Saturday, March 18, 2017

A green day brought the past back

Sometimes you can tell your adult kids what to do but....

He just smiles and says no. 

And that's okay.

But when I really need him he never disappoints. 
Like last night at our Leprechaun party. 

He took over the Red Light, Green Light. 

Then it was switch places, and Logan got to be a kid again. 

Serious stuff to  him.

Thanks to the Ryan family for joining us last night.

Glad I got Brittany in one of the pictures anyway. 

Don't know how I missed taking any pictures of her husband Travis
(unless you want to count this one of him videoing the race)
Logan and Travis were the best of friends starting about age 12
I use to call him my 5th son. 

So bizarre watching their kids play together.....25 years later. 

Téa, Jonas, Hudson, 
and Shroeder (who just got hurt outside and not feeling the best right then)

Last night brought out the reflective mood in me.
So I had to go find some Logan/Travis pictures. 

Most of these were taken 20 years ago. 
TWENTY years. Gone, just like that. 

Travis, Pete Maskovich, Robby Pauline, and Logan go put your shirt on.

Travis, Robby, Logan, McKay
and Pepe Hernandez in front

Logan and Trav with Wendy Karsevar.
One of their favorite teachers, hands down.

Logan, McKay, Travis and his sister Kasey (who by that way has not changed at all in 20 years)

CRAZY how time is. 

If you don't think your life is whizzing by, 
you better think again.

Back in the day, the days were long and the years were short.

Now the days are short and the years are short. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Why I told them not to come back at Christmas time

So one evening last December while McKay and McKenna were here from Boston,
I had them tell me about their horrible adventure flying out here.

No way do I want them ever to repeat this experience.


We never finished this video as I got tired and wanted to go to bed that night.
Then Karen and Tyler arrived and we were too busy having a good time after that.

But they did make it to San Francisco, and Brock drove them the 4 hours to us,
arriving here about 4pm.

About 16 hours late.

We hope they come back next time in the Spring or Summer!

Friday, March 10, 2017

What is it about boys and hammers?

I guess I didn't realize how much a hammer means to a boy. 
And I raised 4 of them. Boys I mean. 

At first I was trying to give our grandson Jonas instruction.

Then Grandpa came along and said, "No not on the floor."

What is it about hammer and nails and male bonding.

Normally whatever Jonas is doing his twins sister insists on a turn. 
But not when it came to hammer and nails. 

She was oblivious to it.

Nor did Jonas notice he put 2 different socks on that day.

Just did not matter to him. 

Completing a project with Grandpa and a hammer 
was what it was all about.

The next morning when Jonas was getting ready to go back home 
he asked if he could keep the hammer. 

We told him the hammer stays here, 
so he can use it next time he comes.

He paused in thought and then said, 
"Can I just hold the hammer again?" 

So we let him have some time alone with the hammer.

After he went home I went to check...

I know it must have been hard to leave it with us, but he did!

The wood kit above is from Woodworkers Kit Club and intended for ages 7 and up.

I learned yesterday that LOWES has some building kits for kids @ $7.98 each. 
I plan to check those out tomorrow. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

The wonders of my week #10

1. Just as I started reading this book, "Carly's Voice," 
and right on page 2 there is this one line in their story 
that describes our neighbors, 
(except for the part about the old bricks).

"We lived in a tidy and well-groomed neighborhood of old brick 
homes, with well groomed neighbors that kept to themselves."

So I'm trying to say that we still don't feel connected to anyone on 
our block and we've lived here for 7 months now
We keep trying.... Maybe when the weather gets warmer??

2. I saw this obituary recently in our paper. I didn't know this 
woman, although I did go to school with one of her sons, so I read 
it. The part that struck me I highlighted:

Must have given her peace the later years of her life 
to know she gave her family her all. 

I've probably said this before here, but my Mom would sometimes 
say to me when I was a little girl: "One of the biggest secrets in 
the world is being a wife and mother is THE best job in the 

3. Yesterday at church we opened our regular Sunday bulletin 
like we always do....

As I opened it up I gasped, turned to Den and said, 
"How did these BABIES get on the program for Primary?
When did they grow up??"

We do start them early in our church. 
They are just THREE years old.

I never know who is more excited about this. 
The parents, or the 3 year olds. 

4.  McKenna asked if I know of any good names in our family 
history she could pass on to her sister 
who is having a baby any day now. 
I did find one! 

My Great Great Great Aunt Atlantic Ocean Lewis, 
born in 1809.

She was the 11th child of 14.
There must be a story behind her name, but not sure we will ever know!
The other 13 children in the family have normal names.

5. We are loving this stuff.

It comes in other brands as well, I think.
I put it on fish, vegetables, pasta 

and last night on our chicken salad (not as a dressing, just as extra seasoning)

6.  My nephew Jake and Katie had their 2nd baby boy today. 

I think my sister Peggy should get the award for most beautiful Grandma of TEN.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

the baton has apparently been passed

I'd been coming to the school theater for 24 years.

But Last Monday night was different though.... Long gone are the days I would come pick up my
sons there. Monday night it was all about our granddaughter Elora. 

She sort of lives there these days practicing for a big play that will open on March 9th. 

So as Den parked the car I told him we should go inside and watch the last part of her play practice.
He said, "We can't do that."  

He was worried we would embarrass her. I told him no, not the way we're going to do it.

We just sit in the back row and observe. We don't go looking for her, we don't approach her.
I know our place.

I LOVE being around teenagers. They give me energy.
So I did talk to a few of them.

One very nice boy came up to us and said, "Have we met before? I think I know you." 
I said I was Elora's Grandma. 
He said, "That's how come you look familiar to me!! You have Elora's eyes!"

Yeah right. I don't have her eyes at all. 
I think he was just trying to score points with the Grandma. 

Speaking of Elora, while sitting in the back, 
our eyes looked around the theater trying to find her.

Den thought she was the girl in the white top...see her right there below?
But as that girl lifted her long white painted fingernails to scratch her head, I said, nope, not her. 

Then looking to the other side, I thought, wait, I think I see her....
the girl next to the boy with the red hat!

Then she stood up awhile later, I could tell it was her!

As she looked our way, Den left at that very moment to get some water. 
He was just trying to give her space. Not me. I didn't want to miss anything.

But then she did the unexpected. 

She came right up to me and in front of her friends 
she threw her arms around me and gave me a big hug. 

She's a sweetheart.

We couldn't help but buy her the treat of her choice on our way home. 
Choc shake and fries.

I still can't figure out how time passes as it does. 

But I guess every Grandma says that, right?

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

We are all flawed.

When I'm still thinking about a talk I heard at church 2 days later, I 
want to write about it.

The subject was love. Given by a Mom of 5 kids.

She said when her kids were younger (they are now about 9-19
she would often get in the middle of their disagreements. But 
when they all seemed to come at her at once and she had no idea 
what was going on, or who was right and who was wrong, she 
developed a plan.

This was clearly on days when they were all not getting along. She 
would send them all to different spots in the house for a time 
out. Then she would tell them they could come out as soon as they 
could come tell her what they did wrong. 

She did not want to hear anything about anyone else. She just 
wanted to know what they did wrong, or what they could have 
done better.

It could have been even something simple like, "I should have said 
that in a different tone."

She said this was very hard for a few of them.

In my younger years, even a decade or two ago, I'm not so sure I 
would have agreed with this. There is often someone who is more 
guilty than the other. Someone who is more selfish, or someone 
who stirs the pot in a family more.

But then as I was sitting there Sunday I thought what a gift this 
Mom is giving to her children. Perhaps as adults they will not be 
spending sleepless nights trying to think of ways to change others.

Love is the greatest power we have.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Cami's Voice

She has her own special laptop machine. It's programed to sound like her voice. We can start
communicating back and forth with her! I can't even tell you what this does to me hearing her

And she is so proud!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

My wonders of the week #9

1. Earlier this week when Dennis went out to get the newspaper 
he noticed something by it but couldn't figure out what it was. 

We are pretty sure we have never received a gift from a newspaper 
person before. As in never in our lifetime! 

As I looked it over I could tell it's homemade. I can't get over the 
sweetness! I don't even know our paper person but I'm thinking it's 
probably a she, right? And how do we find her to thank her??

I guess I better start by calling the Fresno Bee. 

2. I think I may need to take a class about being mindful, or in the 
moment. Last Christmas, which was only a few weeks ago right? 
Somehow, even though I obviously opened this gift, 

it did not register in my head because a few days ago 
I found these and got so excited!! 

I love them and put them right on our fridge.  

I put a few in my scanner so I could show you, but let's just say 
refrigerator magnets don't work well in the scanner. 

I much prefer McKay's head on his shoulders.
McKenna is still gorgeous, even with a high forehead.

 3. Many of my extended family from way back, is from North 
Carolina. So earlier this week while I was looking for some info I 
opened one of my Mom's old binders up, 
and look was is at the bottom of the first page.

I was struck by their state motto.
Are people not acting real there in North Carolina?

4. Dennis received a late birthday gift from Karen and Tyler a 
couple days ago. He knows how interested Den is in his life and 
even in his daily schedule so he made him a chart. 
I deleted some of the times, respectful of their privacy.
Actually for the fridge and one for his office.
This makes both of us very happy. Can't explain it, but it does.

5. My Dad has a cold this week and sounded terrible on the phone 
so we opted not to go visit them this week. 

I was feeling fine while talking to him but an hour later I was sick 
too. I must have picked it up over the phone lines. Who knew. 

Good thing I had this good recipe from my Allrecipes magazine.
I just put it in the crockpot one day and went back to bed. 
If you don't have any cooked chicken lying around, you could be 
like me and add 3-4 frozen chicken thighs instead.
I also added some garlic and a little fresh ginger to it.
(ginger feels SO good on your scratchy throat)
I've also added other vegetables and it's always good.
We opt out on the noodles.

I think we all could use some sunshine 
to get our Vitamin D levels up. 

The price we have to pay to have all this 
much prayed for rain in California!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Some family history stories are not happy ones.

I'm pretty sure I'm the only one still alive who knows this story. So for that reason I feel compelled to 
share it here so my sons and their families will have it should they need it in the future.

Everyone who is Mormon, has their own conversion story.
My parents had theirs, which I posted HERE.

So this is how my first husband, Bill, found the church. There's lots of sadness in this story so I don't
mean to imply these horrible things happened so he would find the church. It's just the truth of how
this story unfolds.

If this can be considered a conversion story, it is the most unusual one I've ever heard.

It began to me as a family mystery. Back in the mid 1970s my first husband, Bill, and I were
attempting to do his family history work. When we'd go through the Heasley line we were able to find
information. But whenever we would attempt to investigate his mother's line, we would get stopped
by his maternal Grandma, Alice. Her maiden name was Altop, but she would say to us, "Don't do 
the Altop line because that is NOT my family." Then she would go on to say, "I was adopted, so 
go through the Massa line, NOT the Altop. I'm a Massa!"

She obviously had issues with being adopted, or so we thought. Made no sense because we
discovered she was only about a year old when she was placed into the Altop she couldn't
have had memory of her bio mom, Dominica Massa.

So Bill and I would discuss that the Altops must not have been good parents to her, maybe even
abusive? She was probably not wanting to claim them because of that? We could only guess.

So a few times while we were talking to Grandma Alice about her family, I gently and carefully
asked her something like, "Were the Altops good people?" and her response was alway this: "They 
were decent people." Nothing more.

So then why did she not claim them as her family?

Didn't make sense to either one of us, but out of respect to her we just ignored the Altop line and or
any line connecting Alice to family.

It all just stopped right there and remained one big mystery.

Until one afternoon we were visiting Grandma Alice at her home in Coalinga. Her birth sisters, Lee
and Thelma were also visiting that day. (Yes, Alice had 2 older birth sisters. When Lee, the older of 
the 3 sisters, became an adult, she went looking for her 2 younger birth sisters, Thelma and Alice. So 
somewhere back in the day the sisters reunited and stayed close.)

In the past when I would ask Grandma Alice about the reuniting of her birth sisters, she was vague,
not really answering any questions, and just changing the subject.

But that afternoon Grandma Alice went did Bill, his parents, and 2 of our sons. I
think they went together to get ice cream at Thriftys as they often did, I can't remember, but I found
myself sitting around the kitchen table with Grandma's birth sisters, Lee and Thelma. With my baby
McKay on my lap. This was 1984

I don't know how the subject came up that day, but Lee and Thelma started talking about their birth
mom and how lucky they were to have found their birth sisters all these years later. They never told
me how that came to be, but they did talk about their birth mom and why the 3 sisters grew up in 3 
separate homes.

As they explained to me that day, their mom, Dominica Massa had just given birth to her 3rd
daughter (Grandma Alice) when her husband suddenly left her. He took off, and was gone. Thelma
did most of the talking, "Back in those days a woman could not survive without a man to support 
her. So Mom married the first guy who came along. Problem is he didn't like children."

She went on to explain that after they were married he insisted she give the daughters up. Thelma
very matter of fact explained, "So mom put us in an orphanage. She was so upset about losing us, 
that she got a job in that orphanage so she could be with us each day."

Soon their mom became pregnant. She was fearful of telling her husband this so she attempted to
give herself an abortion. She died in that attempt. So all 3 girls (about 1, 3, and 5 or 6) were
relinquished for adoption and put into three different homes. Lee was the older sister so she
remembered her mom and she remembered being taken from her sisters.

This is when 1 year old Alice was adopted by the Altops. It just so happened they were Mormon, so
Alice grew up active in the church, but for whatever reason she did not remain so for at least the first
two decades of her adult life. Alice married young and had her first and only child, Niada (my sons'
Grandma), when she was 18.

Alice eventually came back into the Mormon church. By now her daughter Niada was married and
they had 2 young sons. Alice wanted her daughter and her family to also have the church in their life
so with their permission she arranged to have the missionaries teach them. Soon Niada, her husband
Bill and their 2 sons Jim and Bill were baptized. But since it was a long drive to church they soon
quit going and that was that.

When Bill joined the Army at age 18, the form asked what religion he was. He barely remembered
being baptized, but he did remember he was Mormon, so he wrote that down.

Several years later, after he completed his Army duty, he thought about the religion he listed on those
Army forms and wondered about the Mormon church. So while attending college in Visalia, one
Sunday he stopped in to one of the Mormon churches, walked up to the bishop and basically said,
"All I know is that I'm a baptized Mormon. But I don't know anything about it." This kind
bishop brought him into his office where they talked for a few hours. From that day forward he
started attending church and the Young Single Adult activities. Four months later he moved to
Fresno, and that's when I met him. We married 19 months later.

I did find Alice's baptism certificate in an old brief case containing Bill's old genealogy family sheets.
But I noticed it was signed in 1977. I'm assuming this must be when the sisters reunited....and
somehow they were able to track down this event, find this Catholic church, and ask for a certificate. 
I'm just assuming here, but perhaps when Alice found out her mother did not WANT to give her up, 
she felt an allegiance and loyalty to her. Perhaps that is why 
she kept saying she was a Massa and not an Altop. 

Searching now on, I notice that her adopted mother has the name of Minnie Niada 
Altop. Alice named her daughter Niada, and all these years I thought she had made up that name 
since I'd never heard it before! 

Now I see she named her daughter after the woman who adopted her and raised her. 
So she must have loved her adopted Mom too. 

Also, her original parents were married of course, 
so technically she was born with the last name of Miller, not Massa.
But I'm guessing she was angry her dad left her Mom and put her though all the anguish 
of losing her daughters, and even losing her life. So she didn't want to claim being a Miller. 
Another logical assumption on my part.

Sometimes as I learn what someone has gone through, it's much easier to understand them. 

The older I get the more I realize I need to just assume whoever I meet is having some sort of 
deep sadness I know nothing about. I believe it's usually true.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A pregnant woman would understand this

When Dennis saw this video tonight, he had doubts about it being 
real. But I corrected him, and said pregnant women can really be 
THIS passionate about their food. 

Actually Susan (my Dad's wife) sent me this video. It's her 
granddaughter, Rachel who is pregnant with her first baby