Tag Archive | family

“Listen with Your Eyes”

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When our daughter Katie was 10 years old or so, she proceeded to tell me about her school day, while I was busy getting dinner ready. I nodded and replied with my usual “uh-huhs” at what I thought were the appropriate instances. Those instances were in between her breaths and in between my chopping of vegetables. I tried to get the vegetables chopped while trying to listen, but Katie noticed my lack of attention. She abruptly stopped talking, looked at me and said, “Mom, you’re not listening with your eyes.”

It was a true statement, which made me think back to the best piece of advice I’ve ever received. The advice was from my husband’s grandmother. She once told me to “Always listen to your children no matter what you’re doing. If you do that, you shouldn’t have any problems. It worked for me,” she said. Plus, the words “listen with your eyes” are from an old song sung by Peggy Lee entitled, I Can Sing a Rainbow. When I was younger, I played that tune so many times on my Mom and Dad’s phonograph it got embedded into my memory. Once the song was over, I lifted the arm and situated the needle back to the beginning of that song. At that time, I didn’t know it would become a favorite lullaby for me to share in my future days with my lovely children. I didn’t think of it as a lullaby back when I played it on the phonograph. I mostly liked how Ms. Lee sang the song, which is quite different from her other tunes.

I said, “You’re right, Katie.” I left the vegetables by themselves and sat down at the kitchen table next to her. I looked into her eyes and said, “I’m listening now.” Dinner got on the table a little later than usual, but I heard every word. I’m unable to recall what the conversation was about, but I remember it was important. It reminded me to listen with my eyes.

Have you ever heard that old song? I like how it gets sung to our grandchildren now! You never know when you’re learning something even if you’re just doing it for fun… What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“Silent” and “listen” are spelled with the same letters. ~Author unknown

P.S. Today, I couldn’t think of anything to write, so I went to Writer’s Digest Presents A Year of Writing Prompts, by Brian A. Klem and Zachary Pettit. “April 24 – What’s the Best Advice You’ve Received? Everyone is always offering advice on everything. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?”

Eggs in One Basket

My creation is at the top, slightly left of middle, with a pink center!

As long as I can remember, we’ve colored eggs by gathering coffee mugs and placing the little dye capsule in each mug. We added vinegar, water, and the boiled egg and waited for the eggs to turn different colors. Sometimes we dunked the eggs in different cups, which made them look psychedelic. This year, we tried something different with our grandchildren. We used the Eggmazing Easter Egg Decorator Kit. The egg spins around inside the contraption while the artist holds the marker, which dyes the eggs to make different designs. It was fun entertainment that lasted a long while. There were no cups to wash or a big mess to clean up afterwards.

Our grandkids were very proud of their creations. Papa and Grandma each got to color our own egg. We were happy to watch the kids have fun, but later next week, Papa and I will boil eggs and make our own!

Easter is the only time when it’s perfectly safe to put all of your eggs in one basket. ~Evan Esar

Our Little Conductor

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This week, our daughter visited us with her two children for a few days. We invited our other daughter and son-in-law over for St. Patrick’s Day dinner. After a tasty dinner of Irish stew, green jello, rolls, and shamrock butter cookies, the boys went outside to hit a golfball around in the melting piles of snow. The girls stayed in and chatted around the dinner table. Our granddaughter sat in front of us, the brightest centerpiece ever to adorn our table. My two daughters and I began to sing songs with her. Granddaughter acted as our conductor and sang along with us. Her favorite song that day was “Happy Birthday.” We sang the song many times. Granddaughter’s bright blue eyes shone with her cheeks puffed up in a smile, looking as though she was happy to be the centerpiece. Once the song was finished, Granddaughter “blew out” the battery-operated candle, with her mom’s perfect timing of flipping the off switch. The minute the candle was “blown out,” Granddaughter immediately said, “Again.” The candle got switched on, and we started the song from the beginning. Singing the song many times didn’t seem like a broken record. We were happy to follow her instructions and enjoyed each little vignette.

Our singing went on until our conductor was ready to explore other opportunities. The first thing she found was the bottom of the candle and how the switch operated. Once she figured that out, we were off to the other room where all the toys waited. None of us wondered how she managed to wrap us all around her little finger. We followed our little conductor to see where her curiosity would lead us.

While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

No Replacement for Spam

Spam Classic Canned Meat

About a year ago is when the shelves at the grocery store looked unattended, when actually there were shortages. There were either shortages of people being able to put items on the shelves, quickly enough, or shortages of people being able to process food and many other reasons. There were only a few times I had to substitute something with another item. It’s nice to see the shelves filling up at the store now.

Imagine my surprise this week, when I walked down the canned meat aisle and couldn’t find Spam. All the other shelves were pretty well attended, except for where the Spam usually sits. There were some cans of turkey Spam and Spam with Bacon, but that’s not the classic Spam we usually pick up about once or twice a year.

We checked another store – no Spam. When I went in search of Spam on the Internet, I learned there’s a shortage due to the pandemic. Demand is very high. Right when I was appreciating fuller shelves, Spam went missing. There is obviously no replacement for Spam. Thankfully, when we checked Target, we found three cans and we happily purchased one. My husband likes to make what he calls “Spams.” Here’s the recipe:

Spams
1-12 ounce can of classic Spam
1-8 ounce brick of cheddar cheese, mild (use about 3/4 of a brick)
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayo or Miracle Whip
1 dozen hamburger buns
Meat grinder

Cut the Spam, brick of cheese, and onion in quarters and alternately rotate through meat grinder into a large bowl. After the mixture is ground together, stir to mix, and add enough mayo until it sticks together well, but don’t overdo it. Spoon mixture to cover an open faced bun. Place open faced bun face side up under broiler and broil until cheese is melted. Make as many as you want. Store unused portion of Spams in the refrigerator. Use up leftovers within three days.

Lila loves the crumbs that fall to the floor, which happens during preparation. A little taste for dogs is okay, but I wouldn’t give Lila a bunch. That could lead to disastrous consequences.

My husband’s mom made these when her kids were younger and now my husband is carrying on the tradition. Some of our children do not care for Spams, but I find them to be just as delicious as Lila believes them to be! Do you have any favorite Spam recipes? If so, please share in the comments!

Hugs Straighten Everything Out!

Looks better in a photo than in real life!

Months ago, I found a pattern on Pinterest for a Valentine’s Bear. It’s so cute, I decided to try to make one for each of my grandkids. I felt like I was doing a good job of getting the stitches right, but when I sewed the pieces together, they looked crooked. Plus, the heads were floppy. After completing the two bears, I looked up the reviews on the pattern, and many people commented on how the bear’s head was too big for its body, and that they were having a hard time getting the head to sit up straight. (Note to self: Read reviews before attempting any patterns.)

Projects likes these are an investment in time. It’s difficult when it doesn’t turn out the way you like. I sorta felt like tossing the little bears in the trash, because they weren’t perfect, like the picture on the pattern. Then I thought how everything doesn’t have to be perfect, and that maybe they would love them because their grandma made it. I wrapped the bears in gift bags and gave them to the grandkids yesterday.

My little granddaughter hugged the bear tight, close to her neck, which warmed my heart. She called it bunny, and pointed to her brother’s bear and said her brother’s name. She wanted to let us know he got one too. “Heart,” she said, when she pointed to the chest.

My grandson liked his bear too. “It’s so soft,” he said, when he hugged it. “How did you make it, Grandma?” he asked.

”I crocheted it.” The bear got a good looking over and another hug. Funny how the bear’s head doesn’t flop around when it’s being hugged! Hugs straighten everything out, right?

Most of the time, I work on simple blankets, so I can stitch away, without counting or keeping track of stitches. Once you learn the pattern, it sticks in your mind and becomes automatic. Whatever! Now I think I’m going to try to crochet a bunny, because Easter is on its way. I found a pattern that has good reviews! Besides, practice makes perfect.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤️

It is not the gift, but the thought that counts. ~Henry van Dyke, Jr.

Gag Gift Gone Good

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Every Christmas my husband and his cousin exchange gag gifts. The tradition of this exchange began many years ago, when my husband picked up a little plastic snow globe from Walgreens to give to Cousin. Cousin gifted it back the next year, and it got passed back and forth for years. I’m not sure where the snow globe is now. I think it got gifted to someone in the next generation a few years back. The globe is old and tattered and almost dried up. There have been many silly gifts over the years. Once Husband gave Cousin a Justin Bieber Christmas ornament, which was like a boomerang. It came back the next year.

This year, since we weren’t going to celebrate Christmas with Cousin and his family, Husband decided not to get a gag gift. What’s the point of a gag gift, if you’re not going to see each other? I asked our daughter and her husband to drop off our gifts at Cousin’s house. When they did, Cousin had some gifts to give to our family as well.

On Christmas Day, Daughter dropped off one of the gag gifts from Cousin in the garage and gave Husband the other gag gift. The one that made it into the house, was a gallon can of peanuts. We haven’t had to buy peanuts for a while! When all the commotion of Christmas wound down, we took a good look at the gag gift taking residence in our garage. It was a 50-pound bag of Nature’s Own Wild Life Food. It contains whole corn.

What in the world are we going to do with this big bag of food, we thought as we exchanged conversations about it for a few days. I didn’t want to scatter it around our yard, because I didn’t want to attract animals. I had visions of turkeys, deer, squirrels, and rabbits all over the place. Since we have a garden, I have a difficult time keeping our little furry friends from eating any flowers or plants that might grow there. We don’t need more critters in our yard, even if it is winter. They might decide to stay.

We thought about dropping it off at a nature center, because keeping it in the garage also gave me the willies. The garage is a place where mice like to visit. At night, I dreamt of parading lines of mice running to and fro in our garage, each one carrying a kernel and building a nest somewhere.

We eventually decided to bring the corn down to the park where we walk our dog. We brought about a pint and dropped it far away from anyone’s house, close to the marshland. The next day, we checked the pile of corn to see if any creatures noticed it. There was not much activity. The day after, we noticed that the stash was getting smaller. After seeing much of the corn gone, Husband packed up more in a plastic bag, and we dropped it off in the same location. We’ve had this routine for about a month now. Pretty soon the bag will be empty.

We noticed tracks in the snow from squirrels and rabbits. We thought deer would make an appearance, but we have not seen their tracks. No wild turkey prints are on the scene either. During our last walk, we made sure to get a bunch of corn to the spot before the cold snap kicked in. We also try to drop off a bunch when snow is in the forecast. A few times, we’ve seen a squirrel running from the pile up a tree. He doesn’t look overly plump, but he seems happy.

When the bag of corn is gone, will we buy another? Gosh, I feel like that squirrel is counting on us now. 🙂 It’s funny how we fretted over the gag gift and how it’s turned into a fun activity. It was a gag gift gone good!

Well, it may be humorous to you, but it’s a very serious matter to the squirrels. ~Lisa Kleypas

A Book Review: “The Magnolia Story”

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The Magnolia Story is written by Joanna Gaines in one font, with Chip Gaines chiming-in in another font and co-authored with Mark Dagostino. Chip and Joanna tell the story of how they met and take the reader along on their journey together through dating, their engagement story, wedding day, and family life. It was interesting to learn the ups and downs of their businesses and how they work together.

In the beginning of the book, Joanna describes herself as being introverted, and she talks about how she thinks she could have been happy with the way things were going in her life, before she met Chip. She didn’t mind being on her own and enjoyed working at her father’s tire company. Right before she met Chip, she was trying to decide if she should go back to New York City to pursue her career in communications.

One day at work, the guys Joanna worked with, egged her on to go talk to one of the customers. Her co-workers thought this guy would be a good match for Joanna. Joanna refused but after a while gave in and embarrassed herself by trying to talk to this cute guy. She leaves the building to go outside where she finds Chip sitting on a bench. She sits beside him, and they talk for a while. She doesn’t really think much about the conversation after it’s over. She just thought about how Chip was blessed with the gift of gab and how she didn’t really get a good look at him because he was wearing a baseball cap. Chip calls Joanna soon after they met, and Joanna often wonders why she was so agreeable to being with Chip. She usually had doubts before dating someone and didn’t really have much experience with dating.

Chip is always on the go and working to advance his businesses. When they’re first married, they move into one of Chip’s rental properties, and Joanna comes up with some designs, and they fix it up together. Joanna ends up loving what they’ve done to the place. Just when Joanna is ready to settle in, Chip buys a new property for them to flip. The house flipping is a common theme throughout the book, of course! I personally felt bad for Joanna when they had to move out of their beautiful Victorian home, with four kids, because Chip bought a new place for them to flip. It turned out to be a good decision in the long run, even though Joanna had a hard time accepting it at first.

The story also tells readers how they got discovered for their series Fixer Upper. Chip and Joanna didn’t even know about reality TV, because they didn’t own a TV. They asked friends what it was all about. Things that happened in their lives seemed to have worked out for the best. Joanna shares some of the obstacles she’s had to face and how she overcame them, with regard to her experiences with balancing work and raising a family. They both share their trust and faith in God, which they talk about in snippets throughout the book, in a down-to-earth way. Their goal of bringing attention to and supporting their community in Waco, Texas has definitely blossomed.

I rarely watch shows on HGTV, but I liked learning about Chip and Joanna’s lives. If you like inspirational, humorous, and uplifting stories, give The Magnolia Story a try. 🙂

Mystery Solved!

Sunfish I Caught Last Summer

On a beautiful summer day many years ago, while we were staying at a lodge in northern Minnesota, my husband took the kids and me fishing. Earlier that day, we were busy throwing our lines over the side of the boat but it wasn’t enough to fish during the day. We also had to fish after dinner, because there was a dock close by and you have to use up as much bait as you can.

With the kids being the ages they were at the time, they had not mastered putting bait on or taking fish off the hook. I didn’t mind baiting the hook, but I rarely took a fish off a hook. Fish are slippery and poke you with their fins. Husband must have sensed how leery I was and took over those jobs.

I have a picture in my mind of Husband on the dock, walking back and forth, and weaving about our three children with bait in hand. He baited each one of their hooks, reminded them how to cast, and how to reel whatever they caught back in. He also reminded them to be sure to watch their hooks before they casted their line just to be sure no one was behind them. It’s not good to get the hook caught on anything or anybody.

As he danced around the dock, helping take fish off hooks and making sure the bait was on, he noticed that Katie wasn’t getting any bites. The bobber just stayed in one place.

“Katie, reel your line in. I wonder why you’re not getting any nibbles.” When we looked at the pole, Husband noticed that there wasn’t a hook at the end like there used to be.

”I wonder where your hook went,” Husband said to Katie. We didn’t see it laying around anywhere. Husband put a new hook on the line, got the worm situated and gave Katie the fishing pole. Katie casted and was back in business, catching more sunnies or crappies.

After about an hour of fun, we went back to where we were staying and settled in on the comfy sofa ready to watch a show. Husband got ready to settle in with the rest of us, and just as he sat on the sofa, he let out a loud scream. Husband was not one to scream, so we all looked his way with panicked looks on our faces. I wondered if we should call 911. Was he having a heart attack?

“I think I found Katie’s hook!” he told us, as we anxiously studied his face. Somehow, the hook had lodged itself on the seat of Husband’s pants without any of us witnessing the occurrence.

Mystery solved!

Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.  ~Confucius

Best Greeting Committee Ever!

I slowly drove down the bumpy alley on the way to my daughter and her family’s house. Kona’s barks echoed throughout the neighborhood the moment I turned into their driveway. Kona is their beautiful German Shepherd with a multicolored coat. Kona’s loud woof caused Jimmy and Jack, the dogs next door, to join along in the canine chorus.

“Hi, Kona,” I said, even though I didn’t have the door opened yet. In the distance, at the patio door, I saw my grandson opening and closing the door and jumping up and down at varying intervals. His arm briefly swung out the door in a wave. His little sister did her hopping up and down motion, while her mother tried to hang onto her in her arms. I’ve discovered that holding Granddaughter while she is jumping is not an easy task. Next time I looked, Granddaughter was mimicking Grandson’s hop, except her hop was from bended knees. It looked like her mom couldn’t hold onto her any more.

I opened the car door to see Kona by my side. She backed away and pointed her front legs towards me in a little jump. I got my stuff out, closed the door and headed towards the house. Usually, during this time of year, there would be lots of snow on the ground, but there wasn’t any. Kona did a little duty on the lawn, which she always does after company arrives. It’s good when the duty is on the lawn and not on the rugs in the house!

Kona escorted me towards the door, where I was hugged by Grandson. It was a grab at the knees sort of hug. I put down my stuff so I could give him a proper hug, as Granddaughter waited her turn. I gave my daughter a quick peck on the cheek and reached down to pick up Granddaughter. Granddaughter reached up to me with a little jump, both arms and hands pointed up. I picked her up and held her close as we smiled at each other.

I kissed her little cheek, and she said, “Grandma,” as soft as could be. I’ve heard her say Grandma two other times. How could my heart not jump for joy?

Best Greeting Committee Ever. ❤️

Jumping for joy is good exercise. ~Author unknown

First Turkey

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My husband and I were newly married, when we invited my parents and brother over to host our first Thanksgiving.  I followed the directions, recalled other instructions learned until that point, and felt very proud.  Since Mom made wonderful Thanksgiving dinners, I copied her menu plan.  Just before our company was about to arrive, I thought it all looked good, after I peaked at the turkey browning in the oven.  It smelled delicious, especially when I opened the oven door and the steam wafted towards my face.  When I was younger, there were many times when Mom called me into the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day.  

“Mary Ann, come in here and watch me do this,” she’d say.  “I’m stuffing the bird!  You’ll need to know how to do this someday.”  Sometimes, I pretended I didn’t hear her, and she would have to come and find me from wherever I was hiding in the house.  Back then, I didn’t like looking at anything that used to be alive and was pale and unmoving.  Mom used to cut up chickens, and I would tell her to stop because she was hurting the poor little thing.  The sound of cracking bones made me feel nauseous.

“I can’t hurt it, because it’s dead,” she would tell me.  No smile accompanied those words, because cooking is serious business, even though Mom liked to giggle at most things.

“You will need to know how to do this,” she repeated.  I groaned and wondered why.  Why did she call me and not my brothers? The Thanksgiving mornings at the house where I grew up smelled like toast and simmering onions and celery.  Mom toasted the bread and tore it up into bite-sized pieces for the stuffing.

Yes, I see how the nails go in and how the string wraps around to keep in all the stuffing, I thought.  The way the string went reminded me of shoe laces.

The day I roasted my first turkey, I toasted bread too.  Now I use Pepperidge Farm bread cubes seasoned with onion and sage.  When I first started using those packets, it felt like I was cheating, but it worked out okay, and no one minded that it wasn’t bread that I personally put into the toaster.  As things moved along, the cooking made our house smell delicious too.    

When Mom, Dad, and Brother came over, I’m sure they told us how good everything smelled, but when Mom looked at the bird in the oven, she informed me that I had it upside down.  Again, no giggles came my way. I must have missed that part somewhere!  I pulled out the roaster and flipped the main course over.  It only had a little more time to roast.  After Husband carved it and we enjoyed our first bites, it all tasted flavorful – just like Mom’s.  Ever since that day, I roast the turkey breast side up.  I’m still not sure if it makes much of a difference.

To this day, when I get a chance to host Thanksgiving dinner, I use Mom’s menu plan.  Others may think that’s boring, but I find it to be a great comfort. It brings back memories of other blessed Thanksgivings I’ve been lucky to enjoy over the years.  Plus, I love that lime jello with cottage cheese, marshmallows, and cool whip that was probably popular in the 50s!

Today I am thankful for the memories Mom gave me when she taught me how to stuff a turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is possible only for those who take time to remember; 
no one can give thanks who has a short memory. ~Author Unknown