Friday, September 30, 2011

Apple Jacks!

There is nothing quite like an apple fresh from the orchard.

It was a nice morning so we took the little guys for a dance in the orchard. It was a slow dance because they were not moving fast. The child who always runs wanted to go in the opposite direction, possibly because of the large puddle he had just traipsed through. Good thing we dug out a nice pair of boots for him to wear!

Both little guys found the apple crates very enter- taining. It hardly seemed to matter whether they were in different boxes or the same one, it was fun just the same. Maybe I should plant a couple of those in my backyard... Nah, they wouldn't be near as much fun if they were readily accessible. Besides, I'm sure they're full of slivers.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

National Coffee Day

I was informed late this morning that today is National Coffee Day. I thought it imperative this day be remembered in proper fashion and so have brewed a fresh pot of coffee in honor of the occasion. (Apparently yesterday was "National Drink Beer Day" so it only makes sense that coffee would come next, right?) Anybody for a muffin?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One More September

One more September is slipping by, marking another year without Dad. The tears don't flow often these days, even though I still miss him terribly, but Sunday morning at church we sang "Mansion Over the Hilltop" and the emotion welled up. It usually is music that brings the tears, and often unexpectedly.

I'm afraid, in so many ways, that I have failed my parents. The past year has brought to light just how far I fall short of being all that I should be in Christ. I am not who I had hoped to be, and I am not even who I thought I was. I've not counted the task before me the privilege that it really is, nor have I been able to completely shake the nagging, negative attitudes that creep in almost daily. I have found myself in need, in need of His strength and daily help.

I sit here and type as my father sings. "Are you trusting fully in the Savior's power..." Since my dad's passing we have changed our place of worship. It was a change we didn't want and sometimes still don't want. There are times I walk away from church hungry, feeling almost more empty inside than when I entered, and I long for the deep, life changing messages we once heard. Will it ever be the same again? Will I feel the closeness of my Savior that I felt in years past? Will He be there to provide the grace and encouragement I will need when it comes to life's next great challenge? I know He will, but today He feels so far away...

I am blessed beyond measure to have had a dad who held on to the very end, a dad who prayed for us and lived out everything he believed. His constant faith gives me strength to carry on even when discouragement comes my way and I am eternally grateful to my Heavenly Father for such a gift. Now, with a small grandson on my lap I feel a great responsibility to live what I know is true and good.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

K is for Kleenex

K is for Kleenex, you know, those super soft tissues with which we wipe our noses. Kids can go through a whole lot of Kleenex with their constant colds and runny noses. It might be wise to keep a box within reach when caring for little ones, especially during allergy season. KERCHOO!

Grandmas also use a bunch of Kleenex. They hide them in their pockets and up their sleeves and take them out whenever the urge to blow becomes irresistible. Kleenex are a must if Grandma is on oxygen, The air hose will irritate her nasal passages and cause her nose to run which may prove embarrassing if she is caught without.

Although they are technically "tissues," I still find myself referring to them as Kleenex even though I usually buy Scotties.

To see the other participants in of ABC Wednesday Round 9, click here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Kid Day

It was a Kid Day. I rather like kid days, especially when Hannah is here to help. We had  four little people for a couple of hours. It was a beautiful day and since two of the four aren't yet walking, my "kid cage" came out on the back porch. There is nothing quite like the "kid cage" for keeping track of multitudes of little people on warm summer-like days.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Afternoon

Beautiful afternoon full of sunshine and autumn air. Dave and Leta came over with the little ones and Baby went to sleep in my arms. There is nothing quite like it when there is time to sit and soak it in. Today was such a time. I enjoyed watching my son play with his little boys.
There is something heart- warming about hearing my own boy called "Daddy" and watching him interact with the little guys. I should have had the camera out sooner, but I was busy holding my granddaughter and watching her sleep.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pies in the Mail

I baked pies in jelly jars. I packed them into a box. It was a cardboard fruit basket with the dividers from my jam jar package tucked inside. I made the jam jar box into a lid by taking it apart, cutting it down, and putting it back together inside out. Then I put Jim's address on the lid, taped it up, took it to the post office, and mailed it off to Minneapolis. It arrived today, just in time for Jim's birthday.

I had a tough time getting my pie crust to behave on my first try. The shortening had gotten "old" due to our extended summer time heat wave. I bought a new can and tried again. Still not working... I decided maybe the flour was "old" too, but had run out of time and patience on Tuesday. I decided to forget it for the night and try again on Wednesday. With a new can of shortening, a fresh bag of flour, and some encouragement from Bethany, I managed success.

I don't know why somebody in Minneapolis doesn't open a pie shop. None of the bakeries I've seen online offer pies. So sad.

Baby Turns Thirty

It's something "old" people say, "Where did the time go?" but I find myself asking just that question. Somehow the years have slipped away, and the first tiny baby we brought home from the hospital, the one who changed our names to Mom and Dad, is turning 30...

Dear Jim,

I had a tough time making pie crust this week. I guess that long heat wave this summer wasn't good for either my shortening or flour, and I had to replace both those ingredients before I could work with the pastry. I'm still holding out hope that the pies will arrive at your house tomorrow. I think they turned out better this year than last. I hope you have some ice cream on hand, and maybe a candle or two or three.

I've never been good at birthday parties. I somehow always manage to wait too long to pull  them off in style, but each birthday brings with it a special longing for the child whose day it is, and a pile of memories to take me back in time. So, even though you are far away for this milestone birthday, you are in my thoughts today.

Happy Birthday, Jim!
I love you.

Love, Mom

PS. I don't have any new photos of you with Dad and me, so here you are with Grandmanita. She's better looking than me anyway. :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Little Song

We were taking our last subway ride when he got into our car. It was the one and only video I took on our trip, and though we witnessed several musicians of varying styles and talents, this was one of my favorites.

Anyone know what he's saying?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's Never Too Late Until You're Dead

Now that I am about finished with home schooling, I'm doing some research on unschooling. I like it. I am tired of making my kids learn useless things they hate and passing up what they love in order to do it. Hannah knows grammar and can write, likes to read, does math, and enjoys American history. She tests very high on her California Achievement Tests. At sixteen we are finally at the point where I can legally stop reporting her to the school district. Although we aren't quite ready to toss the books, we are ready to put a bit more effort into pursuing the things she really loves, and I am ready to chase after some of those dreams I have put off for so long.

The List I wrote three years ago and put on the shelf is ready to be taken down, dusted off, and delved into. Our weekend excursion is not the only inspiration. That unschooling book has me doing some thinking for myself too. First on my list is to work on writing a manuscript for a picture book. I have some rough ideas, a ready audience to test my stories on, and a young daughter who also likes to write. Maybe we can actually keep each other inspired.

So, while I'm still alive and kickin', I am going to get to work on that Bucket List. It's not too long and so complicated that I can't do at least part of it. Wish me luck!

Overdoing It

So, it appears that one post on our NY trip would have been more than sufficient...We are back home now and back to reality, but trying to benefit from the bit of inspiration a trip away from home provides.

Judy took six years of German in Jr. and Sr. high school and has been to Germany ten times. She greatly encouraged for Hannah to continue her pursuit of the German language. The "Surprise To Us" German American parade Saturday was taken as a sign, and before we left town, Hannah found a German language book and set of CD's had magically appeared under her pillow. (Thanks to Judy.) I so want to encourage Hannah. I think a near future trip to Gudl's Rheinblick German Restaurant is in order.

We were also inspired in the area of music. Hannah has long saved for a digital piano. While she still has the time and desire to play and learn to play well, I think it's time to begin the search in earnest. Wouldn't you know it? Judy also has an interest in music, and has a piano tucked away in her apartment bedroom. It should come as no surprise since she is a composer/librettist. She is also the childhood friend whose parents had two pianos in their living room, one of which was a player. (That's the kind I want...) Have I ever mentioned how much I love that piano at the NY State Fair? (Check here.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Final Chapter

Hannah and I decided to extend our New York City trip a few hours Monday morning  in order to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and hopefully see Ground Zero. These were the places Hannah had wanted to go. I didn't want to disappoint her, we had the time, and we were now used to getting on and off the subway. It also helped that we only had to ride and remember one train which, at the upper end, was walking distance to my van.

We said goodbye to Danny at the apartment and took the train with Judy until she had to get off for work. We all got off, said our goodbyes, and Hannah and I got on the next train headed for South Ferry, the very end of the line.

Once off the train and back in the sunshine, we gazed over the water at Lady Liberty, Ellis Island, and various ferries shuttling passengers between here and there. We averted a young man peddling fruit snacks, declined overpriced bottled water, and snapped photos. I followed Hannah through Battery Park trying to take in the sights and capture some photos. She walked fast hoping I would stop the continuous documentation, but I continued.

Construction continues at Ground Zero which was blocked off by barricades. Only prepaid ticket-holder are granted access to the memorial at this time. We witnessed work on the new One World Trade Center, bought some better priced bottles of water, and made our way north. After a short discussion, we decided not to stop at Alice's Tea Cup on West 73rd Street on the way home, and bought two bagels from a vender before boarding the subway back to the Bronx.

It was a fun and adventurous weekend. We returned home inspired, invigorated, and ready to walk multiple city blocks in short periods of time. Today we went out to the shopping center and actually brisk-walked from Joann Fabrics on one side of the parking lot to Target on the other side without feeling like we should move the van. Now all we are missing is multiple sets of stairs and steep sloping hills to climb.

We have been extended an open invitation to visit again and you know I'm going to remember that. :)

(Boy, do I ever look tired in that picture!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Martha and Hannah Take on NY City (part 2)

Danny made breakfast on Sunday morning (omelets) and we made plans to visit his studio which is walking distance from Wave Hill. We packed a lunch and climbed into the van for a short ride toward the Hudson River. The studio was full of paintings. He is working on a commission for a local college so there were plenty of paintings to look at.

After our tour of the studio, Judy took us for a walk down the road and up to Wave Hill. Mark Twain once lived in the home here, but it was closed for renovations so we walked the grounds, took a rest on the grass, and checked out the gardens instead. (I think I found the tool shed Peter Rabbit may have hidden in...)

After some lunch back at the studio, Judy took us for a walk down to the railroad tracks by the river where I got a glimpse of the Judy I remember from junior high school. She led us through the woods to a trail where we looked over the railroad tracks and across the river. Then, in true Judy-fashion, she took us back through the woods, up the river a tiny bit, and through a hole in the fence. We gingerly hopped over several sets of railroad tracks and down to the river's edge. This brought back memories of walking home from her grandparent's house on the railroad tracks so many years ago...

(And tomorrow morning I will write something else because it is now time to go to bed.)

J is for Journey

J is for Journey. This past weekend my daughter and I went on a journey together. We packed our bags, filled the gas tank, and headed off  for New York City. It was a long drive, but with sunny skies and good company, the hours passed quickly.

I found the home of my friend Judy with the help of my navigator daughter and spent the weekend getting re- acquainted with one of my childhood friends. We hadn't seen each other in over thirty years!

We spent a fun weekend traipsing through Manhattan and relaxing in the Bronx. After a solo final trip to the tip of Manhattan on Monday morning, Hannah and I started the journey home. It was a fun weekend. We learned a lot, laughed a lot, and look forward to a return trip one day.

To see the other participants in of ABC Wednesday Round 9, click here!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Martha and Hannah Take on NY City (part 1)

Hannah and I had a great weekend running around NY City. We stayed with my old friend Judy and her artist husband Danny in their apartment in the Bronx. They live within walking distance of the El, which is also the subway. The Line1 (red) train is a direct route to the heart of Manhattan and Judy was our tour guide..

On Saturday we caught a surprise (to us anyway) German Parade as we were on our way to Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We stood and watched the parade for a long time and then got the deal of a lifetime getting into the museum (Judy did it) where we toured an ancient Egyptian Temple, gazed at a few paintings, and took in almost the entire furniture section much to the dismay of Danny who wasn't there to deter us.
After taking in the view from the roof of the museum, we wore out our shoes traipsing through Central Park and over to Broadway.

(Yes, Sherri, we did check out the Ramble, and even with a  map one could probably get lost, if not for helpful New Yorkers who actually know which way to go...)

We passed Alice's Tea Cup on the way to find Beard Papa's where we purchased and devoured the world's best cream puffs. After an afternoon of walking and eating only apples, we were near to starving. That cold vanilla filling was wonderful!. Sadly, we did not return to Alice's for tea. I guess that will have to be saved for another trip...

After another jaunt down Broadway and a ride on the bus, we found our way to Lincoln Center. We sat in the grass across from Julliard where "August Rush" once went to school. (You did see that movie, didn't you?) Thanks to an old subway map, we took the wrong train from Lincoln Center, got to the Mexican restaurant later than anticipated, and missed out on a loosely planned evening activity. Every cab after dinner was full, so we gave up on seeing the show, headed for Times Square to take in the sights, and then back to the A Train for a ride home to the Bronx.

I was amazed to find that even after hours of walking, climbing hills and stairs, and chasing after Hannah and Judy, who both have longer legs than me, my body was still moving forward of its own accord. I amazed even myself by walking up the hill back to the apartment without collapsing once along the way. Sleep never felt so good.

(On Sunday we stayed in the Bronx. Stay tuned.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Leaving in the Morning

Hannah and I are off to the Bronx tomorrow morning. It a six hour drive from here. The weekend weather is forecast to be cool and sunny. Perfect. We'll be back sometime late Monday afternoon. We are excited.

I'm not sure yet what all we're going to do, though I would like to visit Central Park. I'm also going to find out if my friend's husband looks anything like Renoir. I have a sneaking suspicion that the illustrator of this children's book used him as a model.

Mom is spending the weekend with Rachel, even though she was fairly certain she would be fine staying here alone most of the time. (James and the boys aren't going with us, but I know they'll be busy working.) On our way out of town I'm hoping to pick up some apples and/or peaches for my friend, and maybe find one of those prepaid E-Z Pass gift cards for the Thruway tolls too.

See you next week!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Wednesday evening. James and the kids are watching The Andy Griffith Show... again. It's the middle of the week already.

I walked back into the orchard yesterday afternoon and caught a few apples. :)

Looks like they're on a string.

Funny how the property looks so foreign from a different angle.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I is for Inside

I is for inside, or perhaps imprisoned. This tree is imprisoned inside the silo. I could be wrong, but it appears to me he's in for life, most of which is over. He can't even leave... (Ha, ha ha! Okay, bad joke... bad, bad joke)

Is there a story behind this photo? Well, Hannah and I have driven past this barn on our way home from soccer for the past few Saturdays. This past week I remembered to bring my camera along and put her through the agony of me stopping and getting out of the van to capture the moment. Friday Hannah and I will be headed out to NY City for the weekend. To those who don't know New York State, the name often means "big city," but this photo captures the New York I know best. We live in apple country, and this weekend we'll be visiting the "Big Apple" for the very first time.

To see the other participants in of ABC Wednesday Round 9, click here!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hate to Burst Your Bubble

Josh and Hannah are good friends. The other night they spent some together time blowing bubbles on Bethany's front step. I found a smile creeping across my face as I reached for my camera.

On the end table in Bethany's living room is a book, "Bringing Up Boys" by James Dobson. As I flipped through that pages, she looked slightly sheepish as she admitted that she hadn't ever read it. The copy was mine and the stories inside familiar. One upon a time this book had given me a glimpse into an otherwise foreign world.

Though I was in the midst of raising five boys I had never been given such a clear picture into the world of boys. I found myself able to relax a bit more when they pulled those crazy boy stunts and worry a bit less when they tore their knees open on trees and pavement. I hadn't given up on worrying altogether, but my understanding was forever altered.