Saturday, December 29, 2012
I have not blogged since I wrote the post on the Sandy Hook tragedy. It is time to move on and get back to the day to day living posts.
I took very few photos this year during the holidays. Having said that, I can report that we had a very nice holiday week full of family, food and fun. Jim and Joanne came for a visit from California. The kids had a very nice Christmas and received an electric scooter, remote control helicopter, new bike and nook color (Mason). Maddie got a "Look Like Me" doll with accessories, a new bike, nook color and tickets to see Taylor Swift this summer. We spent quite a bit of time around the table playing Hand and Foot, which is a card game similar to Canasta. Randy ended up having to work some, as did Amanda and Jessica, but most of us are enjoying a week of vacation. (Okay, Josh and I are!). What I am NOT looking forward to is getting back to work and the grind next Wednesday. One sure gets spoiled by having time off. My side of the family is planning a lake retreat in February to celebrate a winter holiday (belated Christmas!) So we won't really be finished with the festivities until Valentine's Day. I hope your season was fun, healthy and full of family.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
It was with shock that I learned about the Connecticut Elementary School shootings yesterday. While still at work, I saw an early news feed about a shooting in an elementary school where they reported that one person was dead. I said a little prayer for the families involved, but I have to admit I didn't give it too much thought. There have been so many shootings around our country this year, it seemed like a tragic, isolated event. Later, at a department store in Columbia, Jessica called to ask me if I had heard the news. The death count at that point was in the 20's. Standing in the store looking at all the Christmas decorations and watching the crowd bustle around, the scene was almost surreal. Suddenly shopping for the perfect Christmas gift didn't seem so important. As I made my way to check out, I overheard several conversations, some by shoppers on their cell phone. People were angry, people were sad, people kept asking questions such as "How did he get in the school?", "Why would anyone want to kill those small children?" "Did they get him?" And then the question that I have heard many times in the last 12 hours, "What is this world coming to?"
There seemed to be a buzz in the air at the store, and not the usual shopping before the holiday, I have to get this done today buzz. People were visibly upset. I shortened my shopping trip and headed home. I had lost my desire and drive to buy anything.
How could this be? How is it possible that anyone could take powerful weapons and unload on innocent children? And go to the children's safe place of learning and friendship and destroy the trust and innocence of all those children? At the top of this blog, I posted a recent photo of my favorite little people, taken shortly after the school year started. Maddison is a second grader at a school in our small town. Mason is a kindergartner in the same school. The school keeps the doors locked and uses a buzzer system to screen people before they enter. Mason, who now wears the cutest little glasses you have ever seen, is learning site words and "holiday" songs. He has a Superhero lunchbox and backpack, which he hangs on a hook every day, right under his name. He has a girlfriend, but won't share her name with us. He gets sad when his friends get "think sheets", and even more sad when he sometimes gets one. He beams from cute little ear to cute little ear when he brings home an award or a good note from his teacher. He looks forward to seeing his friends every day, to playing at recess, to painting at art and to learning all he can to keep up with his big sister. In the hall, as is the school rule, he uses his pointer finger as a Mr. Wiggle to greet his friends so the school halls will stay quiet.
Maddison is the "senior" at the same school. She will move on to a new school next year, but this year she is in 2nd grade (and she whispered to me the other day that she has loved all her teachers, but she REALLY loves her teacher this year). She takes care of her little brother the best she can. She tried her hardest to prepare him for life at this school, but he sometimes wanders away from her advice. She works very hard to catch up with a certain little boy in "rocket math". She comes in second to him each week, but she is still very proud each time she reaches a new level. She has gotten awards for excellence in art, good behavior and reading. She just performed with the bell choir, and had to handle two hand bells and sheet music because several children were ill the day of the performance. She loves to show her family around the school and point out her artwork on the walls.
I sometimes have the pleasure to pick up the kids after school. Four school staff take GREAT care in making sure each child gets in the car they are supposed to. Last week I was reflecting on how different this process is than when my children were in elementary school. My children went to elementary school before Columbine, Virginia Tech and now Newtown. The bell would ring and out would pour the 300 children. Some to buses, some walking, some getting in with their parents or caregivers. Those simple, innocent days are gone. What hasn't changed is the broad smiles and the loaded backpacks that greet me when I arrive at the school. The rush to share the day's events, both good and bad. I remember similar conversations when Jessica and Josh were attending East Park School.
Maddison and Mason are like the millions of other elementary children in our country. They go to school every day. They have their routines, their joys, their sorrows. They expect to be cared for, treated fairly and allowed to enjoy their lunch. They know they will have assignments to do, but that there will also be time for friendship and fun. They feel safe. They don't worry about someone hurting them or the teachers they love.
This morning as I write this, I have questions burning in my mind. First, I wonder and worry if what happened in Newtown will forever change the landscape of our schools for our youngest children? How is it possible to keep our children safe when someone loaded with fire power is determined to kill them? Randy and I discussed ways the schools could tighten security, but each way seemed very breach-able. Even if the schools are locked down, the children still go out for recess. Will all the schools have to put up privacy fences?
But the question I can't stop asking is how can anyone go into a school, where the walls are lined with drawings of rainbows and butterflies, where the hooks are filled with colorful backpacks and lunchboxes, where the little desks and tables are filled with children who raise their hands to be line leaders and open fire on them with loaded guns? Could the shooter not see the pink bows in the little girls hair and the Spiderman ring on the little boys fingers? Couldn't he tell that the children had on their school shoes so they could run the fastest at recess? Didn't he know that the class would be working on site words or practicing rocket math? How could he close his eyes to the children, their trusting faces and their bright futures. How?
I pray for those families and for all the children in our country.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
We also lost my sweet Aunt Connie, attended a big wedding celebration and had a baking day. More pictures to come in the near future!
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
A very happy little girl!
Last weekend we spent the day helping redo Maddison's room. She had outgrown her princess room and a new style was in order for the soon to be 8 year old. Maddison loves horses, so Amanda decided to go with a horse themed room. The green was a little extreme, but Maddie loves it and it does pull out the green in the horse comforter. Amanda and Josh had secretly painted furniture and accessories prior to the room painting day. Aunt Bea kept Maddison out for the day while the room was being redone. The painting above her bed was Amanda's creation, along with some technical help from Josh. Maddison's reaction was cute. . . she was a little overwhelmed as 7 of us watched her and snapped photos. She is a modest little one and doesn't like a lot of attention focused on her. She reported to me later that she LOVES her new room and the bed sleeps very well!
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Friday, November 23, 2012
I sat out of the Black Friday shopping this year. I just wasn't feeling the shopping and crowds. I had fun hearing all the stories and seeing the bargains. Hope if you participated this year, you "brought it home"!!
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Growing up, I loved Thanksgiving. My parents always got up early so Dad could help Mom stuff the turkey and slide it into the overn. By the time my siblings and I got up, the smell of the turkey and dressing was already spreading through our two story house. I loved to help my mom in the kitchen and was often asked to stuff the celery with cream cheese and stir the salad. The menu was simple, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans and some kind of fruit salad. My mom didn't go overboard with a lot of different foods, but what she fixed was delicious and plentiful. We would always spend some time outdoors and the weather was usually cool and overcast (at least in my memories!).
When I became a wife, I wanted to continue with the same sort of traditions that I had as a child. Randy and my first Thanksgiving as a married couple was anything but joyful. Newly pregnant, I found cooking a less than pleasant task. Randy's mother had died the summer before, at the age of 46. I was determined, in my naive way, to help my husband, father-in-law and brother-in-law have some sort of happy Thanksgiving experience. Their grief was raw and exposed that holiday. My cooking skills were just as raw. To say I was "out of my element" would be an understatement. I had always helped in the kitchen, but to prepare a turkey with all the side dishes was way over my culinary ability. To make matters worse, Randy's mom, Berniece, had always put on an annual Thanksgiving spread that was fit for royalty. She made all of her family's favorites, including German Chocolate Cake, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie, and numerous salads and vegetables. She cooked for days in preparation of the meal.
I won't bore you with all of the details, but my meal included a turkey not quite done, a pumpkin pie not quite right and canned biscuits. The best thing you can say about that supper was that I had good intentions!
Fast forward a few years, and my family was again faced with the death of a mother, my mother to be exact. The first Thanksgiving after Mom died, my sister, Debbie and I got together and decided that we needed to create some new traditions and not dwell on the ones we were missing so desperately. My mother, Elizabeth, had died the February before at the age of 52 from breast cancer. We had small children, our brother was in college and our father was deep in the grieving process. Debbie suggested that we scrap the traditional foods, and fix all new dishes. She had a woman's magazine with recipes for a Thanksgiving meal and we cooked every one of those dishes. And they were awful. I can't remember exactly what they were, except for the bread, which was some sort of black rye. . . I threw more food away that year than I ever have. No one wanted any leftovers. But we were together, we laughed and cried while doing the meal preparation, and we somehow made it through.
There have been many memorable and joyful Thanksgivings since that year. Some with extended family, some with a very small group of us. There were the years the kids were home from college, the years that we added a daughter in law to the table, then two grandchildren, and then we added our son-in -law, all joyful times for us. And I won't forget last year when I turned the kithcen over to my daughter and daughter in law because I was recovering from surgery. The meal could not have been better!
Over the years, I have honed my cooking skills and have found a few family favorites that I stick to every year.
As I get older, I find deep meaning in celebrating all the blessings and joys we have in our lives. Blessings as simple as a roof over our heads and food on the table to the great blessings of healthy and happy loved ones at the table.
I love Thanksgiving. I love the food, the family, the time spent in preparation and the time spent cleaning up. I love that my "girls" and I clean off the table and spread out the Black Friday ads. I love that we all stop and share what we are thankful for and usually cry a little and laugh a little as we go.
This year, I decided to participate in daily Facebook posts, during November, sharing for what I am thankful. I started off strong, but then began to have some second thoughts about what I was sharing. My reluctance reminded me of the stones we have around our house. My grandchildren love looking through these rocks and picking out their favorites. They often come to me and ask me to pick which rock I like best. Instead of selecting a favorite, I find myself pointing out the unique and special qualitites of the different stones. Maybe one has a pinkish tint, while another sparkles in the sun. Sometimes they have smooth, rounded sides, while others reveal layers of different colors. They insist that I tell them which one I like the "very bestest". Oh the pressure! Like the many blessings that I have in my life, each stone is special and unique. This year on Thanksgiving, I am going to think about the rocks and the blessings that surround my home. I am going to be grateful for each and every one of them and their unique qualities. I hope you have a blessed and special Thanksgiving, full of memories and blessings!
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Monday, November 12, 2012
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Friday, October 26, 2012
Last weekend was probably the peek of fall color in our area. A cold front has now moved in and many of the trees are mostly bare. I took advantage of the beautiful weather and snapped some "tree" photos. I am thinking about getting the photo above put on canvas. I love the white trunk, the fall colored leaves and the blue sky combination.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
On Friday we got to pick up the kids from school. It was a beautiful fall day, so we hopped into the "Danger Ranger" and drove to the little creek behind our house. We wanted the kids to see how dry the creek was after the long, hot summer. As we were walking along the creek bed, looking for interesting rocks, I spotted this arrowhead. What a beautiful bit of craftsmanship! It is the first Indian relic we have found on our property. The rest of the afternoon I found myself hunched over looking for more treasures. On Saturday it rained more than two inches and the creek bed was no longer dry. The arrowhead sparked an interesting discussion about how it got in the creek and who had made it. A little dab of history right in our backyard!
Saturday, October 6, 2012
Saturday, September 29, 2012
I was excited to spend some time with Mason at school last week. Each year they have a Grandparents event where students can invite their grandparent to eat breakfast and visit the annual book fair. I knew from recent years with Maddie not to expect too much of the meals served. Our district utilizes a company to provide meals for the kids. Mason was excited about getting to eat breakfast there since he normally eats at home. First, let me say that I admire the people who work in the lunchroom at schools. I know they work hard and do their best (I could tell that morning how hard the ladies behind the counter were working). Having said that, the food results are much less than stellar. This particular morning breakfast was warm applesauce, cold whole wheat pancakes and strawberry milk. The pancakes were rubbery and could not be eaten with a fork. Mason seemed to enjoy one of the pancakes and drank most of his strawberry milk. He was VERY excited about the milk and couldn't understand why I didn't take any of it! Even the trays lacked appeal as they were stained and scratched from years of use. The new revisied school lunch program has gotten a lot of attention lately, but the changes appear to me to be too little. When my children were in elementary school they had actual homemade food. The smells from the kitchen were enticing and the food was served with a great deal of love and pride. Kids lined up for Myrtle's home made hot rolls and steaming potatoes and vegetables. I believe there was even some fried chicken on the menu. I certainly don't want to be branded as a negative person, but I feel like our schools could do so much better for the kids. My grandchildren usually take their lunch and eat breakfast at home, but there are so many children who don't have that as an option in our community. Don't they deserve an appealing meal at school? I don't know how to fix the problem, but I can't help but feel like we are "failing" these kids with such unappealing meals. On a positive note, Mason was excited to share that he had gotten "a real pear" at school and had eaten it down to the seeds. Our family doesn't eat a lot of pears, so I guess he had never had a "real" pear before. Maybe I am expecting too much, but in a poor district such as ours, I think some home made food served with a little attention to color and taste would be a bright spot in many students day. Any thoughts?
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Sunday, September 16, 2012
It was a lot of fun work on this with my family. The only damper on the evening was Randy's recent illness. I think my Dad was truely surprised and pleased to be the guest of honor at such an event.
I have lots more photos to share, which I hope to do in the coming week or so. My sister and niece, scrapbookers extraordinaire, are going to be compiling a family memory book, so the work continues. Stay tuned!
Friday, September 14, 2012
I believe this will be my last vacation post for awhile. I want to blog some about the surprise 80th birthday party we gave for my Dad. It is time to put away the summer vacation memories and move on.
On a separate note: Randy had a test done today to see what might be going on with his stomach. The test was inconclusive, but I am happy to note that he has been feeling quite a bit better. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers for him.