Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Simple Woman's Daybook~September 29, 2010

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So, For Today...Wednesday, September 29, 2010...

Outside my daughter's Rhode Island, a very beautiful, quiet place. Honestly, I've never thought about RI one way or the other much, and this is a fabulous new discovery for us. We have had a relaxing day and a fun day all rolled into one. We just relaxed while the boys had school this morning and then we went to The Breakers Mansion in Newport this afternoon. It was great and way too opulent and wasteful, decadent and amazing to see. Who covers their library walls with gilded leather imported from Europe? Who needs 138,000 square feet and 70 rooms in their summer home? Apparently, the Vanderbilts did!

I am thinking...It would be so nice to live in an area where it was safe to leave your doors and windows open to catch a gentle breeze when you are gone or sleeping, it would be nice to be waved to by everyone you pass on the road as your drive about, it would be great not to see any weirdos anywhere, to step back in time to a more gentle, simple life. That is what they have here.

I am thankful for...God given opportunities to broaden our horizons and learn about new places by actually experiencing them. I am thankful for our children that have given us these opportunities on a silver platter.

I am reading... The Help, The Hormone Diet, and Can You Keep a Secret? How's that for variety?

I am wondering...if we will have great weather next week for our car trip to the other New England states?

I am hearing...The dishwasher, Ross chattering (surprise, surprise), chessboard pieces being moved by Jim and Ross. Jim is hoping to win. Ross can skunk most people at chess. He has the vision of several moves ahead. I think he'd be a card counter in Vegas!

I am quoting...Zachary, age 6. "Gramma, why are you wearing men's shoes?" Me, much older.."Why Zach, these are not men's shoes, they are designer orthopedics!" Zach, "Whew, I'm really glad!

I am missing...Michelle and Amy at our house tonight celebrating the upcoming wedding of Amy this week. Lanette is giving Amy a shower there so tonight I am missing all my best girls!

I am hoping...Hazie is enjoying her first week of pre-school. That's 0 for 8 at home all day with their mommies...and 2 home schoolers.

Pet Peeves...Dealing with this new laptop. There is something wrong with it, not sure what but it is hard to use. I think it has to do with not having Microsoft Office downloaded yet.

One of my favorite things...Being here with these kids we don't get to see very often.

One of my guilty on one time with our kids.

An enjoyable movie I have watched lately...Perfect Harmony

I am curious about...the neighbors here who have little six inch pennant flags on stakes every few feet denoting where a fence should be, but isn't. A lot cheaper and smarter than paying for a big fence. No?

A few plans for the rest of the week...Going to Boston, maybe Nantucket, getting ready for the car trip and then up to Maine. Next week, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

A picture and thought I am sharing with you...

Flowers to make me feel better

I am feeling extremely frustrated right now as I have over 200 pictures uploaded into this laptop and sorted in Picasa. When I upload them and then look in the library I cannot find a simple tab called edit...hello. This is my 1200th post on this blog alone and I don't think I am a novice on the computer but I am feeling pretty non-propellerhead-ish right now.

Where do I go to edit. I have asked a dozen PCers and no one seems to know??? This post has taken way too long trying to figure it all out. Sorry I am grumpy...I think I'll hibernate here in RI. Love you, thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gallivanting~Originally Posted 2008

One of the things that use to drive me batty about my mom when she was around my age was that she would just jump in the car and go what I called 'gallivanting'. She use to run to Longs, go home and then run out to the bank and come to our house for awhile, then go was just plain weird to me. I use to wonder how she could stand not having tons of things to do that were worthwhile to keep herself sane. In my mind worthwhile translated to doing, doing, doing for everyone else within a ten mile radius.

Because I was in the summer of my life, I had no concept of what autumn would be like. I was so busy with family and kids, carpooling, housework, working outside our home, etc. that it never even occurred to me there could be choices in my life someday about how I would choose to live my days.

Back then there were no real choices....I just kept at it 24/7. Oh, I could change up my routine but why, really? The laundry, carpooling, Church stuff, cooking and cleaning still had to be done. There was always that blanket of exhaustion, and rarely time to do anything for yourself.

I loved that time in my life, don't get me wrong. I know I was engaged in the most important work I would ever do. And there was lots of joy, lots and lots. I am just saying the routine didn't have many options in those days.

The opposite of all that is true of the autumn of your life. You do have a chance finally to do the things you love and are interested in and still keep a home and family in tact. You can still serve a lot and the best part of that is, you say when and how. Personal enrichment is something you get to do, and again it's when and how you want to do it. It is a time of wonderful freedom and opportunity and I love it.

I know I am so much happier now that I was 10 years ago. You still have lots to do and those to do lists never end, but the beauty is you can just do it another day if you wake up and see that it is a beautiful day and you should take some time and get outside and capture it on your digital point and shoot. So that is what I did today and the carpets can wait until Monday. You won't care, will you?

I totally get what mom was doing now and I wish I'd have understood it better then. She was just taking her time and doing her own thing~what a novel idea! She was enjoying her life and relaxing for the first time ever. I sure miss her and what I could learn now that I know what to ask her.

So here are my pumpkin patch photos. Maybe when you are in the autumn of your life you can go take some for someone else to enjoy while they are busy doing the mommy thing!

Mums the word!

Gourds galore!

Love the tiny ones!

White Pumpkins for Bella

This is for Lee!
The bats, not the witches!

Lovin' the sunflowers

A real Pomegranate Tree! It has been years
literally since I have seen
one of these.

This guy got a little carried away with him pumpkin purchase!
As I was walking by I heard him counting
them...78, 79, 80, 81.
OK then!

He has the exact same van we do, by the way so my first thought was to play a trick on Jim and show him the photo and ask him to empty the car for me. But he has a different sense of humor than I do so he'd probably just say, huh? He's so (painfully) analytical.

So I am sure Jim will be thrilled that I only came home
with one pumpkin! He is so far behind on reading my blog
that he probably won't even know about it until Christmas!
Love having it right here on my computer desk!
Jen, look familiar? I Love it!

Autumn Love

This photo just makes me feel so happy
~Pumpkins can be Beautiful!~

Pumpkins are so much fun and versatile.
Here are a few of the things I think are great about them...

Topping my list is decorating with them!

Look what Cindy did and check out her others by clicking here.
This one is my favorite~Be Still my beating

My favorite pumpkin in my collection
so far,
this year it is in our kitchen.

Dining Room Centerpiece

Halloween Night Dinner

One pumpkin hallowed out and cleaned, remove seeds, string etc.
One cup instant rice plus needed water
1 lb hamburger, garlic, bell pepper, onions, salt and pepper to taste
(this is kind of a do your own thing mixture depending on what your kids like.)
1 can of cream of chicken or mushroom soup plus a little H2O
Add veggies if desired

Poke hole in lid of pumpkin. Grease outside of pumpkin and place in a roasting pan. Cover stem with foil. Fill pumpkin and bake at 350 degrees for 1-2 hours until pumpkin scoops out easily like potatoes. Good for the little goblins before they go out Trick or Treating on a cold dark night.

Gramma Jo's Pumpkin Bread Recipe
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups flour
1/4 Teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs well beaten
1/2 vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin non-spiced OK
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add in wet ingredients and blend well. Pour batter into greased and floured pans. Either 2- 7 inch pans or 3 or 4 mini loaf pans or muffin tins. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. (Adjust baking time according to size of pans.) Cool 5 minutes in pans and then remove to a cooling rack. Recipe can be doubled or tripled and freezes nicely wrapped in foil.

Follow your favorite recipe ( I go to Costco!)

And my all time personal favorite
~get away coach with a handsome prince!
This year the real Autumn Leaves show in New England!
We are so excited!!!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Go Cal Bears!

The Campanile~Sather Tower
UC Berkeley

Today we did a quick little get away since we have missed the last two weeks due to Jim muscle injury. Our first stop was the oldest diner in our town. We go to the Sugar Plum about once a decade maybe. Well, today was the day. I had forgotten how old school it is. They don't even take credit cards but the food is delicious. They have normal sized plates instead of the platters you get at newer restaurants. That part was refreshing. We had breakfast which is something we rarely do unless we are traveling away from home, but we had gotten a later than usual start this morning.

The Quintessential Diner... if ever there was one!
Pretty much sums up a couple
of the experiences of the day
Yep, we're there!

The Sather Gate leading into the main campus.
Jim standing there on the right of the arch
in the gray jacket and jeans. (So Berkeley!)

What this post is really about is Jim anywhere near a clothing rack to buy clothes. He pretty much never does this but he wanted a Cal shirt since we are visiting Harvard and Yale at the very least in the East. Don't know how this will go over in the Stanford household we are visiting...the arch enemy of football anyway. Jim attended Cal while updating his teaching credential for a semester so considers himself an alum...and rightfully so!

It is a pretty campus

The Infamous Sproul Hall from
the Free Speech Movement Days.

The busy students going to and fro.

Had a funny experience of looking at a girl in her early 20's looking at us with a smile as she walked past us. I know exactly what she was thinking...{{look at that cute old couple...aren't they sweet walking hand in hand like that!}} I know what she was thinking because I have done it so many times myself when I see an older couple going by hand in hand. LOL!

Instead of going home the usual freeway route we decided to bypass the tunnel and go up and over the mountain. This part was towards the bottom of the hill and lovely but the upper part of Skyline Road was very curvy. I do not favor that type of cliff hanger driving and when we came to a junction where one of the options was Snake Drive I gave Jim "the look" and he passed it right by. Gotta love that guy!

Fall is in the air!
It was a great little trip to get a shirt.
I'll go wherever he takes me for that!

Sharing the Love

Ross, 2 years ago

I only have minute today but wanted to share a "Gramma" moment I'll cherish forever. Early this morning the phone rang and it was Rossie.

"Hi Gramma, I just wanted to tell you that in a short time I will be in your arms. And I have a billion and one kisses for you! Plus, another billion and one kisses if you come early!"

How could this not be a PERFECT day?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Simple Woman's Daybook ~ September 20, 2010

To join in focusing on the simple things and pleasures of your daily life or to read other people's entries, you can click here.

So, For Today...Monday, September 20, 2010

Outside my window...It's a sunny, beautiful fall day here. The sky is so blue and it is crispy out. It is 12:30 pm and I am about to leave for an appointment but thought I'd work on this some more.

I am thinking...about maybe going private on my blogs. It is such a hassle for readers but I am just entertaining the notion and wondering if you sweet friends would continue to visit me if I did? I am pretty trusting of people and nothing has happened it is just that sometimes I get nervous about it all.

I am thankful for...The good people on this earth. May they always out number the bad apples!

From the learning room...Some fancy photo tricks from Shelli for the blog. Love it!

I am reading...The Book Thief with The Help waiting in the wings.

I am wondering...If I will actually get through my to do list for the next few days.

I am hearing...Michael Ball singing "This is the Moment." I heard him sing this in beautiful it could make your heart stop beating!

Today if I could change one would be that everyone could have one wish that would come true for sure if it would make the world a better place.

I am quoting...“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” - Emerson

I am be so happy to be with the family soon.

I am missing...
going to plays and concerts. Use to love to do that and it has been too long.

I am hoping...Hazie has some better nights with good sleep and less breathing difficulty.

One of my guilty naps on the recliner while the sun is streaming in the window. I truly do feel like a cat when I do it.

Pet Peeves...
any loose paper that falls out of a magazine like confetti when you are trying to read it. Drives me crazy!

One of my favorite things...
tomato basil hummus from Trader Joe's.

An enjoyable movie I have watched lately...Letters to Juliet with Jim on our Friday night movie date. I was waiting for it to come out and am happy we have it in our collection now. Verona scenery is gorgeous. Sweet story as well.

I am curious about...the story about the woman who killed a 900 pound, 13 foot gator with a hook and a gun. Really? I mean I saw the video of her standing by it but I would like to see the one of her doing this single-handedly
. Since in South Carolina one has to pull the gator to the edge of the boat to shoot it...I am feeling skeptical. Oh me of little faith...the media people have done this to themselves. Seeing is not believing anymore!

A few plans for the rest of the week...meeting this morning, nail and hair appointments, short get away with Jim on Tuesday to Berkeley for breakfast and in search for a Cal shirt for Jim, packing, getting on a jet plane, visiting kids, two grandies' birthdays, a baptism, church in their town, getting on another jet plane. It is going to be a packed week.

A picture and thought I am sharing with you.

I started a new little blog with Jim and it is a Photo Blog About San Francisco. I have enjoyed photo blogs of people's favorite cities and we thought it would be fun to share some of ours. So if you are so inclined you can view the photos I have added so far. Not too many yet but I am working on it. The picture above was taken by me out the car window while Jim was driving about 50 mph over the Bay Bridge. It was just a total fluke that I got it right between the cables and that it wasn't blurry with our dinky little camera. Serendipity photography! There is a button for the blog on the sidebar as well as the link above.

Ross' Baptism

Robert, Laura, Ross and Spencer on Ross' special day!

Ross was baptized in Mondragone, Italy on July 3rd, 2010. It was his birthday~ the day he turned 8 years old. It was a very hectic time for their family as they were packing up and almost ready to leave their home in Italy to return to the USA. I didn't have the heart to beg for pictures then but, I have them now.

This coming Tuesday, Aynslee will be turning 8 and, she will be baptized on Saturday. We are so excited to be able to be there for that wonderful event. Although the ordinance of baptism is always exactly the same, the circumstances can be very different. Anyslee's baptism will be very conventional but Ross' was quite unique. I will post about hers next week but for today we're going to see what an LDS baptism looks like in Italy.

The tradition of an LDS baptism is based in the example of the baptism of Jesus Christ. We are baptized by immersion, by someone holding the proper authority to perform that ordinance. In the best of all worlds that is the child's father. We do not do infant baptisms but we do give each new baby a special blessing shortly after birth. Most baptisms are performed in our chapels which are equipped with a baptismal font.

In Italy the church members where the kids lived met in a building that was rented by the church. Consequently there was no baptismal font there. Many Italians have been baptized in the sea which was an option for Ross. However, they have this wonderful couple in Mondragone that have provided a great service to their branch in Caserta. This couple has been introduced to you before if you have been a regular l reader of my blog. People like these are the heart and soul of the real Italy.

This is a picture of Rosa and Salvatore from the baptism but a really nice look into who they are can be found here in a post I did while visiting the kids over the holidays nine months ago.

Salvatore built this amazing "font" in their huge dining room. It is like 3 times bigger than a hot tube and just perfect for performing the ordinance of baptism. So Ross was baptized by Robert right here in this lovely home.

The font is just to the right of the head of the
table and up against the wall.
What an unusual story Ross will have to tell
about his baptism.

Baptism is something very special to the children that are turning 8 and Ross was very excited and happy. We were so sad to miss it but having been there before for a lovely dinner, we felt blessed to know exactly where it was and how it was for him among many loving friends.

Young and old, they came to congratulate Ross and to enjoy Salvatore and Rosa's {Paradiso} Paradise of a Garden in the foothills of Mondragone, Italy. And Rosa outdid herself in the kitchen, as always.

I will share a more traditional baptism next week when Anyslee is baptized by her Daddy, our son, Christopher. Congratulations, Ross and Aynslee, for learning the Gospel essentials and making a good decision to be baptized. We are all very pleased with your good choices and want you to know how much you are loved by all of your family and friends.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Laura's Photo Blog

Our daughter, Laura, doesn't have a lot of time for blogging but she does have a wonderful photo blog that I should have featured long ago. She started it in Italy so there are some fun shots there and now she is continuing it in Rhode Island. She tries for a photo of daily life, one for each day. Check it out, it is fun and a quick read.

My Girl!

Hope your day is going well. I am cleaning, changing sheets, dusting vacuuming...what is there to say about that? Jim is working on Jeff Adam's School Board campaign. Just an ordinary day over here! I hope you are doing something fun!

20 Things I Love About Autumn

  1. The color: PUMPKIN
  2. Excited grandchildren that love picking out their own pumpkins.
  3. Carmelized Apple Cider From Starbuck's.
  4. Local Fall-Fest activities
  5. Dried, salted pumpkin seeds
  6. Nesting
  7. Bringing out the cozy blankets and throws
  8. Watching movies near the fireplace with Jim
  9. The anticipation of the entire Holiday Season
  10. Crockpot cooking
  11. Candles and candy corn
  12. The crackle of leaves beneath my feet
  13. The smell of fireplaces burning in cozy homes
  14. Goards and other seasonal decorative items
  15. Carving Jack-O-Lanterns with the kids
  16. Not having to dream up costumes anymore!
  17. Pumpkin bread
  18. Corn stalks and hay bales
  19. Scarecrows
  20. Red, gold and yellow leaves on and off the trees
I also love all the fun photos of the kids playing and having fun this time of the year. Isn't it sad that we don't do this kind of stuff when we grow up? Maybe we all should in a few weeks when the leaves are deep on the ground and it is cool and crispy out. Thanks for the idea, Zachary!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Home School~Yay or Nay?

Spencer and Ross at home and in school.

A long time ago when we was growing up in the 50s and 60s, I don't think anyone went to home school, at least I never heard of it in the olden days. Maybe it is just my skewed perception, clouded by decades, but in those days school was pretty simple.

You went five days a week, 8:30 t0 3:30. No fancy schedules, ski breaks or Martin Luther King holidays. Just Christmas and Easter vacations and a few other days off that coincided with national holidays. 29 out of 30 kids did what they were told, when they were told and how they were told. If you did well you were rewarded with good grades and the praise of your teachers and parents. If you misbehaved you got in big trouble from all of them. You could count on your parents siding with the teacher and you knew that whatever the school dished out for your punishment, it was milk toast compared to what was coming at home.

Being able to study without distraction has
been good for Spencer and Ross.

When we were raising our kids 25-30 years ago, it was just starting to seem like the school system was not quite right for a lot of the kids. Parental dissatisfaction was on the rise. Alternatives cropped up including charter schools and home schooling now and again, but still at least 90% of all school age kids attended private or public schools.

As young parents we were of the mind set that public school would be OK, as long as we did our part at home. Our kids stayed in the mainstream and didn't cause us too much grief, so it worked out fine.

Given the option to home school I think we would have both chosen regular schools because we felt we wanted our kids to have the socialization of school, a little microcosm of the adult world so they could become accustomed to it. Besides I had enough to do and I had already been to third grade and, quite frankly, had forgotten most of it! Also Jim worked in the public school system both as a teacher and an administrator, so he had high hopes that the ideal public education was still available and attainable.

The boys wear "uniforms" to school.
These white polo shirts and khaki pants
remind them that they are in
school even at home.

But times have changed. And I think the public school system in many cases, leaves a lot to be desired. We feel very fortunate that our grandchildren that do attend public school, have an exceptionally wonderful school. They receive a great education and so much enrichment in their school. There is lots of parent involvement which makes a big difference. But their school is way above the norm! And there is a big waiting list to get into it. Their elementary school is the exception to the rule.

The boys are working in a lot of the same
subject areas, which they enjoy.
Laura has set up a large area in the basement
that is used exclusively for school, during scho
ol hours.

I think a lot of what has changed is based in individual dysfunctional families. Too many lawsuits filed against school districts, too many parents unwilling to support school authorities over behavioral issues, too many kids with entitlement issues, a hugely diluted value system as a country, too many latchkey kids, etc. etc. There are too many teachers that cannot curb their bad language, stop showing R-rated movies to fill up their curriculum, and cannot dress decently to stand in front of a classroom. Too many questionable things are being taught and things that have held our country together in times past, have gone by the wayside. I could go on and on.

But if our children were young now, I would definitely be considering boning up on my reading, writing and arithmetic. I would maybe even stop starting sentences with And. One reason I feel that way is that the biggest thing that public school used to have going for it, the socialization, is no longer as desirable. I wouldn't want our kids exposed to all the pathology of our current society quite so young anymore. They just have to be armed and fortified so much more at home, to make up the difference of the way things were and how they are now. It takes tremendous time, and energy from a mother and a father and from grandparents too.

Beads...a fun way to learn spelling!

I know home school is not for everyone, but I truly respect those parents, like Laura and Robert that are doing it. Adding the military into the frey, and the moving all the time, I think it has been very good for them. And the boys love it. And they are learning so much. Also home schoolers have joined forces and they do a lot with other kids that are from similar backgrounds and value systems. They have plenty of friends and enrichment through that and also their church activities, and their extensive travel.

Whatever a family chooses as the method of educating their children, the most important thing they have to remember is that parents, not schools, are responsible for raising children.

Parents have the stewardship and responsibility to teach their children according to the dictates of their own hearts. They have every right to teach them about God, prayer, morality and respect for their country. And the right to teach them from the best, wholesome good books, to teach them how to problem solve and to grow up in a healthy manner and to live a fulfilling life. If they have all the tools for successful living, they will be better able to cope in this crazy mixed up world we now find ourselves living in, when they become adults.

Speaking of the best books...
Here the boys are doing their morning devotional,

singing a hymn and reading the Old Testament.

Both Jim and I firmly believe that many of the ills of society have their basis in dysfunctional homes. Any family that gets it right at home has a very good chance of getting what they want. They will produce healthy, good, contributing adults as the leaders of tomorrow and our hope for the future. We believe that faith in God and the basic tenants of the Gospel are at the core of that success.

Quite frankly, we are glad we are not raising little ones anymore and that our kids are responsible, good parents making wise choices for our grandkids. The significance of that blessing cannot be under stated or under rated. We have an enormous respect for all of them.

{{And Mrs. Callabash...I bet you would agree!}}