Monday, July 2, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow?

          My husband is from the garden state – which does not necessarily make one a gardener – just as living in Utah for all of one’s life does not necessarily prepare one to have ever gone skiing. 

          I have always had a white thumb.  One look at my grass implies all gardening skills.  Water alone does not produce green.  With our yard, it is morning glories.  Not just this house – but every house I have lived in.  The lawn is usually always somewhere between brown and albino.  And frankly, I don’t blame the grass for drying up.  I don’t blame any vegetation for not wanting to peek its head out into the scorching sun.  I certainly don’t wish to be in it.

          My husband has tried.  For almost each year that we’ve been married, we’ve attempted the garden thing. We got some really tall tomato plants in the first yard where we lived.  Tall plants – no tomatoes though. 

          One year we tried zucchini.  Most Utahans who have planted zucchini have produced tons more than desired or expected. Surely we could grow something that seemed so plentiful.  We got one – the size of a small pickle.

          And one year Roland brought in an excavator and tore up our backyard – with earth which appeared to contain at least 70% rock (more rock than dirt) gads – no wonder nothing would grow for us!

          We tried growing onions in an old swimming pool – filled with fresh dirt and manure and all the fine things that the most of experienced gardens use – with a thin layer of compost.  Not all of the onion plants turned into onions.  And all of them were small.  Perhaps two or three times smaller than the bulb that was initially planted.  I think we were able to use them for only two or three meals.  Or was that our current house?
          I think the former owners (or maybe even renters?) of this house thrived on gardening.  There are pocketed areas separated by cement all throughout the yard.  The first year we planted peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, melons, strawberry, blueberries, carrots, grapes, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, and kohlrabi (whatever that was; the last three mentioned plants we received for free) and pumpkins.

          Of course the kohlrabi grew – we turned it into coleslaw (as I hadn’t a clue what else to do with it) but I am not a huge fan of slaw and the last kohlrabi that came out totally got out of hand – it was too tough and too big to deal with.  So we ate two of the four plants and ended up giving one away.

          The broccoli and cauliflower both got buds – and we may have even had a sample of the broccoli – but that is all it was.  Neither one grew well enough to feed us.
          I believe that the blue berry bush bit the dust the second it was planted – but perhaps that’s just me.  We did get maybe five strawberries – and that was it for the fruit.
          The wind blew the neighbor’s fence over on our peppers like two days after they were planted.  We planted more – but peppers just don’t want to grow for us.  And neither did cucumbers. 

          The beats and tomatoes did well – in fact they flourished – but there was a pathetic amount of production with everything planted between.  No cucumbers.  About three to five finger sized carrots (we planted regular carrot size) and a really bitter lettuce which was long like a boa. 

          Last year we tried peppers, corn and two tomato plants instead of six.  Though we attempted to plant the corn in strait lines, some of the seeds spilled and the seven ears that were produced grew in random areas.  No peppers again.   I think we got four pumpkins - two average size and two that were small. Our tomatoes did well. 

          I don’t know why we didn’t do tomatoes this year.  Roland wanted to try corn again.  We planted in a different area.  I thought I was watering in vein until Roland pointed out the one stalk that is growing.  OOO – one stalk.  Nothing near it to germinate.  Marvelous! So I don’t guess we’ll be getting corn this year from our personal garden . . . the community garden perhaps.

          The community garden is quite beautiful actually.  And we’ve already received from it.  Roland made a salad with radishes.  We’ll probably get some squash tomorrow night.  And we’re probably just as awesome at preparing squash as we are at having green grass.

          I think next year we ought to stick to just beats and tomatoes.  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Conveyor Belts and Hangers

          There are several opportunities that each of us has to volunteer – whether through the community or the Church we attend – often both.

          The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints distributes food items to so many in need all throughout the world.  And the demands are always increasing.  Assignments must be fulfilled in order to meet the requirements and demands.
  I have personally assisted at the pasta plant, the cannery, the dairy (well – not the actual dairy where the cows are milked – but the plant where the milk and cheese are made) the bishops’ storehouse and Deseret Industries (a store which sells a large variety of second hand goods) For each I have positive experiences for the most part.  With some come memorable stories. 

          Once when I was pregnant with Jenna, Roland and I had gone to DI to offer our assistance.  I don’t recall what location – but we were given chairs and price guns to put on books that had been put on carts but were still outside.  Roland and I started setting aside books that we thought we would like to have for our unborn child. Some were really in great condition.  Some appeared as though they had never been used.

The first time I’m aware that I assisted at DI, our son Ooki  (mentioned here) was living with us at the time.  As it was also his first time assisting at the store he wore his flip flops – his everyday footwear – and so for safety reasons he wasn’t allowed to be on the floor lifting heavy objects as Roland and Biff had been assigned. 

Ooki and I were assigned to the warehouse.  Our job was to sort through clothes.  There were three lines overhead. We were told to sort the clothes into men, women and children.  It was so awesome having him back there with me as he was a natural hard worker – and he could reach above me and could more easily pull down more hangers when we ran out. 

There was one thing that amused me about his performance however. Every time he came across something red, it automatically went onto the women’s hanging.  If it was small enough, I suppose he would have placed it to the children’s side.  But I did notice when he placed a man’s shirt on the women’s line.

          “Isn’t that a man’s shirt?”  I asked after he had placed it on the line with the other clothing.
          “NO!” he wondered what would possess me to ask such a question.  “Would you wear that if you were a man?”

          “I don’t know.  But look.  It is a man’s shirt.  The buttons are on the opposite side.”
          People have asked, “Why do men and women have buttons on the opposite side of their shirts?” 

          I wasn’t paying close enough attention to ever consider it.  But Roland explained to me that so that when you are dressing a person of a different sex than your own (an invalid spouse, parent, child, whatever) the buttons are on the same side as your used to.  Oh.

          “Besides just because you wouldn’t wear it doesn’t mean another man wouldn’t.  Don’t you think it looks like something that Tony might wear?”

          “Oh, alright!” Ooki removed the garment and placed it on the men’s line.  It did make me smile that he had reacted as he had.

          I don’t recall having done volunteer work at the pasta plant until after I was married.  Volunteers have to be at least sixteen and so we didn’t have any of the boys the first couple of times.

          Roland and I were assigned to remove the spaghetti noodles from the chute and stack them neatly in grey tubs.  I have small hands and was not able to keep up with Roland who was filling 3 ½ tubs to my every one.  When my side got too full, Roland and I would trade places and he’d empty my side until I could no longer keep up with his side. And then we’d trade back.  It was fun. 

          When I’m at the dairy, I am usually on the assembly line with the cheese – though I don’t recall now what my exact job was.  My favorite part about working there is going on break and having access to chocolate milk and cheese.  And often we get a brick of cheese before we leave.  And church cheese is very wonderful to the pallet.

          This last Thursday I did some work at the cannery.  It wasn’t near as hot as the pasta plant – especially where I was positioned.  I enjoyed watching the long line of conveyor belts take each of the bottles to their destination.
          Someone would load empty bottles onto the conveyor belt.  The bottles would line up and go through a machine that would squirt salsa into each bottle.  Then the loaded jars would be removed long enough for one of three workers to put on the lid.  And then it would go to the “steam room for bottles”
          The temperature of the water – from what I understand – was 180 – and that would seal the lids onto the jars.  My job was checking the lids to make certain that all were vacuum-packed – and to remove the few that still had air beneath the lids. 

          The water had cooled down quite a bit – though the salsa was still warm.  I loved having the opportunity to shake some excess water onto myself to help myself cool down.

          The final destination for the bottles was inside of a premade box.  And that was it.  I worked hard and once my shift ended, I drove to my sister’s house to pick up Jenna (who had spent the night) I didn’t realize how sore I was until I sat down on Kayla’s couch.  I must do some volunteer work more often.  I may start going 3 of 4 times a month after school starts again.
          I mentioned the Bishops’ Storehouse in this post.  We have also fulfilled various tasks at the food bank – from sorting food products to sending out letters.  I’m grateful for the opportunities that I have to serve.


Friday, June 29, 2012

The Most Important Leg on a Three-Legged Stool

          Jenna always asks if we can sign up to feed the full time missionaries – which is something we did often when Roland and I had the Church calling of being the ward missionaries – but now that he is in the bishopric – and often with hours at work – we’re not as available to feed the missionaries as we were at one time.  And so it’s actually rare when we do sign up.  Jenna would prefer that we could do it once a month at least.

          Our goal was to send our three boys on full time *proselyting* (defined at the end of this post) missions.  As Biff is our oldest, he went through the interviewing process and paperwork first.  We had taken him in for his physical. We did all we could do – and waited.

          I wish our then bishop had been honest in his dealings to begin with – and perhaps he had really said something to Biff who either didn’t relate the events with us or maybe it just didn’t fully register. 

Our bishop had said Biff’s Spirit was definitely there – but he just didn’t feel he was socially ready.  HE DIDN’T FEEL . . . I often felt that it was more laziness on my bishop’s part than it was revelation.  But that’s me.  Perhaps it is I who was wrong.
          Because Biff was unable to serve a proselyting mission, it was suggested that he fulfill a service mission – which means he would continue living at home as he served and continue working his job.

 He brought home a list of positions available – and there were a lot to choose from.  Roland tried steering him in the direction of working at a plant such as the pasta plant or dairy where he would learn a trade.  Even planting flowers on the temple ground would have helped him to prepare for a job or career – but Biff wanted the opportunity to serve with the public more and chose to usher or assist at events that would take place at Temple Square or the Conference Center.

          His confidence was built in ways that I did not understand at the time.  Others found it refreshing to have such a “young” member on their team.  He was diligent about his calling and received recognition for fulfilling his assignments and callings.  He grew in ways that I didn’t recognize at the time – but am beginning to see now.

          Interestingly enough, both of his brothers were called to Portuguese speaking missions.  Tony was called to report to the MTC (missionary training center) in Brazil at the beginning of April 2008 and Randy left for the MTC in Provo at the end of April in 2009.  He’d been called to Portugal.

          It hurt both me and Biff to see his brothers serving proselyting missions when Biff himself had been denied that opportunity. And Roland would encourage us that Biff’s mission was equally as important – often comparing missionary work to a three legged stool and asking – which is the most important leg?

          We all represented that three legged stool.  Biff on his service mission, Tony and Randy proselyting in Portuguese, and Roland and I as the ward missionaries who worked with the full time proselyting missionaries   In addition to our two missionary farewells, our family had been called upon at least three times to give missionary themed talks in Sacrament meeting (a meeting for the entire congregation)

          Before Jenna started reading, I looked for graphics so that she could memorize the talks that she gave and Roland and I would each write our own.  Sometimes the boys spoke in addition – but not always.

          Roland and I served in our church calling for about three and a half to four years before we were released and then the ward boundaries were changed and the ward got a new bishop.  He was the bishop who sent out Randy. 
          Each of us has had experiences that have made us grow.  Each of us has learned to appreciate the others’ position even more. For in order for a three legged stool to function properly, all three legs are required.

* PROSELYTING: Evangelizing; doing mission work. Unlike in Christianity, it doesn’t have a negative connotation. In Mormonism it is used in a positive sense.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It’s NOT like I need your Approval

          Sit coms often come from real life situations.  We laugh at deception.  The sitcom characters put on a show for one played by a guest star.  They try to pass themselves off as rich, married, successful, high-ranking or whatever.   Their dishonesty snowballs into more lies and further deception until they realize they just can’t continue with the charade any longer. And yet we laugh.  If they just told the truth in the first place, there would be no show or else it would be a rather boring episode.

There are many real life people who continue to put up fronts and play charades with certain people from their past.  I don’t get it.  If you’re not close enough to this person that he or she really knows who you are, why would you care what he or she thinks?

          If anyone from my past is interested, I am NOT wealthy.  I am not in a high rank position.  I do not rub elbows with Hollywood’s finest.  My children did not go to Harvard.  Two of them simply don’t have the grades for it. I’m just not that prestige.  Nor do I pretend to be.  I am who I am.  Either you like me or you don’t.  And if you don’t, well that’s okay.  I am not a people pleaser – that is to ALL people.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to please ALL people. 
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you become – there are some who will like you and there are some that just won’t. And that’s okay.  It’s not the world’s approval that makes us happy (though I guess there’s some who believe differently).
Happiness is what’s within us.  It’s knowing who we are and what makes us tick.  It’s feeling.  It’s caring.  Why should having the approval of someone else be our deciding factor?  Doesn’t our own opinion matter?  Aren’t we valuable enough to decide for ourselves?   

          I have read a couple of posts from different Blogs in which reference was made for keeping up with the Joneses.  One seemed all for it while the other was not in favor.  I’m not in favor.  Couldn’t keep up if I wanted to.  And I really don’t want to.  Trying my best to show them up or show I’m equal.  Why?
          I see girls dating guys that they like – though I often wonder why.  What do they have in common really?  “Oh, he can/will change” says the girl.  Change into what?  Why change him?  Why not just go out with someone who fits the mold in the first place?

I’m grateful for the values that have been instilled in me and have helped me develop my character.  I wish that were the same for all.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Flat, Small and Neatly Folded

Roland is a great father.  Perhaps he was not always there for his boys – I know that his “work” excuses got old after a while.  And there were disappointments.  But I know he spent quality time with them – I even have pictures to prove it.  And I know that there have been many other countless activities that I don’t have pictures for.  Like Klondike camping.  And Roland hates the cold.  But all the boys were with him.

Recently he told Jenna that they would go “camping” though Jenna’s never really been camping before.  Both times it was putting up a tent in the back yard and roasting marshmallows before going inside.

Initially they were going to set the tent up on Saturday.  Roland would start off his father’s day waking up in the tent - but when he came home from work (which is unusual for where he works) with information about a community fair that featured bouncy houses and free pony rides. 

We could do only one or the other, but not both.  It would be Jenna’s choice.  If she chose the fair, we could always do the camping thing at a later time.  But if she chose the camping . . . well, who knows how soon we would have another opportunity for free bouncy houses?  He wasn’t trying to persuade her – he really was letting her choose.

She chose the fair.  Roland said that maybe they could go camping on a Tuesday night (as he doesn’t have to be to work until later time on Wednesdays) and so this past Tuesday she had been looking forward to their camp all day – constantly asking, “is dad home yet?”

I had the car and had taken Jenna to my mom’s house.  I left a message to ask Bill if he would mind bringing Roland to meet me at my mom’s house. They just happen to work at the same place – but don’t frequently car pool because of the distance our houses are from one another.

As mom and I pathetically tossed the Frisbee around with Jenna, Bill and Roland pulled up in the driveway and Jenna tossed the Frisbee around with them while mom and I rested.

We didn’t return home until just before 6:00.  Roland said he had a class and asked Jenna if they could postpone the camping until Friday.  I told her that we could still make some smores.  And we roasted marshmallows over the stove.

While Roland listened to the lecture online, Jenna played outside with a friend.  After his parents took him away, Jenna came inside and cried herself to sleep.  She didn’t believe that Roland would take her camping on Friday either.  I told him about it the next morning.

He wasn’t aware that she had been looking forward to it all day and that she had cried herself to sleep.  I did not intend for him to feel bad, but he took Jenna aside and told her that they could set up the tent the minute we got home from his work last night.  And we did.  And all before the sun set.

We finished roasting marshmallows and making smores before the sun appeared to leave the sky.  And the sleeping bags were laid out with LOTs of extra blankets.  I slept in the house but relieved Roland at 3:00 this morning knowing he had work at 7:00 or 8:00.  Needless to say that I am sore and tired.  And I hope that three hours in a real bed was enough time for Roland.

At six I coaxed Jenna back into the house.  She went to the TV to watch Phineas and Ferb – and I want back to bed.  I think I slept for another hour and decided to see if I could take down the tent and roll up the bedding.  What a chore.

Taking the tent down was not a problem.  Got the stakes in their bag, and the poles in their bag – now the challenging part – folding the tent into a tiny pillow to put in its bag.  I am really horrible about returning anything to its original container – everything seems to expand once I remove it from the box – or else the box shrinks.

I sat on the tent and tarp and each sleeping bag and tried ever so carefully to squish out the air and fold it ever so carefully.  I would think that I weigh enough that I could squish it to incredible flatness with just one sit – but alas – no matter how flat and careful I think I’m being, the flatness is never small enough.

I remember attempting to fold a child’s sleeping bag that had been given to me by a neighbor.  One of my uncles happened to be visiting and watched with amusement.  I looked up at him and asked if he and his wife were experienced campers, and could he assist me in folding up the sleeping bag.  I don’t recall his exact words, but it was something along the line that he thought it would be easier just to do it himself.  And he did.  But Jenna had it undone within a matter of minutes.  My uncle had already gone when I came across the opportunity of rolling it back up.

          It can be done.  I’ve seen people do it.  Not my talent however.  And the heat of the blazing sun did not help matters.  It was only 8:30 in the morning and I felt like it was high noon.  I stopped.  I think the folding part is a two man job.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Reading is Wonderful

          I have been blessed with two children who thoroughly enjoy reading – the other two tolerate it at best.  If the subject is one that they are interested in, of course that gives them more incentive.

          I’ve been reading to Jenna since before she was born.  I’ve taken pictures of her with various others as they have read to Jenna at various ages.  And now she is reading on her own.  And she usually does go after very educational reading – and often times older than her geared age group.

          When my daughter-in-law was still pregnant with my granddaughter, Roland and I had gone to the library.  As it happened, they were having a sale on used books.  Ten cents a book.  What a wonderful deal!

          Roland picked out one to send to Rochelle and Tony – who still hadn’t picked out a name for our baby.  Funny how most every item I’ve sent to my boys throughout the years has cost way more in postage than the item(s) that the package contains.

          There were a few books that I purchased for Jenna.  One was almost text book style about animals.  I figured the two of us would study them together when she got a little older and wouldn’t be so bored by all the wording.  Currently she is reading it to herself.  She has also read many of the stories in the “Friend” magazines.  And the more she reads, the more she wants to read some more.  I think that is so cool.  So wish that Tony had had the same enthusiasm.

          Jenna likes to learn.  She enjoys making new discoveries.  This morning she told me about almost every animal that she read about – and is currently reading. It’s really great to smuggle in learning through books!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Understanding Death

          Many people are upset by death or have a lack of understanding.  It’s really hard when it is children whose lives have been claimed before they have much of an opportunity to live.  Or a young parent with children still in diapers.

          Many believe that death is the end.  It is when the Spirit no longer needs the body.  Death is the end of mortality – but not the end of existing on earth in a human sense.  The Spirit lives on and has the opportunity to reunite with loved ones who have already passed on.

          Roland started off last month attending his sister’s funeral.  Her death was very unexpected – but I’ve learned to handle sudden death rather graciously, I think.  I have seen too many spend their last years dying – and that, for me personally, is a lot more difficult to handle.

          Roland said the priest had a thick Jamaican accent and was hard to understand.  He did turn the time over to the family members who wished to say something.  Roland, of course, jumped at the opportunity and explained the spirit world to his family and defined his sister’s whereabouts – how she is now reunited with their father, her husband, her youngest daughter and countless others who have passed before her.  
          I would have taken the opportunity also – had I been there.  Jenna had already missed two days of school when we had gone down for the party.  I couldn’t risk three more, could I?

          As it turned out, Jenna was throwing up the night before.  With her sensitive stomach she does NOT do well in the car.  I doubt we would have even made it out of the city. 
          Roland can make it to his family’s house in about 12 hours when he is by himself – but when Jenna and I are with him, there are more stops required which have added two to four hours to his time. 

          I would rather deal with death than deterioration whether of the mind or the body – or both.  My dad’s mind was very sharp and alert – up until his dying day.  But not everybody saw that.

          After the strokes robbed him of being able to use his muscles, his brain would tell his mouth what to say but it was slurred – hard to understand for most.  And so many thought he had lost his mind as well.  But he knew fully well what was taking place.  It must have been so frustrating Not to communicate that.

          And I know dad is not alone.  There are many who are robbed of health physically.  And even though their minds may be active, their thoughts are not always conveyed – and that hurts.

          And then there’s my mom – whose mind seems to be going before her body does.  And because she forgets, she also neglects her physical health.  Either way seems to be a raw deal.  But I don’t always think of death as a raw deal – but sometimes the way one dies is unbearable and often too hard to think about.

          Roland’s sister went quickly.  There was little suffering on her part.  Her daughter had a really hard time with it.  I don’t think she would if she understood that this earth life is just a test.  It is where we do things with physical bodies that a spirit by itself cannot do.  But we only have these bodies on borrowed time.  The spirit lives on.  So people don’t really die – they’re just separated from bodies they don’t need any more. 

Those who have touched so many lives live in our memories and are shared with others through words, through books, through the Internet.  Those who have made such impact and impression never really die.  We know their names.  We have their histories.  They are a part of us.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I Bet the Enterprise Crew didn’t Have to put up with the same Malarkey

Actually you can use your own adjective in place of malarkey.  I can actually think of better words, but so as not to offend certain parties, I choose malarkey for the sake of keeping the post clean.

          Long before Jaime Lee Curtis started advertising Activia – she used to act out skits for VoiceStream commercials.  I made my first cell phone purchase through VoiceStream.  My mom and I got two lines – one for each of us – but the plan was (and still is) in my name.

          My phone line was for emergencies.  I bought it for that reason – not to be a camera, not to text (though neither was offered when I initially opened my account) and certainly not to be my primary source of phone use.  I don’t even like the phone

          After a while I started getting what I believed was junk mail from T-Mobile.  Never heard of them.  Wasn’t interested.  I didn’t realize that T-Mobile had bought VoiceStream out.  
          I never had a problem with T-Mobil until quite recently.  A word of advice:  DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH A STORE THAT ISN’T CORPORATE – though it doesn’t seem to matter – bet the run around at corporate is exactly the same.  DON’T ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY – SCREW THE CUSTOMER AS MUCH AS YOU CAN . . .

          I have two accounts.  One plan was for me and my mom.  The other had my husband’s phone which we couldn’t add to my plan – so I had two.  Later on I decided I wanted my mom’s phone going to her house and Roland’s coming to mine.  I was told I couldn’t switch my phone line with one store, but was told I could by another.  I could save money.  HA!  This T-Mobile has been the biggest nightmare ever!!!
          First off they are charging me for a line that I was told would discontinue.  My pre-existing number now shows up on both bills.  I sent a letter to corporate and one in with the bill (which as I predicted would get ignored) and now I’m even more upset about it than I was two months ago. 

          *I did remove this post for a couple of days, but have opted to put it back.*
July 17 update:  FINALLY they removed the extra line.  They took my phone off one bill and placed it on the other.  But instead of saving money (as I was led to believe) I am now paying over 45 dollars more.  I am upset at myself for allowing myself to believe that they were looking out for my best interest.  What a crock!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

You're A Grand Old Flag

In honor of flag day, I thought I would share just a couple of amusing stories:

Patriotic Show Up

My mom and sister had gone out of town over the Independence Day Holiday the first year that Roland and I were married.  My mom had meant to put the flag out before they had gone out of town.  She called me (from wherever) and asked if I would do it and she would take it down when she returned.

Roland and I had gone to her house and I went downstairs where the flag was kept – the only flag I knew about.  My grandfather had had a military funeral approximately 30 years before.  Mom took home the flag that had been draped over his casket.  It was actually a lot bigger than I had remembered.  Mom must have been talking about another flag.

I took the huge flag upstairs and told Roland that I had no clue how to hang it.  Roland is a solution finder.  He came up with a brilliant idea for hanging it in the front window.  As I recall we attached the flag over the curtain rod so that it would hang behind the drapes and would visible to the outside world. 
As we pulled out of the driveway we couldn’t help see the front window filled entirely with the enormous flag.  Nor could my mom and sister upon their return.  Nor anyone who passed the house.  It couldn’t help but be noticed.

Mom called me shortly after they pulled into the driveway.  “Why did you use such a big flag?”

“Is there another?”

“Well, yes.  I didn’t mean for you to fill the entire window.  My neighbors probably think I’m trying to show them up.”

I didn’t know she had a normal sized flag in her basement.  It was even included on its own pole.

Amelia Bedelia strikes again

          I had a piece of mail to put out in the mailbox so that it would be picked up by our mail carrier.    Jenna anxiously jumped at the opportunity of putting the letter (or bill or whatever) out to the mailbox herself. 

Now our post office does not seem all that close and so our mail carrier will stop at the mailboxes that have mail to go out provided that the flag is up to tell the carrier that there is something which needs to go out.  And so I told Jenna to be sure and put the flag up.

Sometimes the flag will stick as though it’s welded to the side of the mailbox.  It hadn’t occurred to me that Jenna might not know what it was for – or that the red handled part was called a flag.  I headed out the door so that I could assist in her struggles – only she was having struggles with something else.

She was indeed trying to put the flag up – but not from the mailbox.  She was dragging the flag pole across the driveway and looked up at me and said, “It’s just too heavy mom.”

I tried to hide the laughter from beneath my smile.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I meant to detail the games we played

          My mom has a huge variety of games in the back room.  There are at least three word games, at least six versions of trivial pursuit, and a bunch of party games. 

The first game that we played on Thursday was Scrabble.  My mom wanted to play and Jenna joined us.  I was impressed when she found the word “raisin” among my tiles – of course it wasn’t worth much.  But Jenna against grandma?  Those were fair odds.  And so I decided to put Jenna in charge.

But after only about four words she got tired of spelling and decided that she would just keep score.  And she was really doing fine until she misaligned the 30 and gave us 404 points instead of 134.  Silly girl. 

The game was long, and Jenna slipped away to play with the tangram puzzle my mom had purchased years ago.  We ended up playing several games including Upwords, Taboo and Apples to Apples.

          Celebrity Taboo did not work out too well, but Jenna and my mom both seemed to enjoy the regular taboo – except for when Jenna insisted on using the buzzer (which my nephew had once used as a toy electric razor and gave it the name “shaver”) but I told her to stop because it was “annoying grandma and making her flustered” which really was the truth, but Jenna didn’t seem to believe me.

          The game that had us laughing most was Apples to Apples.  The cards in our hands didn’t always go with the word.  That’s when mom would laugh – at the two obviously stupid choices.  Like the word “charming” describing “a terrorist attack” or “Adolf Hitler” for example.

          My biggest laugh came with Jenna’s mispronunciation.  The green card gave the description word of “Horrid” I had thrown in “Bad Dogs” onto the table as it was the most horrid of my hand.  Jenna was about to pick it until I made her read them both out loud. 

          She held the other card and read, “The Attack of Pearl Hairball” – after my mom explained to her what it really was and why it was picked, Jenna decided that it was a lot more horrid than “Bad Dogs”

          It really doesn’t matter who wins or loses the game (especially now) just so long as we’re having fun.  And it is actually the most fun I’ve had playing games with my mom in the last couple of years.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Wonderful Wednesday, Mundane Thursday

          Jenna and I were blessed with good weather on Wednesday as we took public transportation ALL DAY. 

          My initial plan was to catch the train near where we live – but Roland took us to the location near the library – which right now is the end of the line – and we were waiting for the train on the wrong side.  No big deal.  There was no time destination on our part.  We were free to ride all day.

          We got off the train to transfer to the bus.  My initial plan was  to get off after the bus passed I-215 – but the driver said that the construction forbid the busses to stop between the two main streets.  So Jenna and I ended up walking a lot further than I had anticipated . . . we might as well have just stayed on the train.

          But it was nice outside.  Jacket weather.  Jacket weather in June – when just three days before it seemed unbearably hot.  My family and I were sweating in the shade while posing for photographs here which was nothing compared to Corey’s marching here in the blazing sun.

We also walked back across State Street when mom decided that she
 wanted to go out for lunch.  She let Jenna pick the restaurant – I would have gone with the one that was on the same side of the street as my mom’s house.  But alas, we walked some more.

          My brother Corey (who lives with mom when he has work in this state) told me that her blood sugar is the lowest it’s been since his return.  So that is good – though Jenna did ask for some candy which caused mom to get four candy bars (one for each of us) so I’m wondering if my and Jenna’s visit may have kicked it up again.  
Corey had warned my mom that he wouldn’t be home at his usual time and might be as late as 7:00.  My niece and her husband (who also live with mom) would be leaving after 5:00 and so there would be two hours unaccounted for – two hours of being alone – which two months ago mom had said it is something she preferred.  And now she is just hungry for company. 

Unfortunately Jenna and I had to leave as Jenna has a class on Wednesday nights.  And so I was a bit reluctant leaving her for two hours hoping that she would just stay home and wait for Corey and not attempt venturing out on her own

          Jenna enjoyed taking the train – especially when it turned – she stood on the center circle in order to get the full feel.  It’s her favorite part.  She says it’s boring when we go straight.  I guess we could have gone downtown and returned – but I wanted to rest up at the house for an hour before taking her to class.

          Yesterday we drove to work with Roland.  I took the car and planned to meet him at lunch.  I called mom beforehand.  And she was expecting me, so that was good.  So before we left the house, I had given Jenna a peanut butter sandwich to eat and figured I would just eat left overs with my mom.

After I picked up Roland, he drove us to my mom’s where we stayed for over five hours.  The first thing she wanted to do was to go out for lunch.  I was actually surprised that all of the leftovers were gone.  No big deal.  We decided to go to a drive through on the same side of the street as mom’s house.  She was good.  She was alert.  My sparring partner was back!
We played lots of games (most through Jenna’s initiation) and mom seemed alert through most of it.  We had fun.  But it really did make for a long day.  Fortunately mom was comfortable with us being there and didn’t seem anxious to see us go. 

Corey returned before Roland arrived.  Corey added graphics to my blog as I don’t know how to do it myself.  He was going to show me – but as his spouse had called just as we were signing on, Corey ended up toying with inserting my graphic  before posting it.  And so I still don’t know how to do it.  No matter.  I’m satisfied.  (For the time being anyway)
          Jenna has been great about the chart.  Got up early today and we were finished by 8:30.  Except with the fun part – which she somehow believes needs to be incorporated into all the hours left.  She has also made snacks a very important part.  My child’s growing.  I fear that in eight months that the clothes she is wearing currently will all be outgrown.

          I did scold her for asking mom for candy bars and cookies as grandma will not give them to her without at least getting one for her.  We all know where the cookies are kept.  I have no idea where (or how large) her stash of candy bars is – and why they’re all king size?

          Might be able to post on Sundays, but Saturdays feel like they’ll be a thing of the past – for a while anyway.  Unless it’s really early in the morning.  Roland’s class takes precedence.  Oh, well.  I really need to focus more on the house anyway. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

and so the summer begins . . .

         My blogging may become more sporadic this summer as I will be spending more time with Jenna – continue education and form habits.  I made a chart for Jenna and I to work on – one month at a time.  Above is the list that I came up with.  Here is Jenna’s:

Go to the beach
Make the family tree
Doing Lots of math
Have a math quiz
More math
Computer break
Snack and drink
                                                Playing freeze dance
                                                Have fun!!!!!!

Oh, she also included in great big letters to walk the dog.  But that will have to be done in the morning.  I cannot stand the weather outside when it is hot (that, in my opinion, would be anything over 72 degrees)

Initially I thought I would start off with a math question (mostly with times tables or division) and if she answered correctly, we could forgo math on the days she got the answers right.  Only I think she would like to actually devote more of her day to math than anything else.

We actually started her family tree on Saturday and finished yesterday before meeting my family at the church (last post) We did only 31 branches.  There are six names missing on Roland’s side.

The tree was her idea.  She took her English teacher’s suggestion and said I should email a picture to her.  I don’t know if she even checks her mail during the summer.

          I wasn’t actually planning on starting the work until this morning – but she wanted to go over some math last night.  She had made flashcards for herself.  So this morning I pulled out every unfinished math paper that she has brought home in the last two years.  After we do times tables, I will use those to tie her over.  And then we’ll start practicing our letters. 

I don’t know what fun activity she’ll want to do.  I will let her pick.  The beach may not be within reach this summer.  We are definitely NOT going back to Antelope Island – which never offered a real beach anyway.  But now the lake situation is even more pathetic.

She did make her bed and is now eating breakfast.  I gave her the option of starting our work at 8:00.  I may even give her a “Martha” break She’ll still be learning, right?  And I’m sure I can find something to snack on.  So far we’re off to a good start.