Monday, November 7, 2011

Holidays and Toy Catologs

This Sunday I opened up the paper to see the 'catologs' of toys from the big stores.  Boy did that bring back memories. As a child, the Sears and Montgomery Ward catologs were treasured this time of year. We would sit an look through every page and then make our 'wish list'.   Of course our parents loved it too, for they would have some extra leverage for us to 'be good'.  It was also easy for them to know what it was that was so desired from Santa.  I remember circling the different dolls, the Easy Bake Oven, games etc.

Of course I looked through those flyers, to see what is the new stuff now  that I am a grandparent.  ( You want to be hip with the kids- know the lingo) To my surprise, there were many toys that were similar to my younger days.   Toy kitchens, doll houses, train sets, dolls, and games.   Of course there were the zippy toys too, cars that run, cartoon characters, video games.

Gift giving can be a challenge.   You want to give your grandchildren things they want, but don't go against the parents wishes.  My favorite gift this year was an electric guitar.  It made allllll kinds of noise, sounds and yes even music.  My 2 1/2 old just loves it.  Now I know the parents weren't too thrilled, so we play with it when I am there.   The other issue with gift giving is the quanity  of presents.  The holidays bring so many things to our children, that a present is just tossed aside as they move to the next,  for there is so much.  One thing my husband and I do, is to get one fun gift, a book and maybe a piece of clothing ( that mom and dad wanted).  We then give the parents a card with the money amount  that went  into the child's college fund.   My husband's parent gave the children savings bonds for them to use when they got to be 18.  Our children were so thankful for this cushion that helped fund school, went towards a new car and when college was finished, paid for extras on a graduation trip.

The best gift we can give our grand children is building memories.  Sure it is fun seeing them open presents, but that lasts just for the moment.  Here I believe, less is best.  Start a college fund with the money you would have spent, then plan an outing/ activity to build those memories.  They will last a lot longer.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What's old is New again- Summer in a Jar

This weekend my daughter's and I canned tomatoes.  With produce we got earlier from the farm visit, we created these lovely jars of summer!   As I was showing them the tricks of canning I couldn't help but think how I learned to do this.

Growing up on a farm in North Dakota, we grew most of our food.   These big gardens provided us with all the veggies that we used through the winter.   Lettuce and such was only enjoyed in season.  Our grocery stores would also get fruit in season ( like I mentioned in my peach blog) which we also canned, jammed, and froze. It was not an option of choosing to learn how to do this stuff, but one of necessity.

Corn-- my dad's favorite was planted with his tractor with space between series of rows to get a pick up through.  He would check that corn field each day as it was getting ripe for picking.  When that glorious day came, we had corn for dinner.  That was all - just corn.  Then we would get out to the field and pick.  My sister would be on one side of the pick-up and I on the other.  We would pick and throw the corn in the bed of the pick-up till it was full.  Then go to the house where mom was waiting with all the freezing tools ready.  Shucking 100's of ears was the norm of the day.  We blanched the corn in great big pots, then would take the hot corn outside to cool off with the garden hose.  The next big step was cutting the corn off the cobs.  What a job. We did this for a whole day and would get who knows how many bags of golden yumminess. In fact it was some what of a competition in our small community to see who had the best tasting frozen corn.  Do you use cream? butter and cream?

Tomatoes were another staple in the garden.  Rows and Rows of tomatoes.  We made canned tomatoes, tomato juice, sauce and froze them.  This was another long day at the stove.  But there we  were learning how to 'put up' the garden's rewards. Jars would be lined up like a little choir dressed in their red robes.

Pickles-   This could be a book in of itself!  Pickles were a staple at every meal.  Dill, Dill with garlic, Bread and Butter's, relishes of every kind imaginable.  We even had certain pickles for holidays- like watermelon pickles.  Yum!

So I of course have always had a small city garden that produced plenty for our family. In the fall, I would spend long evenings canning and 'putting up' the produce.  This was also the beginning of school so I was busy with all sorts of work.  So I tried to talk my children into helping me.  But just like the little red hen, the answer was 'NOT I'.

Years have now passed and my daughters are grown, with CSA's (  Community Supported Agriculture )   They have more produce then they can eat at a time and are thinking of those jars of summer that they so enjoyed during their childhood.  Also, they are very conscientious about WHAT is in their food.  When you do your own preserving you KNOW what is in your food.  So here they came with the request for me to teach them how to can.  Not a grumble or a whine was heard, but rather how do you do this, or why do you do that.  It seems that preserving your own food is back in vogue.  There are blogs, books, all out there for the next generation.  My daughter's have now received copies of my mother's and her mother's recipes of favorite pickles, relishes, and canning secrets.  It seems what was an old task that was necessary for variety on your dining table is now New Again.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mirror, Mirrow on the wall, I am my mother after all!!!!!

I can't believe I did this!!!!!!   I rearranged my daughter's kitchen cabinets.  Yep you heard right.  When my mom would come to visit, she would be HELPFUL  and redo my kitchen cabinets.  It would take me weeks to find things and get them put back the way I liked them.  Then she would visit and do it AGAIN!!!!  

Wellllll, this week I was babysitting and my daughter's silverware drawer was a mess.  I know that time is precious and she didn't have time to organize,  the baby was sleeping soooooo   I fell over to the dark side and rearranged her silverware drawer!  Just couldn't help myself.  All the while I was saying,  -- boy I remember when my mom did this for me and I HATED IT.  But did that stop me?   NO 

I didn't leave a note or anything for I was hoping she wouldn't notice.  I could have been creative and said the 'great pumpkin was here' but nope.  So the next day, I went to the farm with her to help pick vegies.  I didn't say a word,  just smiled. :)   She didn't say anything till it got to be lunch time.  " So do all mom's have to rearrange their daughter's kitchens?"  I just smiled :)  We then chuckled,  I promised I wouldn't do it again,  BUT   ........

So have you caught yourself doing something your mother did, and you just hated it, but to find there you are doing it too? 
Would love to hear your story.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Germs, Germs, Germs

Well, fall is here and cold season is just around the corner.  As a retired Kindee teacher, let me tell you I believe I have seen a ton of germs.  So what does one do about it?  Do we sterilize our environment so, that we live in a bubble?  Do we alter what we do or enjoy for someone maybe contagious? 

As  a kindee teacher, I have been sneezed on, coughed on, exposed to more things than i can imagine.   My favorite was when a parent brought their little one  late, for they had gone  to have a strep test, but the results were not going to be in till later that day!  REALLY, do we need to  be THAT exposed?  Sure enough the poor child had strep and went home that AFTERNOON.   But blessing have it, I and most of the children didn't get sick.  Whew -- the point is our immune systems were pretty strong.

The sanitizer pump, is an amazing thing.  But since it's invention people have forgotten about good old hand washing.  Soap and water, has manage to keep people not only clean, but germ protected. Now this doesn't apply for places like hospitals, clinics, etc.  There is a place for all kinds of germ protection, and there are those individuals whose systems are frail and need special attention, but that is not the majority of us.

Seems like our children/grand children immune systems are not exposed to the ordinary germs I was when I was little.   But then, many of them don't make mud pies and try to eat them,  have the 5 second rule if something falls on the floor/ground, and don't spend most of their time outside playing, running, climbing like I did. I don't remember ever hearing about ecoli - yet I played in the barn, corrals wading through who knows what- just to hose myself off and call it good.  I do remember getting a cold/sick once in a while, but it was a rarity.  Also when I did get sick, I was REALLY REALLY SICK.  I remember that most of my doctor visits were for getting stitched up from some mishap or other.

Just the other day, I was reading about the SUPER GERMS! Now that is scary, these super germs are created from reacting to the super cleaners, antibiotics, and weak immune systems that are easilly attacked.  Docs are getting better about not handing out pills for every little ear ache, but we are a population who want them to take away the pain and discomfort of our body building up resistence. So then the cycle keeps going.

So what is the remedy?  Eating mud pies?  Not really, but getting outdoors and getting ones hands dirty- really with dirt is okay.   That it is important to get plenty of fresh air, breathe hard, learning how to properly blow ones nose- yes all the kindee teachers will love you for this, how to sneeze- they will love this too; wash hands well- with soap.  and of course the most important eat your vegies and fruits. 
As far as though sanitizer spritzers-  I do carry a little one in my bag, for when I don't have soap and water handy, but it is not the first thing I go for. 

Here is to all of you , may you by pass the sniffles, ah choos and flu's this year.  Stay healthy- eat an apple  a day. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Weekend 'Work" Fun

This past weekend my family and I were at our mountain cabin for a 'work' weekend.  You see, we purchased a fixer upper cabin that we have been redoing in the inside, but the poor outside was in great need of a new paint job.   Our family of course was wrangled into being our painting crew. 

My husband being the engineer, had everything organized from brushes to ladders.  Everyone 'chose their weapon" ( paint brush and bucket) and the fun began.  I too, had planned what I do best,  the food!!!!  Turkey was in the oven - ( turkey is not for only holidays) and I too went to paint. 

Now please remember, we have a 2 year old and a Swiss Mt Dog, that can bring down a ladder with his tangled lead.  So not only was I trying to do some painting, but the babysitting was a bit precarious!   We all took turns entertaining the 2.  Eventually the dog settled down in the shade, butttttttttt not the 2 year old.  So we got her also involved with the 'painting'.  With brush in hand and a bucket of water,  she painted the trees, the rocks, the dog  what ever she could find.  busy, busy, busy

After a day on the ladders, dripping with painting spots ( I am a messy painter)  and chasing after little ones,  we were all exhausted.  That turkey smelled really good! 
We were filling our faces with yummy food and talked about how much "FUN" we all had working our patooties off!  You heard me right' FUN!   For you see, painting a house is like being on a road trip.  You are all a captured audience.   The stories, conversations, silliness that was shared those hours is priceless.   Yes the house looks wonderful, the painting crew was tops,  but the time we all had together was great. 

I hope that you all have a 'work' day where you can have your children be a captive audience.   Working together was so bonding ( and exhausting) but I got to know my son-in-laws in a different light and my daughters as they joked and kidded with each other.   What a great weekend it was.

What's up with Blinkers!!!!!!

What’s up with Blinkers!!!!

Okay, What is up with these cars not having any blinkers?   These past couple of weeks I have been on the road A LOT and I must say the use of blinkers is almost non-existent!   Old cars, new cars, SUV cars, pick-ups, trucks- fast cars and slow cars.  Seems like non of them have blinkers that work. 

What I really love are the very expensive cars- like a Lexus, that don’t have blinkers.  I believe it does come with the purchase price!  

This week, I have had to  screeched to a halt, by a person deciding IF they should turn or not,  then proceeds to turn.  Waited for a car to come out onto the intersection, for them to make a right turn!   Errrrrrr

It would make me a very rich person, if I was to collect a quarter for every car that didn’t use their blinkers. 
So PLEASE be respectful and use that lever on the side of your steering wheel that makes the lights on the back side of your car go – BLINK, BLINK, BLINK.
We ALL  would so appreciate it. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Grandparenting Today

Just this last week, I saw on the Today show a bit about Grandparents today and how so many women don't want to be called grandma or to be considered old and frumpy.   Earlier I wrote about the name Grandma, but today I want to write about the role of a grandparent.

First I want to think back on my grandparents.  I have only a couple of memories.  My mother's mother spoke no English, I remember her wearing an apron, being in the kitchen and always having lemon drops.  My mother's father was a big guy, smoked a cigar, had a glass eye, loved to garden and read the newspaper.  I don't remember doing anything with them, just more of observations.  My father's mother, was not really present, but I do remember her being ill and visiting her in the hospital. 

Come to our children's grandparents, they were a bit more involved.  Both sides of the family would come to visit ( we lived out of state) or we would visit them.  The visits were always fun, did outtings to local venues, had holidays and family gatherings.  My husband's parents were more tradtional. Loved the children, but manners were expected, Grandpa ruled and expectations were in place on behaviors.  My father was pretty absent from my children's life, only met them a couple of times, my mother was more interactive.  Memories of her chasing the kids around playing 'lion', making cookies, and cooking.  She too, didn't want to be the 'old grandma', so she only watched the grandchildren once so my husband and I could get away. Always said she didn't want to be the babysitter- guess many of her friends were the babysitter for the grandchildren while the parents worked. So now I am the grandparent.
What I see today!  People seem to be so much more involved with their children. As a teacher I observed  parents not only are involved with their children and their learning/activies, but many actually micro manage them. Parents want to know everything that is going on with their children- cell phones, emails with care givers, instant pictures to friends/family etc. Todays technology has changed the way we interact with others, so there is more connection, good or bad.   Along with that, grand parents are far more involved.

People grandparent age are also far more active then what I remember from my childhood days.  They are involved with community, church, many still working, travel and outdoor activities.  So when I see grand parents interacting with their grand children, it isn't just at the family dinner, or sitting in the living room. It is outside biking, going for walks, at the swimming pool etc.

Grandparents have taken on some parts of the childcare.  Some are the main daycare others like me, take care of their grand children 1-2 days a week.  I call this my grandma time.   My grand daughter's other grand parents live out of state, but they come quite often and watch our lovely for a week- mainly when we are out of town.  That too is a blessing.  There are grand parent playgroups in our neighborhood where we arrange to meet at certain parks, pools, etc. Isn't that up with the times. :)

I feel so blessed I can watch my grand daughter weekly, for I get to know her, share with her and see her grow.  I also know how hard it is to be a working mom, so while my granddaughter is napping, I try to lighten their load by sweeping a floor, make dinner, or throw in a load of laundry. With today's economy we're all so strapped, there is never enough time to just enjoy being. So I try to give my children a few moments to just be and enjoy time together. Something my husband and I never had when our children were young.

My hope is that this new role of grandparenting  will create lasting memories for my children and grand children. Where children interact with us as we age, that I don't become hardened to 'my ways', and that my grand children think of me as a active, fun, intelligent person to value.   I know my life is much richer because of it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Food Choices

Yesterday (August 31st)  I was watching the show the DR'S.  The topic was about our nations food and what is REALLY in it.  Even though I have read some of these things before, heard about it, and seen it on other shows, for some reason this show really hit home. 

How did we get so far away from growing, producing , and eating whole natural foods?  I think it has to do with less patience and being used to having what you want - now.   When I was a little girl, I remember when the grocer would get in peaches.  First it would be annouced that peaches would be arriving on a certain date.  If you were lucky to have heard this, you could reserve the number of boxes you wanted. ( notice I didn't say pounds).  Then you would wait for the truck to come to town.  It was always a big day when you would go to get your peaches. 

You would pick up your boxes, and hurry home.  Each peach was wrapped in a tissue paper to prevent brusing.  I wonder who had that job,  maybe it was the peach elf.  Anyhow, there would be 2 layers of peaches, yummy yummy peaches. My sister and I would take off the tissue and smell each one.  Oh were they beautiful.  Then we got to eat one!  yep just one.  Usually the juice would drip down your chin, but you didn't mind.  It was the best day. 
For dinner that night of course we had PEACHES.  Peaches with cream.  YUM no sugar- that would ruin it.  just peaches and cream. 
Each day we got a peach,  then mom would make peach pie, peach cobbler and we would can peaches for the winter. 

Well, now that I have degressed with my peaches, back to my thoughts about food today.   You see my peach story is STILL vivid in my mind.  We had to wait for them to be IN SEASON, got them only 1x a year and that was it. Today, the fruit is picked early, sprayed with something to help it travel- no more tissue paper, and sits in coolers for who knows how long.   When I do get boxes of peaches from the market now,  I need to let them ripen and be quick for when they do, as they will spoil for they have been picked a while.

The way we process our food, get it to market really should be alarming to all of us. I will say I do love getting items at the store when not in season for the special recipe etc, but at what cost?   I love those crunchy chips, cool whip on my cobblers, but what is REALLY in there?

Being blessed living in an area with organic farms/orchards is wonderful.  I have also enjoyed the revisiting of the art of preserving foods.  This way you know what is in each and every jar.  But I also know that there are many who don't know how to preserve, have time, or the energy to do so.  Therefore our markets must provide us with the ingredients we need.  As this new movement is going on, I hope that our food industry, rethinks how they produce our foods.  We deserve better than what they are providing for us.  

Summer in a Jar III

My garden has had a few struggles this summer with the high heat we have had. My tomatoes are just enough for our table, so I will have to find my local farmer and hopefully he was more successful than I, so I can make my salsa and  diced tomatoes that get us through the winter. 
What I do have is a TON of basil.   Just walking through it makes my nose have it's own party!!!!   Just love basil and it is so versitile.   Many of us think about Italian food, but it is also in Thai and Mediterainean for too. 
Last night I froze 8 bags of basil leaves for the winter meals.  I have tried lots of ways to preserve it, and just freezing it seems the best.  If you like these helpful hints, ways to preserve summer produce, let me know. I have generations of recipes that I would love to share, but don't want to bore you with them all.  :)

Freezing Basil

pick, wash and deleaf stems of basil.
Put the leaves in a salad spinner to get them really dry. (very important part)
     If you don't have a spinner, pat dry with a towel.
Stuff a freezer bag full with the leaves, no need to be stingy,  just shove them in. Squeeze out the air,   That's it.  Off to the freezer you go.

Using Frozen Basil
The blessing with frozen basil is you can break off chunks  to  use in pasta, soups etc.

Basil  Vinegar
Love, Love basil vinegar and it is soooo easy to make.
I use regular vinegar 5% acid the kind you use for pickles.
I take the stems/flowers from above, chop them up into small pieces
Put the stems in a pot with vinegar to cover, bring to a boil, turn off.
Let them sit in the hot vinegar till it cools, strain and put in a jar. 
For Holiday gifts, I buy the fancy glass containers, put in the basil vinegar, with a few leaves ( be sure the leaves are dry- water is not good for your vinegar)  then seal.
Now isn't that simple.

You can do this will all the different types of basil. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer in a Jar II

This week the local grocer had apricots on sale.  Now I don't know about you, but apricots have been very expensive the past few years so they are a BIG treat.  These were so resonable and yummy I bought 48 pounds of them.  Yep that is not an error.  48 pounds  2 boxes worth of apricots. 

I got home and right away began digging in my recipe box and shelves of cook books for all my favorite apricot recipes.  Oh, Oh, Oh,  where do I start. 
First I made a pork roast with apricot sauce.  Dinner will be good tonight.  Then I knew what my first batch of yumminess would be.  Apricot Conserve. This is the favorite on ice cream, pound cake, pancakes, cream cheese as a dip and the list goes on.

Apricot Conserve from Ball Blue Book of Canning and Freezing

3 1/2 cups apricots ( I put mine in the food processor to mash it)
1 1/2 cups orange juice
Peel of 1/2 orange
2 tbs lemon juice
3 cups sugar ( I do use a bit less if the apricots are really sweet)
1/2 cups chopped nuts

finely shred orange peel.  Combine all ingredients except nuts in a large kettle. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. ( at altitude this takes a bit of time. I keep it at a rolling boil like one does for jam for 3 minutes.)
The last 5 minutes, add the nuts.

Remove from heat, skim and stir.  Pour into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space, Cap, process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. 
remove from the bath, let cool.  seals will pop if sealed properly.
note,  the nuts will rise to the top and leave a carmel color.  It is not bad, found this out the hard way,  thought all had spoiled my first year making this  and tossed them to later discover that the nuts rise to the top. 

Summer in a Jar!

I just love cooking!   Love, Love , Love it

Summer is the best time, for all the fresh produce that is available.  I have a large garden that provides me with lots of fresh herbs and vegies.  Even though this has been a challenging spring,  certain plants are doing really well.  Now that it is getting warmer, others are catching up. 

My salad bed  has been wonderful.   Lettuces and spinach of course,  but also beet greens, swiss chards, radish tops! have made it into our salads.   I know as it warms up, some of these greens will go their way, but others will fill in. 

My family has various food allergies/preferences.  I don't always understand them, but I honor them by trying to make foods soy, dairy, and gluten free.   Today I discovered a new blog GLUTEN FREE GODDESS  that is just wonderful.  I am going to try her blueberry scones tonight.   If you have people who need these adjustments to their food, be sure to check it out.

Summer in a jar!  I have a collection of canning jars from over the years.  Each year I make certain recipes that are used for special occasions.   My first reciper of summer is a rumtopf.   This is a liquer you make by layering.   After the whole summer, it is ready for fall to put over fruit, ice cream, or drink as an after dinner drink.  A batch lasts me all winter so now I have just a itty bitty left.  What will I put it over as my last hurrah?

Recipe for RUMTOPF
       ingredients:   The largest jar you can find
                            1st fruit of the season  washed and cut in half. This is usually strawberries
Cover the strawberries with inexpensive rum, then add a cup of sugar.  Cover and shake the jar.   Put the jar in a dark place ( mine is in my pantry)  When you think of it, mix the ingredients in the jar once or twice a week by turning the jar up and down.
As fruit comes in season,  you just add that to the strawberries.  Right now blueberries are in. So this week I  added  blueberries ( about a cup or 2) cover with rum, add a cup of sugar, shake and put in the pantry. Do this all summer long
Some notes on certain fruits.  Peaches must be peeled- peelings give a bitter taste.  Cherries need to be pitted - so I don't usually use them, too much work.  Don't use pineapple or citrus  the acid  throws it off. 

  • So begin your summer in a jar adventure.   More recipes to follow

Thursday, June 30, 2011

At the Beach

Today my grand daughter and I had a meet up with some other 2 year olds, grandmas, nanny, and moms.  We went to a local lake that was just perfect with a shallow water   beach, so the little ones could play in the water and we didn't have to worry about falling into a hole. 

Playing in the sand and water is always fun, but seeing it through the eyes of 2 year olds is precious.  The giggles of through a small rock in the water, the sand between the toes, making a splash!   Such fun

Summer, what a great time of year.  I feel for those who work full time.  It is these times I am so grateful for being grandma, for I can enjoy the beach without all the rest of the community kicking my towel for it is is too crowded.   Today there were maybe 20 people max.  What a treat.  For I know the weekend will be nuts. 

Summer,  what are your favorite activities you like to do?  

Having kids around make me do things that I have not done for a long time- like going to the beach.    I wonder what else I will be doing this summer that I haven't done in a long while.   Being Grandma is so much fun!!!!!

Family time

This past weekend my family and I were at our mountain cabin for a 'work' weekend.  You see, we purchased a fixer upper cabin that we have been redoing in the inside, but the poor outside was in great need of a new paint job.   Our family of course was rangled into being our painting crew. 

My husband being the engineer, had everything organized from brushes to ladders.  Everyone 'chose their weapon" ( paint brush and bucket) and the fun began.  I too, had planned what I do best,  the food!!!!  Turkey was in the oven - ( turkey is not for only holidays) and I too went to paint. 

Now please remember, we have a 2 year old and a Swiss Mt Dog, that can bring down a ladder with his tangled lead.  So not only was I trying to do some painting, but the babysitting was a bit precarious! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Stupid Stuff We Do

This week I did something really 'stupid'.  Now I don't like to use that 's' word often, but in this case it is the perfect word.  

I was making dinner - actually cooking- and not ordering out for my hubby.  Mexican was on the menu, so I was cleaning an avocado.  I grabbed the paring knife I was using to 'stab' out the pit.  Well, you can imagine what happened!  I missed the pit and the knife  went right in  my hand.  2+ cm

Being one who has had her fill of stiches, I knew that this punture wound would not need one,  but the fact that I couldn't feel my finger,  said I had better go get it checked out.   So off to the ER we went.

They cleaned it out, put glue on it ( the new kind of stitch) and said I was lucky I didn't cut any tendons or MAJOR nerves.  There is some nerve damage and it will take a while for the numbness to go away.  GREAT

So now, I am learning how to work mainly with one hand.  My golf game is on hold, and also many other things.  Did I know better than to stab my avocado- of course!  But I was busy chatting ( hard to believe) and just grabbed the closes knife.  STUPID

How many times have we done something and we KNOW better, but we just go ahead.  yep i bet we all have done at least one or 2.   What were your moments of doing 'stupid' stuff?

Grandma, grandbaby and street fairs

Our small community has this wonderful street fair every Friday in the summer.  It is a great time to see people, hear wonderful music, and just hang out.  Since we live close to the street fair, we have margies on the patio with friends then walk downtown to enjoy the scene.  Our children joined us this time with our darling little grand daughter.  

Now many of our friends have not seen our grand daughter for a long time and as you know she is now 2 and full of energy.  I was so excited to 'show her off' to all the people that I know.    First of all, there are only a couple of thousand people at this street fair!  Second,  there is a children's section with air castles, air slides, cotton candy etc.   How a little one sees all of this sitting in a stroller is beyond me, they must have 'toys this way' radared in their system.  For the minute we arrived, Grandma and Grandpa (Pops) were ditched for the children's play area.  So much for my grand plan of showing her off.

This brings me to my memories as a new mom with my children in tow, visiting my mother.   She would have scheduled us to have 'coffee' with all her friends, for she wanted to 'show off '  her grand children.   Oh how I would roll my eyes.  You can imagine the feelings of my children as they sat on these lovely couches, eating cookies while grandma and her friends chatted. I,  on the other hand, was trying to keep the crumbs from being a permanent design on the couches.   The children could only manage a bit, so it was up to me to entertain them, while not destroying the many breakables that were in these lovely homes.  Now trips to the local zoo with my mother and her grand children were just splendid and so were the trips to the many parks.
Since we lived far away, I now understand the feeling of showing off ones grandchildren, as they are the apples of our eye. We tell our friends about the stories we hear, and  listen to their stories of their grandones so of course when you can show the children off, you go for the chance.   Hopefully, I will not put my daughter through the adventure of keeping knick knacks all in one piece at my friend's homes.  Maybe we will have more friends to our home when they come to visit-  already baby proof.  :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

summer fun

Summer has arrived here in Colorado!  We have had such an unusual spring- cold etc, snow in mountains is STILL there.  So now having warm weather is a blessing. 

Gardening is one of my many passions. Spending time tending it and watching it grow is such a pleasure.  My children always laughed at me, when I would walk out with my morning coffee and talk to my plants.  You know, give them a bit of encouragement to grow.   Well, now those same children are coming to me for gardening advice.  Pretty funny.

In our area, community gardens are all the rage.   People are planting vegies, supporting local farmers, talking about organic measures etc. It is really exciting to see, that this 'old' standby  summer task is back in style.   One can understand the reason when you see the news and hear of outbreaks of e-coli, stories of pesticides and the cost of groceries today.  Community gardens bring people together and also instill the sense of where our food comes from.

When some friends came over for a bar-b-q many years ago, there little boys ran out to my garden.  I told them to pick what ever they wanted.  Well, one little guy came back with a carrot and the biggest smile you could imagine.  He just realized that the carrot came from the ground and not only from a store.  We rinsed it off and there he just chomped on it.   What pleasure both he and I  had. 
Now he is an adult and will still mention that wonder of a carrot.

My daughter lives in a townhome, so her garden is a container garden.  Today my little grand daughter was showing me how big her vegies have gotten. She is so excited to eat her lettuce and such.   There are so many lessons to learn from even a small patio garden.   How to plant and care for something; having to wait for it to be the right size; and lastly how to enjoy the fruits of your work.  Wonderful lessons.

So I hope you enjoy the pleasures of gardening, no matter what the size.  Next will be the joys of out smarting the bugs, then finally the harvest.  Now that I am retired, harvest is so much more enjoyable.  For I don't have to deal with all these wonderful veggies at night and can enjoy the time in my kitchen, preparing yummy dishes.  

What do you like to grow?  My favorite is peppers, but this year, I am trying fingerling potatoes, and of course the star of my garden is Kale.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Grandma's Fitness Class

Well, my little 2 year old grand daughter is going to get me trim yet! Today she and I were out on one of our adventures and boy did I get a workout.

We were at the local library for story time.  What a great librarian they have here, she really gets the kids and the adults up and moving.  Being I am a retired Kindergarten teacher, I prefer being one of the 'moving' adults.  We were doing the bunny hop, marching around the room etc.  That was no problem.  The main challenge is getting one up and down from the floor!   Now you would think that I am used to this since I WAS a Kinde teacher, but my knees are not buying it anymore.  So that was round 1

The second round of fitness, was the chase.  For you see there is a lovely pond outside of the library. We had brought duck food, but couldn't find any ducks today.  For some reason my little one decided to do quick dashes for the water to entertain herself.  Well, as you know, 2 year olds have no idea of the danger they are in.  So as she was dashing, so was I.  You could imagine how this 'game' wore off quickly for me.  But I must say, for a grandma, I am pretty fast, but she can turn really quick. Luckily none of us got wet, but it was too close for my comfort. 

Getting her attention redirected, led us to the areas of construction.  You know, the places where they are doing some sort of improvement and have put up yellow ribbons to keep you 'off the grass or such'.  Well these are just TOOOOO tempting for a 2 year old, and did I mention she was really quick!  You can image how fast she went under those ribbons.   Soooo I had to also follow, for she was not going to listen and come back, as this game was way too much fun.  Picking her up in a football hold, we got out of there quickly.

I feel like I have done my cardio, weight lifting and stretching all in that adventure.  Guess I can cancel my fitness classes for today.  We're all taking naps!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sprinkle Donuts

Well the grand baby is sleeping so I have a few minutes to write. It is a rainy kind of day, so we went out to the park early to feed the ducks and swing.  Always a good time, but then it began to sprinkle!  So back in the car we went to get SPRINKLE DONUTS!  Now these are a real treat as this little one doesn't get many sweets, but it was rainy and the bakery was not far away.

The joys of simple pleasures.  You would have thought that donut was a million dollars!   The way this little one looked it over, smiled with squeals then picked off a few sprinkles.  It took at least 30 plus minutes to get part way through this donut. Savoring each bite,  'clinking' her glass with my coffee cup for 'cheers' ( wonder where she learned that) inbetween the smiles and showing her prize to anyone that walked by. 

Well, the rain stopped so back to the park we went again.  So I wish for you something to enjoy -- a bit of happiness SPRINKLED in your day. 

PS,  when I figure out how to download a picture, you will see that smile.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Grandma's in the Kitchen

This past month, our family lost the best Grandma in the Kitchen.  Aunt Marie, 92,  was the family glue whose life centered in her kitchen.  For her children, I have been putting together a CD  of photos and videos of her in the kitchen doing what she loved- cooking for others.   When you think of her, the setting is always in the kitchen  making some of her best recipes for family and friends.  I would visit with her on my annual trip to ND.  The last few years, I got the idea of video taping her and chatting about her life making some of those family favorites that she used no recipe for.   These clips are priceless! So as I am doing this project, I am thinking how important the role of being in the kitchen really is.

First of all, not all Grandma's cook.  That doesn't mean the kitchen is not a central place for making memories, teaching lessons, having precious family time.   For the non-cooks,  you can set an example of making good food choices, bringing in those 'special' treats,  saying family grace at the table etc.
But for us cooks,  well, the experience can be a lifetime of lessons/memories just like my Aunt Marie's.

Sharing the passion of good food-  I don't know anyone who doesn't like to eat. Granted many of us grew up with the tastiest food of fried chicken, mash potatoes, brownies, lemon bars, pot roast etc.   My mouth is watering as I right this.  Today's grandma's,  can share those wonderful family traditional foods, but also we need to think about creating newer, healthier habits.  For whether we believe it or not, what we prepare, will get remembered.  Grandma's can learn new ways to cook. I am now show casing my grilled salmon, fresh from the garden salads, lots of vegies not slathered in butter, and of COURSE dessert.

Desserts- I believe dessert can be eaten at any point of the meal,  not at the end.  I LOVE dessert.  My sister was the baker in the family, so desserts are not my forte- but I am great at eating them.  My desserts are simple ice cream with interesting fruit sauces, brownies - from a box,  banana bread, and my famous rhubbard crisp!    My birthday cakes are nortorious for the amount of toothpicks in them to hold them together,  so that humor is also a tradition.

Cooking together and sharing tales in the kitchen- priceless.  When I was video taping Aunt Marie,  through our conversation, I learned about her life as a child, learned about my own mom and things they would do, who she made the noodles for etc.  First of all, she was not concerned if her kitchen got messy, this is  important as children get things messy.  Aunt Marie was very tolerant of messes, for it was more important to be involved.  Working with new/inexperienced cooks, you learn HOW to do certain tasks, like whipping air into egg whites,  HOW to measure dry ingredients, HOW cut with a knife etc.  Also learning about your family events and learning about your grandchildren's lives are shared in the process.

 This past year, my daughters, my grandbaby, and I began the tradition of doing a gingerbread house at Christmas.  Now, since I am not a baker, I just bought a kit! We had so much fun putting on the 'stuff'.  Of course I bought extra candy to put on. We were all so proud of our creation. It was the perfect project as my grandbaby was just under 2 years old. It is important to think how the projects are age appropriate.   I look forward to making cookies with my grand daughter, most likely chocolate chip.  I think this will need to happen maybe this week or the next rainy day.   Yum

Growing up in the midwest, there were many community traditions that involved food.  Living away from that area, I have tried to put a few of them into my family's life.  One is making a Norweign bread called lefse!  It is a very time consuming task, so 1 time a year I get out the rolling pins, lefse grill and invite family and friends to join me.  We have such a great time rolling out these flat tortilla like breads that we will share at our Thanksgiving dinner.  Hopefully my little one will join us this year. I am looking for a rolling pin just her size!

So do you cook with your grand children or children?  What is your favorite recipe/project that you do? Do you have a cultural tradition that you are keeping alive like my lefse?  Would love to hear from you.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Just call me Grandma

Was watching the 'View' yesterday and part of the discussion was about being called Grandma.   It is interesting to hear all the 'new' names for being a grand parent.   Now I already know Nana, Oma   but did you know there is EVEN a website of ALL the different names for being a grandma.  Granted some are just the word for a particular language, but some of them are just artsy!

So what is the deal with being called Grandma?  Just like getting gray hair, which I always teased my students each gray hair had one of their names on it, I suppose it is a sign of getting older.  But is that really a bad thing?  Do you want to be in your 20's again?  I just love being called Grandma.  To me it means someone little is an extension of my family.  A little piece of love that I will now have the priviledge of watching grow up.  It means I have someone to make cookies for; teach how to dig worms in the garden; take on a hike; go to their school events, and more. 

As Grandma, I can teach them the  pieces about our family that make us unique, and share our values.  It also means, that when I get tired, I can give them back to their parents and smile. 

Being a Grandparent is the frosting on the cake of life.  I know of people whose children for many reasons do not have children, and how they wish they could be a Grandma/pa.  Also many children, who grow up without having a grandparent to pass down the traditions/memories.  This position in life is a special place in our family structure.  Too many times, we are so caught up in our lives of trying to get rid of the wrinkles, gray hair, and trying to stay young that we forget the priviledge of growing older.   I want to be the grandma, that I saw in one of the children's books who rides a motorcycle, climbs mountains, reads and tells great stories, digs worms in the garden and pretends she is a lion that can roar!   Boy being a Grandma is GRRRRREAT-- oh that is from Tony the Tiger! :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

learning curve

Well, blogging is just a great learning curve.  I love to write, to tell stories, play games etc.  but trying to figure out how to do other tasks other than just posting is being a challenge. 

Being a grandma is also a learning curve.  It is always a challenge when your children 'do things differently'.  I remember when my mom would tell me 'what I should do' and how I cringed.  Even though she never said it in those words, when she would 'suggest' something I would just roll my eyes.  Now I find myself in this position and understand what a challenge it is to sit back and just be an observer. Not easy.   So I pray for patience and for wisdom, to be a better listener, to observe where I can help out without getting too involved, and to provide wisdom when asked. 

Grand parents today have a very different role than what our children's grandparents did.  You may have been lucky to have a hands on grand parent, or maybe your grand parent was one where children were seen and not heard.  Today, I see my fellow grand parents being more of the hands on.  We were with our own children - involved with their developing lives so we have just carried it over to the grand children.  But the challenge is to not be over being, wanting to be overly involved. 

So what are your challenges as a grandparent?  We all have them.  Maybe you are a distant grandparent. Are you the grandparent that is just around the corner and need more of your own space?   Do you want to shower the children with all the darling things you find; or would you like to take them out for donuts- but the parents won't have their children eating 'that stuff'.   Would love to hear what your story is. 

mother's day posting

Sunday, May 8, 2011

To All Mother's and Grandmother's

Hope everyone is enjoying their Mother's day.  I am busy gardening in our first weekend of nice lovely weather with no wind. Then off to my daughter's home to have a barbie with the family.

Blessings,  we are all so very blessed. Last week I wrote a blessing for each year of my life -- it was a pretty long list. :)  But Mother's day is another  opportunity to reflect and give graditude. 

Children,  what a blessing they are and also what a challenge. I love the way they show us the wonder of small things at their sight level.  How simple things can bring them so much joy, and also how some things can just set them off then you are busy trying to figure out WHAT it is.  Love the hugs, the dandylion bouquets, and sloppy kisses.  Love how when they learn something new, they do it again, and again, and again.  Love how when they learn something their eyes just twinkle. The power of knowledge. 

Love it when they take naps!   As even though I consider myself a very active person, their energy always out lasts mine so grandma needs to recharge.

Challenge during the teen years.  Independence is a tough journey.

I love to watch my children care for their little ones.  It makes me think that I did something right. :)

Being a mom, is one of God's blessings.  We don't have to give birth to be a mom, for there are many ways to raise, support, bring up a child.  This day it does take a village for raise a wee one.  I feel for all the lost children in the world.  They deserve to have a mom/parent take care of them, nuture them and give them a home. 

So have a lovely Mother's Day, count your blessings.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day

Just went to Costco and saw all the beautiful flower baskets, bouquets etc for Mother's Day.  As a Grandma, I remember when my little ones would come home from School/day care with their home made gems and the smiles on their faces for having made something special.  This week at my daughter's house I saw some of those very same projects, and the big smile on my grand daughter as she so proudly showed them off to me.  Some things are just priceless.   

So Happy Mother's day to all the moms out there.  Don't let anyone fool you that a cell phone, the latest/greatest tech gadget etc will be better then a gift made from little hands and the pride they feel for offering it to you.   Relax and enjoy these moments that have been set aside for you, as they don't happen too often. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

Grandma and Pops went with our grand daughter to the zoo!  We just love it.  Today was a bit on the chilly side, so the animals were really frisky and outside.  Also there were no crowds -- so just perfect.  These are one of the best times to be a grandparent.  I remember enjoying the zoo with my children, but also I remember that my mind was busy thinking about ALL the work I had to do, places to be, lists growing longer with each moment.  As a grandparent I can be present with this little one and just soak up the moment. 
The gorilla was right by the glass and to see this 2 year old just a glass thickness away saying whoa! precious
Taking the time to watch the hippo submerge then pop up, then do it again and hear giggles is just precious.
Going around and around on the carousel, having a 2 year old smile like she owns the world- you got it precious.  The zoo is a marvelous place and to see it through the eyes of a child is a great experience. 

Now it is nap time, and I can attend to those lists.  See the lists don't totally go away, just the urgency to do something about them does. 

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sleep overs with a 2 year old

We have our lovely grand daughter for this weekend, while her parents are having some well deserved time  alone for their anniversary.   So we are having a blast playing with toys, digging for worms, and chasing the cat.  But the funniest was on our way to a friend's birthday party we pasted a bus.  Sing 'Wheels" Grandma she said.  so I start singing Wheels the the bus etc.  Then this very loud little voice said.  "Sing it POPS" (her name for grand pa.) Well we just about drove off the road from laughing.  So Pops sang along.  :)
As they say out of the mouth of babes. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The terrible TWOS

So now we are in the terrible two stage.  Actually, this is my favorite stage of growing up.  The world is so new, they are learning how to manipulate their world - good or bad,  it is the trial and error time.  So as a grandma, I need to tread lightly on what my child rearing style is and respect that of my grand daughter's parents.  So when the little one is throwing a fit, or being naughty - I need to refrain from laughing and be very supportive of my daughter putting her in time out.   Follow the mother's cue or the little one will learn that Grandma is a soft touch. ( which is true).  We can always go out for donuts or treats later.  :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Reflecting on my adventures of being a new Grandma

Well, I am going to give blogging a try.  Our family just celebrated our 1st grand daughter's 2nd birthday.  One of the gifts we gave her was a photo album of her 1st year.  ( took me a year to put it together- I was thankful it wasn't a quilt for I'd still be working on it). In the process of making this album, I had a chance to reflect on all the blessings this little one has given us.  Now that she is talking up a storm, I can see that each visit will just get better and better.  I also realize that I will need to be very careful now that she 'picks up' everything you do and be supportive of her parents and follow their lead.   Being a grand parent is the best.