Saturday, October 31, 2009

Our Pumpkin-less Patch

Uncle B and his kids

Bate's Nut Farm

October 2002

Uncle B and Samuel

Bell Garden's 10/03

Notice the Bate's Pumpkin Shirts Uncle Bryan splurged for!

Aidan and his favorite Uncle

Bryan loved Halloween. Maybe it is because he was always a kid at heart and dressing up is fun. For a kid ANY age. You've seen the photos of him as a Viking on this blog. Not last year, but the one before, he went as a pitcher of red Kool-Aid. I can remember him as the 10 Million Dollar Man, a cowboy ghost (see my archives on 1/15/09 post for THAT wild story), GI Joe, the list is endless. When most teens had grown out of trick-or-treating, Bryan kept it up almost through high school. And every year as an adult. I knew why he did it as a teen; Bryan was one of those meanies who would take punky kids candy from them! He always carried a huge king-sized pillow case for his loot. Of course, he was just doing the grunt work for my dad. Daddy always said he need to "check" our candy (these were the years when psycho people were doing things like putting straight pins in candy bars!). He would sort the chocolate from the silly, low-class sugar stuff like Smarties, Dum Dums, and Pixie Stix. My dad was only interested in the chocolate. He "checked" it alright. Serves Bryan right--he snatched the loot to have it stolen from him :) Payback!

Bryan loved the old Charlie Brown movies. In fact, Halloween 2008 he bought my kids the entire Remastered Deluxe Editions--with the Valentine's, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Halloween stories. It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown is a movie my brother and I watched on TV for years as kids. With commercials. Remember Linus faithfully keeping watch all night for the Great Pumpkin. He believed. So did Bryan. In the fun of Halloween and dressing up and getting lots of free candy at least. I hope he didn't really believe in the Great Pumpkin?
He was tickled to buy it for the kids on DVD, without commercials. My kids are watching it as I type. Even though we don't "do" Halloween over here, we always get pumpkins. And before you boo me for being a kill-joy, I also plan a dress-up opportunity for my kids at Harvest time so they get to enjoy the costume thing that Uncle B so delighted in. This year it is a Medieval Feast. Last year it was an ancient Athens Olympics. So there is dressing up going on over here. Sheeeesh! Give me some credit. It's not bizarre pregnant housewife ghosts, but they still enjoy it (you really have to re-read my January post to get this!).

Ever since my kids joined the party, Bryan has taken us to the Pumpkin Patch to pick out the biggest, ugliest pumpkin money could buy. I have dozens of pictures but we've had technical difficulties this week around our house so I can't locate them (especially the most recent--where the whole family is on a tractor hayride and Uncle B is sneezing!). But let's just say that when the air turns crisp and the leaves begin to change colors, Bryan has always been here to welcome the start of the holidays with our annual Pumpkin Patch trip. Bate's Nut Farm was his first choice. He loved all the goodies and never got out of there without spending tons of money and contributing to the cavity quota over here. He was so much fun. Like a big 'ole grinning kid. Even rode the pumpkin train with the littles. I guess this is just one more day added to the list of First Without Him.

So this year, as much as I tried, I cried, I prayed, I willed myself to carry on his tradition, I even scheduled a trip to a new, unfamiliar, just-so-no-old-memories-would-overtake-me patch...I couldn't do it. So now you can legitimately boo me or feel sorry for my kids. They have no pumpkin--no big, fat, ugly pumpkin--on our front porch to remind them of Uncle B. Maybe next year?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

39 Years and Counting

Happy (Belated) Anniversary Mom and Daddy!

Since my parents have been married for 39 years and since they have renewed their vows countless times--I only feel slightly peeved with myself for posting these CONGRATS so belatedly!
Our parents were first married as teenagers in 1970. Then they had a second wedding in the 80's some time. Then on a ship somewhere in the early 90's. I think even a marriage retreat too. Then...Bryan and I gave them a 25th Anniversary Party where they renewed their commitment to each other--AGAIN! They are married for life, I guess, after all those promises and vows.
The above photos were of the Surprise 25th Anniversary Party on October 14, 1995. After we feasted and they made new/old promises to one another, Bryan raised his glass to our parents. His toast was witty, eloquent and fitting. I wish I had a copy of his words--but then again, he didn't have a copy of his words. He always spoke extemporaneously--smoothly and sincerely. Bryan was gifted like that. He blessed my parent with his heartfelt praise of their example to him--in their years of togetherness and love.
So today, I toast Mr. & Mrs. David and Victoria Klungreseter. Your union of 39 years has brought many good things--first among them, your beautiful son. Here's to you, Mom and Daddy!**CHEERS**
"Grow old with me, the best is yet to be." Robert Browning

Monday, October 26, 2009

Despair Defeater

We are reading Pilgrim's Progress around here. We are at that dreary part where Christian and Hopeful are imprisoned in Despair's Dungeon. The sojourners made a wrong turn--and followed the road called Doubt. There is no light in Despair's dungeon. There is no mercy. The giant Despair relentlessly tortures Christian. His companion, Hopeful, tells him not to forget how God has led them in the past. How He has kept on the path toward their reward. Even though I have read this story many times, I can't remember how they escape in the book. I am waiting eagerly the climax--Christian's deliverance from Despair's clutches!

I can relate to Christian; I have followed doubt's path to despair. Where the grave seems easier than staying there in that lightless, awful place of despair. I have longed for death as a respite from the merciless torment of despair. Bryan felt that way, I know he did. And my heart is sad that I could not lead him to the sovereignty of God like Christian's friend Hopeful did for him. It consoles me to know that Bryan is whole and well and safe. No longer oppressed by despair or doubt. How can that NOT be good? I am still sad for me, my heartbroken parents, my kids. But I am not sad for Bryan. I grieve but I am learning to look at death as a teacher. There is a time for everything--even a time to die. And a time to number your finite moments and live those appointed days well--with joy. Not despair. I want to be like Christian's friend--Hopeful.

So here are my Monday blessings (a sure way to defeat Despair--counting your blessings):

136. the earth to live on (from Samuel)
137. God's forgiveness (from Kate)
138. kid's eat free on Mondays restaurants
139. capable plumbers
140. the Nutcracker (from Reilly)
141. our home (from Aidan)
142. spider man underwear (from Peter)
143. hot showers-so appreciated after NOT having water all day
144. school--growing instead of wasting away (Kate's contribution)
145. endless french fries at said restaurant
146. for grandma (from them all in unison)
147. game night (scoring the high on Hyperslide)
148. Jackie being born 45 years ago: her doting hubby who reminds us to celebrate that!
149. boy babysitter! so RAD! thanks Garrett
150. sleeping in
151. new sound proof family room--to facilitate # 150
152. friends who pitch in during a crisis--thanks Mer, Kellie, and Eno
153. pumpkins
154. brown-eyed boy in spiderman suit
155. cartooning class with Bigfoot (Aidan again)
156. little children chiming in with thanks
157. best friend's birthday--postponed celebration to look forward to (and DESSERT!)
158. flushing toilets
159. stillness
160. bedtime after a busy day

More later, there is a time for everything--a time to cuddle and say our nighttime thanks to Him. Goodnight.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Jodi (Aunt Kathy's daughter), Me, Mom, Aunt Kathy and Aunt Emmy
Jones Wedding
Cheryl and Chad
First Dance as Mr. & Mrs. Sisco
August 2009

Renewing their vows--Bryan's Parents
Vickey & David Klungreseter
October 1985
(An original wedding photo is hard to come by;
they married in between my dad's college classes by a judge at Westminster City Hall.
Mom wore her high school graduation dress. I will hunt for a photo.)

Bertha and Anders Klungreseter
July 15, 1943

Aunt Kathy, Dan's new father-in-law Mr. Jiles, Lauren, Dan,
Mom, Uncle Larry

Weddings, Anniversaries, and other Special Days in October

Aunt Kathy (our Mom's youngest sister) and her oldest son Dan--Mother and Son Dance
Altlantis Casino, Reno, NV October 2009

The Jiles and Jones Families United

The Parker Family (or those related somehow to a Parker)
Chad and Cheryl's Wedding San Clemente August 2009

Some of Bryan's Favorites: Cousin Casey, Uncle Keith, Chad
Dana Point 2009

Cheryl and Chad exhange their vows at Lantern Park in Dana Point
August 8, 2009
Okay--sometimes I get frustrated trying to add things to this blog. Posting is a drag when you want to move around pictures or display a lot of images or an assortment of other vexing dilemmas. But for now, this is what I've got: pictures in non-chronological order and a computer that won't allow me to add anymore images. So I will have to make this a two-part post. Oh well.
October is a big month for anniversaries in my family. My parents were married October 9, 1970. ( **Oops!: I mixed up Grandma Bertha's death with her anniversary! Thanks Aunt Ingrid for the correction.) My grandparents (on my Daddy's side) were married July 15th 1943. And my Mom and I just returned from attending her nephew's, my cousin's, wedding. Dan and Lauren were united October 10, 2009. Because I am always a day late and a dollar short, I am adding my Mom's other nephew's wedding, my cousin Chad and Cheryl married on August 8, 2009. Not a member of the October Anniversary Club but important for our family history nevertheless. Enjoy the photos. The following post will be a continuation with more photos. Bryan would have celebrated each of these occassions with bells and whistles. He loved a good time. Weddings are always a joyful time--I love the hopefulness and excitement of watching two become one and begin their journey together.

Giving Thanks

Give thanks to the Lord and pray to him.
Tell the nations what he has done.
Sing to him; sing praises to him.
Tell about all his miracles.~ 1 Chronicles 16:8-
Thanks again, new friend Ann for making me mindful of my joy--to be thankful and to praise the Giver of good gifts.

My Multitude Monday--More Gifts

I forgot to list last week's gifts--but since I attended two funerals in 24 hours, I think it is more important than ever to remember and give thanks for every detail of my life.

Here goes:

74. windy days
75. beautiful bride, beaming groom
76. long drive with Mom over miles and miles of nothing; makes the conversation seem more exciting. catching up, sharing hearts
77. clean hotel after not-so-clean hotel
78. bangs that cover up wrinkly foreheads--not frown lines! poor-woman's botox--bangs to frame the aging face
79. cartooning boys
80. parent's 39th sickness and in health, for better or for worse. death has not parted them--not even their own son's
81. watching little girls scurry and sweep and sway to Nutcracker Suite
82. witnessing little girl dreams come true
83. little boy standing beside Daddy at the Laker's game--such a treat for one son.
84. generous student at husband's school--he so willing to teach the teacher
85. soccer coach and daddy all-in-one: four tired, sweaty boys
86. Chipotle with friends--and long drives to solve the troubles of the world :)
87. the sound of wind whipping through the poplar trees on our street
88. safe in his arms again
89. lost pillow, found pillow
90. psalm 34:18 "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." good words when headed to funerals of fragmented people
91. white doves flying in the sky, headed home. reminds us that our loved one is finally home
92. tearful and heartbreaking eulogies--a life remembered, a treasured life
93. the resilience of children
94. funny little boys who make others laugh even when the circumstances are so tragic
95. hugging dear friends
96. photographs--no longer just images seared on our memories, on our hearts--but there to smile over and cry over
97. a packed church--standing room only: evidence of how many lives just one can touch
98. a well-lived life, a grace-filled death
99. a really good cry, cleansing for the soul, healing for the heart, puffing for the eyes
100. best friend that cares: "i'm worried about you. i prayed for you."
101. good counsel, wise counsel, Biblical counsel
102. a funny production of Shakespeare--well done by teenagers; an ancient story that still makes us giggle
103. little girl giggles--the sound of it makes me giggle and grin. contagious
104. husband who knows not to talk, just to hold
105. sitting on Daddy's lap--me! does a girl ever get to big to sit on her daddy's lap
106. the sound of husband walking through the front door
107. getting his first kiss--children must wait!
108. gentle hands in the morning, laid on me in prayer
109. warm baby snuggled close--falling back to sleep for an extra half-hour
110. no more diapers
111. watching little girl nimble fingers crochet--even if scarves are misshapen and funny
112. boys on trampolines--oh the joy!
113. passionate science teacher--thanks Eno.
114. seeing children engaged and active in their learning: eyes bright, hands busy, minds racing
115. science experiments that i don't have to perform! love co-op!
116. house full of friends and children
117. object lessons--solid wood, dry-rotted wood--which will i build with?
118. baby slings--oh to see little ones snuggles close to a mama's bosom
119. adoption--heavenly and earthly: so glad to be a co-heir, can't wait to meet you Rylie.
120. growing families
121. memorizing His Word with my kids
122. quiet, stillness
123. hubby who stumbles in to check on children, half asleep but brave: to make sure his wife sleeps sound knowing "what was that?" was NOT one of his babies falling out of bunkbeds
124. gardens growing
125. friends who share what they grow
126. pick-up game of baseball in the front yard; little boys in the playoffs?
127. happy homerun-hitters
128. good books
129. second-chances, fresh starts, new beginnings, clean slates, brand new days
130. "shout to the Lord, all the earth let us sing" "i sing for joy at the work of His hands, forever I'll love You, forever I'll stand" watching clara soar! tears in my eyes, gooseflesh and big grins
131. a day of rest
132. homecomings--so thankful you are safely Home Marilyn and Shelley
133. sweet friends who pursue you, even when they know you are hiding. thanks Kellie!
134. precious family returning to America with glorious stories of their time in China,; can't wait to hear them all; thankful for those with hearts for orphans
135. little hands returning from the mailbox and ripping open"their" mail
Someone wise once said that the shortest, surest way to happiness is to make a rule for yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you. I am on my way. My list is growing. My heart is grateful.

Monday, October 12, 2009


I am not entirely satisfied with my music playlist. I love old hymns--so did my brother. Not to listen to in his truck or buy on a cd, but when he joined us at church. Bryan had a deep baritone voice that sounded so lovely extended in worship. It brought me to tears many times. Especially at Christmas. I will not hear that voice I loved so dear again this side of Heaven. But I assuage myself by listening to hymns.
I am not sure if I ever sang along with these specific ones with him, but they are two of my favorites. He was funny--so thoroughly modern and metropolitan yet Bryan preferred tradition at church, old songs and simple programs. No bells and whistles for him. At the end of his life, he spent a stint in a Christ-based rehab. One of the few things he could say positive things about at the worshipping with all the other men.
Right now, it makes me smile to think of him using his beautiful voice to worship the Lamb of God perfectly in Heaven. Another thing he liked about the place we sent him was the Proverbs Pit. Bryan read a Proverb every morning and then he would scribble his sin or weaknesses or the lies he had been listening to on a scrap of paper to be burned in that pit. He didn't like that place I picked out for him. He vented and complained and left the first chance he had. But while he was there, his eyes were clear and his mind was focused and I saw my brother read God's Word and heard him pray and listened to him sing.
So even though Bryan is just another statistic, one of the many who fall off the wagon and return to their addictions, I am grateful for those few months when alcohol wasn't doing his thinking or speaking for him. I heard my brother's true, beautiful voice. I am so thankful for the gift of those weeks follwoing his departure from rehab when he lived with my parents and came over every morning to serve and love on me and my kids. Bryan sang worship songs, and read the Bible and prayed. He shared with me what kind of man he wanted to become. Bryan shared his heart with me. Oh, if I could turn back time and just SIT and listen, instead of scurrying around trying to accomplish whatever thing I thought was more important than those still moments with my brother. Even so, those mornings are the dearest and most precious memories I possess. They are prized treasures.
If I could, I would have posted Fernando Ortega's version of How Deep the Father's Love for Us and Newsboys' In Christ Alone. But these will do. The lyrics to hymns are what makes them special--they surpass the simple repetitive choruses that stick in your mind. Listen to them. Their words are meaty and true and they stick to your bones, to your soul. Enjoy! I will, as I picture my brother belting them out in spirit and in truth before the Prince of Peace. In perfect peace. In that deep baritone voice I miss so much.
Postscript: As I was writing this, my dear and precious friend began her journey of grief. Her beloved sister was welcomed "safely home" in Jesus' arms at 2:30 this afternoon. Marilyn and Bryan may be singing together! If you are reading this and are a pray-er, please lift this sweet family up--Marilyn left a large and loving family behind--and four small children.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Multitude Monday

Today IS Monday. Last week when I was inspired to start this Monday habit, it was Tuesday. I have always been a day late and a dollar short. Since then, I have been savoring the sweet taste of blessings this week. In keeping with my new "thing" to share the gifts and treasure the moments on Multitude Mondays, I am keeping my list running. My heart has been filled with gratitude and thankfulness. Thanks Ann for this day-delighting idea. May I share some of my gifts--on my way to 1,000--with you today? Offered in random order.

39. a mother-in-love, especially the kind who offers to make birthdays brighter by bringing the cool crowd-pleasing cake!

40. little boy birthday party

41. forgiveness, even when I don't deserve it

42. new toys/birthday gifts to entertain even the grown-ups

43. old wedding photos

44. preserved wedding dresses

45. many hands helping, scurrying, pitching in to ready the house to receive guests

46. good friends to celebrate with

47. watching birthday boy blow out THREE candles--delightful despite the spittle :)

48. gifted women in the Body of Christ

49. new teddy bear Mondays

50. repaired trampoline--proven boy-wearer-outer; worn-out boys listen better

51. hand-me-downs, even the kind with holes in the knees

52. massage by candlelight

53. yuck-bugs; something a boy must have invented or at least inspired

54. Missionary Mondays--a chance to intercede for those who GO!

55. watching my dear mom finger paint with youngest child

56. biblical counseling

57. having an artist in the family--so handy for birthday party decorating/game playing

58. siblings--now that I am an only child, I sense the glory of having a sibling to stand by in hard times

59. oldest child embroidering

60. middle child who listens and obeys right away with a happy heart

61. Juniper-less yard, at LAST!

62. dream coming true--little girl's fulfilling a life long hope, Clara in the Nutcracker

63. breaking free of old bad habits, oldest's long nails are a sight to behold

64. "fwee" year old's special way of saying words: Garth Dader and DanMa

65. friendship quilts--hand stitched squares

67. braided daughter hair--not much longer will I be needed for little hair styling

68. listening to oldest child playing the piano

69. "learning sounds" of five students in a home: humming, reading aloud, sounding out, asking questions, correcting siblings, chuckling

70. cold pizza for breakfast

71. new frying pan: unexpected gift from a good friend

72. attempting to explain puns and jokes to little ears

73. Best, Worst and Weirdest dinnner table talk: you have to be there to get it

Oh the joy of my life. Remembering what I have makes it easier to remember what I don't. I miss you, Brother.

WARNING! Tissues Required-Video Slideshow of Bryan's Life-Sorry the music was muted!