Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Grandma

Most of my posts have lots of pictures this one will but not today. Early this morning shortly after midnight my grandma passed away, for the last couple of years she has been declining both in mind and body but there were always moments when she knew who you were. While she lost her memories year by year we still had them and today I will share some of mine, most of which also include Grandpa  who has also been missing his wife more and more each year. But I am sure finds comfort in knowing that today she is with the Lord and remembers all.

May 2008

I remember camping with my grandpa and grandma they came along on many of our families camping trips, then they decided to settle down their camping and had a trailer placed in a campground not far from home but just far enough. The joys of being a kid at grandma and grandpas trailer new kids to meet, a pool to swim in, dinner outside under the awing  " Be careful with that zipper, make up your mind in or out" still echos through my head in Grandma's voice. Spending the night at grandma and grandpa's trailer was always a special thing. Listening to them tell the stories about their first trailer and taking my Uncle and Dad camping when they were little, singing songs to them and more. I think we all were a bit sad when the time came for the trailer to be sold.

Grandma loved to share her history with us kids. When asked about a picture hanging in the hall, " That's me and my sister we had to share those skates and my shoes had all those buttons" or how many of us has heard the story of how her sister Dorothy had a job and nice clothes and she would wait until her sister had left for work  and then she would ware her clothes to school and her sister would never know.

 She loved to pull out the old pictures kept in her night stand and tell you who was who and how we all got to America. Asking about the wedding picture hanging in the bedroom always lead to hearing about how she met grandpa, and their wedding, and the telegrams from grandpa during the war. And how she wondered why he couldn't remember that her middle initial was J, it kept changing from H to M. Turns out that was grandpa's way of letting her know where he was Hawaii or the Marshall Islands. The picture of the car loaded with all their belongings led to hearing about what it was like to be a young military wife the walk up apartment without hot water, the stove grandpa found and tried to rig up for his wife,learned from that story that one should not make a wood door for a stove. Their life after the war when they returned home, pulling into the LaSalle apartments asking for one of the apartments set aside for returning vets and being asked where to you live right now and pointing to that car laden with all their belongings. 

Buying their home, and how important it is to make just a bit more then your mortgage payment each month even 5 dollars makes a difference. How she worked at the Shredded Wheat Factory and other places that unforently I don't remember  The stories she told me about my dad, the broken arms two at once mind you, the case of the missing potato peelings,  the polio he shared with her as a baby, making diapers out of tea towels because that was all there was to be found. The stories about my uncle Ron as a baby and the work she did to help him along.

She taught me many things, some I learned , others not so much, and some I wish I had payed more attention to  there were kitting lessons, crocheting  and even tatting to learn, she taught me how to read and cut out a pattern. She even told me stories while teaching me these things  stories about learning to tat from her grandma Buck showing me the dollies she made, and the ribbon she won for a sewing contest. While my tatting may never had gotten very far and my crocheting ability was a chain that went around the house she never gave up on trying. The tax lessons were one's that stuck and today I still enjoy doing taxes.

There was her friendship with Mrs.Fix and how it showed my grandma's sense of humor  I believe at least some of my sisters and cousins were involved in planning April Fools jokes on Mrs. Fix under the guidance of grandma. I remember at least one year making mud pie cookies that Grandma helped us make and place into a nice tin and then delivered next door. How she looked forward to the yearly delivery of German goodies from Mrs Fix family, the pillow on the couch that was a gift and how it was a good thing the Mrs. Fix could make knit socks for all of us grand kids as Grandma did not like to knit socks. I learned that finding that good friend was important.

The kitchen floors, I think that the floor company started to cringe when grandma would walk in with the warranty in hand saying that her no wax floor, was  not shiny anymore. A new floor and after a while in she would walk again  I think the floor company was very happy when they installed the tile floor that is still there today. I think my husband wishes I had learned this lesson a lot better.

Me and my sister Bri lived with grandma and grandpa for awhile so that we wouldn't have to change schools 3 times in a year. I remember the PJ's grandma made us, the ice cream in bed, getting to pick out lunch meat at the counter. Grandma being challenged by the idea of girl hair, we were so spoiled but loved it.

Sitting next to grandma in church and trying on her rings, and afterwords hearing the stories behind them which granddaughter each ring belonged to , how she got the rings gifts from grandpa or inherited from her mom and so on. When it was your week to eat out after church she always let you pick the restaurant. 

The blanket that one always had to place on the floor before playing or watching TV, remembering to take your shoes off, for me the sears catalog that she always had in the closet that she would let me look at for ever. As even back when I was a child I was a planner I think I had all the kids and their future clothing and rooms planned out of that catalog. 

Learning to square dance so that Grandpa wouldn't be dancing with all those widows while Grandma was out with a broken hip. The sweaters she made for the new babies, and the scarfs and mittens for the older ones.

She was always generous and helpful, I am sure that at least some of my sisters experienced this too. Taking the great grand kids to visit grandma and grandpa and after the kids had eaten their spaghetti-os and having been sent to play downstairs or outside with grandpa.  She would slip you 20 dollars out of her pocket money and tell you that you needed to spend it on yourself, and if you were bad like me and not likely to spend on it yourself but the the kids she would make you come back and show her what you had bought. I believe grandma has paid for many a bra. 

All I have left today is the stories that grandma told and the things she has left behind that makes one remember those stories, the afghan that used to be on the couch and then was made into a floor blanket before being gifted to a grandchild. The picture of Grandma and Grandpa's wedding, the vase she won with Mrs. Fix, and all the pictures taken over the years. Her spirit will live on though us and today when I wash my floor I'll cry a bit.

I am thankful that she told her story while she could and hope that we all learn to share our story so that we may also live on in others.

I will have more to add later .

Monday, January 21, 2013

Menu Plan Monday 1/21

This week's Dinner menu plan:

Sunday-  Chinese Chicken, white rice, fried rice, stir fry veggies, fresh veggies ( celery, carrots, broccoli) , and sweet and sour sauce.

Monday- Sloppy Joes, green beans, baked potatoes  sweet potatoes fries.

Tuesday- Baked Chicken, fresh veggies, rice, corn

Wednesday- Fridge Vegetable soup - made out of all the leftover veggies in the fridge. 

Thursday- Spaghetti and meatballs as we didn't get to eat it last week.

Friday- as always is pizza night, we use the frozen pizza crusts that you can buy from Sam's club bakery dept about 18 dollars for 16 full size pizza crust. The toppings each week vary based on the left overs in the fridge, some times there is ham or pepperoni or chicken. 

Saturday- This week is a bit busy so, sandwiches  leftovers, soup, etc.

This is linked up at menu-plan-monday

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Chinese chicken

Well our kids only like one kind of Chinese food, and that would be sweet and sour chicken. This is not a real healthy meal, but it is a special treat that the kids and dh really enjoy. Since it is real expensive to order out all the time and we live in the middle of no where, I have learned to make it on my own. Here is the recipe for the batter :

1cup all-purpose flour
2tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2teaspoons baking powder
1/2teaspoon vegetable oil
1teaspoon sugar

And just enough water to make a smooth batter, I double this recipe for about 2 pounds of boneless chicken.

The first step is to cut up the chicken into bite size cubes

Then add the chicken and coat

Then fry, this picture is from awhile ago, today when I made it I used my fryer.

Then serve to the hungry hoards aka the family.

I serve this meal with fried rice, veggie tray, and sweet and sour sauce. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

This weeks Dinner Plan :

Sunday- Meatloaf, corn, baked sweet potatoes, baked potatoes.

Monday- spinach and ham quiche made with eggs from these lovey girls , fruit salad


Tuesday- baked chicken and rice with green beans

Wednesday-  chicken soup with dumplings

Thursday- spaghetti with meatballs, bread, fruit

Friday- Pizza night w/ salad

Saturday- Leftovers

This post is linked up at Menu Plan Monday

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Chicken Story

We have tried a few times to have chickens since living here, but due to a lack of real planning on my part, including secure housing for chickens, we have fed the local carnivores a few times.
But this year, we inherited some ducks from my mom and dad which is a story of it's own. The short version is that someone in the city of Buffalo thinks it cute to get their child ducks for Easter but forgot that ducks grow. My mom saw a facebook message asking to rescue the ducks, she does, they rehab in a grassy Niagara Falls backyard, and then get transplanted to our place in the country before getting busted for being a duck harborer in a city.

Well my mom and dad wanted to make sure the ducks made it here in the country, so when they came to visit for a week it was time to construct the Fort Knox duck house, nothing is going to eat these ducks. 

Aidan was the helper and Grandpa was the builder.  Since we live on a hill anything we build involves leveling which is a pain on its own. We tried to find the most level spot to build on, which meant that the duck house was built in the front yard. It works for me as we don't have a normal front yard anyway since the garden is also there.

Well, then I had a great idea that this duck house looks safe and way to big for just two ducks, so I sent my daughter to buy 2 chickens from the farm stand. And since she listens about as well as I do, she came home with 3 chickens.

The chickens started as cute little yellow and black puffs, that were living in a cage in Kat's room. Then they soon grew into some pretty ugly looking teen age chickens and I was wondering, "Did we get some mutated chickens?"

But soon enough, they grew out of that awkward stage and became some pretty cute chickens.

Since our dogs and cats were afraid of the chickens, we began to let them free range the yard.

The downside was chicken poop everywhere, but the upside was less feed and fatter chickens. What I love most off all is for the first time ever, the snail population in our yard is down. I am hoping for a decent garden this year. They love to peck at the front door and if you don't answer they will go and peck at the windows until you give them a treat.

    Aidan wanted to paint the coop. One day I let him. Not bad for a 6 yo but it will need to be redone in the spring.

Then something amazing happened! Something we were not expecting to happen until spring. We have eggs! In all of our previous attempts at chickens, the chickens ended up as food to the local carnivorers before ever getting to this stage. There is one downside. On Christmas, one of the ducks did die. It was attacked by one of our dogs who had gotten loose and had a treat that the duck tried to sniff. He became protective of his treat and attacked the duck. We tried to save the duck, but the wounds were fatal. It died about an hour later. Now, we make sure that the dog is tied up and watched whenever the fowls are out, otherwise he remains inside when they are out of their coop. 

The best part is that so far, we have gotten about three eggs a day! Not bad for the middle of winter.

When I saw this egg, I felt for that chicken. If I were that chicken, laying that might make me think twice about ever laying another egg again.

All Aidan wanted after gathering his eggs was an omelet, but he caught the tummy bug before he got the chance. Instead, he spent a day on the couch with his buddy getting better.

But then it was time for the first omelet made out of the eggs from our chickens that finally grew so big. Of course, we had to use the big egg which had two yolks.

That was the best omelet he has ever had!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Summer Fun 2012

This summer even though I was working we fit in a lot of fun. Kathryn was able to spend almost a month at her Grandma's and Aunt's house, and she went to horse camp for a week. Aidan went to day camp for three weeks this summer which might have been a bit to much for him. The boys also went to camp this summer for a week with their dad.

We spent alot of time at the pool in the next town over, the kids really enjoy their Friday family fun nights when they get to have pizza and pool toys.

Aidan was very proud to be able to swim in the big pool and not the kiddy pool as he as managed to grow taller and is a pretty good swimmer for his age.

But there were also many times when he would rather pout then join in the fun.

Nolan was happy to have more time to read.

Sarah spent most of her summer in the lifeguard chair, she loved teaching the little kid swimming classes this summer.

Conner could even be found with a book or two in hand during the summer.

We enjoyed many a outing to Cole Park, with cousins and friends.

Aidan thought he was the coolest kid around

There was even fishing this summer with grandpa and big brother Pat. And best of all Aidan while spending  time with his grandpa learned to ride his bike without training wheels.

Trips to local fairs to see the animals and show them off to visiting cousins

Pool time in the back yard, it was a great summer for swimming, but I think Aidan might need a new life jacket this summer.

The discovery museum was the place to be.

Even Grandpa got into it,so that's what he wanted to be when he grew up.

I am super monkey

Even mom found time to read

Games were played in the front yard, never sure what the rules were but usually it involved hiding when cars drove past and wearing capes.

Looking at all these pictures of green , when out my window is snow makes be hope-full that soon all will be green again. But not to soon, last years weather resulted in little or no apple crop.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Washington DC trip Girl Scouts June 2012

I really do have blogging to catch up on, this is a trip I took with my two daughters Kathryn and Sarah in June when we went with their troop to Washington DC for the 100 anniversary of the Girl Scouts.

We stayed in a youth house owned by a church in Baltimore. It was nice to have space to relax between activities and a kitchen to prepare meals in.

This is the group of girls we took with us, they all look fresh and ready to face the day. This day we went to the Baltimore zoo and then later out to dinner.

Kathryn had the nerve to ask if she could have one of these, should have seen me laughing.

Sarah made me laugh alot on this trip, her she is trying to lay a egg.

Kathryn on the other hand  pouts for awhile.

After a bit she gets over it,and starts to enjoy herself.

She laid her egg 

Have to get a picture of the mom.

She is sending a letter home via owl mail

Mom could I please have this goat.

I really enjoyed spending time with just the girls, love my boys but sometimes girl only time is a great thing.

Kathryn and Sarah both smiling at the same time I might go into shock.

Mom's turn, I am ready to pass out by this point since it had been a hot sticky day, and I don't do hot and sticky.

After this, we headed back to the house, and Sarah since she was head turnip was put in charge of getting a party of 20 women and girls showered and ready to go with only 2 bathrooms. She did it, and mind you if you didn't follow the shower schedule that she posted. We then headed out to dinner and getting there a bit late due to traffic, but it was a great dinner and show. The show was "Hairspray", which the girls loved.

The next day it was time to head into DC and we took the subway. Mind you, we are  county girls and the last time I was on a subway was 25 years ago in Toronto, Kathryn had never been on one, and Sarah's last time was when she was in Europe. Sarah looks ready to face the world.

Kathryn on the other hand is thinking 'I am not to sure about this'.

The girls were very happy to find the FAA building and had to pose with the sign for their dad who works for them. One of the girls, Sarah or Kathryn I do not recall, had the nerve to ask, "Who was Wilbur Wright?".

Since we are not much for heat and crowds we headed to a museum, The Native American one interested the girls.

Me and my tribe of girls

The  girls that were in my group.

The whole group hot, sticky, tired and ready to relax. After the mall event, we headed to out to eat and then  shower and relax.

While most of the group hung out at the mall listening to the music, visiting with past friends and enjoying the day, we headed to a museum since I am not a lover of crowds or the heat. There was a major lack of shade at the event and we had three goals for a museum: air, flush toilets and a place to rest. Well, we walked past a bunch of museums, some that Kathryn really wanted to see, like the National Museum of Natural History, but the lines to get in were out the door and around the block . The lines were full of Daisy's and Brownies whose leaders were also looking for a place to cool down with their girls. So we kept on walking trading with other girl scouts as we went along. If you look at the tie around Kathryn's neck you can see how much she collected as we walked along. 

We ended up in the National Art Gallery which made Sarah and most of the rest of the group happy. On the other hand, Kathryn the youngest in the group really wasn't into art. So I had to invent a game to keep her happy, we would walk into a gallery and she would have to walk around looking at all the paintings counting how many animals she could find.

And to make every one laugh a bit, I couldn't figure out how not to get lost in the gallery's. Each little room led into another little room, and then another. How would I ever find my way back to main hall? I was thinking, "Do people ever go into an art museum and never find their way out again?". I could picture it in a film, "The Lost Girl Scouts". They went into the museum and to this day wander the halls.  Finally, one of the girls pointed to the baseboard where very discreetly there was the word written "EXIT". So each room in a gallery had 3 or 4 doors and if you followed the ones that said exit, you would eventually come to the main hall again.

The next day we attended services at the church that had hosted us in their youth house. Of course I remembered to let my girls know that they could take communion but warned them it wasn't grape juice but wine. I could just picture it if I had not given them a warning. They walk up to take communion, the wafer no problem but then they head over to the cup and take a sip and the next thing they do is spit it out all over the priest. Better to whisper down the row, it's wine not grape juice. The girls chose to take the wafer and forego the communion cup.

Then it was time to head home, and while on the way there they were full of energy and singing girl scout songs for the whole 5 hour trip, on the way home it was quiet as they all slept.

This trip showed me a couple of things. One, our big van was not meant to drive in hot temps with a full load of 12 people and traffic. It had no problems in OK City a year or two before but that was driving with no traffic and only 6 people. And two, but most of all, that I need to plan another trip with just my girls. It was great to spend time with them and build on our relationship between mother and daughters.