2 years, our troops as they sacrifice to keep us free, and those who are in need of the precious grace of our loving, forgiving Savior. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!! God bless you!!! Stay tuned for baby updates!
I love jewelry. Not costume. The good stuff. I don't have a lot, but what I do have I love and appreciate. When Tony and I married in 1974, we had a man from church make our rings. I drew a rough picture of what I wanted, and Elia worked from that. We were very happy with the results. Here's a photo from our wedding day.
We moved to Dallas in the mid 1980s, and soon our household included not only our dog, Yogi, but also Alvin the cat and Lacy the kitten. Lacy was very tiny and loved to hide from us under the clothes dryer. One day I wanted to dry some clothes and knew Lacy was under the dryer, so I grasped the side of the dryer and pulled it away from the wall to encourage her to exit her hiding place. The dryer slipped out of my hand and smashed against the wall, trapping my hand. The only thing that saved my hand from severe damage was my wedding ring, which was mangled.
We took the ring to a jeweler to have it repaired, and he did the best he could, but it was just never the same. The once graceful setting was now clunky and cumbersome. Tony had always regretted not getting me a larger engagement ring, since I do love diamonds (my birthstone). So, for our 30th anniversary, he upgraded me to this gorgeous piece.
I've enjoyed this ring more than I could ever express. It's more than I ever thought I'd own, and I feel like a princess because it represents that Tony loves me enough to think I deserve such a treasure. He even did all the research for the ring on his own, contacting diamond brokers until he found one with whom he was comfortable working. He proudly enjoys seeing me wear it, and I've worn it happily for the past 7 1/2 years.
On Saturday night, Nov. 6, I was getting out of the back seat of Erika's and Josh's car after a wonderful day at Pecan Plantation, where Josh's parents live. The kids' driveway is sloped, and it was tricky getting out of the car on the slant. I grasped the bar between the front and rear windows to help myself out just as Erika slammed the front door, not realizing my hand was there. We were both in shock for a moment, waiting for the intense wave of pain that was sure to come. But it never did. For a second time, my precious wedding ring saved my hand. But the poor ring!
The circular band was squished into an oval shape, to the point where I had trouble removing it from my finger, even with copious amounts of soapy lather. And the diamond setting was bent to one side. Miraculously, the diamond was unharmed and was still secure in the setting.
There is a local family-run jewelry store that's been in Lewisville longer than we have and they are very trusted, so of course that's where Tony and I took the ring for repair. At the same time, we decided to take another ring which had belonged to my grandmother. It's a lovely white gold filigree ring that I've always loved. My grandmother left it to my aunt, who knew how much I loved it, and she presented it to me on the day of Jenni's and Dave's wedding. Its 3 small diamonds are of various sizes and colors because they were each given to my grandmother at different times for special occasions. The ring was too small to wear on my right ring finger, so we decided to have it sized up to fit. The jeweler finished that ring first, so I went to pick it up. It was gorgeous and it fit perfectly.
On the way home from the jeweler, I stopped at Petco for dog food and then Walmart for some groceries. When I got home, I fed Millie and made dinner. I took the ring off and left it on the kitchen counter while I cooked. Tony came in and picked it up to examine it. He gave me a funny look and asked if I knew that one of the diamonds was missing. I laughed and went back to cooking because as everyone knows, Tony is a great prankster. Surely this was just another of his "gotcha!" jokes. But he was serious. There indeed was a diamond missing. I nearly had a stroke! This nearly 100-year-old ring had never had a thing wrong with it until I had it sized, and now it was ruined. Surely I could find another tiny diamond to place in the empty spot, but it just wouldn't be the same.
We did the only thing we could think of at such a time. We prayed. We knew the diamond could be anywhere I had been since I left the jeweler. Nevertheless, we started frantically searching the house, the garage, and the car, knowing with a sick certainty that we could never find something so tiny. It was needle-in-a-haystack time. I finally gave up and went back to my kitchen tasks. We both felt horrible, but life had to go on. Tony left the kitchen to go back to the bedroom for the flashlight so we could try to search again after dinner. On his way back to the bedroom, something sparkly on the dark hardwood floor of the living room caught his eye. Yep, you guessed it! My husband is yet again my hero. But we both know that finding the tiny diamond was such an unlikely possibility that it could only be a miracle from God, and we're so thankful.
The jeweler was so amazed at the story and so appalled that he let the ring out of his store in such precarious shape that he repaired it at no additional cost. I picked it up when my wedding ring was finished. Here are the finished products.
My prayer now is that I'll be extraordinarily cautious with these rings so I can pass them down to my daughters intact. I'm tempted to put baggies over my hands to protect against future diamond-related accidents or to put the rings in a drawer so nothing bad will ever happen to them again, but then I'll lose the joy of wearing them. Yes, they are just things, mere objects, of temporal value. But they are meaningful because of their history, and I must treat them lovingly and carefully as I continue to enjoy them. Lesson learned.
As promised, here are the recipes for Elk's Black and White Cookies. So many have requested the recipes, and the publisher has run out of cookbooks due to a surge in popularity. I'm trying to coax the author to initiate another printing so everyone who wants a book can have one. It's a very cool book of not only recipes but also history of Elk's Bakery from its inception.
If you click on each recipe, it will enlarge to full screen so you can read the print a little more easily. The addition of baking powder to the cookie recipe was made by the author; the notation about the cookies needing more flour because they turned out too flat (hey, it was humid!!) is mine. I used the basic buttercream recipe, but if I ever make them again (and oh, I will!), I might try the fluffy buttercream just to see which I like better. Happy baking!!!
Some folks take a little R&R when they've been working hard. In our house we do it a bit differently. Last week we had a little Z&R. Zoey and Ruby. Jenni and Dave took a fun road trip up to Nashville and Lexington, Kentucky for the wedding of some Kanakuk friends, so Tony and I had the girls for the better part of 5 days. We love having our grandkids any time, and there was the added bonus of a few days off from work for me. Don't get me wrong; having the girls 24/7 was work, but the most enjoyable kind. Jenni and Dave have them on a wonderful schedule. They are both good eaters and sleepers. It's a little harder for Tony and me now than when we were raising our girls in our 20s and 30s, but we still feel the same happy satisfaction when we fall into bed at night.
Zoey and Papa had lots of fun with architecture. Zoey is active but at 3 1/2, she is much more cerebral than her 1 1/2-year-old sister, who is a study in perpetual motion.
We call Ruby "The Climber". If it's off the floor, she's on it. We have to keep our eyes on her every minute. Case in point, we took the girls to the park near our house, and Ruby put us through our paces as we tried to keep up with her. This little girl has no fear!
Zoey was a huge help. She would monitor Ruby from the top while Grammy and Papa played spotter below. She is such a wonderful big sister. I call her "3 1/2 going on 30". She is so mature and helpful. She clearly loves her sister, and she is instinctively protective of her. She's also an amazing interpreter! Zoey also had a good time at the park; it wasn't all work and no play.
Zoey doesn't really nap anymore, but she rests every afternoon with a few books and toys in her bed. One afternoon I let her stay up and we made whole wheat bread together. She's very good in the kitchen and enjoys helping. With my supervision and instruction, Zoey very capably performed every task necessary to construct some tasty bread!
At the end of the day, the girls happily chilled until time for bed.
Another cute Ruby trick is her invitation to read her a book. She'll take a book and turn around so her back is to you, then back up until she's at your legs so you can pick her up, put her on your lap, and read to her. Papa and I have started making the truck backup beep when she backs up. Both girls really love to read, which makes Grammy VERY happy!
They really did so well being away from their parents. Toward the end of the 5 days, I could tell they were ready to get back to their own home and normal routine, but they never once appeared homesick. Papa and I are very proud of them, and we can't wait to have them again.
Sweet little Leo turned 2 on Aug. 27. The very next day, Saturday, the family gathered for his Elmo birthday celebration. Erika and Josh grilled hamburgers with all the trimmings, topped off by a yummy Elmo cake, lovingly made by Erika. Josh is awesome. (Uh-oh, some gremlin--I wonder who--just overtook my laptop and did some unauthorized editing, apparently forgetting to double space after the period. Hmph!!) In attendance to help Leo celebrate were his Mommy and Daddy, Auntie Jenni, Uncle Dave, cousins Zoey and Ruby, Grammy and Papa, Grandpa Joe, Grandma Kit, and Auntie Julie.
After presents were opened, Zoey lovingly tackled her cousin Leo to get a chance at his new Elmo doll.
Mommy Erika, Auntie Jenni, and Auntie Julie flaunted their Elmo birthday bling as Ruby played at their feet.
Since it was an Elmo party, red was the preferred color of the day. But only Josh and Dave got the memo from the doctor.
The Cribbies, all in red, posed for a family picture.....
......as did the Wiese trio.
At the end of the day, I think the birthday boy had a wonderful time. This is the face you get when you ask for a smile. Happy birthday, darling Leo!! We all love you to pieces!!!
These smiling faces are what we fondly refer to as the Wiese trio, but in 4 1/2 months the trio will expand to a quartet. This morning Erika had her 20-week ultrasound, and she, Josh, and Leo invited Grandma Kit and I to experience their joy with them. (Leo calls Kit "Baba", which is precious because that's what I called one of my grandmothers, and I called the other one Grammy, which is what my grandkids call me....who says history doesn't repeat itself?) Papa and Grandpa Joe waited out in the waiting room. Unbeknownst to Erika, her sister Jenni secretly waited at a nearby Walmart with Zoey and Ruby until I clandestinely texted her the baby's sex.
The new baby was most uncooperative at first. Every time the ultrasonographer, Kim, poised the probe over the genital area, the baby would put a foot right in the way. Kim had Erika turn to one side and then the other, trying to get the baby to get into a position where we could see what needed to be seen. Nada. The wonderful midwife, Heather, at one point said she thought she saw a penis, but she couldn't be certain. Finally, just about when we figured there would be no revelation today, the baby spread-eagled and showed us HER identity. A beautiful, perfect little GIRL!!!
I immediately texted Jenni, as she was waiting to purchase a sex-appropriate gift to bring to the doctor's office. Then Kit and I took Leo out to the waiting room to wait for Erika and Josh to finish up so they could come out to tell the grandfathers and show them the ultrasound photos.
While we were rejoicing in the waiting room, Jenni was hurriedly changing outfits on Zoey, Ruby, and herself. She was convinced Erika was going to have another boy, so the 3 of them came dressed all in blue. Of course, if you know super-organized Jenni, you wouldn't be surprised that she came prepared with 3 pink outfits, just in case. We stalled Erika in the hospital lobby to give Jenni time to arrive. Papa saw the car pull up and went out to help Jen bring the girls in.
Of course, Erika was overjoyed to see her sister and nieces. The girls presented her with her first baby girl gift, a set of assorted girlie pink onesies. Precious! The girls then posed for a group photo.
I think Erika is going to enjoy having a daughter. Leo is a doll, and another boy would have been equally delightful. But as the mother of girls, I have always hoped my daughters could experience the joy I've known in having daughters. Now my wish will be granted. And Leo will be the best big brother ever!! Congratulations, Erika, Josh, and Leo!!! The Leo/Cribbs/Wiese family count now stands at 4 males, 6 females. That count will change once Jenni's and Dave's new baby is born, because they don't find out the sex ahead of time.
ps: Leo turns 2 Friday and is having a birthday party Saturday, so stay tuned for pictures from the celebration!
I wescued a wabbit from our pool this morning. It all happened so quickly, and the little guy was really waterlogged. I hope he makes it. Millie and I were out back, checking on plants and things. Millie likes to think she's a great rabbit hunter. She sniffed around as usual, and this time her diligence was rewarded. A bunny shot out of the plants and right into the water. It started swimming frantically around the perimeter of the pool, with Millie following above. She refuses to get into the pool, which is probably a good thing for the rabbit. I ran to get the leaf skimmer, but every time I scooped the bunny, it jumped back into the water. I could see it was starting to get very tired and I didn't know how to save it, so I did what I always do in a panic situation: screamed for Tony.
He heard me through the closed doors, windows, and walls. Just as he came out of the house, the bunny slipped into one of the skimmers, but it was out of reach. I was just about ready to jump in, fully clothed, when Tony lifted the lid from the skimmer, and the bunny saw the opening and hopped out, scurrying through the plants and out into the alley. I'm really hoping it's okay.
We have a ton of wild bunnies in our neighborhood, a phenomenon that began about 5 years ago. Every year there are more, and they nest in shrubs where they continue to reproduce. I think they're adorable, Tony considers them a nuisance, and Millie loves to fantasize about chasing them. I knew we had at least one out by the pool because I see it moving from plant to plant when I'm working outside, but this is the first time I've been aware rabbits can swim. I wonder if this one will come back, or if it will find a new home? Either way, it has lots of friends, so I can just about guarantee this won't be our last wabbit wescue.
After being away at Kanakuk Kamps K-7 all summer, Jenni, Dave, Zoey, and Ruby came home last night. We had made plans for them to come over and spend the day today, along with Erika and Leo. Grammy and Papa were going to make lunch, and then we were going to swim and get pizza for supper after naps. This morning Erika called to tell us Leo had a fever and was droopy. Poor little guy. So plan A was scrapped, and plan B became all of the above sans the Wiese trio. Bummer! Jenni did bring the girls over and we did end up having a marvelous day together. Tony and I weren't sure how the girls would respond to us after the 3-month separation, but it turns out we had nothing to worry about. Ruby, now 17 months old, was a little shy at first, but Zoey, 3 1/2, sprang out of the car and leapt into my arms, clinging to me like a little tree frog! It was so precious, especially because Zoey is not a particularly cuddly child, mainly because she's almost always in perpetual motion. We had a great time getting reacquainted. The girls (and their 4-months-pregnant mom) took good naps, and shortly after they awakened, their dad arrived from his first day back at school. We all had about an hour of fun in the pool, then we had supper together. When it was time for the Cribbies to head for home, Zoey burst into tears and wanted to stay. That was a first! Once she was comforted and back to her cheery self, I snapped the photo above. Precious girls! I already miss them and want them back soon. We'll have a redo of today as soon as Leo is over his bug. Welcome home, Cribbies!! It's great having the family all back in town again.
Today Millie is 3 years old. Thankfully, she has settled down a lot and has truly become part of the family. It was touch-and-go for the first couple of years, as she has been a real challenge. At times we wondered if she'd make it to 3! Millie is what our vet calls an "oral" dog, meaning that she expresses every emotion and instinct through her mouth. And her mouth is full of HUGE teeth. Yes, she's a biter. But finally she has grasped the fact that biting is not acceptable behavior, and she has much more self control. We still have to keep a very close eye on her when she's with the little ones because she has no concept of her size (90 pounds) and power. But she loves the grandkids and they love her. It will be a happy day when the kids are large enough to deal with her on their own.
Millie really is a very sweet girl. She's just a little more high maintenance than some of our previous dogs. But she loves and trusts us, and we couldn't imagine life without her. The most helpful thing we can do for Millie is to wear her out. Visits to the dog park where she can run and play are crucial for this high-energy girl.
So happy birthday, Millie! We hope you have many, many more wonderful years ahead of you. We love you very much, sweet girl!!
I've been called for jury duty many times in my 60 years, but not until recently did I ever have the privilege of actually serving on a jury. What an experience! I loved every minute. The case was a medical malpractice lawsuit, and it couldn't have been more tailor made for me. The most difficult part of the week, aside from deliberating with my peers to give the best decision possible, was keeping mum when familiar medical terms, medicines, etc, were mangled and mispronounced by well-meaning lawyers. I kept wanting to raise my hand and make corrections. Thankfully, I was able to maintain my decorum and not embarrass myself or others.
The case involved a thoracic surgeon who had removed part of a lobe of a woman's lung for possible lung cancer. She had the classic symptoms: middle aged, 35 years of smoking a pack a day, weight loss, coughing up blood-tinged phlegm, family history of cancer. Her initial chest x-ray showed a definite abnormal area. Her family doctor ordered antibiotics but after several courses she still wasn't improving. She had a CT scan which showed the abnormality as suspicious for cancer, but an inflammatory process could not be ruled out. She was then sent to a pulmonologist, who ordered a PET scan. A PET scan is normally used in staging cancer, not as a diagnostic tool, but in this lady's case the medical team used it to narrow down the diagnostic possibilities before opening her chest. The PET scan showed approximately the same results as the CT scan. It was looking pretty grim for the patient.
Two weeks later, the day before her surgery, the patient went in for the usual preoperative lab tests and chest x-ray. This is standard procedure for most, if not all, hospitals and surgery centers. The next day she had a wedge resection of the lobe of her lung, and the suspicious area was removed and sent for pathology. It turned out, fortunately, to be pneumonia, not cancer. The patient recovered and returned to her normal life. Happy end of story, right? Not quite.
Fast forward to 14 months following her surgery. The patient developed shingles and some other problems not related to her surgery. From that point on she began complaining of constant pain and limited ability to do the things she was accustomed to doing, like reaching, bending, lifting, etc. She testified that she could no longer do housework or gardening. She just wanted her life back. Her husband testified that he just wanted his wife back. They blamed the surgeon and the very invasive procedure she underwent for the removal of the diseased lung tissue. They were convinced she never needed the surgery in the first place. Their reason?
The chest x-ray taken the day before her surgery was normal. Clear. Devoid of any abnormality. But no one, including the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the pulmonologist, ever looked at it before her surgery. In retrospect, knowing that she had pneumonia and not cancer, this is a critical piece of the puzzle. Had they looked at the new x-ray, taken 3 weeks after 2 rounds of strong antibiotics had been completed, might they have postponed the surgery and performed more testing? The surgeon testified that he would have changed nothing. She had a serious spot on her lung that needed to come out. His defense was strong; he had several sophisticated diagnostic tests showing a high probability that the area was cancer. But shouldn't the patient have had ALL the information at hand in order to make a decision whether to go ahead with the surgery or not? That was our dilemma.
We listened to a week's worth of opinions and observations of very highly respected doctors and medical personnel from both sides. The patient and her husband were suing the surgeon for pain and suffering (separate suits seeking separate amounts of money for each of them) due to his negligence, i.e., his not looking at the preoperative chest x-ray. When the judge charged us, the jury, to begin our deliberations, he told us to weigh all the evidence we had been presented. Our verdict would be based on the "preponderance of the evidence", or which side was more convincing. We retired to the deliberation room with a foot-high stack of evidence to ponder.
It only took us about an hour and a half. Although the patient had some valid charges against the surgeon, when we had considered all the evidence it was unanimously clear that there was no malpractice. The surgeon had carried out what he considered, in his educated and experienced opinion, to be the best course of treatment for this patient. A chest x-ray is probably the most basic, primitive of all diagnostic scans currently available. Even a clear, "normal" x-ray can be inaccurate. The surgeon didn't go into the woman's chest just because he was scalpel-happy and giddy with power. He did it to save her life. We did not find him negligent or responsible to pay the woman and her husband damages.
A week later, I'm still certain we made the right decision. It wasn't an easy one. The woman clearly has some pain issues that will probably plague her the rest of her life. But there was no concrete evidence to prove that her current condition was caused by the surgeon's negligence. I wish them all well. The attorneys for both sides did a fabulous job, and I would hire either of them in a New York minute.
It will probably be a few years before I'm called for jury duty again. If and when I am, I will not hesitate to serve. It's a privilege unique to our country, and I will be honored if I am ever chosen again.
Well, technically nothing. This was taken May 14th, the night before the Cribbies left for their summer at Kanakuk. At the time, Leo was 20 1/2 months, Zoey was 3, and Ruby was almost 14 months. It's obvious the 3 cousins love each other and enjoy being together. Togetherness is a very good thing in our family, because in January 2011 this group of 3 little ones will increase to 5! That's right, they are each expecting a new sibling. We are over-the-top excited!! Erika is due with #2 on January 12, and Jenni is due with #3 on January 26. Since historically Erika has been late and Jenni has been early, there's the likely possibility that the 2 babies will be born even closer than 2 weeks apart.
Jenni and Dave do not find out their babies' sex, so we will be 100% surprised by Baby Cribblet. Erika and Josh like to find out the sex, so we'll know ahead of time (at around 20 weeks) if Baby Wieselet is male or female, but we won't know any names until after these babies are born.
This is Jenni's and Erika's dream come true, because they've always yearned to be pregnant at the same time. I don't think any of us ever expected them to be so closely pregnant together but God knows best, and we are all very happy about the timing. We all feel so tremendously blessed to be given these precious new lives to nurture and love. Stay tuned for updates! Woohoo!!! Am I a happy Grammy or what?!!!