Showing posts with label vacation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vacation. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I’ll See You in Oregon

         For spring break this year, we decided that we would go to Oregon.  I was excited to get away from Utah and to a state where I could breathe.  Jenna was sad not to be in Utah for her birthday, but built up an excitement to go. Roland has needed a vacation and was happy just to get away.  But none of us were as excited about going to Oregon as Beth.

         Beth Goldberg and Roland were in their high school band together.  Roland was interested in dating Beth, but the feeling was not mutual.  She liked Roland as a friend, but didn’t wish for anything more.  (I personally think she may have just had higher standards) After forty years they had reconnected through facebook. 

         Beth travels a lot – or so it seems.  She had remarried and was looking to move from West Virginia to Oregon.  As she and her husband drove from state to state, Beth said that they would be travelling through Salt Lake on a certain day and asked Roland if maybe they could do lunch.  He could meet her new husband, she could meet his new wife (me) and so we had made arrangements to meet for lunch.

         I met Beth for the first time on September 4, 2013 – after mom had been in the hospital for four days. Just as we had finished up, Beth invited us to stay with them in Oregon whenever we happened to make it up there.  I took her more seriously than did Roland. 

         When we planned our summer vacation last year, initially he wanted to take Jenna back to Disneyland, but he also wanted to invite his mom so that she and Jenna could have some bonding time. 

         It was my idea to change the itinerary from California to Oregon as Disneyland didn’t seem to be the ideal place to take his mother as there is more walking and standing involved than her legs are used to.  She’s too proud to be pushed in a wheel chair.  I figured if she and Roland were to watch shows while Jenna and I stood in line, the bonding would not be what he had hoped.  I figured a road trip in Oregon would give his mom the option of leaving the car at her convenience to do side trips and there would be a better environment to bond.

         Turns out that Roland’s mom had already been spoken for and would be spending the majority of her summer in NJ with Roland’s brother, Bob.  I still wanted to go to Oregon, but Jenna and Roland opted for Disneyland.  Thus Oregon was put on the back burner.

         In October, Roland had this horrible cough that seemed to linger for the rest of the year.  Our room always seemed too hot for me.  Though our bed reclines, Roland and I are never happy in the same position.  I ended up on the couch each night until finally I ended up falling asleep in the recliner in the living room and stopped going to bed all together.  I learned that I could actually breathe better than I could in the bedroom.

         When Jenna took swim lessons, the pool area was moist.  That was actually great for my sinuses.  After at least three years of suffering with dry skin and dried out sinuses and sinus infections and allergies, Roland decided that perhaps it was time to move (I had actually suggested that very thing more than eight years ago) and maybe we ought to look into Oregon.  Was this for real?  Breathing has been better for me this winter than any other because there has been more precipitation than usual.  That and the better ventilation between the front window and the sliding door.

         For Spring Break this year, Roland and I decided that we would spend five days in Oregon – looking at living locations mostly.  For the next week or so, my posts will include details about our spring break vacation.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Grandma’s Wrinkles Tell Stories – and I Love Each One

On Christmas Eve, I opened a gift presented by my granddaughter.  The name of the book is “Grandmothers Are Like Snowflakes . . . No Two Are Alike” by Janet Lanese (who I believe refers to herself as “Grandma Jan”) and had started reading it before I went to bed and continued after I got up and after we opened presents.   It’s got a bunch of great thoughts and little proverbs and I started reminiscing with many quotes that I read – starting with myself.

Some quotes come with full names.  Some are quotes taken from children in which first name and age of child are given.  One of my favorite quotes came from an eight year old named Tammy.  It says, I love my grandma’s wrinkles.  Every one tells a story – which is where I got the title of this post.    

I don’t feel much like a grandma.  I haven’t been with Ester much to make a connection in which we are both comfortable in our roles.  She’ll be three in March.  Ester is cute and smart and has an amazing vocabulary – pretty much like Jenna did at her age – though I think Ester is a lot more articulate.  Maybe not.  It’s hard to say as we do not see Ester daily or even weekly.  

Tony and Rochelle have been back from Texas for twelve months now, and I doubt that I have seen Ester more than ten times since they’ve been back.  I know Tony would like to spend more time with us than they do.  They spend more time with her family.

Randy and Carrie also announced that they’re expecting.  Even though I do see Randy more than the other two boys put together, I don’t see Carrie even half as often.  Right now they live about the same distance from us as Tony and Rochelle.  That could change before the baby comes.

I have a friend who had given me a book called “Grandma Time” which contains finger stories and activities. I’ve gone through the book and have used some of the verses – with my niece and nephew and even Jenna, but not with Ester.  As a grandmother, I feel distant about it still.

What children expect from grandparent is not to be understood but to be loved. - Grandma Jan

I remember my mom spending time with my brother’s three oldest.  She spent time with all of her grandchildren – but those three (particularly Ellen and Kimball) are the ones I remember her spending time with the most.  Probably because I, myself, was included – at least in the beginning.  I had lost track with Candy.  She was three when Roland and I got married.  I didn’t actually spend time with Patrick’s children after that.  But I always had updates on how they were doing.  They spent time with mom at least once a week.  She was quite the proud grandmother.  She was always looking out for their interests and spending time with them.  I can’t say for certain that she had a favorite, but as she got older, she would always express her love toward Brian.

                                                     Ellen with both of her grandmothers

I remember her playing with Jenna.  Simple games like finger plays and peek-a-boo to outings to wheeler farm and Disney on Ice.  She would take all of us to see Corey’s plays and spring for pizza and ice cream.  She had a very giving heart – not just as a grandma, but as a mother.  I don’t know that the “skipping children” part would apply.

                  The secret of a happy live is to skip having children and go directly to the grandchildren (this is quoted “Momma” from a cartoon character created by Mel Lazarus)

            My mom had taken Ellen to the hospital the day that Candy was born so that they could both watch the miracle of her sister’s birth.  Mom and Kayla were with me at the hospital when I had Jenna.  And even in her dementia state of mind, mom made it a priority to visit Kayla and Anna in the hospital and then Gary when it was time – though she was really slipping before he was born – telling me she could walk to the hospital to see him if she wanted to.  She no longer had the sanity to drive and we had taken away her keys.  But she knew that Garrett was her grandchild and she wanted that physical connection.

            I remember her playing on the floor with Anna – just like she used to do with Patrick’s children. I was happy that I got to see that before her mind got really bad.  Before we had to check her in to assisted living.

            Different minds.  Different grandmas.  Jenna doesn’t know her paternal grandmother as well as she started to know my mom.  She knows my mom well enough to miss her.  Well enough to miss who she was before her mind went.

Roland’s mom has scared her in the past – not intentionally. As mentioned in this post  Roland and I are from two very diverse backgrounds.  Being with Roland’s family is a cultural shock after being with mine.  Something Jenna was not used to.  My mom and Roland’s mom are definitely two different grandmas – which is not a bad thing.  Just goes to show we are two different snowflakes on two different environments.

            There’s an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” when Debra has her parents sharing the same table as the Barones.  Marie and Lois of course represent two entirely different backgrounds.  Lois is a lot more cultured and well traveled and seems so caught up in fine art and material things that she seems to overlook needs and wants of human kind – including her own children and grandchildren – not quite fitting the “grandmother” image.

            Though many find her meddlesome and don’t always agree with her ways, Marie definitely seems to fit the grandmotherly image.  She tells Debra that it is not her fault and labels Lois as “not Mother-ish)
Both of Jenna’s grandmothers give and love her.  Neither one of them are like either Lois or Marie.

            Then there’s my own grandmothers.  I have more childhood memories of my dad’s mom than I do of my mom’s mom.  Grandma Helen lived in Salt Lake and later moved to Murray (a sub-area of Salt Lake) and Grandma Mary lived in San Francisco.  Both grandmas enjoyed traveling – though Grandma Helen seemed to do a lot more when Grandpa Earl was alive and Grandma Mary seemed to do more after Grandpa Ralph passed away.

            I was too young to remember all the trips that Grandpa Earl and Grandma Helen took – many before I was even born.  I do remember seeing pictures taken when Grandpa had taken the entire family to Sun Valley.  I remember when Grandpa was sick before he died.  My mom noticed a huge change in Grandma’s personality after Grandpa passed.  Mom had said she’d become withdrawn and insecure and given up on life.  I was too young to remember what she was like before Grandpa died.

            I remember her smile and buying toys and spoiling us, it seemed.  I remember her laugh more than any sternness or insecurity.  I remember her giving.  I remember playing in her big house.  It is my understanding that she designed it.  She had treasures in her house and rooms to explore.  Every time we visited with grandma, there was adventure.  Grandma encouraged us to play and enjoy life.  At least that is the message I received.

            After Aunt Alice moved out, her children encouraged my grandma to move someplace smaller – and someplace closer to her boys – not that we lived that great of a distance from her to begin with.  But after she moved into the condo in Murray, I could ride my bike to her house.  I could come by myself if I wanted. 

            My cousin Michelle and I would often stay the night.  We would pretend that we were in a hotel.  I enjoyed my time with grandma.  I enjoyed being spoiled.  I enjoyed our friendship.  She had taken my cousins and brother and I on a trip to California to explore Disneyland and other adventures. 

            After high school Grandma Helen and I took a vacation to Hawaii.  We went with a tour.  She had been to Hawaii several times before and kept on comparing how wonderful it used to be compared to how it was at the time we went together.  I wish she hadn’t been so negative, but still made the best of it.  

            Since Grandma Mary lived in San Francisco, I didn’t see her near as often – though more often than Jenna sees her out-of-state grandmother.  We would visit once or twice a year.  Sometimes she and grandpa would come visit us or else we would go to San Francisco to visit them.

            I would write letters to Grandma and Grandpa.  Unfortunately I don’t remember grandma as much as grandpa until after grandpa passed away.  After that, I gained a more intimate relationship with Grandma Mary.  And I remember going to San Francisco at least once without my family. We took grandma Helen with us on a vacation once. After visiting attractions in Southern California, we went up north to see Grandma Mary.

            After Grandpa Ralph died, Grandma Mary would save her money and take trips each year.  I remember her sending home material from Scotland.  With the fabric, my mom made matching outfits for Kayla and me.  Grandma had also gone to Russia, China, and Alaska.  I don’t know how many cruises she had been on. 

            Both of my grandmas had gone to Yellowstone with my family just before my mission. And mom and I have taken trips with Grandma Mary to Alaska, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon.  

                                                Grandma Mary & Grandma Helen

                                             Kayla, my mom and her mom

            Grandma Helen passed away shortly after I returned home from my mission.  Grandma Mary passed away while visiting my mom.  Roland and I had been married only a short time and I introduced them while she was in the hospital.  When we returned for a second visit, her mind was elsewhere and she didn’t recognize me anymore. 

                                            me, my Grandma Mary, mom  - Alaskan Cruise

                                                me, Grandma Mary, mom - Juneau, Alaska
                                                            shooting the Mendenhall

                                                     Grandma Mary and I at Yellowstone park

            We have grandmothers who are not biologically related.  Jenna calls our former next door neighbor “grandma”  and I remember when Ellen and Kimball were little they befriended their next door neighbor as they would a “grandma” and thus she was invited to birthday parties and such along with the biologically related family members.

                                                        Jenna with neighbor grandma

            I love my book from Ester.  I enjoy the memories that it has triggered.  Those are just some.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Visiting the Magic Kingdom Before School Starts

There was one year when Roland seemed to make more money than in previous years or even the ones that followed.

He had managed to find a package deal through a travel agency and took us all to California just right after Christmas.  The boys were out of high school for the holidays.  Jenna was two.

I have heard that between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the best time to visit Disneyland.  From personal experience, I know that between Christmas and New Years is the absolutely worse time to go.

I remember riding the tram the first day we went to the park.  Jenna’s enthusiasm at riding the tram from the parking lot to the park was awesome.  All four of them were excited and enjoyed every moment.

I’m not exactly certain why we had driven or taken the tram.  We spent two days at the park.  As I recall we just walked to the park the second day.  I know Richard and I went back to the hotel about four hours before the boys did.

While all three of her brothers still have fond memories of that vacation, Jenna does not remember.  Thus Roland decided we’d take her back this year.  I made reservations so that we would be gone during the last week of summer vacation and would come home just one day before school starts.

Corey had given me the name of a motel where he and Joh stay when they go to Disneyland. I had booked us at the Rainbow Inn thinking it was the same. Halfway between Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm.  I had thought of going to both;  I thought that Jenna would enjoy the Timber Log Ride as much as I had.  I did not realize that KBF had become a roller coaster park – that Jenna would have loved far more than Disneyland.  And I hope that someday she’ll be able to return with someone who is younger and in better shape than her parents are.

First of all we had stopped off in Las Vegas and spent the night at Corey's house.  I am the last of my sibs to see his house in person.  He went with us to downtown Las Vegas.  We went to the MGM where he works and then to M&M World. He said it was the first time he has ever played tourist since he's lived there.

We had a two-day park hopper. We spent both days at Disneyland doing mostly what she wanted.  I thought we should walk to the other end of the park and start with Splash Mountain.  Roland, on the other hand, decided to hit every show and shop on Main Street –which would have been okay – but we were there for Jenna and she wanted to ride the rides.

That first morning was quite overcast.  It looked like it might rain.  Truth be told, I was hoping that it would.  I know that some attractions close due to the elements, but not all of them.  I recall a year my family had gone to Universal Studios when it was pouring.  We saw everything that was open!  It was great! I was hoping to recreate those memories at Disneyland.

I had told Jenna that she was in charge to choose whatever rides we went on.

We headed for tomorrow land.  The first ride she chose was the rockets.  And then Buzz Lightyear, I believe.  We’d gone to Space Mountain for a fast pass and then we went to Fantasyland and made an appointment for a princess package makeover. 

Jenna and I went on the Dumbo ride and Roland took pictures.  We also went on the Peter Pan ride and Pinocchio – I don’t recall having ridden the Pinocchio before.  I’m sure I have, but I just didn’t remember.

Space Mountain had been the favorite ride of our boys.  I am overwhelmed with how much they saw and how many rides they had gone on eight years earlier.  There were so many lines.  I stood in several of them just to get into the bathroom.  Jenna was still in diapers at the time.  

This year was different.  I think I was most grateful that there were no bathroom lines.  During all of my Disneyland experiences, the park did not seem that crowded in comparison. I smiled at many of the memories I’d created in past years and pulled them out occasionally during this year’s trip.

There was one year after Patrick was married and after my dad had passed away and when we planned a family vacation with mom, Kayla, Corey and I.  We were all adults and mom said we each needed to pay our own way.
Corey had told his friend, Jinx, about our plans and we ended up inviting Jinx to go with us.  He was the first one to provide full payment for the trip.

Jinx had worked at Disneyland one summer and knew all of the tricks of getting us around.  Jinx made that trip, I think.  He was always so funny.  I remember his leading us to Toon Town and commenting on some patrons who were walking away from Toon Town doing “that middle of the day walk” when it was so early in the morning. 

We had also spent two days at the park.  The first day we had ridden every ride possible.  The second day we shopped and watched shows and took things very easy.  That really was such an awesome trip.

Jenna had pictures taken while wearing the largest  “Brave” dress that was available.  It was too tight and there were tears in her eyes.  And so she changed to a tee shirt to meet the princesses.  She had her picture taken with Ariel, Snow White and Cinderella.

The next day we returned.  Since we had already seen Tomorrow land and Fantasyland, I suggested we go to Adventure land, Frontier land, New Orleans and Critter land.  I suggested we go to Critterland first and get a fast pass for splash mountain.

As we were going through Adventure land, Jenna noticed the Indiana Jones ride that had been closed eight years ago.  Her brothers had enjoyed riding it.  (It had been under construction the year that Jinx went with my family and I had never ridden it after that) Jenna’s never seen any of the Indian Jones movies, but said it was definitely her favorite ride.  

Roland and I enjoyed the tamer rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean or Small World (the night before) though I understood Jenna’s ambition for the roller coaster rides.  I had always liked those when I was her age.  Sadly my stomach has seems to have outgrown what once thrilled me.

I hadn’t planned on going to Toon Town at all.  The two times I had gone before, Toon Town was so overly crowded that the “Happiest Place on Earth” seemed a distant myth, but it really wasn’t too bad this year.  I think Roland and Jenna waited in line for the roller coaster longer than we had to wait in Mickey’s house.  We did get a lot of pictures.

My original plans included going to the beach – which actually seemed to be the highlight of our last vacation.  Just think of all the money we could have saved if we had started our vacation at the beach.  But we didn’t make it to the beach this year.  We hadn't made our way to Splash Mountain, the Matterhorn or California Adventures. Roland decided that we would cut our trip short and return home early.

He did all the driving.  Spent ten hours or more on the road on Thursday so that we’d have two extra days of rest.  I remember when it would take mom and I 7 hours just to get to St. George.  We would stay overnight and continue on to Bakersfield the next morning.  The speed limit was lower then.  Now it only takes 6 hours to get to Vegas.  But then I guess it depends on who's driving and how many stops are made.

Jenna starts the fifth grade on Monday.  I will have to start my scrapbook pages while she is in school.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Here’s an Example:

Every year my family would go on vacation.  Mom and dad would sit us down and ask us what we’d like to do and we were allowed to give our input.  I think Corey was only eight or nine the year that we decided to go up through Canada.  We decided what Providences we would visit, what sites we would see and the route we would travel.  

I think we hit Seattle, Washington the second day and Corey had added seeing the Space Needle to our agenda.  Corey had obviously researched it out.  Apparently he had a map in his head and kept on saying: “We need to do this.”  “We need to do that.”

None of us had ever been there before and didn’t know what to expect – but Corey was determined and it was because of him that we were able to explore the shadow room, and the echoed phone, and the pulley and a bunch of cool stuff that we would have not even known was there – but Corey was well read.  He became our tour guide.  I was always impressed by his skills of having never even been there before and because of his young age.

In British Columbia we saw the Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Zoo and Nitobe Memorial Garden to name a few.  I remember being highly entertained by the penguins at the zoo and being at Nitobe right after it rained.  The several inches of water covered the garden so perfectly.  We would not have known that it wasn’t part of the garden if our hostess hadn’t told us that it wasn’t.

By the time we got to Alberta, Canada was celebrating its Independence Day and whatever we had planned that day fell through due to closure - I think we reached the states a day ahead as we had left Canada early.  We did not get to see Alberta Temple, but we did make it to Idaho Falls – not inside though.  Unless mom and dad went and Patrick and I watched Corey and Kayla. I can't remember.

There was one year when my family decided that we would just stay home and see the sites in Utah.  We went to the Alpine Slide in Park City.  Lagoon Amusement Park, Rice Stadium for really cool fireworks.  What awesome fun.  What great memories!  

I love that mom and dad always included us and helped us to explore (research) on our own and made us feel a part of it from the beginning.  And not just with vacations.  We were able to contribute to family conversations and have meaningful discussions if we chose to.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Biff does not have common sense about money management – but than it’s not as if he’s had fine examples to follow.  Roland and I have borrowed money from all four of our children.  We’ve also paid back with interest.  Except for Randy – who will constantly remind us whether we actually made a deal with him or not.

Randy is a go getter.  He found someone to buy the reject truck that nobody else in the family wanted – leaving Biff carless once again.  Biff had enough money to for a down payment on another car and to build his credit back up again – only when the time came to purchase, he had considerably less money.  Randy was ticked.  Where did it go?  How do you spend that much money?

I don’t know what Randy was thinking to co-sign for Biff.  Nor do I understand what Biff was thinking to let him.  But the car remains parked in front of our house – unregistered.  Biff still is not managing wisely.  I don’t know how to help him understand.

Then yesterday Roland came to me and said that Biff had purchased an airline ticket so that he could go visit “his girlfriend” Hailey.  Who the heck is Hailey?
Now I have learned just because Roland uses the word “girlfriend” does not make it so.  Roland doesn’t believe in platonic relationships.  That’s crazy.  It’s also crazy to go to another state on a gamble.  But Roland doesn’t seem to have a problem with it.  He said he would be willing to travel the distance for me.  Biff probably knows more about Hailey than Roland knew about me when he proposed.

I had heard Biff refer to Hailey once before.  Only once though.  And it was a different Hailey from the 10-20 that are facebook friends with Randy.  But still . . .

Biff also plans on visiting his brother, Tony.  I’m betting that Tony and Hailey live in two different parts of the state.  And Roland is betting that Biff will be calling us when he runs out of money.  I wonder if Biff will actually look for work while he’s down there.  I wonder how long his car will sit in front of the house before it is towed away.

It’s a nice car, actually.  I wouldn’t mind trading the car I drive for it – the car that’s got a dent on the side and faulty electronics.  I feel quite blessed to have it though.  I may have mentioned on two different posts actually.  Aside from its faults, my car can still get me from here to there – and even farther (as Biff has proved)

He’s going to Texas.  I wonder what arrangements he has made to get himself to the airport.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Let's Go Camping

          My three boys love camping, especially my youngest.  I think I must have enjoyed it at one time – when I was a youth and had no concept of just how much work goes into it.  My current body is not designed for the discomforts of a frozen or hard ground.  Give me a motel room.

          The first year the Roland and I were married we had purchased two pup tents just before Christmas.  We gave one to Tony on Christmas day and the other one to Randy on his birthday (which was just ten days later).

          At the end of May we took our first camping trip together (and actually the only one I went on, now that I think about it).  Halfway there we learned that Randy had brought his blanket.  JUST his blanket.  No sleeping bag.  He thought a blanket would be all that he needed.  Seriously?  He said he loved camping and then acted as though he had never been.

          We stopped by a second hand store and purchased a sleeping bag for him and a frying pan which we could dispose of after our little three day weekend adventure.  We’d gone for a charity event and set up camp behind the rest stop which provided coffee and food to travelers venturing down Highway 6 – which at the time was reported to be in the top ten of the deadliest highways in the nation. 

          Upon arrival, the boys pitched their tents and went off to explore – leaving the dog (Houdini) behind in one of the tents – which took the Houdini only seconds to destroy.  What were they thinking leaving the dog in the tent in the first place?  The whole idea of bringing him was to keep both him and the boys busy running and exploring.

          Roland and I slept in the van during the day.  He had volunteered us to keep watch during the graveyard shift – which was fine really.  It was far too cold and uncomfortable for sleeping in the van.  We kept a fire going by the road so that travelers could warm themselves up as well.

I understand that there was a whole lot more lively activity during the day.  But that’s when Roland and I would sleep – or try to anyway.  Roland also cooked up hamburgers at very odd hours – like 7:00 in the morning.

          In addition to coffee and bakery goods, we passed out bumper stickers which read, “Pray for me.  I drive Highway 6!”  Because of the weekend program that this organization provided, injuries and crashes had been cut down a large percentage as travelers were able to rest a bit and get something in them to help them stay awake. 

          The boys continued their camping experiences whenever the opportunity would arise – often going with the scouts.  And so would Roland.  They’d go in the dead of winter – and Roland hates the cold.  I remember enjoying those moments when I would have the house to myself.  I enjoyed that a lot more than camping.