For as long as i can remember, i've loved looking at cookbooks. I'm not sure why, but i am willing to bet that it came from spending time in the kitchen with my parents. My Mom was an amazing cook and my Dad did a lot of the baking and it seemed that i always gravitated to the kitchen either to watch or taste. Many, many hours were spent in the kitchen...my parent's cooking, bickering, tasting and me, sitting at the table, looking though cookbooks. Of course, the cookbooks with photos were my favorite....one day, i promised myself, one day, i'll bake things that look just as good.
I'm still trying on that, btw...
The holidays were signaled as beginning when i watched my father make Nut Rolls from a recipe that had been handed down from my Grandma in early November. He would make many Nut Rolls and give them as gifts to friends. Those Nut Rolls came to be known as "Grandma's Nut Rolls" even though the recipe was first found in a newspaper food section many years ago. My Grandma had played with the recipe a little, tweaking it here or there, to suit her taste. Pecans were put in place of the walnuts, a little sugar was added, a topping was created for them....each tweak she created just made those Nut Rolls even better. I looked forward to Thanksgiving because i knew that my Dad would start baking; i loved those Nut Rolls.
After my Grandma passed away, i was lucky enough to get a book of her's. In the book is some family info, birth dates, dates of deaths in our family, addresses of friends and family, newspaper clippings, and other odds and ends scribbled in her handwriting. I had to smile as i looked through all of the stuff in Grandma's book; for years, i've done the same thing. I had journals that i would write in, put clippings in, and just stuff i wanted to remember. Although i still have journals, my recipes are now kept in a large three-ring binder with sheet protectors and not in blank books like my grandma and i use to use. While i do love my big ol' binder of recipes, i find myself longing for those plain, black books that my Grandmas use to use.
As i flipped though Grandma's book, i found the 'original newspaper clipping' of the recipe for Grandma's Nut Roll. While i was thrilled about finding that newspaper clipping, what made me especially happy was her 'tweaked' recipe written in her handwriting with notes scribbled on the sides of the recipe. Written in her fancy handwriting was my favorite recipe, almost like a gift. I am most like my Grandma than anyone in our family; i was named after her and i was her first grandchild. I have her personality, her love of plants, trees and flowers, her rotten eyesight, her love of what is going on in the world, her poor eye sight and her love of baking. She and i always had a very strong connection with each other. To now have this recipe made me feel as if i was four years old again, standing on a chair in the kitchen with her, rolling out "my" dough as she was rolling out hers. I still remember watching her, trying to put my little hands on the rollers just like she had her's. Grandma would always let me "cook" with her...i was her "Annie". No one else in my family ever called me "Annie" but Grandma....i miss hearing her call me that name.
There is something about a recipe that is written in someone's handwriting. Especially if the handwriting is of someone you loved dearly growing up. It somehow brings you closer to them...i can't tell you how much i cherish that worn piece of paper in her handwriting. Now a days, i usually print the recipes i use from the computer because, well, it's easier, neater and quicker. I do think, however, that i'm going to hand write some of my favorite recipes that i've played with. Yes, i'm sure that i'll curse at myself for deciding to do this, but i'll remind myself why i'm doing this. I want to pass on those recipes that i use and the memories that go with them. Emma already loves to 'help' stirring and she will drag her little pink stool to where i am to help me. She's learning how to measure, pour and taste, although i will say i think that the tasting part is her favorite. How i wish that my Mom and my Grandma were in the kitchen with us....
...but you know, in my heart, i know that they both are, watching and smiling that i'm trying to teach Emma like they both taught me so many years ago. I hope that Emma will love to bake or cook and i hope that she will one day cherish handwritten recipes, too. In those handwritten recipes are the many, many memories that tie us to each other. No matter what went on, those special recipes brought us together.
This year, i'm going to try my hand at making Nut Rolls. Oh, i've helped many, many times, but i've never made them on my own. The making of the dough makes me a little nervous and the rolling of the Nut Roll makes me break out in a cold sweat. It's been a few years since i've had those amazing Grandma Nut Rolls so, it's up to me to try to make them.
Besides, i won't be alone in the kitchen, you know....Grandma will be watching over me and my little helper.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
♡ Scribbled by ~Isabel at 8:06 PM
Friday, August 26, 2011
The past two years or so since we've moved, we have been looking for a 'family' church. It sounds like this task of finding a new church to call home should be an easy task, no?
It wasn't an easy task at all.
Robert and i were raised in very different religious homes as children. Robert was raised strict Baptist and i was raised Catholic; the two of those religions mix like oil and water, you know. While Robert had joined the Methodist church many years ago, i was still hanging on to my Catholic faith by a thread. The Methodist ideology is what drew Robert to that faith and i understood that but wasn't sure if i was a good fit with it. The important thing to me was that the two of us attend church; so, if it meant i would go to a Methodist church, so be it.
Que the dramatic music here...
I totally underestimated how i felt towards the religion i had grown up with...as much as i did not like many of the things of the Catholic church (i hated how women could not be 'called' to preach, i hated their ideology on birth control, hated their stance/how they acted when they went into other countries who were not Catholic, and hated the entire issues of abuse done by priest), i did love the ceremony and rituals of the church. I loved saying the rosary as a time with God. I loved how we honored Mary, Jesus' mother. I loved the Saints. I agreed with their stance on abortion. But the one thing that hurt me the most in my faith was how the Catholic Church viewed divorce.
I had previously been married and divorced. I was not married in the Catholic Church, but i felt that God would help me bring my first husband towards Him and the church. I continued to attend mass on my own often during my first marriage, but felt odd, as if i shouldn't be there. And then 12 years into that marriage, came the divorce i didn't want. The church, where i always went for comfort, didn't seem as welcoming to me after my divorce. I felt that i had committed a horrible sin, divorcing my first husband, when in truth, i had done everything i knew to do to save that marriage. It was not a healthy marriage and i knew that. There was physical abuse that i did my best to hide. There was infidelity on my first husband's part not once, or twice, but three times. My first husband had serious issues that i thought i could help him overcome. I prayed as hard as i knew how to pray, begging for God to help me save that marriage and my first husband.
God didn't help me save that marriage. Or my husband.
But He did help me save me. And He helped me understand that if someone wants to be saved, that someone must come to Him on their own; not being dragged by a spouse.
And i was grateful that He saved me. So very grateful...because i was angry at God a lot at that time. I was angry that i didn't feel at home at my church. I was angry that God didn't fix what "I" wanted him to fix and how i wanted Him to fix it. And i was angry because during that difficult first marriage, i didn't "feel" God present in my life. "Where was He?", i remember thinking to myself. Did He forget me? Was He angry at me? Why did it feel like He had deserted me when i truly needed Him the most?
Thankfully, God gives us what we "need" and not what we "want".
God was there with me during my first marriage. I see that now, looking back.
And, God gave me Robert.
And then, God gave us Emma.
It became apparent to me after becoming a wife and mother, that the church i wanted to attend and the church that would be a fit for my little family was different. Robert had no interest in attending a Catholic Church. My daughter was flourishing in a Baptist run Mother's Day Out program. I had to do what was best for them...so, the 'search' continued.
...and continued some more as i secretly hoped that i could "change" Robert's mind in what kind of church "we" both wanted to be members of and to call 'home'.
And then, a few weeks ago, we attended Matt's memorial service at Christ Church.
I had no idea where this Christ Church was. I was stunned to find out that i have driven by it many, many times and not noticed the church, hidden in the trees.
It was an amazing memorial service for Matt. It was a church that i felt instantly at ease in. I remember thinking, "I would like to hear more from this Father Dan".
Yeah. I know. It's "Pastor" Dan Scott, not "Father" Dan Scott.
We were invited back by Matt's parents.
At the first
mass service, i noticed that there are bongo drums at Christ Church. And electric guitars. And a trumpet. And a sax. And a piano. And lots of other musical things that are not in a Catholic Church and that have never been seen in a Catholic Church. And there was no "holy water" to speak of to bless myself with...
But the choir at Christ Church?
It was the most wonderful, amazing, and unbelievable choir i have ever heard.
And i knew, i knew, that this church would be our home.
This church is a perfect fit for Robert and Emma. It is so important to me and Robert that we find a church that Emma can grow up in and be a part in. In fact, Emma will be attending pre-school at Christ Church starting in September. I see her growing up in this church and our family attending it for many, many years to come.
The other amazing thing?
It's a perfect fit for me, too...which is more than i had hoped for. I felt welcomed by the staff, the Pastor, the Preschool director and the other folks who attend. I didn't expect this church to work for me, to be a place where i could fit. But i am so thankful that it's worked out this way.
I'm beginning to think that somehow, someway, all churches/religions are 'related' in one way or another. I've always thought that all religions, at their base, started in the same place/same stream thought. I get a lot of flack for thinking this, but i still think this. Churches/Religion seem to have more in common than not, you know...
Maybe it would be a good thing if we all remembered that when dealing with each other.
♡ Scribbled by ~Isabel at 8:10 AM
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
How can it possibly be time for summer to come to a close and for school to start already? In a blink of an eye, summer has flown right past me. There just never seems to be enough time to go to the swimming pool as much as we'd like to, visit friends as much as we'd like to, or just enjoy the hot sun...
We've had a good summer, the three of us. It's been a busy summer, with lots of stuff going on and lots of things to keep up with. And it's been really, really hot, too. But being hot is a great excuse to do nothing but spend time at our neighborhood pool, make friends and play in Emma's Butterfly Garden.
And of course, decide about preschool....
....which is a totally different post as i don't think i'm ready for THAT post quite yet.
Or the next day...
...or the day after that.
♡ Scribbled by ~Isabel at 1:55 PM
Thursday, August 11, 2011
....it's a safe bet that all three of us will pass it around
with me catching the worst of it.
Emma woke up on Thursday feeling like yuck very, very (did i say VERY?) early. Off to the couch she and i went, with Pachi, the blue blankets, all of the dinos and pillows. Robert soon joined this little party, just to check in on his girls and help me medicate the tot.
Yep, Princess of Dino Land was sick and with fever.
And so, began a day of being in our pjs, parked on the couch; Princess of Dino Land, all of her Dinos, Pachi and
the servant me.
Mid-morning, Emma asked for cracker and some tea. I, being the "Serf of Princess of Dino Land", jumped up to get the requested food and drink.
I was only gone from the upstairs family room long enough to get a tray, put crackers, cheese, a glass of tea
and a LARGE Diet Coke for me before i went back to the family room. Really, and honestly, i was not gone long.
Too bad that it was long enough.
As i headed up the stairs, i noticed that Emma was no place to be found. Pachi, was also missing. And the liquid, yummy tasting Advil that i had left with a spoon and it's child-proof lid on the bottle of Advil, which was sitting on top of the stair ledge, was also gone.
I could feel a sinking feeling in my stomach. And then, full-fledged panic.
As i looked down, there were two big spots of grape-looking Advil stuff on the carpet.
Surely, Emma wouldn't touch....
No way she could get the lid off. It was a child-proof lid.
IT WAS A CHILD-PROOF LID.
After screaming (i couldn't help it...honestly) her name out, i found her in her little bathroom, standing on her little flower stool, with the water on, rinsing the Advil bottle and spoon.
Trying to remain calm
because i was almost hysterical, i asked her:
"Emma, did you take any of that medicine?"
Emma replies, "Ooo, wyes. I hadda cooof, Mama!"
Being calm is not one of my strong points. I pretend that it is, and i even talk myself into thinking i am one of those calm, non-panic-like Mommies.
I grab her off of her stool, shut the water off and take her back into the family room. Stupid Toy Story is in the back ground....i now am beating myself up mentally.
"Damn it, Isabel, how in the hell did you leave that medicine on the ledge of the stairs?? WHAT IN THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?? How careless! How STUPID. OMG, OMG, OMG....PLEASE, GOD, DON'T LET HER HAVE TAKEN MUCH....I am so sorry, God. I am so sorry...I am a horrible, careless mother who has probably killed her child."
I get like that.
I calmly ask Emma, "Sweetie, how much did you take?"
Emma, who is kissing Pachi, "No, Mommy."
Me, to myself, WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN?!?!?!?
I grab my cell phone and call poison control, and pray for someone to answer who is use to dealing with first time careless, hysterical Mommies.
"Blah, Blah...Poison Control. Can i help....."
"Can i get your nam....."
"Ms. Johannes, please calm......"
"Ms. Johannes, listen to me and please stop talking...." (This is where he is thinking to himself "I knew i shouldn't have answered this call!".
"Is the bottle empty?"
"Ms. Johannes, ask your daughter, in a CALM voice, if she drank out of the bottle."
"Emma, sweeeetttttiiiieeee, did you drink out of the bottle?"
Emma, who is playing with Pachi's toes replies "Oh, no, Mama...i'd dwink wiff da spooon."
"Ms. Johannes, i heard her. Okay, now listen, the chance that she actually poured enough into the spoon to take is unlikely....."
"THERE ARE TWO HUGE SPOTS OF ADVIL ON THE CARPETANDSHEWASCLEANINGTHEBOTTLEOUTINTHESINK"
"....that your daughter took much. Did you say she was cleaning out the bottle in the sink, Ms. Johannes?"
"Yes...." (i'm calming down a little....)
"Please ask Emma how many spoons she took."
"Emmmmaaaaa, how many spoons of medicine did you take, sweeeetttttiiiieeee?"
who is probably wondering how she ever scored me as a Mommy "I wonly twook owone, Mama. It not state on da spoonnn!"
"Ms. Johannes, i heard Emma. Okay, Ms. Johannes, i think that your daughter is fine and didn't drink the entire bottle like you think she did. But, to be on the safe side, please call your peditrician, and CALMLY tell them what happened. If you would feel better, you can take her to the ER....."
"No, no....she seems fine....iamsosorry."
"It's okay, Ms. Johannes....just be sure to always put up medicine, alright?"
"sigh.....yes, yes. Thank you....."
"You're very welcome, Ms. Johannes....."
I suppose that someday, but not any day soon, i will look back on this and laugh.
Just not any day soon.
Yeesh....so, folks, be sure to NEVER, EVER, EVER leave out medicine, even if it has a child-proof lid.
♡ Scribbled by ~Isabel at 7:50 PM
Monday, August 8, 2011
....another beautifully written post by my sweet husband, Robert from his blog IsOkToPrint about Matt's Memorial Service:
It would be easy for me to let a heavy heart fetter my spirit and my mind for the coming weeks. But after yesterday’s memorial service for Matthew Bergman at Christ Church here in Nashville, I came away after the ceremony not consumed by dread and sorrow, but with a deep sense of calm and quiet.
Perhaps it was the comforting words of Senior Pastor Dan Scott or the reverence of the Navy Honor Guard performing their moving tribute to a fallen comrade. The music certainly stirred the soul as did the video slide of Matt’s life, complete with a special song that was written by a family friend.
While I think all of this helped set the stage for us to begin the next chapter of our lives without Matt, I feel that what was really the calming of the seas was that we had each other huddled in the first three rows of the church. It was this small group of 20 people, those who knew and loved Matt the most, that allows this next phase, the healing portion of our loss, to begin. On this day, God put his arms around us and said “You travel not alone, but go with those who love you.”
To be sure, each will heal in a different time at a different pace. And some will find the progress is often met with great resistance or even a step or two backward for a short time. But we all know that when the road becomes difficult and those steps forward seem too hard to make, that the circle of love is just a moment or two away and that we each will be there to help in any way that we can.
Lesson Learned: Our trials and tribulations may seem a solo journey, but it need not be. We only have to open our hearts to God and our family, and to remember that we travel down life’s precarious road with them by our side.
♡ Scribbled by ~Isabel at 10:57 AM
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
A post about Matt and our past week, beautifully written by my husband, Robert on his blog ItsOkToPrint...
This past week has been one of the lowest points of my life.
I know that part of our humanity and part of our faith in God is that we must accept death as a part of life. We are taught and counseled that while we cannot fully understand the afterlife, it is not to be feared. It is to be a celebration. A homecoming.
Alas, it still remains a bittersweet one.
I have encountered three deaths in the past few days. One was a famous young person, one a child, and one a family member. I found it remarkable that they all passed away and yet their deaths are not the same, as each contained a different lesson learned.
Amy Winehouse, the English singer/songwriter, died at the age of 27 last week of a drug/alcohol related illness or overdose. While sad, it reminded me that sometimes death is equal parts tragic and pathetic. Lesson Learned: To allow drugs or anything to rule and then take over your life of your own free will is to say that life almost has no meaning, and the talents you have been blessed with by the Creator spit upon. It is by my measure a senseless and selfish waste.
A small girl, 6 year old Gabby, died in a car wreck last week. She was a child that was adopted at about the same time my daughter was. This death serves notice that a life incomplete can sometimes be crossed by cruel fate. Her grandfather lost control of the vehicle they were in: An accident, nothing more. We weep for her death as almost unfair. So much potential never realized. But we also know what great joy and love she gave to everyone around her, enriching the lives she touched. Lesson Learned: A vessel of God’s love if only here but for a short while. A gift. Cherish it each and every day.
Three days ago, fate once again interceded and took away someone close and dear. Matt was a part of my family, though not by birth. He was mysteriously lost at sea three days ago on the naval ship USS Boxer in the Gulf of Aden. He was there on his first tour of duty, a bright eyed and wonder struck petty officer trained in a very special field. He loved his work, he loved doing his part to defend this country, and he loved being a part of something very special.
While his death could be perceived as sharing the tragedy of Amy’s and the abruptness of Gabby’s, I feel he left us as he was meant to. Matt lived more in two years than many of us do our entire lives. He was doing exactly what he wanted to do, fulfilled and lustful for more, a seemingly endless thirst for more knowledge. How many of us can claim that in our professional, personal and spiritual lives?
What Matt leaves with me is not broken dreams or unfulfilled promises, but an example of grasping both what is in important in life and savoring each day. While Matt’s career was nothing short of the highest potential in a complex and shadowy world, He also fully enjoyed some of this life’s simplest things. Nothing made Matt happier than a great cigar, a deck of cards, and good friends. Well, flirting with the closest young lady might rate up there as well. But for all his complexity, he cherished simplicity.
He also never lost sight of his family and his faith. His love and commitment to each was unwavering and uncompromising. When Matt gave you a hug, you felt his heart. That he truly loved and gave love.
Some will remember his mischievous smile. Others will remember his wit and incredible intellect. Still others will remember his dedication to his country and fellow service mates. I will remember his warmth and his hug and his quickness to always say “I love you, Uncle Robert.” Even when his Uncle wasn’t at his best.
Matt is my hero. And in his death, while I feel that a part of my heart has been ripped unfairly away, I know that he is still there and will always be there. And still here watching over me. Smiling and laughing at all that life both gives us and throws at us. Lesson Learned: It is not age, income, social status or place in life that determines the measure of impact someone can have in our lives.
Rest in Peace, Matt Bergman. While your walk with us was far too short, you have left indelible footprints in the sands of our soul.
♡ Scribbled by ~Isabel at 10:24 AM
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
♡ Scribbled by ~Isabel at 10:22 AM
Monday, August 1, 2011
Every man who serves in the military is someone’s son, every woman is someone’s daughter. Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Second Class Matthew Bergman, the 21-year-old Sailor who went missing from the USS Boxer last week, was the son of Joe Bergman. As Home Post reported earlier this morning, the Navy announced it called off the search for Bergman on July 29, “when expectations of recovery no longer existed.”
So that we could get to know him better, Joe Bergman has been kind and generous enough to send Home Post The Military in San Diego this essay about his son Matt:
"Matt was a quirky child, extremely intelligent and extremely undisciplined. While in high school Matt jumped two grades in math while in the same year flunked art and band. I asked him, “How could you flunk art?” He just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I guess I forgot to turn stuff in.”
Matt had a huge heart for others. I never saw Matt say a hateful thing to anyone. He was always looking for a way to help those around him. Matt would do anything you asked if you needed help.
Matt had a photographic memory and was very good at languages and math. His memory was unbelievable. Matt won the Davidson county spelling bee in grade school by memorizing the entire study book. He said it only took him a few hours of looking at the pages of all the possible words they would be given. Before the match he told me he would win because he knew all the words. When he was asked to spell a word he would twitch his eye and act like he was looking inside his brain then recall the spelling. The next year he again said he would win. He again won the school spelling bee then went onto the county. At the county contest it came down to him and another girl. They went back and forth several times. Then Matt missed a word. He was crushed. He came up to me and said it was not fair the word he was given was not in their study guide which contained hundreds and hundreds of words. I went and checked out of curiosity. The teacher said Matt was correct they had moved up a level.
Matt decided he wanted to take French in high school. He said Spanish would be too common and easy. He did very well. During his sophomore year he went to France on a class field trip. His teacher said he was the only student that could speak French to locals. She was amazed.
At the end of Matt’s junior year I told him he needed a plan as to what he wanted to do in his life. I told him I would be proud of whatever his choice was and would help him, he needed to only come up with a plan. After a few days Matt came to me and said he knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to travel through Europe, work odd jobs, learn languages and about other cultures. I told him that was a vacation, not a plan! A few weeks later a friend told me if Matt loved languages the military had the best language school in the world, and it would also help Matt with his self-discipline issues. I went home and went to the Navy web site CTI (linguist) section. I asked Matt to take a look. Matt studied the site for about and hour, then came to me and said, “I know what I want to do with my life. I want to be a linguist in the Navy and learn Arabic. Can you take me to the recruiter now?” We talked more about it and took Matt later that week.
Matt now was focused like a laser beam. He was so excited. His life had purpose and direction. I was so proud of his choice.
Matt was so proud to serve his country. After boot camp he came to me and said he had now made Grandpa’s wall. At my grandfather’s house the “wall” had pictures of everyone who had been in the military. My uncles, brother, cousins, father and myself were on that wall. Now my son would be added to the wall.
The Navy had changed Matt and gave him the discipline he needed. Matt was at the top of his class. Matt sent me a fuzzy photo (of his report card) at the end of his class. He had a 4.0.
After DLI Matt told me he did not want to be stateside. He wanted to be on the front lines. He wanted to possibly one day assist the Special Forces on their missions as a linguist. Matt was so excited he was deploying overseas.
On July 27 at 4 p.m. my door bell rung. When I answered the door there were two Sailors who asked if I was Mr. Bergman, I said yes. They said, “Mr. Bergman, we regret to inform you that 11 hours ago your son Matthew Bergman was reported lost at sea in the Gulf of Aden. He was on the USS Boxer.” (I did not know where my son deployed.) They explained there was an extensive search for my son, however, they did not want to give me false hope. It was a long time to be out at sea. I felt the tears come to my eyes. I told them “I have no regrets. Matt was chasing his dream. I am proud of him for that.” They asked me if I was OK, (and) I explained, “My son Matt is either alive in the water with Jesus at this very moment or in heaven in His arms. I am OK.” July 29 I was informed the search for Matt was being called off.
Matt loved God family, friends, and his country. Matt chased his dreams and lived life to the fullest. I have no regrets he served and gave his life for his country. His name Matthew means “gift from God.” He was a gift to me, to others, and his country. Matthew Bergman is my son, I loved him in life and will miss him. I am proud and thankful for his service.
In closing I have this to say to Matt: You made Grandpa’s wall, and you are my hero. I will see you again in Heaven. God always knew where you were and was with you. You were never lost at sea."
~Joe Bergman, Matt's Dad
♡ Scribbled by ~Isabel at 10:16 AM