Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Birthday

I was planning on skipping my birthday this year and as well behaved as my sons are, they complied with my wishes to ignore my birthday.  Blogging as the grandmother of 6, if you are a regular reader, you will notice I only mention my 4 youngest grandchildren.  I do not live close to my two oldest grandchildren and great grandson.  My sons and daughter-in-law arranged for them to spend the weekend with me as a birthday surprise. 

My sons were running in the Living History Farms Cross Country Race and we were all invited to "carb up" before the race.  One son had to work unexpectedly the night before the race and would have to miss the carb dinner my daughter-in-law was cooking (her delicious homemade spaghetti).  With the table set, we all felt bad when she accidentally included a plate for him, I was led to believe.  Just then the doorbell rang.  I went to get the door, and there was my granddaughter and my great grandson. I was so surprised, I took a double take after greeting her with a simple "Hi", before the hugs and tears came.

After the race, we were getting ready to go the the Leonardo DaVinci exhibit at the Science Center of Iowa, and I was told to go into the living room.  Not realizing until I finally started walking, there sat my other granddaughter and her boyfriend.  Double take again and then the tears and hugs.

The weekend was an incredible gift to have my entire family together.  (My son was able to get back in time for the race and to spend the entire day with us before he headed back to work the following day.) 

We all enjoyed the DaVinci exhibit from the oldest (me) to the youngest (great grandson age 11 months).  If you are looking for something to do as the weather turns cold, don't hesitate to visit those special exhibits at local museums, science centers and art centers.  I wouldn't have thought the younger children would have found as much fascination and enjoyment in the exhibit as they did.  I learned several fascinating facts from the exhibit and a little bit more about what my grandchildren really enjoy.  If you live in the Des Moines area, the DaVinci exhibit will be on display through January 16 and is well worth the visit.

If you are looking for a gift for grandma as you celebrate the holidays, don't forget the most special gift of all, a personal visit or phone call.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Yes, I'm sitting on my laptop this Thanksgiving, but I'm not taking away from family time.  With granddaughters age 6 and 8 away visiting their other grandparents, they won't be spending this holiday with us.  I will be with granddaughter age 10 and grandson age 7 at their home.  Their father is out of town due to work.  This morning I asked them whether we should fix the turkey today with just the three of us or wait until tomorrow when their daddy would be home to enjoy Thanksgiving with us.  "Tomorrow with daddy" they both yelled at the same time.  Today, we are having "Thanksgiving Lasagne."  We are enjoying Christmas DVD's while the children have a day off to just play. 

I can imagine many families are doing the same thing with so many working today to take care of the rest of us:  doctors, nurses, firemen, policemen, etc. to name just a few.  Unfortunately, too many stores are open to get that jump on Black Friday shopping and their employees are forced to work as well.  Our hearts go out the military families, spending their Thanksgiving with family members too far away to wait an additional day for a Thanksgiving celebration. 

I'm always thankful for family, but this year I'm especially thankful for my family.  Since this is the first Thanksgiving since my husband went home to be with the Lord, I'm really preparing Thanksgiving dinner for the first time.  He was the one who got up early to put the turkey in the oven, preparing the perfect bird.  When it was finished he would prepare the gravy.  Then he would carve the turkey and prepare the leftovers.  I was responsible for the rest.  The easy part. 

This year my son, grandchildren, and I will start new traditions.  Don and I always bought sweet rolls and donuts the day before to have for breakfast Thanksgiving morning.  The first new tradition is Monkey Bread (or pull a part bred) for breakfast.  Granddaughter age 8 and grandson age 7 and I searched the grocery store for the frozen Monkey Bread from Bridgford Foods yesterday.  I bought two just in case my son would not be able to get back; we wouldn't know for sure until this morning.  The children and I had one this morning and will have the second one ready when he wakes up tomorrow.  He is due to arrive sometime during the middle of the night.  Since they are prepared in the microwave, the oven will be free for the turkey.

Another new tradition this year will be that the children will help me cook.  Everything may take longer,  but no matter.  We will not starve and we will be making some great memories and new traditions.  I'll make a list (typically my charge when a large dinner is planned) of what needs to be done to include which items the children can help me with.  Instead of dreading tomorrow, I'm looking forward to it now.  Thank you, Lord, for families. 

Any ideas for new traditions we should try?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Weekend Fun

Our Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes are filled and my granddaughters age 6 and age 8 are coloring pictures to add to their boxes before we drop them off at the church tomorrow.  Completing the letter telling about themselves gives me new insight into how well they understand the concept of giving and how blessed I am to be able to share this with them.  

The question I keep hearing in the stores this week is whether we will actually get snow on Saturday or not.  Talking with a friend from Colorado, I understand the snow has started and she is looking for an inch or two tomorrow.  I'm not a big fan of driving in the winter, so the warning I keep getting about Iowa winters has not made me feel any better. 

There is one aspect of winter I will look forward to this year and that is watching my grandchildren sledding.  I understand there is a decent hill in our neighborhood (yes I'm still in Iowa).  If you live in the area, check out the 18 Sledding Hills in the Des Moines Area article from the Des Moines Register in 2009.  The map pointing out each hill is an added bonus.  For the more adventuresome try Sleepy Hollow Sports Park or Seven Oaks Recreation Area.  Looks like I'll have to change my tune to Let it Snow Let it Snow Let it Snow. 

Monday, November 8, 2010


Another Halloween is just a memory.  This is the first year in over ten years I have gone Trick or Treating with grandchildren.  I wanted to just stand and take pictures, but the children were in hurry, on a mission. Beggar's Night in Iowa opens up the Trick or Treating to a night other than Sunday night. With the hours set from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, by 6:15 the neighborhoods were filled with children in as many different costumes as there were children.  While the children ran from house to house, I marveled in the talent of the parents in putting together the costumes. 

I enjoyed the walk and sharing in their excitement.  The decorations on the outside of the homes were as varied as the costumes.  One in  particular, the big hairy monster that sat perfectly still until the children were on the porch, was everyone's favorite, as he waited until the porch was filled with children before moving to handout candy.  After screaming and getting their candy, they were excited to share with us how he had frightened them, but only for a minute before it was off to the wonders of the next house. My grandchildren's reaction to the costumed adults gave me the charge to dress next year.  Better start planning now. 

Fall is such a busy time of the year.  Just when we feel we have the organization of homework figured out, it is time to plan that Halloween costume. My oldest son's birthday follows shortly after that and I loved celebrating with him in person this year. Unfortunately, I did not make his birthday pumpkin pie. I have it all ready to take to bake next time I am with him. Fortunately, the timing does not ruin the taste.

Now, we look forward to Thanksgiving. I have many pictures over the years of children spooning the stuffing into the turkey.  Now the suggestion is being made that it is healthier to bake the stuffing separately.  I try to change as we learn safer ways of doing things.  I'm afraid stuffing the turkey is not going to be one of those changes. 

My late husband did the majority of the cooking for Thanksgiving, the turkey and the gravy.  As difficult as each first has been this year, I will attempt to cook the turkey and make the gravy as we move through one more first without Don. We will start a new tradition this year, although I'm not sure what it will be.  Granddaughters age 6 and 8 will be with their other grandparents.  Wonderful cooks, delicious food will be plentiful for them.  Granddaughter age 10 and grandson age 7 will be with me this year.  What part do your children and grandchildren play that we can carry over to a new tradition for us?  Don and I worked together, whether we were cooking for two or twenty.  This year my grandchildren will be important participants in my kitchen.  I'll just have to wait for your suggestions for my ideas on how they can help.