Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Precious Memories

Anna Ilene Panici, beloved wife, loving mother, devoted grandmother and great-grandmother, our “Gigi” had her faith become sight as she entered the arms of her Savior on December 23, 2010. She came into this world on May 28, 1924 as the precious daughter of Earl Tison and Rachael Sweezey Tison in Jackson, Michigan.

She spent her childhood in Jackson until she joined the Navy as a WAVE during WWII and was stationed at Norfolk Naval Air Station in Virginia. She was assigned the duty of driving visiting dignitaries and had the distinct privilege of driving Admiral “Bull” Halsey. She would always tell you that the biggest highlight of her naval “career” was meeting the love of her life, Edmond, at Norfolk. After meeting in January 1946 and having only 2 dates, they were married on April 14, 1946. Their life together included living in a few different places but the bulk of the years were spent in Laverne, Ca; Anchorage, AK; and finally Bellingham and Lynden, WA. After retirement, they traveled many years in their 5th wheel and together experienced all 50 states in the Union. Ilene was an amazing cook and spent countless hours loving others through hospitality. They lived a devoted 64 years together until she went home to be with the Lord. Their marriage was a shining example to many. She is deeply missed, but our hearts rejoice and are comforted knowing she is with her Lord and Savior.

She was preceded in death by her brother Earl Tison and her step-brother Carl Huntoon. Ilene is survived by her husband Edmond, her two sons, Rick (Lura) Panici of Yerington, Nevada; Ken Panici of Kalama, Washington and her daughter Jo Anne (Mitch) Alden also of Kalama, Washington. She is also survived by her granddaughter Chessa (Chad) Honey of Lynden and their children Mitchell, Isabelle, William, Shelley and JD, who have taken loving care of their Gigi and Papa for the last 11 years. She is also survived by grandson’s Sam Panici of Okanawa, Japan; Nick Panici of Houston, Texas and Michael (Mackenzie) Panici and their children of Victorville, California.

In honor of Ilene, memorials may be given to Wycliffe Bible Translators  (,
the Lighthouse Mission or Whatcom Hospice. You may share your thoughts and memories of Ilene at Arrangements are by Moles Good Steward Funerals- Lynden.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


….from the body, my sweet Gigi is present with her Lord and Savior. At 5:30 this morning, surrounded by family, and hand in hand with the man she has faithfully loved for 64 years, my dear Gigi stepped into eternity. Her faith has become sight, she sorrows no more.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Christmas Tea

Isabelle and Shelley were able to host a Christmas tea for a few of their sweet friends a couple weeks ago.  The girls and I had a precious time planning and preparing together for this special afternoon.  There was lots of tea drinking, sweet chatter and giggling ..... an event to remember!
I am thankful that even in the midst of difficult times we can purpose to create moments of joy ...this was one of those moments.  


Monday, December 13, 2010

Football Fans and a New Room....

I love traditions! Every Sunday in the fall/winter, with the rare exception, we have a favorite afternoon tradition....FOOTBALL! Over the years we have enjoyed having this special time together become an exciting weekly event. We don our Seahawks gear, eat really nummy football football food (in the living room, of course) and enjoy watching the or lose, we are loyal fans!!! Our menu varies from all hors' d' oeuvres like... hot wings, sweet wings, cheese sticks, poppers, nachos, 'lil steak sandwiches with sautéed peppers and onions... grilled kielbasa with potatoes and onions...or maybe a homemade sub sandwich on a delicious kalamata olive bread with various nummy cheeses, pastrami, ham, turkey and roast beef with a garlic ceaser salad! The kids love the fact that we eat in the living room, and I love the fact that we are making memories!

Mitchell enjoyed the opportunity to play on the freshman football team for our local high school. It is neat that even though we home school, the children can be involved in the sports programs of our local schools. He had a great time, learned and played a lot, and looks forward to playing again next year.

So....last year we decided it was time to build an extra room for Mitchell in the garage. Our home has a total of 2500 sq. feet. We have about 1800 sq. ft. and 3 bedrooms that the 7 of us share, and Papa & Gigi have a portion of our home that is 750 sq. ft., their "studio apartment"... you could say. It is really what would probably be our family room but works excellent for them as it has a large bathroom and its own heat source. One of our bedrooms is very small, about 125 sq. ft, and Mitchell and Will have shared that room since we moved here 4 years ago. The girls have another room and then of course Chad and I and JD (and his crib) shared the largest bedroom. Well, last winter we knew it was soon to be time for JD to be in a big boy bed...he was 3 you know… so we started considering our options for Mitchell. My dear friend Michele had the great idea of building Mitchell a room in our large garage. The garage is roughly 1000 sq ft. and since we have a barn and another out building, we could use some of the garage space for a room! What a great come we didn't think of that!! Anyway....last winter the construction began! Unfortunately I did not take enough photos during construction but Chad did a fantastic job from the ground up; and this June, Mitchell moved into his new room! Since we are devoted Seahawks fans, it was only logical to go all out and make his room a Seahawks man cave! We took his jersey to Sherwin-Williams and they were able to match the paint colors...they did an awesome job! Unfortunately the foosball table didn't fit in there as he had hoped, but the dart board lends to lots of fun. He still hopes for a mini-fridge in there someday soon.....we will see!!! Mitchell and JD are both loving the transition to their rooms and Chad is happy to have another project done and completed!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fall.....a little late

I know we are well into the Christmas season but my heart is still back in Fall!  Summer is by far my favorite time of year but Fall is quickly becoming a close second.  Truly these photos could be probably 3 or 4 blog posts but I am fitting them all into one.  We love watching the change of colors on our big trees and the beauty of the leaves on the blueberry fields that surround our home.  There are some fun photos of our pumpkin carving and the Thanksgiving table.  I will post about football next....and Mitchell's "new" room!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart

The house is quiet yet this morning and I thought I might have a moment to share about the last few weeks. It is about 6:50 Sunday morning and I am sitting in with Papa and Gigi. It is warm and peaceful in here but the wind is howling outside. Tennessee Ernie Ford, with his beautiful voice, is singing “The Old Rugged Cross” in the background. Papa awoke around 4:30 this morning, feeling “funny” and a little confused. Chad and I were able to reposition him in bed and sat holding hands with him for quite a while, listening to the hymns softly playing and just being with him. Papa has had episodes like this before and thankfully he eventually relaxes and like now, is now sleeping peacefully.

So much can happen in just a few weeks. I feel almost as if immediately after my last update on Gigi and sharing the excitement of the reprieve we had experienced with her combative behaviors, she started to struggle once again. This time the progression was swift and what seemed to take months before only took weeks this time. In short order her combativeness was extreme again and it truly took 2 of us to dress and care for her, with her episodes lasting hours at a time again. The aggression was not our only concern as she was so unsteady on her feet, falling often, and becoming a danger to herself in these times. Out of desperation one Sunday evening we called Hospice for help and they were able to help us get her agression under control with different medication. Even though we had been trying to manage her behaviors with constant care and limited medicine, it was not enough. Thankfully her excellent physician and Hospice worked with us and were able to help her regain peace through the medication she needed. As these few weeks have passed she has significantly declined, she seems to have slipped into the beginning of the last stage of Alzheimer’s. Her aggression is all but gone, even though now, she is not on any routine medication, but only as needed for pain and anxiety. She is bed ridden and sleeps most of the day and through the night. We are feeding her now, as she cannot feed herself. She sits in her wheelchair every few days for about 45 minutes but that is about all she can handle, she gets too worn out. She has small windows of clear lucidity but for the greater percentage of time either speaks in random sentences or jumbled words. Her appetite is greatly diminished, but we try to get as many small portions in her throughout the day as she will eat. She is frail and tiny, probably only 95 lbs or so. We know our time is short, weeks or months, only the Lord knows. With the help of Hospice, our goal and desire is that she is comfortable; not in pain, but peaceful. Most days the lights are off with just natural light coming in, Tennessee Ernie Ford sings hymns quietly from a CD or Gaither Gospel hour “entertains” on the television. The girls often go in and read Bible stories to her or just sit and hold her hand. My mom was here for a week and spent a lot of time helping and just sitting with them, and now my Uncle Ken is here and doing that same. It is good to just be in the room with them. Papa also sleeps most of the day, literally. Right along with Gigi, we have seen a significant decline in him over the last few weeks. As our Hospice nurse gently says…”he is winding down”. He gave us quite a scare a couple weeks ago, but thankfully the antibiotics worked and the Lord healed his pneumonia. His appetite is also scarce. We try our hardest to get a good breakfast in him as that is his best meal of the day. As many days as he will let us, we cook up 2 eggs, 2 pieces of bacon and an English muffin. Some days he will finish it, but many others much is still left on the plate. We wake him throughout the day to try to coax food in him, but he mostly refuses our offerings, and dinner time only brings about a few meager bites. Some mealtimes we need to feed him as he simply falls asleep while eating and is quickly resting again as soon as the plate is removed from him. In reality, outside of the time it takes to get him up in the morning and ready for bed at night, his awake time is in small snippets, equaling probably an hour a day at best. The sweetest blessing is that he is still himself. Even those outside of our home…friends, caregivers, nurses, social workers… who come in and interact with him for many different reasons say often…. “how sweet a man he is”, “what a blessing it is to have met him”, how they too “have fallen in love with this man and his kind and gentle spirit”. He is still the most patient, loving, gracious and tender man I know. Almost as many times as he is awake he will say “I love you”, constantly says “thank you” with heartfelt gratitude, and still tells each one of us how precious we are to him.

Without a doubt, it is difficult for me to write what I know to be true in my heart. As we have been told, we do recognize that we are caring for two dying loved ones. The Lord is graciously giving us this time to prepare our hearts for the truth of what will inevitably come to pass. We are very aware that our moments with them are treasures and with gratitude we praise our Heavenly Father for His sovereign hand on their lives and on ours.

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
From him comes my salvation,
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken
Psalm 62:1-2

"Happy is he when others are despairing! Happiest shall he be in that very hour when others are discovering the depths of agony. We have here a statement which we have personally tried and proved: resting in the Lord, we know a happiness which is beyond description, beyond comparison, beyond conception. O how blessed a thing it is to know that God is our present help, and our eternal hope." Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We Ought to Give Thanks

We ought to give thanks for all fortune:
if it is "good," because is it good,
if "bad" because it works in us patience, humility,
and the contempt of this world
and the hope of our eternal country.
- C. S. Lewis

Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Romance Verses Love

Romance is fleeting, but love is long.
Romance is flying, but love is a safe landing.
Romance seeks perfection, but love forgives faults.
Romance anguishes as it waits for the phone to ring
 to bring a voice that says sweet things,
but love is the anguish of waiting for a call that assures
 you someone else is safe and happy.
Romance is suspense, anticipation and surprise, but love is dependability.
Romance is dancing in the moonlight, gazing deep into desired eyes,
but love is saying, "You're tired, honey, I'll get up this time."
Romance is delicious, but love nourishes.

- Anonymous

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Soccer and Sewing

This last Saturday marked the end of Isabelle’s soccer season!! The girls had an excellent coach and they worked very hard all season and showed great improvement. They were very excited to be in the championship game for the 4/5th grade girls in their league. Even more exciting is they won the championship game and took home the trophy for 1st place!! Congratulations “Blue Jay Girls”!

Isabelle has also had the blessing of taking sewing lessons the last couple years from a great teacher and friend, Mrs. Dickson! Last year Shelley tagged along to quite a few lessons and finished some projects. This year she has been going more consistently and has greatly benefitted from Mrs. Dickson’s teaching also. Jamie is such a blessing to the girls and myself, and is an excellent teacher. A few years ago I wanted to really learn how to sew and she tried to teach me! I did make some projects including, a corduroy jumper dress that turned out adorable that both girls have worn, but let’s just say that Isabelle and Shelley are quickly on their way to surpassing my sewing abilities… fact probably already have! I am so glad that younger ones learn quicker and retain more! Isabelle has made doll dresses, doll quilts, baby quilts, cross stitch projects, pillowcases, cuddle blankets, mends our socks and whips out other little projects! Shelley has made doll quilts, doll dresses, embroidery projects and now finished this most recent doll quilt. A fun little note is that since Shelley is not ready for the machine yet, she carefully hand sewed this quilt. This is an especially sweet accomplishment when we consider her extremely shaky hands when we first brought her and William home to us and their "forever home". Times like these are blessed reminders of the work the Lord has done in their little lives and in ours since we brought them home for adoption almost 5 years ago.  It is a joy to see her perseverance and steadfast work on such a project! These lessons with Jamie have helped to blossom such creativity in our girls!  Jamie has really shared her knowledge, her time and her heart with them and I am so thankful that she is instilling in them skills that will last a lifetime!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Friday at the Farm...

...Stoney Ridge Farm that is! Since Sweet R was here with Papa and Gigi on Friday, I was able to take the younger 4 children on a field trip with friends to our local Stoney Ridge Farms.  We really love Stoney Ridge ...and Naomi and her children :-).... and since we do not get to go every year it is truly a treat for our young ones!  It was a perfect fall day and the farm was beautiful!  We enjoyed plenty of pumpkins, animals, a tractor/wagon ride, hay ride, corn maze and very nummy pumpkin cookies!  Naomi and I REALLY enjoyed the apple pie ala’ mode with hot caramel sauce amply poured over the top…..that was to die for!  Thanks to Naomi for the photos….I forgot to charge my camera battery the day before! The kids and I got to end our morning adventure with a visit we had planned with a dear friend and her girls who live across the road from the Farm.  I wasn’t exactly sure if the visit would happen as plans with a 3 ½ year old can quickly change…but all was well and we enjoyed fall sunshine and fellowship with dear friends….it doesn’t get much better than that!!