Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Grandma Bea...

She's not actually MY grandma, she's Matt's. But she made me feel like I was one of her grandchildren. Here I am, thinking about her as she takes some of her last breaths.

I met Grandma Bea while Matt and I were dating. She called me Jennifer the first few times we met but just the first few times. I soon came to know what a kind and generous woman she is.

She was very generous with Matt and me from the start. While we were engaged I found myself with out a place to live. My family was in transition and we were scattered around. She opened her doors to me. I stayed with her for a month or two until we found our first little place a few days before we wed.

She asked me about my plans for the cake and cake top. I had been looking for a Precious Moments statue with the groom holding the bride. I had seen it years before and had it in mind to match the design of the cake we had chosen. I couldn't find it anywhere. I wasn't too concerned because the cake topper wasn't going to make or break The Day. One day shortly after our conversation, she came to me with the statue. The exact one. I slowly learned that she was like this with each of her grandchildren.

Grandma Bea enjoyed her 80th birthday a few days after Matt and I were married. We missed the party because of our honeymoon. Grandma was very understanding.

Five months after Matt and I were married we found ourselves needing a new place to live. It had been so hard to find the little one-bedroom apartment we had, but the Rules of the complex were only two people per bedroom. We had a honeymoon baby on the way so we needed to get out before he was born. Grandma called Matt and invited us to stay in the front unit of her duplex. She let us live there for $1,000 a month when she easily could have gotten $2,000 per month at that time. It was a bright happy place that we loved. The perfect place to bring home baby, a baby boy who got his name from Grandma Bea's second husband, Sam Bradshaw. We really liked being her neighbors. Grandma lived in the back unit of the duplex. We shared meals, chores and laughs.

One spring day she had Matt and I digging in the front yard. She had removed some rose bushes earlier that year, but they kept sprouting up. We were charged with the task of digging out the remaining roots. Grandma warned us, "Those roots grow down to the devil!" We did our best, and that's all she asked.

Grandma Bea was one of the hardest working people I knew. She kept her own house, with very high standards. I arrived home from work one day to hear a strange and repetitive noise coming from the breeze way between the garage and her unit. I went to investigate and found our 80 year old grandma on the business side of a push broom. She wasn't just sweeping. She was vigorously brushing the walk with the push broom in short, fast motions that made me very nervous. I took over the job for her thinking she could relax for a bit. Nope, she marched energetically into the house and made us some lemonade to enjoy when the job was done.

And she could be fiesty. On an occasion when there was a problem with the air conditioner I heard her on the phone with the repair man. She said, "My name may be Bea but I am mad as a Hornet!"

Also at this time she was taking 2-4 mile walks everyday. She took excellent care of herself. Her beautiful, white hair was always coiffed and perfect, not a hair out of place. Her clothes were always clean and pressed. She took super good care of everything in her possession, including her family.

About four or five years ago she moved to Utah, as had we a few years before her. I got the opportunity to be Grandma's helper. Sam and I would make a short trip to her place two or three times a week. I'd help her get ready for the day and collect her laundry. Then she would take us out to lunch. I learned so much about her, her family and her childhood while on these little lunch dates. All about her mother and siblings, and her father who died at a young age trying to save some of his co-workers. All about her husband, Grant, who was orphaned at a young age but took care of his brother. I could feel her sense of accomplishment as she told me of all the hard work she did as a young mother who's husband was in the service and away from her and her little Gary for a while. She and Grant worked hard together, taking care of their home, family and rental properties that they did everything for, including taking out the trash, doing the yard work and keeping the windows sparkling clean. She liked to talk about the work they did together.

Her sister Lita would come to California and stay with them sometimes. Grandma seemed heartbroken when she would tell me about the day Lita died as a very young girl in a car accident. It was clear, Grandma still missed Lita.

She told me of her fabulous travels with her second husband, Sam. Her eyes sparkled as she spoke of him. He made her feel like a queen.

I took care of Grandma at a time when I needed a friend. She was my friend. She always spoke kindly to me, even though I know I didn't take care of her clothes with the same perfection she would have, and I was a clumsy helper. Our dates lasted about a year and then she had a fall and needed more than I could give her. I'm grateful for that time we had together.

As I think of her passing, and all the people waiting for her, I can't help but feel happy for her. And them. They have waited a long time to be with her again. Last night as the family gathered around her she thanked us, when it was us who were feeling grateful for her. She told us she had a lot of people who had loved her. She was right. She told us they were planning a party for when she gets home. We know they are. And I can't help but think she will be that party planner when it is our time. She'll probably make a chocolate beet cake and root beer floats.

I love you, Grandma Bea.

Friday, January 15, 2010

What's the Plan?

Do you plan your meals?
I definitely don't plan breakfast. I rarely eat breakfast. Well more recently I have been but in the past and in general I don't.
My boy likes him some breakfast. And we aren't talkin' bout no pop tarts neither. He request such things as French Toast, and Pan Cakes. Who has time for that? Last summer I instituted a plan wherein he gets himself breakfast. All summer he went without breakfast. The plan still stands. Most of the time he claims this is too hard and I end up making him toast (with butter and a cinnamon and sugar mixture sprinkled on top), two minutes before we need to be out the door and he eats it in the car on the way to school and probably once he's in class too a couple of times. He is so lazy!
He gets it from his MOTHER! I don't eat breakfast most of the time because I don't want to think about what to eat, make it, or clean it up. The same goes for lunch and dinner. Though I do eat those. Everyday.
If I tell the truth I don't mind making dinner. I have come to enjoy cooking. (It hasn't always been so.) It's deciding what to make and making sure we have all the ingredients before I start. Sometimes I start and get halfway through when I realize we don't have everything it takes to make the meal right. I hate that! So most of the time we make a "menu" for the week and then go shopping for what we don't have for the menu, hitting the store once a week. It works pretty well, but I am in a total rut.
Here is the menu for this week:
Th- Homemade pizza
Fri- beef pot pie
Sat- spaghetti
Sun- Pork ribs w/ rice
Mon.- tacos
Tues.-pasta primavera w/ shrimp
Wed. - I got nothin'.
The pizza, while delish, is wearing on us. I am so sick of spaghetti and tacos I could scream. Normally we always have some type of recipe that includes chicken and it almost always requires cream of chicken soup as an ingredient. This too makes me want to scream. Thus, no plan for Wednesday.
I shook things up a bit when I added pot pie, pork ribs, and pasta primavera to the list. The pot pie will be an experiment. I've never made one but stew meat was on sale and I have some frozen veggies in the fridge that I think will make it good. We'll see. The pork ribs were also on sale and I will be using a tried and true recipe of my mom's for those. The pasta primavera will be interesting. I tried to get the recipe from my sister before shopping day but it didn't happen (she is so busted) so I doubt we will get it this week. The shrimp was also on sale a few weeks ago. I never buy shrimp. We love shrimp. But it rarely fits in our budget.
So tell me, what is your family's favorite dish? What do you eat the most? What menu item makes you want to scream?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

We laugh so hard together.

Last night, my husby was looking at the blog, Farmer Freitas' Wife. We have a cute niece and he was scrolling through older posts and looking at her cute little face. I was sitting next to him and looking too. She is SOOOO, SOOOO cute.
Anyway, back in December, my sister posted of video of Peter, Paul and Mary's Marvelous Toy. Here it is:

So when I saw it as he scrolled past, I told him to watch it and to tell me what the singers reminded him of. He watched the whole thing in silence with an expression of pure concentration on his face. I kept asking him what they reminded him of but he wouldn't answer. I told him that we had a record of this song when I was young.
I asked him again just before the song ended and he said, "I don't know." I told him that they remind me of Muppets. He watched them trying to see what I saw. When the song ended he said, "That song confused me. Do we ever find out what the toy was?" I stared at him, hoping he was making a joke. He just waited for me to answer. I quoted the song, "I NEVER knew just what it was, and I guess I NEVER will." Then we both burst out in laughter. We laughed for a good two minutes. We couldn't stop. I went into my grandpa wheeze style laugh.
Then I said, "At five years old I figured out that we would NEVER know what it was."
He said,"Sorry, I didn't listen to hippie music as a kid. I'm not used to the mysterious style of Peter, Bob and Billy."
"You mean Peter, Paul and Mary... All apostles." I said starting to laugh hysterically again.
"Apostles?... Mary?..."
"Didn't you read Da Vinci Code?"
Fifteen more minutes of laughing... Maybe you had to be there?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Anonymous Commenters

Last week someone left the following comment on my blog:

"Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up! "

I don't know who left it because it was anonymous. It was on a post from 2007. I told my sister, Becky, about it and she said she has seen the exact same comment, word for word, only it was on someone else's blog. Is this a new form of spam? Polite, but maybe a little bit insulting at the same time? Most of my anonymous comments have to do with Viagra and other unpleasant things I am not interested in. I delete those ones.

In December I got this anonymous comment:

"I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?And you et an account on Twitter?"

I'm not sure what that last part means. I think this is spam too because it's so incoherent. But this one left me feeling particularly irritated. First of all, who are you and how shall I get back to you to let you know my answer? Second, who you are and what kind of blog you have might change my answer, which at this point is no. Third, what part exactly did you want to quote? All this info would be necessary to get your answer, but I'm sure by this point you have helped yourself to any or all parts of my blog anyway. I guess I should give this person some credit for asking.

Yes, faithful and non-anonymous readers, I have been plagiarized in the past. I found a post identical to one of mine on the blog of someone who knows someone I know. Talk about weird.

1. the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work.
2. something used and represented in this manner.

And this subject, Plagiarism, brings me to a bit of a rant. I've been noticing it lately. And having it done to me, it makes me question a lot of the blogs I read. When I read your blog, am I reading YOUR words? I'm not talking about borrowing ideas or anything like that. We all get ideas from each other. I'm talking about taking things word for word or even changing a few words here and there, or the order and then passing it off as their own. I don't think there is a problem with quoting, but make sure you make it clear you are quoting, and then, site your source. Give credit where credit is due. Rant over.

Anyways, I'm going to change things so that Anonymous comments are no longer possible for my blog. Sorry if this inconveniences anybody.

P.S. Rant back on. If I notice plagiarism in a blog I read, can I assume none of their post are really theirs? And, what is the point of blogging if not to put your own thoughts, ideas, and experiences out there?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Something I never thought I'd hear myself say...

Now picture this:
I'm on the phone with Matt. I turn my head and look at one of the munchkins I babysit (who's identity will remain protected). Said munchkin has hands up near face. Arms crossed at the wrists. Index fingers extended into opposite nostrils.
Regretfully the camera was not available for a quick shot. I'm sure the munchkin will be glad the picture does not exist in the future.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My Life In A Curtain Bag - "You got my pillow WHERE?!!!

For the first installment of the My Life In A Curtain Bag series, I thought a cute picture of little me struttin' my stuff in my walker would be perfect. So here I am in my bright yellow, coordinated outfit having a great time (Don't get used to coordinated outfits, because most of my childhood was not spent in coordinated clothing)... I don't know who the others in the picture are. And though my memories go back really far, like back to age two, I don't have any recollections of this day. But Gosh Darnit! Wasn't I CUTE?

The next picture is from around the same age, but I must be a bit older because I have ditched the walker... Or maybe it just didn't work in the sand...
But first, a little story: All growing up, I had the same pillow. It was dingy, and got dingy-er through the years, but through the dinge I could detect some tiny little rosebud type flowers. I thought my mother new what a girly- girl I was when she picked it out for me. When I say dingy, I mean it was a nasty grey color. All my life I thought it was from all my drool. And most of it probably was. I sleep with my mouth open and always have, my nose has never worked right, so I am a mouth breather. I never gave the condition of my pillow much thought. I ALWAYS used a pillowcase so why think about it.

Shortly after I was married, I had a discussion with my mom about the beloved pillow. Somehow, in the course of the conversation, the truth of the pillow's history came out.
"We found your pillow on the beach", said my mother, who I had loved and trusted through out the years.
My jaw dropped.
"What were you?! Hippies?! That sounds just like something some hippies would do!", I asked.
"We washed it", she answered.
Nine years later, I am still disturbed by this news. And as I shuffled through the curtain bag and found this image, I know deep down inside me that this is not only the day they found the pillow, but also the exact moment they broke the news to me that it was to be mine.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What I Did Yesterday...

I started out sorting through and organizing the dreaded basket of junk.

But, I got distracted by this.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Life In a Curtain Bag

My mom got some new curtains. They are blue, and they look good.
For Christmas, my mom gave each of her offspring a pink binder. Her picture is on the cover and the pages inside are all about her. Her memories. And pictures. So far, she has given us her memories from birth to age 12.
Dear Mom,
You were a hilarious kid. I look forward to that pink binder being full.
Your Favorite Offspring

While she sorted her pictures she sorted them all by offspring. On Christmas afternoon she gave me a curtain bag full of pictures from my childhood and teenage years and some of Sam. Pictures I sent her from my time in New York. Pictures of my wedding day that I thought were lost forever.
My life in a curtain bag.

She gave one to my sister Liz too. Liz and I thought My Life In a Curtain Bag would be a fun new blog series. Stay tuned to see such post as "Oh, the Hair!" and "Too cool for school" and "What was I wearing?"


I turned up the heat and we are trying to stay warm with blankets. Emmy Lou thinks her brother looks like an angel in this cloud blanket.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

For the last five or so years I have not made any resolutions. For years, since first grade when I learned of them, I had made goals and plans for the year ahead. But then, about five years ago, I realized that I was making goals and resolutions and then not taking them seriously or even thinking about them again beyond January. LAME! So I just stopped making them.

This year, however, we decided some things just have got to change. On Monday night we had a Family Home Evening all about evaluating our lives in different parts of our lives and making decisions to change. We made some individual and family resolutions. Some spiritual and some pysical. And some without category.

Our main objective with this lesson and application was to teach Sam that it is good to evaluate our lives every so often and make changes. Be pro active in becoming the kind of people we want to be rather than pigeon holing ourselves into one type and feeling stuck or incapable of change. Because along with that kind of attitude come guilt and none of us wants to live wallowing in guilt. So now we have the pressure of keeping these goals and accomplishing them in order to be good examples to our Sammy Poo.

Now I have a New Year's Challenge for all five of my readers. If there are more of you out there I don't know about you need to leave me a comment so I can know you are lurking and check out your blog. I want to challenge you to try posting everyday for one month this year. I would prefer it if you did it in January because I'd like you all to get into the habit of blogging more often as soon as possible. I will tell you, after my month of posting every day, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. And there are tricks. Some days I had huge brain storms and was able to come up with several ideas in one day. Rather than posting them all in one day, I would take the time to write them that day and then schedule them to post on different days. Andrea, my cousin, says this was cheating, but I disagree. I had a post for every day and I got on to read the comments and others blogs everyday, so I think this counts. In order to schedule something to post on a different day I write the post, then go into Post Options which is just above the Publish Post button, then I change the date to the day and time I want it to post and once I have done that it will show up on my Edit Posts Page as Scheduled. I like it. So join me, please!