Wednesday:) What’s Up Miss Toni? Well, That Would Be Me

20 Apr

I decided to fly through the air and live in the sunlight and enjoy life as much as I could. 

~Evel Knievel*************

What’s Up? ME.  Again. I was up early this morning, getting ready to fly back to Dallas from Chicago. There wasn’t much to pack, traveling with just a single backpack. Then, a relatively hassle free trip to the airport, my sister dropped me off at O’Hare with nearly two hours before my flight. I always rather be too early than too late.


I went through security then walked a good mile before I got near my gate. I stopped at McDonald’s and got a mango smoothie. When I looked around to find a place to sit, I also scouted out someone interesting sitting alone to talk to. This is Dave…


Dave works on electrical transformers all around the country. He does a lot of traveling, and was on his way back home to Ohio. It’s funny how you can learn a lot about a stranger in just a few minutes. I mentioned that I was visiting friends and family in Chicago, and the best part was seeing my new four month granddaughter again. At the same time, we pulled out our cell phones to share grand-baby pictures. He had a little granddaughter too. It was a nice half hour chat, then we both went off to our respective gates. Two strangers sharing some time, some stories, bragging about grand-babies, and off into the sky.

My flight boarded right on time, and ready for the runway at 11:45. Just as we started to taxi  away, the pilot announced that there was a lightning strike nearby, so we had to sit and wait until we were cleared. I was scrunched in the middle seat between two men, one a fairly young man, maybe early twenties, plugged into his headphones. The other, an older heavy set gentelman, wearing a Cubs cap and a smile. As I looked out the window, I noticed the rain pelting against the window. Oh no! I was hoping it wouldn’t be a long delay. Thank goodness, only about twenty minutes and a few Our Fathers and Hail Marys, and we were cleared to go. The skies still looked pretty scary.

As we started taxiing, accelerating, and flying into the stormy clouds, the elderly gentleman on my right made the sign of the cross. Ah, I asked, “Are you Catholic?” He said, “Why yes. As a matter of fact, I’m a Catholic priest. Father Frank O’Mally from St. Catherine’s.” He extended his hand, we shook hands, and I introduced myself. “Nice to meet you.”

Now, I felt much better. I was sitting next to a priest. What could possibly go wrong? I took out my iPad and was looking over my gazillion baby Belle pictures. Both men on either side now had earphones and were listening to music. A few minutes later, the plane started bumping and jostling around. The flight attendants were asked to be seated. I still wasn’t too worried. That is, until the pilot came on the intercom and asked everyone to remain seated with seat belts on. That’s when I noticed Father Frank take out his black rosary and begin to pray. Now, I was getting scared. 

All of a sudden, the plane took a sudden dip, shaking and quaking from side to side. I turned to the praying priest, as he moved from bead to bead on his rosary. Then I pleaded, “Father, Father…do something… do something…Catholic!” The priest contemplated for a second, then took off his hat, handed it to me and said, “Here…pass this hat around, and we’ll take up a collection!”

OK! Ok! That was a joke. Did you see that coming??? I love that Catholic joke. That’s the only joke I could ever remember and found it appropriate for the flight today.

 But, I did poke the man to the right of me when we took off and said, “Before you get settled, let me tell you this Catholic flying joke.” He thought it was funny. 

Actually, our flight was pretty smooth, except for a couple of little flutters. When we touched down safely in Dallas, two hours later, I leaned over and said, “Aren’t you glad we didn’t have to pass the hat?”

Good to be home.

Tuesday:) Toni’s Tip of the Day~ Make Soup While the Sun Shines

19 Apr

“When you wake up each morning, you can choose to be happy or choose to be sad. Unless some terrible catastrophe has occurred the night before, it is pretty much up to you. Tomorrow morning, when the sun shines through your window, choose to make it a happy day.”

~ Lynda Resnick

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I know the expression is make hay while the sun shimpnes, but frankly, I don’t know how to make hay.  I didn’t know you could make hay. I thought it grew in the ground. What do I know? I’m not a farmer…

“Make hay while the sun shines” is an old saying that’s considered a proverb. A proverb is an old, usually short saying that communicates good advice or something true. If you make hay while the sun shines, it means that you take advantage of the chance to do something while conditions are good.
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Today is my last full day here in Elgin. I was up late writing and reading, so I hadn’t noticed that Mom had already gone downstairs for the arts and crafts workshop here friend Mary Ann was giving at 10. I had promised I would join her. So, I got up and dressed faster than a jack rabbit on hot asphalt on a Texas August afternoon. (That’s pretty fast.)

When I got there, Mom was already cutting, pasting and adding stickers on her note cards. We had a nice time crafting together. “Craft while the sun shines.”



After our crafting adventure, I went to lunch with my sister JoAnn. One last chance to get Chicago pizza. “Eat Chicago pizza while the sun shines.”

We stopped at the store to get the rest of the fixin’s for homemade ham and navy bean soup. We had A LOT of ham left over from Easter, so I started simmering the ham bone and leftover ham in two large pots. Yes, two. I always make a ton. “Make soup while the sun shines.”


While the ham was simmering, Mom, JoAnn and I went outside to sit by the babbling brook, and to enjoy the gorgeous Spring day. It was warm and…the sun was shining. Mom hadn’t been outside to enjoy the sun fresh air in weeks. I’m not sure what the brook was babbling about, but it sounded pretty happy. It was a perfect day. “Sit outside and enjoy the day while the sun shines.”


Now, I have to do A LOT of chopping and cooking to finish the soup. I best get back to the kitchen. Have a great day and remember to “Make hay while the sun shines, or do some crafting, or go to lunch, or sit outside in the sun, or make some homemade soup.” 

If you make some hay, let me know how you did that. I’m still trying to figure it out.

Montage Monday:) A Week In A Peek

18 Apr

The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege. 

~Charles Kuralt

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Another wonderful week visiting with family and friends in Illinois. One of the most special blessings was holding my beautiful four month old granddaughter. 

A week in a peek…

Easter Sunday:) Sunday Sermon and MORE Cute Firemen

17 Apr

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” ― Pope John Paul II

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“Easter says that every ending ever experienced by man is exquisitely crafted to find its own ending at the feet of a fresh beginning.” 

― Craig D. Lounsbrough

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Easter is a time of renewal, rebirth, resurrection and rejoicing. As a child, sometimes I concentrated more on new clothes, Easter eggs, candy and family gatherings. As I matured, I learned the true meaning of the special day. Appreciation.

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Mom and I had fun making four dozen cupcakes with the cute bunny Peeps, complete with mini marshmallow tail and two jelly beans in front.


It was a labor of love, and silliness. If you know me, lots of silliness.


We baked through the night and freshly frosted and decorated through the morning.

Oh, I forgot to show you the funny face I made before I started mixing. Yes, lots of silliness.

We went downstairs for the 10:30 Catholic Mass, and we brought a cupcake for everyone there, and a few extra for family.

The Gospel today, of course, was about finding the stone in front of the burial place of Jesus moved away and and the tomb empty, the burial clothes on the ground. The disciples and followers realized what had occurred. Thus, we have the first Easter. Alleluhlia! 

My take on it….the ultimate sacrifice redeemed us all. The small sacrifices we make for the good of others could never compare, but are a tribute to He who did. Also, a good lesson on appreciating all those who have and currently sacrifice for us.

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My post from yesterday was about the screeching fire alarm here at Mom’s place and the five fire trucks that were dispatched to The Greens of Elgin. Mom and I decided that it would be nice to share some bunny cupcakes with the local firemen who sacrifice so much for their community, willing to put their lives on the line every day. I went over to Elgin Station 2 with a dozen cupcakes. I showed them Mom’s picture above, and told them that we appreciated all they do for the community. (I’ve expanded my Firefighter cupcake drive-by stops to another city and state. I hope my McKinney MFD guys don’t get jealous.)


Mom still isn’t able to get around too well yet, but she had enough energy to take her walker down the hall to a few neighbors. (Hmmm? I wonder where I get it from?)


Isn’t Mom adorable!

Saturday:) Some Excitement and Some Cute Firemen

16 Apr

Firefighters are indispensable foot soldiers here at home.

~ Christopher Dodd

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“Don’t you long for something different to happen, something so exciting and new it carries you along with it like a great tide, something that lets your life blaze and burn so the whole world can see it?” ― Juliet Marillier

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We woke early this morning to the blaring screeching deafening fire alarm here at The Greens of Elgin. I jumped out of bed. Mom was leisurely walking around. I asked, “Do we need to go downstairs? Is it a drill?” Mom replied, “Oh, it goes off all the time. No one pays attention.” What? Over seventy-five units, maybe a hundred people, and no one pays attention to the fire alarm? What if it’s not a false alarm.

I quickly got dressed and Mom and I went downstairs. The elevator was still working. Usually, those get shut down. No smoke or smell anywhere. By the time we got down to the main lobby, firemen were scrambling around with flashlights and axes and walkie talkies. 


Mom and I sat on the bench by the desk. As everyone scurried, we noticed that no one else came out of their rooms. Well, just Jim, the gentleman who is president of the homeowners board. They still didn’t know why the alarm was wailing, but after about twenty minutes, they found that a water pipe had burst in the kitchen. Still no people, just lots of firemen.

The people at the desk finally got around to calling all the residents to tell them it was a false alarm and not to worry. It seems like they weren’t worried. I asked Mom what would she do if the alarm sounded next time. She said she would just stay in her room. So many of the the folks living here have walkers or wheel chairs and certainly couldn’t use the stairs. I told her, “Well, at least unlock the door and wait for a cute fireman to come and rescue you. She liked that.

After we sat a while, I went outside to see how many fire trucks were dispatched. Wow! Five trucks and an ambulance. That was very comforting to know that all the residents here are in good hands should there be a real fire or serious event.



An exciting morning.


Friday:) From the Depths of Winter

15 Apr

From the depths of Winter 

To the fresh breath of Spring

New buds burst and blossom

While the sweet robins sing

Dark grey skies send the rain

To the dry earth below 

Then the sun reappears

With a radiant glow

From season to season 

From each Summer to Fall

Just one thing is certain

Who we thank for it all.

(Thank YOU for YOUR blessings.)

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis

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It was a beautiful day, blue skies, sun shining, air crisp and clean, as I walked this evening, the clouds started forming puffy and grey. It reminded me how fresh and fickle springtime is. A big fat robin sat in a tree, singing and warbling a sweet song.


These tiny white buds were waiting for the sun on Thursday. It was chilly on my walk yesterday.


The same tree today, with happy blossoms. No hat or jacket for me. What a difference a day makes. Spring…very fickle. When I started my walk, it was lovely.  A half hour later, I had to scurry back inside when it started to rain on me. 

Theme Song Thursday:) Old Friends

14 Apr

“While they talked they remembered the years of their youth, and each thought of the other as he had been at another time.” ― John Williams

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The only thing better than meeting with old friends is… well, I don’t think there’s anything better than that. Today, Shirley and Mike came over to visit me and Mom in Elgin. We’ve known them for fifty years. Yep! Fifty years. 

I was a shy fourteen year old city girl when we moved to the suburbs for the first time. Hickory Hills seemed like a millions miles away from my old house and my old friends in Chicago. I was scared, nervous, and excited, all at the same time. The first people we met were the nice people next door. Shirley and Mike were a young twenty-something couple who immediately took me under their neighborly wings, and were the kindest neighbors I’ve ever known. 

Shirley always loved me like a daughter, and always said that my mom was like her adopted mom. We’ve been family friends for fifty years. So, when Shirley and Mike walked in the door with a beautiful lily plant, she hugged Mom and started to cry. Tears of joy.

We sat and chatted and reminicesed about the old days, the old neighborhood, friends, and neighbors. We shared lovely memories and smiles. It was as if fifty years ago was yesterday, because it was. With old friends, there is no time frame, no yesterdays, just today. 


Me and Mom and Shirley and Mike, just old friends, now and forever.