Friday, August 24, 2007

Hurricane in Schaumburg?

Well, not exactly a hurricane I guess (never been in a hurricane) but the winds reached up to 75 MPH. They aren’t calling it a tornado either, but all the damage says otherwise. I was in the Staples store when the fury of the storm hit. (I thought I could run out quickly for printer ink before it rained). It wasn’t long before it was raining in the store from the roof leaking. After a few minutes, I decided I’d leave – what could happen? – I’d maybe rust?

The stop light where I came into the center was now not working – OK – that happens. But as I drove toward home (only about ½ mile) I came upon a section of someone’s fence across the road. Several other similar fences had sections blown over/out. The tree on the corner into my subdivision was split and partially blown over. The squirrels nest in the tree outside our patio door had blown down and several branches from the willow tree across the pond had split and blown down. Needless to say, the pond was out of its banks on both sides. This morning the squirrel wanted to come in, but I had to tell him no……gave him a handful of peanuts and told him to start building again!

I went to the store this morning and saw MUCH more damage in our area. A tree about 100 yds. from the front of Staples was uprooted and the stoplight there was blown over. Many trees had broken branches and I saw an evergreen snapped off at the bottom. One yard with large trees seemed to be particularly hard hit – debris and branches were everywhere. I understand many basements were flooded. The Jewel store I went to had one of its windows blown in/out.

The sun is shining now, but more rain is predicted for later today………….oh JOY. I just hope whoever displeased God has repented and asked for forgiveness…………oops - maybe it was me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007



Well, I guess the biggest NON-EVENT of the year was the lack of Cicadas in the Schaumburg area. Never saw a one – at least not where we live. Just last week I heard one (?) in a tree nearby, but never saw one…………not even any evidence - like holes in the ground – layers of exoskeletons – ear splitting sound - or beady eyed bugs climbing the trees!

I guess Brookfield Zoo had layers of cicadas which was great for their animals – free food! In some places the seagulls were causing a nuisance trying to get to their tasty treats. A nearby Kiddie Park had so many that visitors were swatting them away and kids were screaming all over the place!

Word has it that the “invasion” is over. I am so disappointed. I was even collecting recipes for Cicadas......not sure I would have ever made any of them, but I’m told they are quite tasty. Jim would have NEVER tried them!

I did find one hitching a ride on someone’s clothes at church yesterday in Des Plaines. When Jim picked it up off the ground (where it had been swatted by someone not as excited about the bugs as I was) it hummed – not the noise we expected – more muted. I put it in a plastic cup and talked to it all the way home. I asked it if it had fulfilled it’s purpose, and was it good for him………… It even survived in the hot car while we went to a restaurant for Father’s Day dinner. I was surprised and impressed that it was still alive, so when we got home, I let it go in a rose bush. When I looked later, it was gone so I assume it was still able to fly away…………..

Maybe 2024 will be our year to see and hear the next batch…………………….

I’ll only be 85!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Magicicada - They're Coming!!!

For 17 years they’ve hidden themselves deep in the dirt, just eating! I’d like to think that while there in the dark, Brood XIII of the genus Magicicada was trying to compose the proper song they will sing to us – and their future mates - for the next month or so.

After gorging themselves on the tender tree roots they finally decide to emerge and see what’s happened in the last decade and half! Have Cicada fashions changed? (No still shades of brown and gold). Eye shadow still has to compliment their beady big red eyes. At least their exoskeletons are biodegradable so the conservationists don’t have to start picketing for them to “go green”.

I’ve been looking for the little critters ever since we were given the May 22 emergence date, but apparently the ground in Schaumburg is just not warm enough. I am a little concerned about a new hibiscus “tree” I have in a pot, but it won’t live long enough for me to worry about, especially since the roots couldn’t possibly support any kind of life for the next 17 years!!! These amazing creatures actually don’t eat anything other than tree roots. They don’t sting, bite or annoy - except that they are there – millions of them! I understand the dogs, cats and birds love them and they are tasty fried in garlic butter.

There’s been some discussion about why the 17 years. I guess after that long they are more interested in sex than food. Who wouldn’t be? Seems like a takes a long time to figure that out.

I didn’t know that the Periodical Cicadas don’t all come out at the same time. A local map indicates the Midwest will be the area inundated for several weeks in June 2007. What a joy for all those outdoor weddings, graduations and BBQ’s. I guess I’ll be wearing shoes most of the time this year.

Well, time to go out and check for holes in the ground……the first sign that they have arrived. It will still be about 3 days later that we find out if their new song is any good, or just sounds like a lawnmower!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mother's Day - 2007

It was in 1914 that Woodrow Wilson signed a bill that made Mother’s Day an official holiday in the United States…..although you’ll notice it’s not one of those holidays that gives mothers an “extra” Monday off from their work. Go figure! The ancient Greeks started it all when they celebrated an annual spring festival honoring their mothers, but it was nothing like what we do today. It just developed from there through various cultures until Hallmark got a hold of it and it turned into what we celebrate today.

For quite a few years, I celebrated Mother’s Day by saying that I was glad to have a mother. That's what Mother's Day was all about. Without our mothers, none of us would be here. I was thankful that as I matured I could appreciate the long life God gave to my mother. She was 93 when she died a little over 2 years ago. This will be my 3rd Mother’s Day without her.

Through the years I received much motherly advice from my own mother. Some good, ("Always look your best when you leave the house") - some bad ("Don’t ever get married"). So you see, my great parenting skills were passed down from my mother, who no doubt got them from her mother. Do you see a pattern here? I’ve done my best to share my vast mothering advice to my children (and sometimes other peoples children). I remember when someone else's children were misbehaving I would say, "If those were my kids.........." One day, my mother said to me, "But they ARE your kids!" OOPS!

I never considered that Mother’s Day was my holiday until the time came that I no longer had a mother. Yes, I was a mother, but more importantly, I had a mother.

My position in the family hierarchy has now changed. I am now The Matriarch, The Queen, The Great One! My children may now honor ME! This is not a role I fit into easily. It’s taken some time to really feel I could, or should sit back and enjoy all the day meant. I still find it hard to take the best steak, the biggest piece of pie, the last piece of pizza.

Coming to this place in my life has been an interesting experience.

Being a mother is more than just giving birth, although that may be one of the more important parts. It makes you think about the fact that some members of the animal kingdom eat their young! This is especially true in those sleep deprived days when your tiny baby needs all your attention. I must have been out of my mind when I found out that my 3 month old son, Rob was going to have a baby brother. How did that happened? Sixteen months after the 2nd tiny baby Todd, another was living in my house! This time a girl (Finally!) What joy they brought! (I must have been out of my mind?)

I remember when the kids were young……..we had a swimming pool in the back yard that they enjoyed all summer long. I just loved it when I would go to put them to bed for the night and find wet bathing suits on their beds requiring complete bed changes. I thought I was done with that when they were potty trained!

The boys (and girl) used to catch fireflies in the evening and put them in mayonnaise jars to watch them light up. Occasionally they used them as “night lights” in their bedrooms when they went to bed. Too bad the lids weren’t on the jars very tightly………..the next day there were fireflies all over the walls! And of course, then mother had to catch them!

Debbie had just started kindergarten and I found myself all alone at home during the day……was I bored?…………. not for long. Instead of watching the soaps all day, I was getting ready for yet another gift from heaven. Another girl would even the score – but it was not to be. The tiniest one yet, at 5 lbs.4 oz set the final score at 3 boys, 1 girl……and I was DONE! Marc was my last. Break the mold. We’re Finished!

It’s been such an experience being a mother. No two children are the same, so they will each teach you new things – just when you thought you knew it all. God really does have a sense of humor!

You’ve heard it said often, that the years go so fast and you should enjoy your children while they are young, but we never believe it until we are old. All of a sudden they are grown up and have families of their own.

My children have all turned out well. They have successful careers, good parenting skills and mostly importantly they live in their own homes! It really is true that you can send the grandchildren home when you get tired of them………………….. but mostly you just get tired!

This Mother’s Day I will try to sit back and enjoy the honor and respect I deserve (?) – but it won’t be easy. I’m sure I’ll want to give advice, offer helpful suggestions maybe even cook! But that’s what Mothers Day is all about…….I can do what I WANT!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Me, Myself & Bob

Me, Myself & Bob

Those of you who know me well know – I don’t like to read! I know that’s unbelievable for some of you who read everything they get their hands on. I think it’s because that while I CAN read, I read very slowly and have a hard time retaining what I read. My mind seems to wander even though I’m seeing the words.

I just finished reading Me, Myself & Bob by Phil Vischer – the story of the creator of Veggie Tales. I guess I was interested because of my love for Veggie Tales themselves……and I liked the title and the picture on the book! I had read about it in a magazine someplace. It just came out this past January.

I read the book in a week – probably a record for me.

Veggie Tales were created by Phil Vischer who grew up and still lives in the Chicago area. Coming from a highly religious family, he saw this as his calling – his ministry. It’s kinda fun to see how he developed his ideas into talking vegetables. Even though I have seen (and own) a lot of Veggie Tales, I learned lots of things about their development....and why they don’t have arms and legs!

Those of you that know the story already know that while Veggie Tales were/are a great success, Big Ideas Productions, the company that produced them since 1999 went bankrupt in 2003. The videos are still being produced, but by a company in Tennessee called Big Ideas,Inc. Same ideas, similar name – different owners.

As I look back, I’m surprised that I actually read every word of this book. From start to finish, there are a lot of business details that I wasn’t interested in, yet I kept reading. There were a LOT of details about the equipment needed to produce the animation, the people hired to do the work, business dealings…………..boring stuff. Still I read on. Now that I’ve finished the book, I see the necessity of knowing all those details that comprised the dreams of Phil Visher.

I am now reading the last 3 chapters for the 3rd time. It took over 200 pages to get to the real reason God wanted me to read this book.

I don’t want to spoil it for you readers, but please – READ THIS BOOK! I don’t think you will be sorry. It's a true story about dreams, God and talking vegetables. I think we can all learn a lesson from this book.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Hi - I'm The Grandma!

You don't see many pictures of me - I'm always on the other side of the camera!

I always thought I’d be a Grandma at a young age, but it didn’t happen as young as I thought. I became a mother at 21, so conceivably I could have been a grandma in my early 40’s. Apparently, my children had other plans. Now, they all didn’t make that a conscious choice, but nevertheless, it didn’t happen. I had to wait until I was 55 to be a real honest to goodness Grandma. My first experience was to be a step-grandma some 18 months before that…….it’s not the same. Close, but not the same!

I guess I always dreamed of being one of those Grandma’s that the kids would run away to live with when they got mad at their parents ..…you know, with the little hobo stick and all their worldly goods wrapped up in a kerchief. They’d make it to the corner, but then couldn’t cross the street. If they had only known……..I would have come to pick them up!!!

I’ve done my best to make them want to live with me (not really, but they could think they did). I try to provide their every need (?) or desire, but it’s kinda hard when their parents are in a better financial position than I am to buy the latest gadget………….but I can always buy the accessories! They buy the XBox- I can get the joystick. They buy the IPod – I can download the music. They buy the DVD player – I can get movie. They buy the car – I can buy the dice to hang from the mirror. You get the idea.

It’s hard to keep up with the grandkids these days since they are into such diverse activities. Mostly I don’t even know what they are doing or what they like. Their interests change every year. The marine biologist now probably wants to be a professional wrestler. The professional skate boarder may want to be a doctor. (Not likely, but it could happen). I can go to events for the ones that live close – if they send me the schedule and it isn’t too late at night (I’m old now, you remember).

When the 1st one was just a baby, I couldn’t wait to go to Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm. I don’t know why I couldn’t go alone, but it just didn’t seem right. You needed a kid! When there was more than one, it was fun to watch them crawl over the pumpkins, feed the exotic animals and giggle when the llama licked their hand. They’d stick their little faces through the holes on the displays and I would take pictures. When they started school, they went to the pumpkin farm on school trips, so there was no longer the novelty of going with Grandma.

It’s good to hear of their school activities and good grades. How dad went to school to read to the 1st graders for Dr. Suess’s birthday party. How they were the “star” of the school Christmas play. How they got all 3’s (or was it 1’s) on their report cards and the teacher says they are a joy to have in class. I hear the weekly “wrestling results” with great pride – and relief that they didn’t get hurt. I always tell them I’m proud of them – which I am. Soon it will be baseball…..or basketball……or football….or soccer. I’m never sure which it will be this season or who’s playing what.

If I know what the grandkids like, I try to keep that theme in mind at Christmas and birthdays. I’ve gone out of my way to purchase LaBron James t-shirts, WWE wrestling videos, the latest Harry Potter book, Thomas the Train and anything Da Bears. I even made an Elvis Presley halloween costume so The King could live again. This was not easy since I had no idea how big The King is in real life. I wonder if the grandkids appreciate the effort I make to please them. Maybe they don’t even know I go out of my way. I have to ask the parents what to get them – and I’m not sure “A Borders Gift Card” is the answer I want to hear. Grandma’s are only supposed to support educational themes in the most subtle way!

Now that there are little ones in the family again - well they’re almost real grandkids it’s fun to know they hand the phone to Mom and want to “Call Grandma Judie”. I’ve heard they even fake illnesses (to kindergarten no less) so they can go to Grandma Judie’s. (I’m the back-up babysitter for sick kids). It’s good to know I can still score big points – even if only with the little ones! Could it be my Thomas the Train and Veggie Tales videos collections? I really don’t feed them candy, and although I don’t think they know it, I try to get them to fall asleep watching the videos so I can take a nap!

My mother used to say –“Even though I’m old, I still have things to offer? Maybe it’s only history, but I remember BEFORE TV, BEFORE COMPUTERS, BEFORE CELL PHONES. However did we exist? I don’t know much about some of my grandchildren - and they don’t know much about me. Maybe I don’t have as much money as some others, but I have just as much love. It would be good to keep in touch.

I guess history repeats itself………………….I’m only the Grandmother.

Friday, September 08, 2006


9/10/06 Heroes Day
Pathway Community Church, Des Plaines, IL
by Judie Abernathy

If you nominated someone to be our local hero then you’ve read a few of the definitions of a hero already. The dictionary says that a hero is: a person noted for feats of courage and nobility of purpose; a man of great courage and nobility. Sometimes it takes courage to just do the right thing. It’s not always easy to stand up and do the right thing

I think our definition of a hero may change as we mature.. When asked, Children usually think Super Heroes – Batman, Wonder Women, Spiderman!

I thought it would be interesting to ask some young people who they considered a hero and why.

I tried to explain what a hero was in these simple terms:
•Someone you look up to
•Someone you respect and admire
•Someone you think has done something great
•Someone you want to be like.

I found the results quite interesting…….

5 Yr. old Jasmine immediately said God was her Hero. Proof those kids get it! Even when we don’t think they are paying attention.

My 10 year old grandson said Babe Ruth was his hero because he hit the most home runs in one season. Talent can make someone a hero.

My 12 year old grandson said his hero was “the Undertaker”(of WWE fame)………….he admires him because he loves his sport and has been in the same business for 16 years. Consistency and make a hero.

Others found it a little more difficult to actually think of someone they thought of as a hero. Even I had to ask myself – exactly who do I admire? Who do I want to be like? Who made a difference in my life?

The high schooler may think the player that scored the winning touchdown a hero.

The 6th grader may think of the classmate that helped pick up his books after the bully knocked them out of his hands as a hero.

If you’re a Cleveland Indians fan, you might think Kevin KOUZMANOFF is a hero. Just this week, Kevin hit a grand slam home run on the first pitch he saw in the major leagues.

We probably wouldn’t even be talking about heroes today if it weren’t for Sept.11th. That day, people just doing their jobs – police, firefighters, office workers - became heroes. They ran toward the disaster as others were running away. Many didn’t survive.

To this day our military are fighting the war on terrorism so we can be safe. Some of our extended family are in Iraq at this moment. Pray for the safety of these, our heroes.

The Bible also tells about some heroes:
Moses led his people out of Egypt.
Paul brought many people to the same Christ that he had once persecuted.
Biblical heroes!

We often look at people who have done remarkable things and think, "WOW, I could never do what they do."

This is where the error is in our thinking. If you look around, there are heroes everywhere.

* The teacher that uses her own money to buy school supplies for her students that otherwise wouldn’t even have the basics for school.

* The young man that changes a flat tire for the pregnant woman on the highway.

* The family that shares their home with foster children

* The child that gives half her lunch to her friend who has none.

It’s all about perception. The person that meets Your need is Your hero!

Yes, a hero may be someone of outstanding ability, courage and bravery…..but are they superior beings?

Christopher Reeve said, "I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles"

So you see, heroes are really just ordinary people like you and me who have done extraordinary (and some not so extraordinary) things. Your definition of a hero may be different than mine. I wonder how many people start out thinking – "m Going To Be A Hero!"

I doubt that as Abraham Lincoln went through all those failures in his life he thought to himself ……but someday I’ll be a hero.

When Albert Medina dived into the Kankakee River a few weeks ago I’m sure he didn’t have time to think about being a hero….He died that day trying to save a 4 yr. old boy he didn’t even know.

Jason Thomas didn’t consider himself a hero until he saw the movie World Trade Center. He was one of two Marines depicted in the movie searching the rubble with flashlights shortly after the buildings came down. The two Marines are credited with saving the 2 New York police officers featured in the movie. The producers didn’t know who he was until the movie was released and he came forward. Interestingly – the actor that portrays him is white. Thomas is black.

So here’s my challenge for you today. Start now on your journey to be a hero. You can be a hero to someone. Believe that you can be a Hero!

• Cook a meal for someone who is ill;

• Shop for your elderly neighbor;

• Carry groceries up the stairs for the mother who has small children in tow;

• Donate food to a food pantry.
Can you see your life as a hero? Look for ways. Commit senseless random acts of kindness. You never know when you will be considered a Hero by someone. God opens doors for us all the time. Whether we choose to walk through that door determines whether you will become a hero.
Being a hero begins with one humble act.