I had planned to do a post on Friday for the "Only the Good Friday" that Shelley Tucker at This Eclectic Life has set up but somehow or other, before I knew it, the time had just flown by and it was Sunday morning and no time this morning to do any post, that's for sure!
So, just what is it that I've been doing anyway?
Well, I was caught up -as of Saturday -with my blog readings but today, I see I have 102 posts waiting in the wings for me to read and possibly even comment on but somehow, I don't think I'll get around to clearing my Reader tonight.
So I'm going to backtrack a bit and try to bring things up-to-date here!
First off, I finished the Strawberry tablecloth -as those who have me on their Facebook are aware but I didn't get around to taking a picture of the completed project until tonight. So, for your viewing pleasure, here's the pics of that tablecloth. (I did not take a picture of the entire tablecloth, as it is 50x50 and if I put it on the table, it doesn't show the entire cloth. But there is no design in the center so what you see in the photos is repeated as a border the entire way around the cloth. And, it's 50x50 inches square!)
This picture shows almost half of two sides of the cloth. It's about the largest display I could manage of this cloth.
And here is a close-up of one corner of the tablecloth. As I said above, just picture this design repeated around the entire border of the cloth!
Tuesday, as you know from my last post, was the first day of the summer session of classes for Maya and also, for Kurtis! Although we were a bit worried on his first day that he was going to wig out on us and fight getting into the van, etc., he surprised both Mandy and me -a LOT!
His teacher called Mandy shortly after the kids were loaded on the vans and on their way home to tell us how well he had done on his first day in school! For openers, he drank out of a regular cup! Imagine that! A year ago at this time, he would not even attempt to drink out of anything at all except for his bottle and even then, he would not try to sit up and drink from it -had to be laying down! It took us the better part of the winter to get him to a point where he would sit up and drink -but from a bottle -and finally about 2-3 months ago, he graduated up to a sippy cup. But drinking out of a regular cup? That was still unheard of -until this past week. So we were celebrating that milestone for him!
I started working on a new embroidery project last Sunday night -after I finally got the tablecloth done. This project is a set of six Christmas ornaments designed by Mary Engebret and each ornament, when completed, is about 4x4 inches square. Each design is also what I refer to as "busy" -meaning it has a ton of different colors to be used and there are several rows of stitches in a square surrounding a small design in the center. It took me till Friday to complete just the stitching on ONE of these ornaments! And I was about nuts too from changing colors of thread about every 4-5 stitches -or so it seemed! That one ornament is still not technically completed though as I have to sew a backing on it and then, bind the edges too! Arrgh!
So, Friday, I broke my cardinal rule about embroidering and started working on a 5x7 counted cross stitch picture. This one is kind of "busy" too but not near as much so as are the ornaments.
Thursday morning, Mandy got Kurtis ready to go to school and he was all decked out, standing by the front door and watching for the van to show up. He had his special comfort items -his bear pillow along with his little Etch-a-sketcher -and was there, waiting, watching and when the van pulled up, he saw it before Mandy did and called out to her,"Ready, Go?" Guess that tells you all how much this little fellow loves going to this school, doesn't it?
Thursday afternoon, Mandy and I picked Maya up at her school and headed to Walmart to get a pretty large -stock-the-shelves -type of grocery order. Something we haven't done for about 3 months now, so by the time we got home from doing that, I was pretty well whipped from walking all over the place and pushing that heavy cart! Loaded up on coffee, sugar, flour, plus a bunch of other stuff and the cart was so full, it was getting really hard to move! Time to quit shopping when things get to that extreme, isn't it?
And that brings me up to that last big thing in my life, which took place today!
Mandy, the kids and I left about 11 a.m. today and headed down to Indiana, PA to the home of one of my Mom's cousins -Arline Calhoun -who was hosting a gathering of as many descendants of my great-grandparents (Carl and Maja Lisa Till Eld) as could make it to her house today!
Now, I have to tell you a little here about cousin Arline. First off, she is fantastic! So organized and coordinated -a terrific cook and baker -and she is also 83 years old now but has way more energy than I do or than a whole lot of others in our family have too!
With some assistance from her daughter, Sandy Duncan, Arline fixed a feast for our meal of the day that you just had to be there to believe! Roast eye of round of beef, pork loin and sauerkraut, hashbrown potato casserole, green bean casserole, a carrot casserole, meatballs, jello salad, pasta salad, fruit salad, rice pudding and also, a family favorite, a Swedish dish that is a baked custard and is called Panakaka. Along with all that, she also had rolls, homebaked Swedish Kaka breads, nut breads, seven different kinds of cookies, cake plus two homemade cheese cakes too! Talk about some great food, this was it for sure!
Arline's Mom -who was my Grandfather's baby sister, had worked prior to her marriage in Pittsburgh as a cook for one of the wealthy families there. Another of Grandpa's sisters -Aunt Esther -also worked as a cook for one of the well-to-do families of the 19-teens and early twenties -the Brainards -and a cousin of my Mom's was a cook for the Frick family too of Pittsburgh! So, when it came to cooking, Arline had her Mom, our Aunt and a cousin who all could give her advice about food preparation and she does excel at that, for sure!
So, anyway, I got a few photos today of the family and hopefully, by posting these pics here, I will try to explain who the various family members are and how they figure into my family tree too.
So here then is a picture of all of us -or almost all of us who were at Arline's house today!
Seated on the ground in front is Arline's son, Jim and his wife, Chris. Sitting on the chairs behind them are:
Carl Bengston (a brother of Arline's) and his wife, Eleanor. Then there is their granddaughter, Hannah Mitchell, cousin Arline (Bengston) Calhoun, her brother, Paul Bengston, my granddaughter, Miss Maya, and Arline's grandson, Nathan Calhoun.
Standing in the first row behind there are:
Joyce Bengston Mitchell -daughter of Carl and Eleanor Bengston who are seated in front of her. Next is my first cousin, Nancy Eld Lang, then her younger son, Mark Lang, his wife, Toni Lang, my first cousin, Barbara Eld Donaldson, Arline's youngest brother, Cliff Bengston, then Karen Eld Putnam (a third cousin) Mandy, (my daughter) and Arline's youngest son, Chris. (Chris is the father of Nathan, the boy seated in front of him.)
In the back row there's Melda Bengston (Paul's wife, Arline's sister-in-law) then, Arline's son-in-law, Gary Duncan, her daughter, Sandy Calhoun Duncan, then the gentleman with the big hat is my cousin Barb Eld Donaldson's husband, Bill, followed by Jon Putnam (Karen Eld Putnam's husband), cousin Nancy Eld Lang's husband, Howard, and me! Kurtis was in a couple of the earlier group pictures but they didn't have everyone on them and by the time we got this one taken, he was refusing to be held and was off on his own, sort of, playing in the grass with some toys Arline still had in her house from when her oldest grandson was a little boy!
This is one of my favorite shots I got today and this is Arline, seated next to Kurtis and that's her brother, Carl and his wife, Eleanor on the end to the left. I loved the way Kurt was sitting there next to Arline and can't you just see from the look on her face, in her eyes, how much she loves little children? Remember, I told you, she is a gem! Considering there's a bit of a n age gap between her and me (but it does seem I am closing that age gap faster and faster every year, if you know what I mean), Arline and her siblings are all my Mom's first cousins but I am very close to Arline. We try to stay in contact from time to time throughout the year by phone and although Arline doesn't have a computer or internet, her son Jim and his wife do and I e-mail back and forth with her daughter-in-law, Christ, to let Arline know bits and pieces of things going on within the family as well as around the village here too. (Arline and her siblings lived across the street from my house for a number of years in the house that had been her grandparent's, my great-grandparents' home so she knows a lot of the locals here in town too.
Kurt and Maya both behaved relatively well today too. Translated that means simply -NO MELTDOWNS! And that is really a good thing! I tried to get Maya to sing for Arline as I had told her that Maya had learned the old family favorite hymn "Children of the Heavenly Father: and even had learned the first verse of that song in Swedish too. (That song just happens to be Arline's favorite as well as mine and so we were hoping to be able to get Maya to kind of perform a bit but no dice! Although, in the car on the drive home, Maya was singing her little heart out! Figures, doesn't it? Don't kids always do things like that to ya?
And this picture was also another favorite shot I got today. That's Mandy in the green tee shirt pointing to Kurtis and Arline is looking on. Leaning on the car is Arline's sister-in-law, Eleanor Bengston and Arline's oldest son, Jim. It almost looks like Mandy is saying to Arline "Here, you take him!" Not really, cause you know by now I'm sure that neither Mandy nor I would ever relinquish Kurtis or his sister Maya to anyone but well, there are moments with all kids that thoughts like that might momentarily be entertained, huh?
We did have one little scare today with Kurtis though. Mandy and I were both trying to give him a little space and letting him run a good bit. Heck, this kid rarely walks anywhere as he has to be moving at a good running pace almost all the time. But anyway, we were doing that and just keeping an eye on where he was all the time too but at one point, around 3 p.m., all of a sudden, he got out of Mandy's range of vision and she couldn't see him, couldn't find him and so she called out to me that she couldn't locate Kurtis. Well, when the family heard her say that, you should have seen people stop talking and scatter around the yard, the house, looking for him! Sure does bring on a panic feeling deep in your gut when a little one disappears like that and so quickly too! Within less than a minute though of many people fanning out and looking for him that my cousin Nancy's son, Mark Lang, spotted him, two houses down from Arline's home, exploring her neighbor's back deck!
Although the drive between our place and Arline's is only about 90 miles -give or take a bit -and it takes a tad over an hour and a half to make the trip, we left Indiana shortly after 4 p.m. but didn't arrive back home till a little past 7:30 p.m.
That's because as we got near to Curwensville, (a town along our route home) Maya announced she needed to go to the bathroom, so we made a "potty stop" there at the home of my ex-brother-in-law -my kids' Uncle Tom! This is my ex-husband's next younger brother and Tom is quite a character, for sure! Initially, I wasn't going to go in as I was really tired, half asleep really, so Mandy left Kurtis and I in the car and took Maya inside to use the facilities.
Well, before we knew it, Uncle Tom had heard us pull up and had come up from his back yard to talk to me and ended up making up with Kurtis. This too was a bit of a first for Kurtis as he hasn't been around Uncle Tom and his wife since he was just a baby. Tom opened the back door of the jeep and started talking to Kurtis and initially, the look on Kurt's face looked like he was afraid, and going to have a hissy fit on us. Tom leaned in and as he had a bit of stubble growth on his chin, he pointed to that and motioned that he was going to rub his beard against Kurt's leg or his cheek and I could see Kurt starting to kind of withdraw from him but then, all of a sudden he just started to laugh at his great-uncle Tom and ended up letting Uncle Tom get him out of the car and walked with him down through his backyard, just as nice as you please!
So, we had a nice visit with them and I even had a cold beer there too -first beer I've had in months and months now! Tasted darned good too, it did!
And there you go -that's what I've been up to the past five-six days that's been keeping me away from taking the time to write a post!
And, as my good blogger friend up in Bean Town says when he closes a post , "More later, with better stuff!" Hope you don't mind that I stole your tag line there, Suldog!