Friday, April 20, 2018


They were LaVerne and Shirley.
Really, my grandmothers' names were LaVerne and Shirley.
Shirley was outgoing and creative, and we lost her too soon.
It broke my 12-year-old heart.
LaVerne, we got to keep much longer, thankfully.
But she slipped away peacefully on March 18th, at age 88.

Grandma LaVerne grew up in Minneapolis as the eldest daughter of an obstetrician.
It seems like she had a lovely childhood.
Her sister was born on her 5th birthday,
and her brother arrived when she was already a teenager.
She met my Grandpa Don in high school at Minnehaha Academy,
And they were married for nearly 69 years.

I loved seeing so many younger photos of her at her memorial service two weeks ago.

This photo was taken when my Grandma went to Sweden with her parents,
to visit her father's parents
at their farm on the island of Gotland.
She went to Sweden, speaking only English,
and she came home, speaking only Swedish. :)

Grandma on the left with her sister Charlotte and brother Bob.

The sweetest wedding photos of G&G in 1949.


My grandpa wanted to be a pastor,
and later a seminary professor.
They spent quite a few years moving around for his degrees:
a BA and BDiv from Bethel in Minneapolis,
a Master's in Theology from Fuller in Pasadena, California,
and a doctorate in Biblical languages from Brandeis in Massachusetts. 
 Grandma liked to say, she got her PHT degree (Putting Hubby Through)!

Along the way, 
Grandma had five boys and a girl.
Dan, Karen, Paul, Bruce, Brian & John,
the last two boys born only 12 months apart.

At 32, she had six babies.
As I'm nearing that age, that puts it all into perspective!

My dad (Bruce) in the front.

Grandma was an amazing pianist and organist.
She used that talent,
plus her hospitality,
at all of the churches they served.

Minnesota, Nebraska, California, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Illinois, Wisconsin.
So many places that they called home in their 69 years together,
while they followed God's calling.

Grandpa said to me last week,
"She worked hard,
and she didn't complain."

As to all of their adventures, he said,
"It was what I wanted,
and it was what she wanted, too."

Grandma had a huge affection for dogs.
They always had a dog in their house.

This is me, meeting them for the first time.
Except for a couple of years on opposite ends of Chicago,
we unfortunately never lived very close.

I love this photo of my grandparents,
my cousin Lindsay,
my sister Hannah, 
 and Misty the collie, of course.

We clung to our mutual faith after losing my dad in 1991,
and Hannah in 2001.

When Steve and I got married,
Grandma and Grandpa drove from Minnesota to Pennsylvania,
their last big road trip.
We celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, 
as we toasted to our 0th.

Living 1,000 miles away for eight years didn't make visits easy,
especially with our three new babies.
Nolan met G&G at Thanksgiving in 2012.

And Ephraim met them in July of 2015.

Here, Grandma had broken her leg, and spent her entire summer in rehab.
She was wheelchair bound from then on.

We were happy to visit again in August 2016.
Once a year was not enough!

And the last time I saw Grandma was this past Thanksgiving.
I'm so grateful that we got this photo!
I wish I had snapped one while she was holding August.

Things I will remember:

Grandma's positivity.
Her inquisitiveness. She asked a lot of questions!
Her soft and smooth hands,
that I see whenever I look at my own.
Her extremely tight hugs.
Her laughs with her nose crinkled 
and her shoulders shaking.
Black-eyed susans.
Their house in Door County,
where I learned to enjoy the water
and ride a bike.
Black coffee in Swedish mugs.
Chocolate "K" bars and oatmeal bread,
peanut brittle and cherry cheesecake.
A fridge full of magnets from all of their travels. 
Her white shoes and sheer stockings under her pants.
Her lengthy, wonderful Christmas card letters.
The loud way she could whistle,
and her words, "Is that right?!"      
The symbol of the treble clef,
and her amazing piano talent.

Thank you for 30 wonderful years, Grandma.
Until we meet again in glory...

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Raspberry Cheesecake

My Grandma LaVerne made an amazing cherry cheesecake. This is the recipe, using raspberry instead, but the toppings are completely interchangeable and equally delicious. It is the creamiest, most classic cheesecake in an easy, 9x13 form.


2  1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter, melted

2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs

1 (21 oz) can cherry/blueberry/raspberry pie filling
Whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup sugar, and melted butter, and press firmly into a greased 9x13 dish.

Beat the cream cheese for a few minutes until it's soft and smooth. Mix in 1 cup of sugar. Next, add the vanilla. 

Slightly stir the eggs in a small bowl, then add them to the cream cheese mixture until well-blended. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Pour the cream cheese mixture over the graham cracker crust. Then, bake the cheesecake for 40 minutes, or until it's light brown on the sides and feels set (doesn't jiggle or slide) in the middle. Let it cool completely.

Lastly, when the cake is cool, just spread a can of pie filling over the cheesecake. I LOVE that this brand has no red dye or preservatives!

Ready to serve! Store it in the fridge, and ENJOY!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Easter 2018

Happy belated Easter! This was the first big holiday that we've spent here in Indiana, and though we missed our parents back in PA, we had the best day! 

Here are some photos from the last week or so!

The boys asked me to make macarons, and since I hadn't made any since we moved to this house, I agreed to it. These ones were blue when I put them in the oven, but came out green with slightly browned bottoms. Other than that, they were great!

We dyed eggs a few days before Easter. We started with brown eggs, which I'd never done before, but I heard they make darker colors.

 We ended up with really bold blues and pinks!

We checked out a lot of Easter books from the library. Of these, I really liked, "Bunny Bus" and "Easter Surprise".

My popcorn thief. . . always trying to scare me by stuffing way too much food into his mouth.

On Easter morning, the boys woke up to these baskets! They were SO excited!! 

We changed our Lent banner over to the Easter, "He is Risen!" side. I was thinking about how it must have felt to be Mary Magdalene on that Sunday morning, approaching the empty tomb. What an incredible surprise; I could not even imagine!

Before church, we stopped at Trader Joe's, our Sunday routine. We find Lucy the Lemur (hidden somewhere in the store) and get lollipops out of the treasure box. Do all Trader Joe's stores do this??

A sweet friend took this photo of us after church. The high was only about 45, so it was a chilly day!

We went over to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house for dinner and an Easter egg hunt. My sister-in-law's family was so generous to include us in their annual celebration! We had a feast of ham, cheesy potatoes, fruit salad, cherry cheesecake, and chocolate fondue fountain. The boys came home with grocery bags full of candy and coloring books and toys. They will have memories of Sunday for a long, long time!

All the cousins, and cousins-of-cousins with the Easter Bunny :)

And this was our loot from the adult Easter egg hunt. I felt like a kid again! And check out those gift cards!

For Hannah.

Nolan had his first soccer practice on Monday, and it went really well despite the cold weather! I didn't get any photos of him since I was in the car with this sleeping little brother.

 Ephraim had a fun time kicking around the ball with Daddy!

We've been coming down off our sugar high and doing our usual routine the last few days. Hope your week has been a good one so far!

If you missed the last post I did with Palm Sunday photos, click here.



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