The anger phase? Yeah, felt it

“Grief is the price we pay for love.” – Queen Elizabeth II

The florist did exactly as instructed: Use flowers with patriotic colors, make them look “masculine,” and for Heaven’s sake, please don’t arrange them to look like they are en route to a funeral home.

I love my florist. She gets me. She knows I abhor funeral-looking flowers and she always accommodates my requests.

So after church on Sunday, why, oh why, did I want to take that floral arrangement and chuck it across the pews and watch it smash into the brick wall?

I ordered the flowers for Father’s Day in memory of my dad. They looked beautiful on the altar. But as I retrieved the arrangement to bring home, a wave of anger enveloped me. I felt like the flowers were a consolation prize. And I didn’t want them.

I wanted my dad.

I wanted to go visit him, to hug him, to hear his laugh, to see his sentimental smile and watch him nod his head as he read his Father’s Day card. I wanted to eat strawberry shortcake and have too much coffee with him. I didn’t want those damn flowers because they represented his death. They reminded me that I couldn’t see him in person, that at best, I could visit where his ashes are interred.

It was hard, and I did my best to get through the day without another meltdown. I propped his picture up so he was sitting with me as I muddled through chores.

The erratic weather mirrored my emotions: glimpses of sunshine; glimpses of smiles. A stray shower; a tear or two here and there. By the end of the day, the sun was setting, and the tears flowed freely, and it actually felt good.

Ironically, out of a gray sky, the sun blazed fiercely as a torrential rain storm hit in the area. Wiping my eyes, I looked out the window, then headed to the garage.

And son of a gun, if there wasn’t a rainbow stretched out across the sky…

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Dear Daddy

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano

Dear Dad Daddy,

I am not sure when I graduated from calling you “Daddy,” but I assume sometime in grade school. It’s kind of funny, but ever since you were in ICU last summer, I went back to calling you Daddy. I’m not sure why, but I feel closer to you when I call you Daddy. Of course, I don’t say it aloud. It is my special name for you.

Anyhow, this is our year of firsts, and we visit yet another observance without you – Father’s Day. Instead of getting you Lotto tickets, I ordered altar flowers in your memory for church. I still can’t get over the strange feeling I get when I say “in memory of” instead of “in honor of.” Seriously, those words seemed a bit interchangeable to me until last summer.

A lot has changed in a year. Somethings I am really glad you don’t have to witness. Other things, I wish I could see your reaction. I know you are next to me, but I can’t see your face – though I imagine that you have the huge grin going on! I can picture you doing “the nod” or rolling your eyes. Oh, how I miss that! And your laugh!

All of us think of you all the time. And we talk about you all the time. I used one of your favorite expletives while driving and then I laughed so hard I almost had to pull over. I wasn’t sure if it was me or you that let out, “C’mon, ***hole!”

We “look for the Larry” in all situations. And like pastor said at your funeral, “there is always a story to tell.” We’ve laughed and cried over the stories. When I’m not sure what to do, I think, “What would Dad do.” And as a child of yours, I may choose to do the opposite 🙂

We all feel robbed of getting to spend quality time with you. The Alzheimer’s stole moments and it was horrible to see you slowly slip away. But what I find amazing is when I dream about you, I see you healthy, whole and happy. It is like having a visit with you, and it just confirms over and over the hope of the Resurrection.

Dad, I thank you so much for all you did for me. I told you, and I do believe you heard all of us whisper to you in your final hours.

But just in case you didn’t hear, I wrote you this letter. I know you’ll hear me, because you dwell in my heart, and that is where these words come from. Thank you for life, for loving us, for your witness of faith, for all your good and for all your faults. Because you weren’t perfect, you showed us that sinners become saints. Because of your love as a father, you gave us a glimpse of the love of our heavenly Father.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. And Happy Father’s Day.

I love you, Daddy.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

(ps – These are photos of some of the cards I made my dad…)

Mixing it up again in Lynne’s Lab

Yes, making my own household cleaning and personal care items continues in my kitchen. So far, the results of the deodorant, laundry detergent and liquid hand soap have been favorable. They have also inspired others to give it a try… like my mother, who thought I had either too much time on my hands or went all-out hippie. (Okay, so I do make my own granola and have made yogurt. Does that make me a hippie?) I digress.

A few Sundays ago, I made my monthly stock of deodorant, and figured that now was as good as time as any to try making toothpaste. My granddaughters were fascinated. I assume most kids watch their Mema make cookies. They helped me count and seemed to enjoy watching their favorite mad-scientist in action.

The toothpaste was super simple to make. I found it on Crunchy Betty’s blog, and modified it – of course! My concoction: 3 Tbsp of baking soda, 3 Tbsp of coconut oil and 25 drops of peppermint essential oil (I used more peppermint, but omitted the stevia and glycerin, as I don’t care for sweetened toothpaste.) Soften the coconut oil a bit, and mix everything together.  I found little travel containers at Wal-Mart to put the paste in (one for me, one for hubby) and stored the rest of it in a small container to use as a refill. The batch cost about 38 cents to make, and  it looks like it will last two weeks for two people.

After hearing our rave reviews, my mom made her own toothpaste as well, and she is also enjoying the results. If you are not used to the baking soda taste, it is kind of salty/grainy at first, but it took me only two brushings to get used to the taste and texture. My mouth and teeth feel so much cleaner, and I think they look whiter, too.

Have you been inspired to try any of my “lab-tested” stuff? Let me know in the comment section below.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

On hope and rainbows

“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton

This past Sunday brought an eclectic mix of weather. Warm sunshine and then a cloudy gust to cool things down. The plastic resin chairs bounced across the yard like beach balls. We had an occasional sprinkle of rain, and then the sun was out. This pattern repeated itself throughout the day and into the evening.

I was cleaning the kitchen just after dinner when a beautiful burst of sunshine seemed to just pop out of the darkness. The glorious sunshine was joined with a downpour like I hadn’t seen in a while.

“It’s the perfect mix for a rainbow,” I thought to myself as I headed outdoors. Trust me when I tell you that I wasn’t disappointed. Across the evening sky were not one, but two rainbows. (My oldest daughter was able to snap a quick photo – see above.)

Looking at the double rainbow, I began to tear up. The beauty alone was enough to bring one to tears, but it was the rushing downpour of memories that caused me to be misty-eyed, but smiling at the same time.

Rainbows have a new meaning to me. On July 22, 2011, we were informed that the ventilator my dad was on had to come out. Though it aided his breathing, the apparatus was beginning to do more harm than good. My siblings, mom and I waited nervously while Dad went through the procedure. He came through it, was breathing on his own, and he was finally off the sedation. (Because of his Alzheimer’s, Dad was sedated so he wouldn’t remove the numerous tubes and wires attached to him.) Finally, he was able to see us! And we could see him – with his eyes open! It was wonderful – we were all crying and smiling – because after two long weeks, we had Dad back. He made eye contact with each and every one of us, smiled at us like he really recognized us, and he even tried to talk. We were able to leave the ICU room confidently, though we knew he had a very long road to recovery.

Later that evening, Dad started going downhill – and fast. Mom stayed with him all night, and we all started coming back to Dad’s room in the wee hours of the morning. By the afternoon of July 23, Dad was moved to Hospice care on another floor. His room was packed with us kids, our families and my parents’ siblings. We took shifts taking dinner breaks so that Dad wasn’t alone. Mom came home with me, where we tried to eat. We knew we had to go back to the hospital, but dreaded even thinking about returning.

A storm blew through, which gave us a few more minutes to linger over the dinner my husband had made. After a few sips of coffee, Mom was heading back. I would meet up with the rest of the family later, as I was waiting for my youngest daughter to return home from a week-long trip.

It was still sprinkling when we walked my mom outside to her car, and then out of no where was this bright, fleeting, intense sunshine. In its wake, we witnessed the most beautiful rainbow. I hugged my mom and told her, “Look, Mom, no matter what happens, it’s going to be okay. God‘s got our backs.” My phone started chiming – I was getting texts from other family members who saw the rainbow, too. The texts read: “Did you see the rainbow?” and “God’s promise.” We all felt tremendous hope and comfort in that unexpected rainbow.

Five hours later, in the wee hours of July 24, Dad was on heaven’s side of the rainbow.

In all life’s storms, there really is hope and comfort in a rainbow.

And now in the rainbow, for me anyways, there is also a smile from my dad.

“When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” Genesis 9:16 ESV

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Soap sud success from Lynne’s Lab

“Anyone’s life truly lived consists of work, sunshine, exercise, soap, plenty of fresh air, and a happy contented spirit.”

Last week I had a blast in my kitchen. I blogged about making my own deodorant, and how that led me to try making more household items. (Here’s the link in case you missed the first Lynne’s Lab.)

My first experiment was to make liquid soap to refill my dispensers. I stumbled upon instructions on About.com’s Frugal Living. I had all the ingredients, so, why not try it! Using that basic recipe, I grated a four-ounce bar of my favorite bath soap, Trader Joe’s Oatmeal and Honey. I brought four cups of water to a boil and took the pan off the burner, then slowly added the soap shavings, and stirred until the soap was dissolved. Once it dissolved, I let the soap rest 15 minutes and stirred it again.

The mix sat for a couple of hours and cooled (almost completely). It was a thick, gloppy mess, and I thought I had ruined it and wasted my time. But, not to be defeated, and taking a tip from the instructions, I modified things a bit. I took the soap, dumped into my blender and added a 1/4 cup of hot water. Then I blended it – it looked like a super-yummy milkshake! With the help of a funnel, I poured the warm mixture into the dispensers and it worked beautifully. It has a light fragrance and rinses well. No globs, either.

I made about 1.5 quarts of liquid soap for about a dollar. To store it, I placed the leftovers in a canning jar. The next batch I make, I plan to add a little essential oil of lavender. Not only do I love the fragrance, lavender has a calming effect and has antiseptic properties. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

After I made the liquid soap, my next project was to make liquid laundry detergent. The formula I followed made three gallons, and my cost estimate is probably about $2. The are three ingredients: one bar of Fels Naptha soap, grated; 1 cup of washing soda and 1 cup of Borax. Oh, and water 🙂

Put the soap shavings into a four-quart pan, add water about half-way up and cook on medium-low, stirring until shavings melt. Bring to a slight boil then add the dry ingredients, and stir until dissolved. It can boil over easily, so be careful!

Using a glass measuring cup as a scoop, pour equal amounts of the detergent base into the gallon containers. (I used rinsed-out milk containers.) Add hot water to the halfway mark and shake each container well. Lay containers on their side overnight. Solution will gel, like a big yellow glob! Using the handle of a long spoon, break up the gel and add hot water to the container – a little at a time – and shake until well blended. (Don’t fill completely to the top.) Because Jillee, the blogger who posted this detergent has excellent instructions, just click on this link for the complete process and follow her photo guide. Trust me when I tell you she did a great job in making this venture simple and easy to follow.

For ease of use, I poured some of the detergent into a well-rinsed liquid laundry detergent bottle. I use less than half of the measuring lid for a full laundry load. I gave a gallon of detergent to my daughter to try, and the consensus between our two households was that clothing seemed cleaner, brighter and softer. My daughter remarked that a grease stain that she thought was permanently set in a shirt actually came out using the homemade detergent.

Between the two soap making ventures, I spent less than two hours in the kitchen, and that includes hand-grating the bars of soap. Would I do it again? You betcha. Not only is this economical, but there is a tremendous feeling of satisfaction by saying “I made it myself.” And I’d like to believe that both soaps are better for my family’s skin and better for the environment, too.

Stay tuned for my next experiment…

Do you play mad scientist in your kitchen? If so, what do you make?

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Straight out of Lynne’s Lab

I’ve been creating stuff in my kitchen again…

There really is a method to my madness. When my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I did what many others do when a loved when gets handed a dreaded diagnosis – I researched. Lots of reading and weeding through pages and pages of info; endless discussions with doctors, social workers and friends about dementia.

Then, I started making changes in my own life, as I’m sure others have done, too, if there is even a remote chance that genetics play a role in your loved one’s disease. I was trying to reduce the amount of household chemicals we used, and also trying to eat organic foods.

In my hours of reading, a saw more than once that there may be a link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s. Aluminum can be found in cookware, baking powder and antiperspirants/deodorants, too. Needless to say, I started reading labels and purchasing items that were aluminum-free… which didn’t work so well with deodorants. I tried several different brands, salts, etc. No luck.

About that time, my mom started forwarding information on the benefits of coconut oil with Alzheimer’s patients. The information is amazing, and can be found by doing a simple Google search. So, after doing a lot of reading, I started to incorporate coconut oil into my diet and also use it as part of my skin care routine.

Yet, I was still frustrated that I couldn’t find a decent deodorant. And with my dad’s disease progressing, I became too distracted to care.

A few months after Dad passed away, and I came back to the land of the living, I decided to look online for homemade deodorant, and was successful in my search. And, well, because I am me – a rather impatient person – I tried the one recipe that listed the ingredients I had on hand – baking soda, cornstarch and coconut oil as I wanted to try something…NOW!

It worked!

In the past few months I have had some teenage gals try this potion, and they are liking the results. The ultimate test came when my hubby tried it, did yard work in some seriously high heat, and he was really pleased with the effectiveness. (Note – you will perspire as your body was designed by God to do, but the deodorant will do as it is designed to do – deodorize.)

If you want to try it, here goes:

1/4 cup baking soda + 1/4 cup cornstarch + 5 tablespoons of melted coconut oil. (Your best bet is to use organic ingredients). Mix until ingredients are smooth. It is like a paste, and you just massage it in. Use about a dime size. (You can add essential oils if you like, see link below for details.) Sometimes the coconut oil can solidify, so should that happen, you will need to warm it in your hands so it is spreadable or run the container under warm water. I use small refillable containers for storage.

My success with this venture inspired me to try other items off the same website, www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com (also on my BlogRoll). Today I made three gallons of liquid laundry detergent and a half-gallon liquid hand soap. But here is where “Miss Impatient” (me) will be tested, as I have to wait overnight for the soaps to thicken before I can finish making them. So it will be sometime tomorrow before I can use them!

Please stay tuned, and I will post the results in a day or two.

Have you tried making any personal or household cleaning products? If so, share in the comments section 🙂

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Some quiet time with Super Heroes

 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  John 15:13 NIV

A few years ago, my husband and I answered a call for volunteers for our local historical society. I am not embarrassed to admit that I was a bit apprehensive.

Our volunteer mission: to place flags on veteran’s grave sites.

My apprehension wasn’t due to the perceived creepiness of going to a cemetery, but how would I handle this emotionally. As a military wife and mom, I’d be placing flags at the graves of someone else’s spouse or child.

Previously, my only experiences at cemeteries had been emotionally charged because of the burials of relatives or friends. Would emotions run high for this event, too?

Volunteers gather in the center of the cemetery to receive flags and instructions, then disperse. Amongst those donating their time were several members of scouting groups and some veterans – a good mix of young and old.

Walking amongst the headstones is very humbling. There is an innate respect for the ground you are walking on, carefully tip-toeing to make sure you don’t “step” on someone. After a quick search of a seemingly endless row of headstones, you spot one. A veteran’s grave marker. It is unmistakable. Place a flag to the left hand corner of the marker and you’re done.

Or so you think, “done.”

In my case, I would stand a moment and picture what the service member may have looked like, in a uniform fitting the years noted on the marker. Looking at the dates, you know if this person was young or old when they died; if they had come home from war and continued on with their lives. Or, sadly, if the service member had fallen for their country. Super heroes who answered the call to serve.

I’d say a sincere thank you to each veteran, using his or her name, plus give a prayer of thanks to God that this person put their life on the line for me, my family, my friends, for future generations, and off to find the next marker. Yes, there was a certain soberness to the occasion but there was certainly cause to smile, hearing the distant shouts of an excited Cub Scout yelling “I found one!” then watching as he firmly planted a flag and a gave a quick salute.

Did my emotions run high? Yes, without a doubt.

Leaving the cemetery, seeing hundreds of flags swaying in the breeze, I whispered to my super heroes, “Thanks, guys. See you next year.”

And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me. ~Lee Greenwood

How will you celebrate Memorial Day?

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

This one’s for you, Dad

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… Ecclesiastes 3:1

My favorite time of year is upon us. School is starting to wind down, the weather has been spectacular, and the strawberries are beginning to ripen. Those beauties in the photo came from my yard!

A few years ago, I bought four little strawberry plants. Because I really have no idea what I am doing in the yard, I planted the them behind the garage. Apparently, there are better ways to boost one’s harvest if you just, um, do the research. But even with my mix-up, the plants are taking over that patch of ground and we are getting some decent-sized berries, which are absolutely delicious!

June has always been one of my favorite months, and one of the main reasons: strawberries. For me, just going to our local farmers’ market is like visiting a small space in heaven.

Growing up, these little tastes of heaven were a mainstay in our home. With Father’s Day and my dad’s birthday about a week apart, it was a sure guarantee that something bearing strawberries would be on the menu.

Our family has a rough stretch to get through in the very near future. This will be our first Father’s Day without Dad. On June 25, he would have been 77. And just a few weeks after that will mark the one-year anniversary of his death.

It hasn’t been easy, and I imagine it won’t be easy in the weeks to come. I seek comfort in prayer, in my family and friends. I look for joy in the little things – my granddaughters’ laughter, a pathetically bad joke, a sunny day, flowers in bloom.

I found joy in the warmth of a beautiful and sunny day in May, picking the first two berries of the season, smiling at the little miracles in my hand: from the frozen ground to the leaves pushing through the damp earth, to the pretty blossoms to the berries in my grasp. Life, indeed, goes on.

So, Dad, here’s to you! I will consume as many as possible in your memory

… a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecc. 3:4

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Versatile blogger award? Me?

“I love that this blogger writes about a variety of things from a variety of emotions.  One moment you will feel empathy with her, the next you will be laughing at her adventures and her look at life.”

I was kind of grouchy this afternoon. Okay, I was a lot grouchy. In the midst of a writing assignment with a tight deadline, one of our dogs got sick for the third time today. Woof. As I was rinsing my mop and bucket, I heard the email chime on my phone.

What a nice distraction!

As a new blogger, (and unhappy dog owner at that moment), forhisgloryandpraise.wordpress.com couldn’t possibly have known how much that nomination or her kind words would brighten my day! Thank you so very much!

So, in keeping with the award tradition, I will do the following, except for the 15 bloggers – I don’t know that many yet!

Thanks again 🙂

The Rules for this award are as follows:

  1. Nominate 15 fellow bloggers who are relatively new to blogging (or whose blogs you enjoy most).
  2. Let them know that you have nominated them.
  3. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
  4. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you.
  5. Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your blog post.

Random facts:

  1. I don’t like cleaning up after sick dogs unless I’m getting an award
  2. My HGTV addiction does not show in my decor…
  3. or in my yard…
  4. My favorite ice cream is Haagen Dazs’ pineapple coconut
  5. I will always prefer to read my newspaper in print vs online
  6. My profile picture was taken when my granddaughter was three, using her toy digital camera!
  7. God has blessed me with an awesome family and wonderful friends

Here are my favorite blogs so far:

httpsss://liferevelation.wordpress.com/ – Inspirational and thought-provoking

httpsss://hastywords.wordpress.com/ – Emotional and open with her feelings

httpsss://modernchristianwoman.wordpress.com/ – Great recipes and beautiful pictures

httpsss://thethingaboutjoan.wordpress.com/ – Fun, family – like chatting with a friend

httpsss://onewomansperspective02.wordpress.com/ – A woman’s journey in grief

www.laferle.com – A wonderful collection of thoughts and essays

Blessings on your weekend!

Making time to smell the flowers

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. – A.A. Milne

Reading my dear friend and mentor’s blog the other day made me sit and reflect on Mother’s Day and flower giving. Cindy’s blog, (found on my BlogRoll and here: www.laferle.com), was a simple post and a photo of the flowers she received from her son and soon-to-be-daughter-in-law.

My Mother’s Day arrangements have evolved as my children have grown older. I, too, received flowers. My youngest son gave me a beautiful hanging basket, and it touched my heart in so many ways. My husband had a rose, freshly cut from our yard, sitting in a vase next to my coffee and newspaper.
I believe my first experience in receiving flowers was from my dad. He never forgot to give my mom flowers on their anniversary and other special days. Every once in a while, he would surprise my sister and I with flowers on Valentine’s Day.

My husband does the same – he never forgets special dates and likes to surprise me with  bouquets. Every year on Valentine’s, he gets roses for our daughters, daughter-in-law, and our granddaughters. He also brought me the most beautiful flowers for the birth of each of our four children.

To me, no bouquet is sweeter than the handful of dandelions, picked with love by the chubby fingers of a toddler. Who smiles more, the giver? Or the receiver?

I still chuckle at the memory of my oldest son, who was about eight or nine-years-old, bringing me some of the most gorgeous hand-picked bouquets I had ever received from a child… until a neighbor (or was it his older sister?) alerted me that the flowers were coming from the garden of the dentist’s office down the street.

There is such beauty in seeing flowers in bloom. There is such a beauty in receiving flowers given with love, too.  The beauty of the flower compels us to pay it forward by sharing them with others.

When God created these living works of art, I am sure He knew they would touch more than our senses.

He knew they would touch our hearts.

Who smiles more? The Giver? Or the receiver?

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb