Tag Archives: fire fighters

Friday:) Honoring 9/11, Miss Denna Sikes, and Our Firefighters

11 Sep

“Honor is more than words. It’s gratitude, it’s actions, it’s saying thank you, and it is quiet thoughts and prayers.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Today, our little group of good friends gathered to honor the 20th Anniversary of 9/11. We also had a memorial celebration of life for our good friend Denna Sikes.

Jerry led us in a prayer, followed by Everyone singing “Amazing Grace” and “Proud To Be An American.”

Everyone had on their red, white, and blue.
Miss Denna’s Family was very moved by our celebration and remembrances of their sweet mother. There were photos and balloons and flowers and lots of love.
Good friends, good food, and fond memories.
There was a lot of food left over. I told Miss Pat that I was going to my fire stations this evening to take them my brownies, homemade Texas Black eyed Pea Salsa, chips, etc. So, after we cleaned up, she sent me home with all kinds of goodies, bratwurst, cakes, cookies, etc. to add to my offerings.
There was a lot of good food to share.
I dropped off a few things at Station 9 on my way home. Then, I had to cut up my brownies, put my homemade salsa in jars, and wrap up the other goodies. I said I’d be back shortly.
Firefighter Mead was very appreciative over at Station 5. He said “Thank you. You didn’t have to do that.” I said, “Oh yes, I did. Thank YOU!”

That’s what it’s all about, my friends. Being thankful for our blessings and thanking those who deserve our thanks.

Friday:) Firemen and a Few Other Friends

23 Jun

“The shortest distance between truth and a human being is a story.”

~Anthony de Mello

Friday turned out to be a fiery hot day. I took Bella across the street to the park for only a few minutes at a time. I, personally, am a bit crazy, so I put my cool wrap around my neck, and went out for a walk. I walked half an hour, came in to sit under the ceiling fan, then back out again. Yep, I’m crazy.

My goal today was to go to get some walking in, go to the bank and take some brownies over to my firemen friends at Station 5 and 9. I decided that I finally needed to write a little story to share with the friendly firefighters. I’ve been taking them goodies for so many years, so I wondered if they might like to know why I do this. It’s a special story. So, I wrote it down, printed it and attached a special photo. I took the story and brownies over today.



In 2002, my sweet mother had a serious stroke. She was visiting with me in Hawthorn Woods after not feeling well for a few days. Her speech was slurred and she collapsed in my arms. I held her with one arm and dialed 911 with my free hand. The Lake Zurich fire station was just around the corner. The dispatcher kept me calm and gave me detailed instructions. “The ambulance is on the way. Make sure the front door is unlocked. Stay with me on the phone. It’s going to be OK.” The paramedics arrived in just a few minutes.

The care and compassion, not to mention, saving my mother’s life has always remained with me. After that experience, I have always visited my local fire stations with homemade cookies, brownies or cupcakes, especially at Christmas and September 11th. At Easter time, I make those cute Peep cupcakes, but many times, I just stop by because I feel like baking and sharing.

When I moved to McKinney in 2004, Station 5 was my local station. I brought my baked goodies, and even hand-painted ornaments at Christmas. In 2014, I moved a little further north, and Station 2 was closer. That just gave me double the incentive, so I just stopped by with goodies for both. Now, the new Station 9 is walking distance from my house. That just adds to my baking and sharing.

I wanted to share why this is so important to me. Not only do all of you risk your lives every time you go out on a call, but you do this for strangers or neighbors or friends. It doesn’t matter who you are helping. Some selfless compassionate people saved my mother’s life those sixteen years ago. That sweet angel mother recently passed away on February 15, 2018. I know she’s smiling down every time I stop by.

One of her proudest moments was when she visited me a few years ago from Elgin, Illinois. She went with me to take some brownies to Station 5. When I asked if I could take a photo, the guys on duty insisted on taking her back to the fire truck for the picture. One of them held her arm as she shuffled down the long hall with her cane. After the photo was taken, she was escorted and helped into my car. She was so proud that day. I made copies of that picture that she showed off to all of her lady friends when she returned home.

That’s why I bake and share with you all. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL YOU DO!

First, I stopped at Station 5. I told the guys that I wanted to let them know why I’m always stopping by. They both thanked me and asked if I wanted to come in. I said I’d just like to take a picture. The captain glanced at the story and asked, “Are you the one who made all those hand-painted Christmas ornaments?” I told him I was, but I missed last year because I was in Chicago for a month to visit Mom and my new grand-daughter. (I guess I owe them an ornament.) That was a nice recognition.

After my first visit, I stopped at the store around the corner. I was ALL out of chocolate ice cream. OH NO! Today is Black Russian Friday. I need my chocolate ice cream.

Who did I run into in the ice cream aisle? Why, my good friend Laura Bartlett. Great minds think alike. We both were getting ice cream.

I’m a smart Texas girl. I keep a cooler in the back of my car pretty much all year long. I put the ice cream in the cooler and headed towards home. But, Station 9 is on the way home. I stopped, called on the outdoor phone and a nice fireman came to the door. I gave him the brownies and handed him the story and photo of Mom. He noticed Captain Floyd in the old photo. He said, “Why don’t you come on back. Captain Floyd is here today.”

We walked back to the office, and when I asked to take their picture, the young man said, “Let me get a picture of you with the Captain.” That was nice. They offered to go back to the fire truck, but I didn’t want to bother them. We have some of the nicest fire fighters here in McKinney, not to mention the cutest. (Thanks for all you do, McKinney Fire Fighters!)

This has been a really good day and a fun Friday. Hey, and I have chocolate ice cream in the freezer. I am blessed.

Thankful Thursday: Remembering 9/11

12 Sep

For some people, today was just an ordinary Thursday, an ordinary September 11th. But, to those of us of a certain age, “We will never forget.” That image replays in our heads over and over, just like it did on every TV channel, over and over. Do you remember where you were?

As I mentioned yesterday, I like to bake to show my appreciation for our fire fighters. I made the brownies and mini cup cakes last night and frosted them today, just a few minutes before I took them over to Stations #2 and #5.


As I parked my car over by Station #2 around 4pm, I noticed a few of the guys out back throwing a football around, so I walked across the grass with my big aluminum pan filled with treats. From a distance, I could see my buddy, Quincy, with a big smile on his face.

Here’s the part that melted my heart. Quincy shouted out as I approached , “I was wondering where you were. You never miss a 9/11.”

That’s Quincy on the far right. I met him a few years back when he was over at Station #5, and I interviewed him for a story I was working on. Now, we are Facebook friends, and I get to see photos of his lovely family and friends. That’s what I love about McKinney. Friends become family.

Then, I scooted over to Station #5. I picked up the call phone outside the door and said, “Hi, it’s Toni with some treats for you guys.” Not only was I welcomed, but I was invited back for a photo op. Fire fighter Stephens has been on duty quite a few times when I dropped off brownies or cupcakes. He knows I like to take pictures. I told them that I moved and Station #2 was closer to my new house, but I’d still be stopping by with my brownies. Then Stephens said, “Well then, we should adopt you as Station Mom.”

I kinda like that…Station Mom.

So, it was a good day of remembering and honoring and saying thank you.
I didn’t have my brownie face making props handy when I was baking yesterday. I’m sure they’re in a box somewhere deep in the recesses of the garage. So, here’s one of my favorites from the past. Throwback brownie Thursday.


Wednesday:Words of Wisdom and Bravery

11 Sep

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it. –Thucydides
I spent all morning and early afternoon sorting through more boxes, unpacking and trying to get a little bit more organized. Well, hours later, the bedroom, bathroom, and closets looked messier than before. It’s funny how ten stacked up boxes look messy, but the contents of ten unpacked, strewn about looks like a tornado set down and swirled around all day.

By 4 or 5 o’clock, I’d had enough of that. Time for baking a few brownies and mini cupcakes for Art Club, but most importantly, a bunch to take to a few fire stations tomorrow. I made over 150 mini cupcakes with a little cherry in the middle, and one batch of brownies. I’ll make the frosting later tonight and frost them in the morning so they are fresh. I hate dry frosting…don’t you?

I started baking treats for my local fire stations probably a dozen years ago. I always bake at Christmas, and I love to make those bunny peep cupcakes at Easter for the guys, but sometimes I just feel like baking and sharing for no particular reason. They are always happy to see me, but I’m always thrilled to say thank you and see their sweet smiles.

I’ll have pictures tomorrow. It’s a special day to remember. If you have time, say thank you to a fireman, police officer or soldier tomorrow. They would do anything for us, we can at least say,”Thank you!”

A few smiling faces from the past. Now, you can see why I do this.



These guys are awesome.



And sometimes they’re funny,


A Special Saturday:Sharing A Special Tree For Christmas

20 Jan

I shared this special story with my Facebook friends at Christmas, and thought I’d share it with my new blogger friends. Perhaps you have a “Pay It Forward” story that you’d like to share. I’d love to hear it.


It is believed that the tradition of the Christmas tree spread across America during the 1800s with the arrival of German immigrants, a reminder that the dark grey of Winter would soon bring the green renewal of Spring.The Germans would bake fancy ornaments for their trees and then eat the decorations when the trees were taken down. Fruits, nuts, flowers and lighted candles also adorned the first American Christmas trees, but only the strongest could support the weight without drooping. So, German glassblowers began producing lightweight glass balls to replace heavier, natural decorations. These lights and decorations were representations of the joy and light of Christmas, with the star on top of the tree a symbol for the “Star in the East.”

This is such a wonderful American tradition, but what about those who don’t have a Christmas tree, ornaments, toys and freshly baked cookies? The thing I love about America, Texas and the marvelous city of McKinney is, when there is a need, there is a way to fill that need.

One of my own personal holiday traditions is giving my hand-painted ornaments to friends, neighbors, and family along with homemade cookies, cupcakes or brownies, because “nothin’ says lovin’ like homemade.” This week, when I stopped at my neighborhood McKinney Fire Station 5 with my ornament and a dozen chocolate cupcakes, as I have for the past eight years, I was greeted with the usual smiles and appreciation.

As I was escorted back to the kitchen, I asked, “Can I see your Christmas tree?” I remembered how beautiful the tree was last year, and how all my ornaments from the previous years were carefully displayed on the branches. The young firefighter just smiled and said, “Well, it’s not much of a tree, but come on in.” He turned on the light in the dimly lit space, and there to my amazement was a bare five foot metal pole with a red light on top.

I asked, “Where is your Christmas tree?”

“This is it,” was the only response.

I knew there had been a big change in personnel this past year when the new fire chief took over, and a lot of the guys relocated to other stations, but I didn’t think that would effect Christmas. I asked, “Where is your beautiful tree and all your ornaments? I’ve been bringing ornaments for years.”

The perplexed fireman responded, “I don’t know. Maybe they took them over to the other station.”

I shook hands with everyone on shift that afternoon and wished them a Merry Christmas, walking out with an unsettled sadness. Not quite the feeling I was expecting.

When I got home, I went to my handy iPad and posted a picture on Facebook of the ornament and cupcakes that I had taken to the fire station. My message retold the story of the sad looking “Festivus” looking metal pole that took the place of a traditional Christmas tree at the fire station.

To might delight, when I checked my page an hour later, there were so many comments from friends and neighbors appalled at the situation. There were several offers of Christmas trees from neighbors. My friend, Kim McCraw, said her son Shane was working at Christmas Traditions on US75 and they said that they would drop off a freshly cut evergreen tree the next day. Wow!

Saturday afternoon, I drove over to Station 5 with a box of newly purchased blue ornaments for our friends in blue and their new tree. When I arrived with my gift, a gorgeous nine or ten foot tree adorned the space where a sad metal pole stood the previous day. I explained that I was “the ornament lady” from yesterday, and that I had posted on Facebook that Station 5 didn’t have a Christmas tree this year. They were all smiling and honored when I told them that just one Facebook post had inspired a dozen offers of trees and goodies to brighten their holiday.

When I looked at the beautiful tree, there was a single ornament on a branch, and it was one of mine from 2008. They were waiting to decorate the tree until they purchased some new lights. Off to the side was a box with decorations and ornaments that they must have found in a storage room somewhere, many of which I recognized from my signature matching hand-painted boxes. I was delighted, humbled and grateful. The old “Festivus” metal pole was off in a dark corner. What could have been a dreary space for a group of gallant firefighters, was now a bright and cheery room better suited for a group of kind men and women who are always nearby to serve and protect.

I returned New Year’s Day and found a beautifully decorated tree. Fire fighter David Crump, wife Barbara, and young son Coleman were enjoying some family time at the station. I asked if I might take a picture, and they happily obliged.

The tradition of the Christmas tree is alive and well in McKinney. “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”