Saturday, May 30, 2009

Aggressive-Passivity -ARRGH!

Ever have one of those days when all you can think of to say about things is ARRGH and even that isn't really descriptive enough or providing enough by way of the emotional release you are looking to get?

Sure you have. Come on now and admit it! We ALL do, don't we?

Well, I know I sure as Hell do have days like that and today was most definitely one of 'em!

But, before I tackle the events of today, let me back track, just a smidgen here, to explain my frustration in dealing with certain people who have this aggressive passivity thing going on within 'em! In particular, a certain male who resides here and just so happens is married to my daughter! Yeah, him!

Remember yesterday I busted my fat hump baking not one, but two batches of the Swedish Limpa Rye bread to donate to the Youth Ministry for their bake sale/car wash today. Well, the first time I made this Rye bread was in December of 2003 -when Maya was just a tiny baby and for some reason, on a Sunday evening about 9 p.m., I got the urge to bake bread and tried this particular recipe. The bread didn't get put into the oven till after 11:30 p.m. so when it was baking and the aroma of the fresh-baked bread started to spread throughout the house, Mandy and Bill had already gone to bed but the smell -that wonderfully delicious scent -awakened them and they had to come down and investigate what was creating that aroma. They stayed up for a bit and the three of us polished off one of the loaves of bread at that late night sitting with my son-in-law raving, over and over, about how wonderful this bread was! And since, then, he has always indulged in eating this bread whether it be fresh from the over or over a couple of meals for days after I've made a batch. And, he's always said he really likes this bread too.

Ok -ground work laid there. Got all that?

So last night when he came home from work, I had all these loaves of bread all bagged up and ready to go to the bake sale and he spied them. He asked what kind of bread this was and I told him as well as informing him that they were for the bake sale today. I wanted to make sure he didn't get a knife and dig into one of them, ya know.

Well, upon hearing it was the Swedish Limpa Rye I'd made, he shocked the heck out of me by saying, OH, that bread. I don't really like THAT bread."

Hmmm. Oh really? Could have fooled me as I've seen him gobble it up when it is warm as well as when it is a day or a couple of days old and he will eat it with a meal and without any trim on it either. He eats it bald, naked -no butter, no jelly, no nothing, just the dry, rye bread. (That always amazes me because I love it slathered in REAL butter. None of the imitation stuff will do when I am eating rye bread, homemade, fresh from the oven especially!

So that kind of ticked me off to hear him say that and I called him out on that. Why, if you don't really like it, after all this many years, have you always sucked up to me, telling me how good it was then?

And, he had no answer for me -no explanation whatsoever! (Which kind of ticked me off just a tad more then too.)

Now, moving forward in time here, last night, Mandy was talking about the big -actually monstrous -yardsale type event that was going to be held this morning over at Penn State. The students leaving the university donate any thing and everything you can think of that they don't like anymore or just don't want to be bothered to pack up and take with them to their homes or on to their new homes as they begin their careers and some organization takes the stuff, gets it all organized, priced, etc., and they open the doors then early, early on the day of what has been designated as the 'Trash to Treasure Sale." Proceeds go to some charitable organization. A friend of Mandy's had posted on her Facebook that she was going to bed early because she had to be up and out of the house by 5:30 a.m. in order to get to State College and stand in line to get admitted to this humungous yardsale and Mandy quipped that she wasn't about to get up that early and go over there and stand in line. Nope, not her!

Hearing that and getting really engrossed in my current embroidery project, I kept working at it then, later and later into the night when, before I knew it, the sun was up and it was 6 a.m. And then, there was Katie awake and making coffee and she was followed closely then too by Mandy.

What the heck? Why are the both up this early? Well, Kate it seems was up that early to do a load of laundry so she had clothes she wanted to wear over the weekend all clean and ready but when I asked Mandy why she was up, I got a really surprise answer.

"Because I am going to State College to the Trash to Treasure sale today!"

What? I thought y ou said last night you weren't going over there cause you weren't about to go stand in a big old long line, just to get in to the darned thing.

And she told me then -or tried to anyway -that she had told me last night that she was going to this sale and that I should get the damned peanut butter out of my ears and pay more attention to what she tells me too. Yeah, right! Yadda, Yadda!

If I had heard her say that last night, you can bet your bottom dollar I would have put the embroidery down around oh, at least 4 a.m. and gone to bed so I would have had a chance to catch at least 10-15 winks before I would have to face the day coping with Maya and Kurtis all by myself ya know! I may be a bit crazy here and there but I am not quite THAT crazy!

Sometimes, I think my kids like to tell me that they told me something just to confuse me and make me believe I am really much more senile than I really am!

Well, anyway, Mandy left about 7-7:30 this a.m. to head to State College. Kate left around 8:30 a.m. to go help get things set up for the Youth Ministry Bake Sale/Car Wash and Bill -well, after he let his alarm blast for close to an hour solid -annoying habit, VERY annoying habit he has of doing that -he finally shut it off and got up, had a cup of tea and by 9:30 a.m., he left to go to his garage saying he would be back home early in the afternoon but he had just a couple little things in the work line that he needed to do first.

And that left me then alone with these two little heathens here too! Alone and starting then to get really tired too. Wondering how long I would have to drink more and more coffee to keep awake until Mandy -or Bill -would finally return home. (I'd had a nap Friday afternoon but had been awake then since about 2 or 2:30 yesterday afternoon so it was now up to about 20 hours since I'd slept.

Finally around noonish, Mandy got home. Among the "treasures" she found there was this nice computer chair that had very little marks on it of wear and tear and something much needed as the other computer chair we have/had here has gouges of stuffing missing from it and is looking very worn and bedraggled these days. (It will get moved to my room now to be the chair for me to use when I sew out there!)

After Mandy showed me the bargains she had found, we took a run up to the bake sale/car wash, got a few goodies there and picked up some food at the deli in the store next door for lunch. After which I finally was able to hit my bed and take a much needed nap after having been awake then for a little over 24 hours solid!

Tonight, we had decided not to cook because the local Methodist Church near here was having a big roast beef dinner this evening -yes, yet another fund raiser you know, so we were going to get three dinners to go from there for supper for us. By the way -remember earlier I said the SIL had told me when he left that he would be home "early in the afternoon?" Well, by 5:30 when Mandy left to go get our roast beef dinners, Bill still wasn't home yet. Typical! And yet, he will rant, bitch and complain up the old yazoo about my older daughter who is constantly late, late, late for everything! But he is too!

While Mandy was up getting our food, I started to finish washing up the glass baking dishes I use to bake the bread laoves in. (Yes, those pans had been sitting, soaking, since late last night. I know, I know. Me bad!) I had my back turned to Maya and Kurtis for no more than 5 minutes -10 at the maximum -and got a phone call from my son's girlfriend. I was talking to her and realized the kids were no where in sight and also -very, very bad sign here -were really quiet too, wherever they were. (Any parent of young children knows that kind of quiet means trouble with a capital T, don't 'cha?)

So I start lookinjg for them and I see the bathroom door is closed. As soon as I opened it, I got that really sick feeling telling me I should have left that damned door closed because I most certainly didn't want to see what was before me.

Two very wet children for starters and the entire floor in the bathroom where the vanity is was completely drenched with water as well as some other substance too. The other substance I think was either hair spray or the detangler stuff and apparently Maya had the idea of styling Kurt's hair by slopping water and this spray stuff -which, on the tile of the floor also becomes extremely sticky too on bare feet!

And the neighbors probably heard me screaming ARRRGGGGHHHHHH! Poor Betty's eardrums may still be ringing too from my voice yelling at the two little ones to "Get the heck out of the bathroom and DO IT NOW!"

Of course, you know too by now the response my yelling at them from Maya was one question.


Which was also what -along with the ARRRGGGGGHHHH was also running through my mind!

WHy, why, why, indeed!

Isn't life in the fast lane with preschool kids just soooooo much fun though?

The Three F's -Family, Food and Friends!

If you've followed my blog from way back when I first started blogging, you may remember that one of my favorite interests is family tree research. Two years ago this month, there were four geneologists from Sweden who came this area and showed off a really slick program by which -if you subscribe to it -one can access records of Swedish ancestors with a lot of speed and ease.

One lady in that group -Anneli Andersson, from Mellerud, Sweden -is the lady who helped me track my ancestry on my Grandpa Eld's side back to the early 1600's through church records which she copied and e-mailed me. That was almost ten years ago now and I met her for the first time when she visited this area with the three others two years ago. Last year, she and another lady came back to America and did a small workshop on Swedish family tree research over in Clearfield, PA and I got to see her again there.

Now, she is here again and this time, she has her fiance as well as her son with her and they will be visiting in this area for a whole week! They arrived Thursday, around noon, and are staying at the home of Janet Rydberg Larson -who was my typing teacher back in high school and who is also really into geneology as well as being pretty much the resident historian for the township where I live. So, I got to visit a little yesterday with Anneli, met her fiance and son and am really looking forward to being able to perhaps spend a little more time with her while she visits this region.

One thing in particular though that I am really hepped up about is a program that Anneli and a friend of hers in Sweden designed and received some type of grant money to put it into effect this coming school year. It is geared primarily towards students in the middle school range and is intended to teach the children about immigration -actually that should probably be emigration because they will be studying the people from Sweden who left their homeland many years ago and emigrated to America. And to do this in a way to help not just the Swedish children understand what problems existed that really forced so many of that nationality to come here primarily in the late 1800's, they also want to help the children learn about what the living and traveling conditions were for those people, what they encountered upon arrival here in New York, where they went from there and where they ended up settling and the type of work they found here too. But the big value of this program really is that it will help kids learn about other cultures and also, help the Swedish students to improve their communication skills in the English language.

To do this, Anneli wants to find a school -or perhaps a couple schools -in this country that had a fairly heavy concentration of Swedish immigrants, primarily coming here from the Dahlsland area in Sweden and this little area where I live is a prime example of that type of immigrants! Yep! That bill fits my great-grandparents and their family to a tee! So Janet Larson, her daughter-in-laws, Judi and Cathy and I are trying to find a way to convince our school district that this would be a very interesting and worthwhile program to give our students here a chance to learn about history, geography, world cultures, immigration -all those things -and also, to communicate via e-mail with the students in Sweden in this class and who knows, perhaps make some life-long friendship too in the process!

The week ahead is going to be very full, very busy for me, that much is for sure! Because my grandson, Alex, and Anneli's son Jonaton, are only a year apart in age and Alex is quite interested in perhaps participating in this program if possible, we had hoped the boys would be able to meet this weekend, but by the looks of things, that isn't going to come about as Alex has boy scout activities this weekend and the school district where he lives doesn't finish up until the middle of June so his dad won't permit him to miss a day of school so I can bring him up here to meet Jonaton during next week sometime.

Besides being engrossed much of this week in a new embroidery project I started -a 50x50 inch tablecloth which is simply a border around the entire cloth of strawberries, vines and leaves, as I mentioned in an earlier post yesterday, our Youth Ministry group is having a fund raiser today now -Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. up at the grocery store parking lot in Kylertown. A car wash and a bake sale combined. The purpose of this fund raiser is to get needed money so that around 15 kids from our Youth Ministry group can go to Cincinnati, Ohio for a week where they will work in a setting kind of like Habitat for Humanity -helping primarily senior citizens by doing repairs or yard work around their homes there. A very worthy cause, that is for sure.

So today, I was one busy little beaver, baking the Swedish bread my family and I love -Swedish Limpa Rye bread. I made two batches of it -four loaves per batch and we polished off one of those loaves here tonight at supper! Kurtis and Maya both love the homemade bread and I cheated a bit and fixed a package of the Cheesy-noodles and tuna "helper" type mixes for supper -because I know they love that too so both kids had seconds on the casserole as well as downing a couple wedges of the bread too. Yeah, we all ate heartily tonight -for sure!

Here's a picture of the bread I baked today -all bagged up and ready to go up to the bake sale in the morning.

I also had some homemade pepper slaw that my friend Janet Larson got for me from the folks at her church as yesterday morning, she had been there helping them make this special slaw in preparation for a big fund raising dinner they are having there Saturday evening too. So, I had a feast of a big, big helping of that pepper slaw along with some fresh, Swedish Rye bread tonight too! Love that stuff.

But boy, you know what happens when one gets to eating way too much of the good foods like that too, don't 'cha? And if I keep eating good stuff like that the way I did tonight, I most certainly am going to be in dire need of some extra-special weight loss supplement, for sure, aren't I?

Oh and to top it all off, tonight, Mandy baked up some kind of chocolate chip cookies to take up to the bake sale on Saturday too! However, I didn't sample any of her baked goods as I figured I had stuffed myself well enough with the bread, tuna casserole and pepper slaw already! For once, I was able to exercise a little bit of will power anyway.

Anneli would like me to think of some "sights" in this area that I think might be interesting for her and her family to see while they are here and of course, don't you just know it but now, much as I love this area and think it is really nice, pretty and all that, I have gone pretty much braindead in trying to think of some places where they can visit that I can direct them to while they are here! I'm going to have to give that a bit more thought, for sure though.

She had learned already about a place over in the county to the east of us -Centre County -and there is a great tourist attraction there called Penn's Cave. This cave is visited by boat! Yeah, you get in a boat and it goes underground and you get to view all the attractions then inside the cave from that angle. And believe it or not, I have never been there! Lived here all my life and have never seen it! She decided they are going to go there next Thursday which means I can't go with them though as Mandy and I have to make a trip to Pittsburgh that day since I have a check-up scheduled with my great (also wonderful eye candy) surgeon there at UPMC, Dr. Hughes!

But, since my grandson isn't going to be allowed to miss a day of school and go with them too, I'm also trying to find another child in Jonaton's age range, preferably a boy, who would be interested in visitng Penn's Cave and keeping company for the day with a lad from Sweden who does speak some English but is not fully bi-lingual. If I were a child in that age range and this opportunity were presented to me, I would be so happy and excited to go there, to meet someone from another country -the whole nine yards. But thus far, the only boy from our church I've found in that age range is unable to go that day either as that poor kid has already been scheduled to see a foot doctor and have an ingrown toenail removed! Boy, I betcha he's wishing he could somehow weasel out of that appointment, don't 'cha think?

My son will be home sometime Saturday night too -until early Tuesday morning when he goes back out on the road so I'll be trying to figure out what I can cook and invite him and his girlfriend and her daughter down then for supper on at least one of the days he will be home. Gotta try to get some good family time in with him too, ya know.

So, wish me luck as I try to get the documentation Anneli has about this program she wants to hook up here with our school -and if that can't be done, then our Pastor has said our Youth Ministry can do the program as part of their outreach stuff. So one way or another, kids from our region are going to have what I think is really a fantastic opportunity to learn a lot about ancestry stuff plus gain some friendships on an international level through this program too. Oh, and an added bonus is that Anneli is also hoping to work things so that a year or two from now, she will return and bring some of the students participating in this program in Sweden here to meet the kids they will have been communicating with too!

I think that Saturday evening I am going to cheat on the cooking though, make things really easy for myself and talk Mandy into getting the kids alicked up a bit and we'll go and enjoy the roast beef dinner that will be served up at Janet's church across from our school. That way I can have a lot more of the delicious pepper slaw too then!

Yep! That sure does sound like a darned good game plan to me -no cooking, but good food, and a chance to visit with some darned good friends too over the meal.

Does all of this make your mouth water?

It sure does that to mine -already!

Now, I best get to bed so I can get up bright and early (that's the only drawback to the day for me -the getting up early) and take the bread and cookies up to the kids at the bake sale. I suppose I should break down and let them wash up the little old jeep of mine too while I am there -give them a chance to earn a couple more bucks too that way, huh?

So if you're anywhere in this area today -Saturday, May 30th -stop up at the parking lot by the Market Place store in Kylertown, get some good home-baked goodies and a car wash and support a really great cause in doing that!


Friday, May 29, 2009

What's Up With Google Reader?

Something is definitely wrong here -at least for me, on my computer, with my Google Reader!

No, it isn't that old problem I had for over six months -from last summer to early this spring during which time I lost readers because they thought I had quit blogging when my Reader was being contrary and weird and wouldn't update my blog posts.

Thank goodness it's not that again because that was a royal pain in the dupa until I finally got that fixed.

No, this is something totally different going on here now and I'm wondering if other bloggers are having this problem too or if it is just me.

I rely very heavily on my Reader to make my way as quickly as is possible daily to check my favorite blogs for their latest posts. And up until a couple days ago, it usually did a very good job for me.

However, lately it has been acting just plain strange!

When I open my reader and see how many posts are waiting for me scroll down and read them, I always do that by clicking on the "All Items" on the left of my screen -just under where it says "home." It will tell me there the number of blog posts that Reader has picked up as being new items for me to read.

And of late, Reader has not been clicking off the blogs as I scroll through them and has not been changing then the count of how many new posts are still there -waiting on me to get to them.

As if that alone wasn't enough of a bit of aggravation for me, there is more too now.

It often doesn't remove posts from the list of "to be read" items in the area where I scroll down and read the posts of others whose work I enjoy.

Nope! Sometimes it will keep them there for days!

Because I have blogs I subscribe to as well as Blogs I follow -and sometimes a blog is going to list out under both those categories, my blogs in waiting to be read counts are sometimes double what they really should be because Reader will count those blogs listed as a favorite and then, it will count the blogs listed under blogs I follow and will add the two together and when it is a blog that has been added to my favorites list over the roughly 18 months or so that I have been using Reader, if I have also clicked "follow this blog" since that feature began, then those blogs will be double-counted on my Reader.

But the really frustrating thing is that for the past day or a little over that, my Reader seems to be "looping." By that I mean after I read the posts indicated as being new, Reader is not eliminating them from where I scroll down to read so my reading list is never coming to an end right now. Sometimes it does subtract them from the total number of blogs it says I should read but sometimes it doesn't do that.

But I is difficult when it keeps these other blogs showing up, again and again and again -after I have already read the posts.

And clicking the button that should remove them -that one that says something to the effect of clearing the screen, doesn't work either. I don't like to use that button as I am always afraid to that somewhere in the middle will lurk a new post that I haven't actually already read too ya know!

Frustrating -just plain frustrating, plain and simple. And that frustration is compounded too because I know from prior experience when I have a problem with something to do with Blogger that trying to report it to them to get it fixed is virtually useless as I can never elicit any type of response from BLogger to indicate they are working on these issues hitting me and they sure as hell don't offer any -or very little -assistance with instructions of how to correct these problems then either!

So, that's my mini-rant for today. Now, I just wish Google and Blogger and whoever else has a finger in this pie would get their collective arses together, get on the ball and get this stuff all fixed for those of us who rely on their products so heavily.

But I'm thinking too their theory is probably that old adage about there being safety in numbers and them being so large, they must be figuring then that there is no need to fix this stuff because they have a monopoly and who cares how strongly any given problem may create when there is a monopoly involved.


Just agree with me cause you do know I am right, don't 'cha?

Now, I need to get busy and bake several loaves of bread today to donate to our Youth Ministry's bake sale/car wash tomorrow. I wasn't going to make anything unless the step-granddaughter actually came and asked me to make something as a way to try to teach her a lesson that when the group is having a fund raiser and especially one from which she personally will benefit, that she needs to get off our behind and actually go out to people and solicit donations for the fund raisers. She just assumes I will do these things you know and Mandy -well the stepgranddaughter also relies on her to make phone calls for her, requesting food items for the bake sale.

I didn't do that for my kids and my Mom never did that for me when I was involved in activities like that. I feel this attitude of hers, expecting that Mandy will call around and get donors for the bake sale instead of her doing it herself and also, her expectations that I will just automatically be johnny-on-the-spot with contributions of bread and cookies or cake and stuff too is evidence of the laziness within her and thus, makes her also then undeserving of the activities these funds will go to support!

Am I wrong to feel that way?

Okay I confess I would have baked something -would do it really late tonight so she wasn't aware I had made something, just to see if she even noticed that. But knowing her she probably wouldn't even notice a lick of difference there!

Kids -often a royal source of irritation!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

When All There IS....

I missed -probably forgot but maybe I was really busy, who knows -but anyway, I missed doing a "Only The Good" post at least the past two weeks. So this week, I'm doing my "Only the Good" post a little early, while this is on my mind and I have the time to sit and write it!

I know I'm not alone in having this problem pertaining to blogging but still, it is really frustrating when some days, nothing enters my pea brain to write about.

And then, as happened for me yesterday, after reading Terri's post about her daughter catching that 28 pound carp, suddenly I remembered that story about my son and his fishing episode with his grandfather.

Would you believe it but yesterday, as I was finishing up typing the story of the fish and all that stuff, it suddenly hit me about that event being really the ONLY time in my son's life when he got to spend some really quality time with his Grandfather!

And that, to me, is just sad though too.

Grandchildren should be able to know their grandparents -to be able to share more than one event that although in Clate's case with his Grandfather, it did provide a really excellent memory for him to carry with him the rest of his life, but still, it doesn't change my theory about how children should -if at all possible -be able to know their grandparents better than they do, all too often.

For my kids, the problem of not really having that much contact with their Dad's parents came about because of distance -since we lived here -in Pennsylvania then, as we still do -and their Dad's parents lived in the far western part of Illinois. To be honest, when my kids were little, I think my son was around his paternal grandparents maybe a total of four times -twice when Grandma and Grandpa travelled here to Pennsylvania and once when we went as a family to Illinois and then this trip that I wrote about yesterday.
For Mandy though, that "quality" family time with her paternal grandparents amounted to one visit they made here and that last visit that I made to Illinois with the kids in tow.

Since then, of course, Grandpa died and eventually their Grandmother remarried but she did come to Pennsylvania once before she remarried and once with her second husband too. So the kids know Grandma a little bit better but even so, one has to remember too that Mandy is now 33 years old so her knowledge of her paternal grandparents is still -by comparison to others her age -very limited.

Although there is one good thing that do I have to give Mandy credit here in that she is one of very few of Grandma's grandchildren who keep in contact with her!

Yep! Mandy may not have been blessed with grandparents who live next door or around the corner or even in the same state. Nor was she blessed with parents -or a parent -who could afford while she was growing up to take long weekends much less a whole week to go spend time with her Grandma but she is determined to build as much of a relationship as she possibly can, even if it is long-distance, and only amounts to exchanging letters from time to time during the year and occasional phone calls to check up on Grandma too, she has built as good a relationship as is possible, given those circumstances.

I guess too I tend to feel this way about the importance of a good relationship that kids should have wherever, whenever possible, with their grandparents because I was blessed to grow up in the same home with my maternal grandparents.

And maybe too, that explains why I am so glad that at least two of my grandchildren live here, with me, and I am blessed, once again, but this time,it is the reverse side of the coin where I reap the benefits from my grandchildren and hopefully, when I am no longer here, they will then be able to remember me and do it well then too!

Yeah, all the little quirky things I do and that they do too -all comes together to make our relationship very, very special and one I want to foster to the very best of my ability.

Living in this house that was built by my grandparents 106 years ago, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't see something here that brings my grandparents and a memory or two -or sometimes many memories -of them and it keeps me still very close to them that way.

I know, not everyone has what I consider to be the luxury of being able to be this close to their grandkids -geographically speaking for openers. And sometimes, things happen that relationships disintegrate too between parents and children and grandchildren that prevent the grandkids from having contact too with their ancestors. (Sheesh, typing that word "ancestor" just made me feel really, really old, all of a sudden!)

So, if you are a grandparent and whether you live with or near your grandchildren or are many, many miles apart, take the time to try to maintain some type of communication with those children. None of us knows how long we will be here on this planet so don't wait until it is too late and you are unable any longer to reach out to each other -grandparent to the child or even vice versa -do it! Put aside differences, if any exist, and for the sake of how important I do believe this is -to both sides here really -try to make that connection today!

And to all those of my readers who commented on my post about my son's fishing trip with Grandpa, thank you for your words and expressing yourself in a way that tells me each of you sees this and feels the same way about this issue as I do too!

Now go hug someone with a phone call, a letter or if you are within a distance to visit physically, then make plans to do that as many times as you possibly can!

Odds are in your favor that neither you nor your grandchildren will ever regret it!

Signs, Symptoms -Of What, Though?

Today was the date for the monthly luncheon for the 4-5 good friends of mine from high school when we meet at a little local restaurant for a nice leisurely lunch and to get caught up on things going on in our lives, with our families, etc.

There were only four of us today as one from our group e-mailed me this morning to let me know she wouldn't be there because her brother, who is dealing with Parkinson's Disease is in the hospital and has been there for the past week now too. About an hour after I got her e-mail, she phoned me because her computer system had indicated that her e-mail hadn't gone through but it had, so that part was okay then. But, while talking to her on the phone, she said a bit more about her brother and his health problems right now.

Yes, he has Parkinson's and it is quite advanced now too. However, because intially he was hospitalized with either a kidney or urinary tract infection and then began to lose his appetite along with also now having lost between 5-10 pound very quickly, she told me she and her sisters and their older brother are just not sure if this is part of the Parkinson's or if this is perhaps coming from some other undiagnosed source or what?

And that got me to thinking too then about how things are with my grandchildren here and with the Autism factors they have.

All too often it seems people who see both these kids don't understand how autism works. Heck, neither do we and we live with these kids! But then too, all too often even the doctors are not that knowledgeable either about autism itself and they don't know exactly how to diagnose some of the issues these two have at times -is it the autism that is the underlying cause of some things that pertain to them or is this from something else perhaps and this is a totally different entity?

Like Kurtis and his issues which we tend to blame a lot of them on his allergy problems but sometimes, he may have problems and he can't tell us that he hurts someplace because his communication skills are still not very good. Even Maya, who can talk to us now much, much better, still isn't always able to communicate very well to us when she is ill, or if there is something else bothering her that upsets her, and that in turn, throws her whole system off kilter at times too.

Sometimes too, people in general tend to think that all autistics are all alike and that is probably the biggest fallacy ever to come down the pike!

People who think like that often tend to regard autistics and their issues as all being kind of like it's a custom rubber stamps type thing, you see and that creates yet another set of problems for the person(s) who have the disorder as well as with the person who thinks like that then too.

People often think autistic people look differently than other people who they regard as "normal" and upon first meeting, first observing Maya, they have asked Mandy -or me -"Is she really autistic? Are you sure? She doesn't "look" autistic." Well, I'm sorry to inform them but there is no particular way that autistic people look!

Maya and Kurtis as brother and sister do resemble each other in many ways -appearance wise. But they also resemble their older half-siblings in appearance too as well as looking a lot like my son, or their mother's sister, or my late aunt, or their grandfather, and on and on.

You can't judge this book by the cover also comes to mind here too.

So just as with my friend and her brother and his current problems, you can't generalize and say that this is all being caused by the Parkinson's just as you can't look at my grandkids and some other child or children or even adult who is autistic and say, well they are all alike, and keep thinking of these things -any of them -as being carbon copies, or "cookie-cutter" designs and such -to bring in another type of analogy there.

Just some thoughts I really wanted to get off my chest for quite some time and now that I did, I'm off my soapbox for a while.

A New Approach?

Boy, what a crazy week it has been here!

Hectic! That much is for sure.

A week ago, the father of the girl I mentioned a couple months ago who had the kidney transplant surgery died. He was hospitalized down in Pittsburgh about the same time as his daughter, who is very good friends of both Mandy and my son Clate, about the same time as his daughter had the surgery, so obviously his wife really had a lot to handle on her plate for quite some time.

I don't know exactly what happened to him -he was very ill for the past several months -some said he had cancer of some type, others said it was heart problems. But whatever it was that took his life, did so and took his doctors quite by surprise as well as his family at any rate.

This past Tuesday evening the family held a memorial service for him so Clate and Mandy -being friends with both the daughter as well as her older brother -attended the service.

Tuesday morning, Kurtis had a doctor's appointment in Altoona with the allergist which actually went quite well. A surprising thing, considering Kurtis does not usually considers doctors to be his friend and most of the time, has major hissy fits when it comes time to take his vitals and for a doctor to examine him However, Mandy said that morning, he actually was fairly well behaved. He let the doctor put the stethoscope on his chest with no flinching, no fussing. He let the doctor look into his ears too and was very peaceable about that. He wouldn't however open his mouth voluntarily nor would he allow the doctor to pry his little mouth open either and as to peering up into his nose? Well, the boy completely drew the line at that!

However, the doctor gave Mandy a scrip for her to take him to our local hospital to have blood work done on him so they could run some simpler allergy tests via the blood work and she said this time, it only took two nurses and Mandy to hold him still so they could draw the blood.

Definitely progress in that respect -at least he seems to be calming a little, losing some of his fears of doctors.

Tuesday night though when Mandy and Clate were at the funeral, I knew because he had been out all day and had not had any nap time at all, he was pretty well exhausted and about 8 p.m., Bill fixed him his night-time sippy cup which we always put the meds to help his with his allergy issues along with the melatonin to help calm him and get him to sleep better (works most of t he time) and he only drank about 1/3 of that milk before he was down for the count. Not a peep out of him and Maya fell asleep on the couch at about the same time. So when Mandy got home between 10 and 11 p.m., both kids were sound asleep and you can't imagine how peaceful it was!

Then last night, he threw a hissy fit, screaming, throwing himself down on the floor, throwing anything he could get his hands on too at times at me or Mandy, kicking, screaming -you name it -from about 8:30 p.m. steady until finally around 11 p.m. I think he just plain wore himself out and he fell asleep. Tonight from around 7 p.m. until close to 8:30, we endured a re-run of last night's tantrums before he finally collapsed and is now sleeping quietly, peacefully, etc!

I know in the past he has been one of the little nemesises I have had that would prevent me from getting a good night's sleep, but he's been doing a bit better in that department of sleeping through the night. The problem often though now is getting him to bed, getting him to fall asleep.

All things considered, with respect to his sleep issues (and then mine too at times due to his -yeah, a bit of a vicious cycle, huh?) I would seriously think about investing in a sleep number bed for him in the future. O course, we still have get him past the "going to bed tantrums" he has some nghts!

Yeah, I guess the always has to be a catch to every thing, don't 'cha know!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

THe Ugliest Fish Ever!

Back almost three years ago now -well coming up quickly that is in September anyway -when I first started blogging and didn't have close to 200 blogs on my reader plus those that I follow now too, when I did posts then often I sent people -my few readers -off to read other blogs that I'd found interesting. Sometimes I still refer my readers off to other blogs now but not nearly as often as I should -especially when it is a specific post I read on a particular day that gave me the idea for a post of my own.

But today, I'm going to send you off to read posts from two of my favorite bloggers!

First off, you really do need to read the post done by Magazine Man -alias MM to his readers -because this piece, done yesterday, (or actually auto-posted yesterday I should say -but that part is rather immaterial, isn't it?) -any-hoo -this post was really one of the zaniest and yet as also happens with his "stuff" super sentimental too! Bottom line is that I absolutely loved it and it had me laughing out loud, snickering in between the loud cackles I was emitting and just enjoying the living daylights out of this post.

I'm betting the family farm here too that you'll like it too! Trust me. Go read this post now, will ya please and then come back here for more information and my actual post today too!

Okay, that post number one that I wanted to point out to you today. Now, here's post number two by my blogger bud, Terri Terri. A great lady from up in Minnesota, working Mom to three young adults and terrific writer and blogger! And it was this post of hers that I read today that inspired me to tell you a story from back when my kids were just younguns. But before you move on to my post, please go read this post of Terri's and then, return to finish up with my story for today. OK?

Now, reading the title of my post above here and having read Terri's post, have you figured out what my topic here is going to be about yet?

Well, here goes with my story to fill you in.

Back in 1981 -in late August to be precise -I had scrounged enough money to take my kids on a bit of a vacation. We went down to visit my best friend from my working days in Washington, D.C. at the lovely conservative, anti-union, rather male chauvinistic oriented non-profit where I had labored for eight years and from there, we picked up one of my best male friends from that time of my life to go have a spectacular supper of one of my favorite foods -hot, spiced Maryland crabs. Then back home for a day so I could mail in my Avon order and after that, off to Ohio, to Cedar Point for a great day in the sun and fun of that terrific amusement park.

From there, we headed west -past Chicago, on almost to the Illinois/Iowa border where we spent, I think it was three days, relaxing and enjoying the great company of my ex-in-laws -my kids Grandpa and Grandma -who lived then in the pretty little town of Stockton, Illinois.

It just so happened too that the day we arrived there was also my son's 8th birthday and Grandpa had made plans that we would all go down to the Old Mississippi River to a "camp"he and Grandma had along that great body of water. Grandpa also had a boat -not a big fancy boat -but a nice boat that seated a couple people and it had an outboard motor on the back. Just a nice fishing boat that he loved.

His plan was that he would take all three of the kids out for a spin up and down the river, show them the water sights ya know that was and then, bring the girls back and he and the grandson would then go fishing out in the Muddy Mississippi!

This was to be Clayton's day to have Grandpa all to himself and also, to be introduced to what was probably Grandpa's favorite form of relaxation too -fishing.

So, off the guys went. And I -having driven all night the night before in order to get to Stockton early that morning, was beat so I crashed in one of the beds at their camp. (The camp being an old, pretty small too, mobile home that was probably among the first ever manufactured.)

The day was hot and muggy -very, very muggy and the camp -well, it was doubly hot and muggy what with the really cramped quarters and of course, no air conditioning. Not even a fan of any type either come to think of it and the windows were just those darned little porthole size things that barely let any air in to begin with. But I was so tired I had no problem going to sleep, heat and all.

Until about 1 or 2 in the afternoon when I awoke hearing this ruckus -someone screaming at the top of their lungs along the path coming up from the river to the camp.

Hmmm. That sounds like my son. Oh yeah, a bit more awake now, I KNEW it was Clate and what the heck was he making so much noise for anyway?

I got up, stumbled my way outside to Grandma and the girls to be greeted by Clate, smiling from ear-to-ear and yelling over and over, "I CAUGHT A FISH! I CAUGHT A FISH!:

And behind him came Grandpa, trudging along, carrying their fishing equipment and also, a string on which there hung two small -actually really small fish -a perch and another fish I was unfamiliar with -don't recall ever seeing one like it here in PA waters anyway but I can't for the life of me now recall what kind it was.

However, along with those two little fishies there was also this other fish -much, much bigger too -hanging on that string that Grandpa was carrying and that fish -OMG -it was by far and away the absolute UGLIEST damned thing I have ever seen from the fish kingdom!

Yeah -a carp! A big fat UGLY Carp!

And my son was absolutely euphoric about having caught that thing too!

By this time, Grandpa had made it up to us at the camp and he was just howling with laughter as he told Grandma and me what had transpired out on that boat.

Seems they had already caught the two smaller fish and the boy threw his line in the water to try for another catch and he got a hit on the line.

Grandpa said when this fish hit, it was so strong that the reel just started spinning like crazy -faster and faster -and he was worried at first that Clate wouldn't get his thumb out of harms way quickly enough and would end up with his thumb being broken by the fish pulling and running with the line and that reel just going what seemed to my son like "a kazillion miles and hour, MOM!"

Ok, got the thumb tucked under and safe and Grandpa began to try to help Clate land this huge fish. Did I tell you before it was ugly? Yeah, ok -did that.

He said it took them a good 20 minutes, at least, before they finally landed it in the boat.

And then, he said that Clate leaned back in the one back corner of the boat, exhausted and told his Grandfather, "Let's go home now Grandpa. I'm all fished out. It's Miller Time!"

To this day, I'm not sure which part of that story tickled the living daylights out of Grandpa more -the reel almost doing the kid's thumb in, the 20-plus minute fight with the fish or the comment of this 8-year-old of it being "Miller Time!"

Grandpa looked over at me and asked, "I wonder where he got that 'Miller Time' bit from?" Hmmm. Don't look at me as my beverage of choice back then was good old Genessee!!

By this time, Clate began to tell Grandma his plans for this fish too.

"You know what I'm gonna do with this fish, Grandma? I'm gonna have my Mom freeze it real, real hard and we'll take it back home with us and I'll have my Mom get it mounted then too and we can hang it on the wall in the living room!" were the plans he had lined up to deal with that fish -or rather that I would do to deal with it!

Upon hearing this, Grandpa grabbed Grandma by the elbow and said, "Eileen! Quick grab a shovel and dig a big old hole out behind the trailer before the kid gets any more goofy ideas!"

Probably was a good thing too that they did take that carp and bury it out there cause I can't possibly imagine drivin close to 800 miles back to home here in PA with a thawed out and very UGLY and by then, a very smelly carp stuffed somewhere in the middle of all the other paraphenalia we already had crammed into that little old Chevy Chevette I drove back at that time.

After we got back to Pennsylvania, my son couldn't wait to tell his Uncle Tom -his Dad's brother -about his fishing expedition on the Mighty Mississipi with Grandpa. When he finally got around to telling his uncle about that ugly old carp, Uncle Tom gave him a look and asked the kid if he had a clue how you go about cooking a carp to which of course, the boy answered no, and wanted to know how you would do that.

Uncle Tom's instructions were that you got a big old pine board, put the fish on it, into the oven at about 400 degrees and baked it for a long, long time and then, when you took it out of the oven, you threw away the fish and ate the pine board!

Yeah, my good old ex-brother-in-law always had something good to offer in most every conversation, don't 'cha know?

Although this vacation was one of the best times my kids and I had together when they were youngsters, sadly this was also to be the last time they saw Grandpa though as a year later, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and then, in April of 1985, Grandpa died of a massive heart attack.

But I cherish the memory of that fishing trip and how much the kids enjoyed being there for that short period of time with their grandparents -who they barely knew and rarely had a chance to get to see them. I'm so happy that I managed somehow to take them there for their Grandpa to spoil them just a little bit over those two or three very short days we got to spend with him and Grandma and it definitely made for a very memorable 8th birthday for my son!

Summer Boredom

Next week, the kids here will get out of school for their summer break and I can hardly wait.

Actually, that is a lie I'm telling you there as I'm saying that in my most sarcastic, cynical tone of voice.


Easy! Because that means for the next three months a certain 17-year-old will camp either on the couch or I will have to fight her and Mandy too just for a crack at the computer to read my favorite blogs, check my e-mail and write a post now and then.

I should be used to this by now after seven years since she came to live here with her Dad when he and Mandy got married.

But it has always been something that really never ceases to amaze me and not just with her, but it seems to be a common thing with all kids these days.

How times have changed since my kids were growing and and even more so than since -back in those old dark ages they keep reminding me that has to be when I grew up.

But you know, from even before I started school, my neighbor's daughter and my lifelong friend and I were turned loose by our mothers to go out and play in the yard, unsupervised, no less!

Shocking news I suppose to many of today's parents who schedule play dates for their children now. Now there's a term my Mom would never have had a part of her vocabulary to be used for me!

I scheduled my own play dates from the time I was about five years old by simply asking "May I go outside and play?" Or, if I wanted permission to go beyond our yard -to the neighbors' place, my request would have been "May I go over to Kate's house?"

By the time I was six or seven, the conversation sometimes went "I'm going over to Kate's" if in fact I even bothered to tell her that, much less asking permission to go there.

Yeah, life was a whole lot different "back in the day" as I knew it.

Even the things we did -besides the traditional girl stuff like playing with dolls or scrounging old dresses that we knew our mothers never wore any more and playing "dress-up" in those rags.

We rode bicycles all over town -venturing a bit further with the bikes each passing year. We threw blankets on the ground and gathered a group of kids and played cards or sometimes, Monopoly or some other type of board game one of us might have had then.

Or, we drew lines on the sidewalks with chalk or simply drew the outline in the dirt on the path between our houses for some good old-fashioned games of hopscotch or marbles.

The boys in the neighborhood would often get together and play baseball in the spring and summer and change over to football in the fall. Either that or they were off trekking around in the woods in search of anything they could find that caught their fancy. Sometimes they even walked a couple miles down the road to the nearest trout stream too and enjoyed a little summer fishing.

On really, REALLY hot, steamy days back then, when a nice refreshing swim would be a royal treat, it was nothing for a gang of us to get together and walk to a pond located at a farm located five miles away.

Nowadays though, if it is really hot, the 17-year-old would be more inclined to bug us to drive her and some friends so they could go swimming at the state park a good 12 miles from here. If I were to tell her to walk to the old swimming hole the kids of my generation used for a cooling dip, she'd be giving me a look that would be enough to at least wither me to bits or possibly even kill!

What brought this train of thought on to me tonight was a conversation I had with a guy close to my age on the phone today. We got to talking initially about how things were ever further back in time for our grandparents before they left Sweden and came here and then, how their lives were after they arrived here too. One thing led to another and before you knew it, he and I were talking about how we used to spend our free time in the summer months for our school vacations.

Joking, we both remarked about how hard life had to have been for our ancestors to cause them to leave the homeland, family members, friends and embark out on the ocean blue to find a wonderful life here in the good old USA.

And for most of them it was an improvement over what they had in the "old country" but for a long time after they arrived, you can bet your bottom dollar it wasn't very much better for them here as the majority of them, not speaking or understanding English -or very little at any rate -were relegated to work of the menial, manual labor type.

But those ancestors worked hard -in the case of his and my grandfathers, they trudged every day, into the mines to put in extremely long hours in horrendous and hazardous working conditions and when they came home at night, they worked and worked some more from spring to fall in the large vegetable gardens virtually every family in this village had in their backyards then.

We wondered too how many of those who came here then did so in the belief that the streets and roads in the U.S. were, indeed, all paved with gold. And we had to chuckle over that thought knowing that the roads in here in this village were still muddy messes till probably the 1930's for some and even longer for many other roads in this area. Heck, the road that takes folks down to Peale, the local ghost town about a mile from here, is still dirt, still unpaved!

And our grandmothers sure didn't have it any easier here than they had in the country they left behind either. Drudgery would be a more apt word to describe the conditions in which they performed the work necessary to run their household and to keep their spouses and children fed, clothed and tended to overall.

Carrying water from a well was commonplace. So was having to use the old "outhouse" out back too. An old wringer washing machine was a luxury item as most of the women scrubbed their families clothes clean on a washboard, by hand, using really strong soap they made themselves. All laundry got hung out on the line, regardless of weather conditions -rain or shine, snow, ice, freezing rain -it still got hung on the line to drip until either dry or frozen stiff!

No drip-dry-no-ironing-needed clothing then so everything was ironed but before it was ironed, it had to be sprinkled and then rolled up in a ball and placed in the laundry basket to meet up the next day with the iron and ironing board. I'm betting there are homes today where the occupants have no clue what an iron and ironing board are much less how to use them properly too.

Not only was the water carried into the house but then, it also had to be heated on the old stove -around here that was an old coal cookstove that gave off nice heat in the winter and made for a sweltering place to try to cook the big meals that were served daily to their families too.

And yet, today -what do we say about our lives? Don't we decry out difficult life is and we have no time to do this or that with our families? Don't we complain about how hard it is to keep up with the laundry for our families and yet, all we have to do is head to a machine in the laundry room or basement, raise the cover on a machine, toss clothes and detergent in there and with a flick of a button, the water comes pouring in, the items in the washer are spun around to slosh in the soapy water and then, it drains itself and refills with clean water to rinse the clothes and spins them so the bulk of the water is removed without our even lifting a little finger much less risking getting a finger or even the whole darned hand caught in the vice of the wringer of the old washing machines.

And yet, we think we have a hard life, don't we?

Today, full meals can be prepared and on the table in a half hour's time maybe 45 minutes if it requires a bit more in the way of preparation. And after dinner, many just take the dirty dishes and rinse them and then place them in a dishwasher to let it do that chore for us too! Well, that last part there doesn't yet apply to this household as I tend to be the main "dishwasher" in the family unless Mandy is feeling kind, sweet and generous and decides she'll do that deed some nights. But you better believe it when I tell you the item that is at the very top of her "I want, I need" list is a dishwasher!

So many things that make our lives so much easier than the way our ancestors had to live, the things they had to endure and yes, even for the kids, the games they play today, on the computers, never getting out, getting fresh air, exercise and we wonder why is it our kids may be a tad chunkier at times than we were when we were kids!

Back then, there was no major worries about the amount of food we ate, as long as the family had the ability to have food on the table and enough of it to sate our needs, as a general rule, most of us then ran the extra calories off -either with the games we played that required running -a lot -like "Hide 'n' seek" or "Kick the Can."

And still we cry and complain oh, our lives are so hard today.

Well, I for one, am darned happy I can go to the kitchen and turn on the spigot and get hot or cold water and the same applies for the bathroom and taking a shower or tub bath too. I'm really glad I don't have to fill a big old wash tub and have to share that bath water with other family members too! Aren't you?

So many ways that our lives have changed and yes, I do think it is for the better, overall but the thing is I think we do need to stop grumping about the lack of time we have because we are all so super busy but is it from really DOING something or is it busy because we have decided the only way to live today is to be involved in everything imaginable, running from one place to another but not by using our feet -except to depress the gas pedal!

I would love though to see the kids today have a life filled with more of the activities my friends and I enjoyed those years ago and that they only spent time lolling around in the house when it is raining outside or too cold to venture out or because they are under the weather and not wasting beautiful sunshine, blue skies, nice breeze blowing their hair instead of hot blow dryers and curling irons and practicing yet another fancy up-do hairstyle.

That's the kind of simpler times I could go for, would love to see my grandkids enjoy.

How about you? What di you do for fun when you were growing up compared to what your kids -or grandkids -do today?

Spelling Made Difficult

I'm not trying to brag here but, way back when I was a kid, I was a really good student in school. I was either at the top of my class or very close to that with every report card I brought home through the Sixth grade and in Seventh and Eighth grades, I was still one of the higher students in my class.

My downfall -grade wise -came about when I entered high school and discovered there were other things I was interested in besides homework. Not necessarily boys -although yes, I was interested in them but they held no interest in me. But I was interested in whatever was fun -television, certainly. Other types of entertainment like just clowning around with other kids was high on my list too. Books -fiction mostly -were still one of my favorite things as well.

But one thing that remained with me all throughout my school days was my ability to spell. Okay, I never won the top honors in the Spelling Bee tryouts that could have led to a big success in the National Championships in Washington, D.C. but I usually made a respectable showing till I let my cockiness overpower me and I would lose on words I should have known -like Hygiene in which I reversed the "ie" to the "ei" by forgetting a major rule in spelling. "I before E, except after C."

My kids have never picked up that aptitude I once had though -and I thought I still had it too until recently - as spelling was never a strong point for any of them.

A tendency to use the incorrect spelling of a word that has two (sometimes more) meanings but is pronounced the same -like "their" and "there" is on that comes to mind immediately as my son frequently would write home when he was stationed in Germany and mention something like "There rules here really suck!" (Ok, that's maybe a lame example but seriously, he doesn't stop and think and differentiate between words and their meaning and how the spelling can change all kinds of stuff if it is incorrect.

The kids always came to me when they were in school to ask how to spell various big words and my standard answer was to tell them to try to sound it out and use that to at least see if they could figure out the correct spelling and depending on how hard I could see that they tried to figure the spelling out became my guide, so to speak, on whether I would end up spelling the word for them.

But recently, my son tripped me up when he called home on day and asked me to look some prices up for me on the internet. "Sure, no problem. I can do that," I told him.

So he told me the name and I had never heard of the item but figured okay, it must be some brand new product he's heard of and I keyed in "Wee accessories" into Google and nothing resembling any kind of gaming stuff appeared before me on the screen.

"I got nothing here, Kid," I said and he said that couldn't possibly be since this game system is supposed to be the hottest thing ever invented.

We argued a bit about this and he said I must be spelling it incorrectly.

Moi? Spell something wrong? How could that possibly be?

Then he said it's a foreign gaming system so the genius here puts on her thinking cap and decided that maybe it is French, so I tried entering a search for Oui accessories and still no gaming product information.

He kept insisting there had to be something somewhere online because he said this is about the biggest deal in game systems on the market, telling me I need to come out of the dark ages and into the 21st century and all kinds of stuff like that.

About that time I was getting more than a bit peeved -and so was my son -when Mandy happened to stroll by and overheard a bit of the conversation from my side and saw what I had typed in.

She cracked up of course and took the phone from me so she could tell her brother than Mom was trying to search for the Wii accessories by typing the wrong incorrect name of the system!

Well heck, I haven't seen a gaming system since back in the early 80's when I won an Atari so how was I supposed to know that when all my blogger buddies were talking about playing with their Wii that it was pronouced "WE" and not W.I.I. like I was calling it in my mind as I read their posts about this stuff!


Darned good thing I didn't go shopping for one of these game systems as I would really have embarrassed myself if I'd asked a clerk to show me the game system, by calling it the "W two i'" stuff, huh?

I'll be very cautious in the future when I read things about new products to make sure I know how to pronounce it first from here on out though!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Great Kid!

I have to share this article with you -that's all there is to it!

This piece was on the front page of our local newspaper -The Clearfield Progress -this past Saturday (May 23rd) and believe you me, my family on my Dad's side here are all really happy, pleased and excited about this piece.

The young man in the article is the grandson of my cousin Margaret Anne Hill Weaver and her husband, Jack Weaver. His parents are Paul and Ellen Weaver Monella from Morrisdale. My cousin Margy's Dad and my Dad were brothers.)

It's actually pretty amusing in one respect about this young man, Pj, because of the political party affiliation he has chosen and considering the fact that on my Dad's side of my family, they tended to all be very, VERY, strong Republicans. No one is quite sure where my cousin Pj and I acquired out political leanings though.

But, politics aside here, if my Dad and his brothers and sisters could meet Pj, read this piece about him, they may not totally approve of his party choice but you can bet your bottom dollar that they would all swell with pride and back him completely for having the convictions he has and for his plans for his future as well!

Here then is the article. Read it and I hope you come away feeling as strong a sense of pride as my family and I do to know this young man and the things he's accomplished this far in his life and wish him well for the future too!

Our 96th Year Serving Clearfield, Curwensville, Philipsburg, and Moshannon Valley, PA May 23, 2009


The Progress Home >> Saturday, May 23, 2009 - Student has his eye on achieving goals

Student has his eye on achieving goals
Saturday, May 23, 2009

By Annie Lynn Staff Writer
P.J. Monella of Morrisdale is a student at West Branch Area High School with his eye on goals of high acclaim. The immediate goal, he says, is to graduate from high school. From there he wants to go on to college, and after graduation, go into the field of politics or law and, "make lots of money and make my community and family proud of me," he added. And, he has dreamed of someday being president of the United States.

A possible choice of careers before that may be as a judge. He said he likes what he knows about being a judge and likes the neutrality of judges. They can't be political, he noted.

Off to a good start, P.J. is serving as Teen Court attorney at West Branch, was sophomore class president and served two years on student government. He is also active as the junior high girls' basketball statistician, having served three years, and as varsity girls' basketball statistician, serving one year and as camera operator for one year. He was also varsity football manager for the 2008 season. He notes his favorite sports teams are the West Branch Warriors and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In addition to school activities, P.J. is a member of Morrisdale United Methodist Church, where he is active in many different venues. He was confirmed in 2006. He currently serves a liturgist and acolyte, is also on the Pastor-Parish Relations, Altar, Cemetery, Fundraising and Shoe Bank committees, and is a parsonage trustee and a Vacation Bible School assistant.

P.J. commented that serving on the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee is sometimes difficult because everything must be kept confidential. He added that serving as parsonage trustee is now somewhat difficult because the church is in a transition period of moving from a two-church charge to a six-point charge.

P.J. is also a Moshannon Valley Summer Youth Theatre volunteer. He said he serves on the staff, is active in fundraising, manages the "house" and is a wrap-around helper - meaning helping wherever he is needed. This is his fifth summer to work with the youth theatre. And, this summer will be his third time to sing with Valley Voices in Philipsburg.

He noted some women from the church urged him into singing, and he joined Valley Voices because Patty Coldiron, the director, was his music teacher. "I love it," he exclaimed, adding that the people are fun to be around. The major concert for the year will be at the Rowland Theatre during the Philipsburg Heritage Days celebration.

His interest in politics prompted him to take April 22, 2008, off from school to campaign for Sen. Hillary Clinton in Curwensville and Clearfield. He said the day was filled with knocking on doors, talking to people and trying to convince them to vote for Sen. Clinton. He also stood along the street with a sign urging voters to cast their ballots for Sen. Clinton.

In addition, he and other campaigners offered to take people to the polls if they didn't have a way to get there. And, he said, he wore a Hillary Clinton shirt to school at least once a week and a Hillary button every day. He said the most rewarding thing about campaigning was that Sen. Clinton won Clearfield County by 37 percent of the vote.

P.J. said he was proud that she won Pennsylvania and he felt he helped in a small way with that success. He added it was necessary for her to win PA and it was really rewarding when people said she couldn't win but, "We pulled it off."

"I'm proud to be a part of what happened," he proclaimed. After President Barak Obama accepted the nomination, P.J. said he jumped on the Obama bandwagon and campaigned for him.

P.J. will begin his long journey to the White House in two years, because among the very near future goal plans on his list is running for the West Branch Area School board of directors. On May 26, P.J. will be officially inducted into the National Honor Society.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Matching Boxes

I had to do this post separate from the one I just finished. Mainly because this topic has no relevance to that of Memorial Day and such.

Tonight, there erupted in this house a major fight!

It was between Maya and her parents.

She went into a mega meltdown with Mandy and Bill because she wanted to take a tee shirt belonging to Kurtis and was insisting she had to have markers to draw boxes on the tee shirt and color them in.


Well, all because he had a pair of plaid shorts on and she was totally convinced that if she drew "boxes" on his shirt with the markers, she could make his shirt then match his pants.

Yes, that would be Miss Maya -ever the fashion diva, ya know!

She was not in the least bit pleased that her parents wouldn't let her follow through with her entrance into fashionista either.

So maybe some day in years to come, if the idea still hits her, she can start a whole new trend in the fashion industry by making matching tee shirts with plaid done in box format.

Just had to share this little story of life in the fast lane -or at least the stubborn lane, at any rate -with an autistic child!

A Memorial Weekend

Back when I was a child -yes, many, many years ago - this holiday was not called Memorial Day. Rather, it was known as Decoration Day.

It was a weekend that generally saw this old house pretty much filled to over flowing as my Mom's older sister and her husband plus Mom's oldest brother and his family, with all five of his children and his wife too, of course- would always come here. Sometimes, another of Mom's other three siblings would show up too for the long weekend, but always, those mentioned above would be home for the holiday.

My grandfather's brother -who lived six doors down the street from us -would also have a full house on that weekend as well. And usually, two of my Grandfather's sisters and one of his brothers would be here too.

Although I knew early on that Decoration Day was a day to pay homage to those who had served and paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy here, it was a day which involved a lot of planning on the part of my Mom and Grandma as they would make several trips to the cemeteries to prepare the graves for the subsequent flowers they would plant there.

In my Mom's family here there were not a lot of her cousins who served in the military. None of Mom's brothers were ever in the armed forces during WW2 as they apparently weren't considered due to age, or employment status I suppose.

But, one of my Mom's cousins did serve in the Army and he lost his life someplace in France about two or three weeks before the war in Europe finally ended.

I was six months old when Anton was killed in action, so obviously, I never knew him but I learned from a very early age that the flag that was placed by his grave by the local VFW group indicated that he had, indeed, done his part.

Back then, Decoration Day was celebrated on May 30th -whatever day of the week that happened to fall -not on a specific Monday in late May as it is done today.

But, it was something that back then, almost every home in this small village had company, relatives who returned not just to pay homage to the veterans of various wars but to remember ALL family members then departed.

We always had to make a trip to a particular greenhouse Mom liked over in Clearfield to get enough flowers to be sure that each and every grave of a family member had at least one geranium planted by each headstone -some, like the graves of my great-grandparents, or my Dad's -warranted more than one flower too.

And on Decoration Day, the whole family was up early to get ready to be at the cemetery too for the service held in the lot adjacent to the graveyard for more tributes, music, a sermon about the valor of the veterans and to the memories of those family members loved and none forgotten.

I remember always being with my one uncle in particular -my older aunt's husband -as he would walk through the cemetery, showing me graves of his parents, his grandmother, other relatives of his and also graves of friends of his as well. We did that prior to the service and after the service, the visiting of the various graves continued.

Back then, Decoration Day seemed to mean more to folks than I think it does today.

I don't think that people today don't remember family and friends who served in the military nor do I think that they don't think about and remember other family and friends who have passed but very few think of attending the services -still held every year at the cemetery here -the way people did then.

Today, it seems there is just an observation of the holiday as a means of ushering in the summer and vacations.

I'm just as guilty in that respect as many others are too. I haven't attended the cemetery service in probably well over 30 years now. But I have tried to at least make sure I get to the cemetery -sometimes not until the day before the observation of this event -to plant flowers on the graves of my grandparents and my parents now too.

And this year was no different. I had flowers to put on those graves as well as on some others from my family who I wanted to remember in that manner. My Mom's older sister and her husband -Aunt Ethel and Uncle Albin, as well as two of my Dad's sisters.

But the past couple of years when it comes time to go plant those flowers, I usually have to have one of my kids -either Mandy or my son -go with me to help with the plantings.

This is because to plant flowers, one has to get down on the ground, dig up the area around the headstone, get the soil turned up and over to be able to place the flowers in there. I can do most of that but I do need someone stronger than I to do the initial digging.

And once the planting is completed, I also have to have one of my kids there to give me a hand and help me get back up on my feet again! Once I get down on my hands and knees these days, unless there is some really solid thing very close by, I can't pick my fat self back up again!

Sad but true -the realities of aging, you know.

This year was my son's turn to go with me. I had two box lids filled with flowers -geraniums, petunias, marigolds, impatiens, and some begonias too. When we were ready to leave the house, Maya wanted to know where Gram and Uncle Clate were going and insisted on going with us. I told her yes, she could go too but she would have to behave like a good little girl -no wandering off, no getting into things and all the admonitions of that type one would tell a rambunctious five-year-0ld.

Our first stop was at the cemetery atop Grassflat Hill which is where my Mom's parents and Aunt Ethel and Uncle Butch are buried. I also had a couple of extra flowers to be placed on the grave adjacent to my grandparents. That being the graves of a couple who were very close friends of Grandma and Grandpa and who never had any children, nor do they have any surviving family members to remember them on Decoration Day either.

I took a couple of pictures at our cemetery but didn't get any at the cemetery in Morrisdale where my parents, grandparents and others of my Dad's family are buried. Here's the pictures from our plantings (and obviously neither my son or I are very good at this job).

This is the headstone at the graves of my maternal grandparents -Adolph and Ellen E. Eld. I grew up with them and the house I live in today was built by them back in 1903. Grandpa died in March of 1957; Grandma in May of 1963 and both of them were 82 years old when they died. They had been married for 55 years when Grandpa died.

Axel and Elizabeth Werner, the childless couple who were best of friends of my Grandparents. I didn't know it growing up -learned this after I started doing family tree research -but Elizabeth was actually a cousin of my grandfather's! Let's see now if I can get the right generation here. My grandfather's grandfather -hence my great-great-great-grandfather -Anders Svenson -was married four times! My great-great-grandfather, Sven Anderson, was a child of his first marriage. Grandpa Anders second wife, Marta, was the grandmother of Elizabeth, and she was the only child of that marriage. Imagine my surprise when I received church records from Sweden that provided that information to me to learn almost forty years after Elizabeth's death that she and Grandpa were cousins and that I share a common ancestor with her! I have no clue as to why this information was never made known when I was growing up as I'm sure Grandpa had to have known they were cousins but that information had never been shared back then for some reason or other.

This is the gravestone marking my Mom's older sister and her husband -Albin and Ethel Gustafson. They never had any children and were the aunt and uncle my grandparents and I lived with during the winter of 1951-52 in their home in Jamestown, NY. I always spent much of my summer vacations back then with them as well as in Corry, PA, with my Mom's younger brother and his wife and family. Because I lived with this particular aunt and uncle while my Mom worked up in Niagara Falls then, Mom had to have papers drawn up to make Aunt Ethel and Uncle Butch my legal guardians. This was done mainly so they could sign my report cards from school as well as granting them permission to have me treated by a physician, if need be, in my Mom's absence. So obviously, growing up, I was very, very close to both of them.

While Clate and I were putting the flowers on the graves at that cemetery, Maya discovered something on the grave site directly behind that of my grandparents. Evidently the man buried there had been a veteran as there was a small American flag by his headstone and Maya, of course, was immediately drawn to that flag. So much so as a matter of fact, that I had to keep after her to please leave the flag alone! She kept picking it out of the ground and parading around, waving the flag as she marched merrily on her way there.

In some ways, I suppose it was ok that she did that -at least for Clate and me anyway, as it did help keep her a little occupied and not trying to add any of her own finishing touches to our planting. Although -she probably couldn't have done anything to hurt the appearances of our handiwork, could she?

After finishing up at that cemetery, we went up to Morrisdale to the Grandview Cemetery and the double plot that holds my Dad's parents, as well as eight of their ten children and three spouses too -my Mom, my Uncle George's wife, Henrietta and my Aunt Anna Mae's husband, Uncle Bob.

While Clate was doing the plantings on my parents' graves, Maya was doing her thing, checking out other graves in the vicinity. To my chagrin, she discovered a grave a couple of lots away from our family plot that had two pinwheels on each side of the headstone as well as a basket that had obviously been an Easter display and as such, contained numerous little plastic Easter eggs.

She came up to where Clate and I were working with a whole big handful of these plastic eggs and for a short time, I was worried we might incite World War III when I told her she had to put those eggs back where she had found them! When she refused to do that, I had to then take those eggs and return them to the basket on that particular grave.

Maya was not happy at all about my doing that either and kept jabbering at me that "NO, Gram! These are my eggs, not yours!" To which I kept telling her they weren't hers and had to be returned. She was pretty angry with me as I walked away towards that grave -eggs in hand -protesting my actions and asking me again and again, why I was taking "her eggs" away. Finally, I ended up telling her simply that taking things off graves of these people was stealing and that by her doing that, she was a "Grave Robber."

The last thing she said to me as I put those plastic eggs back in that basket on the grave was "I am not a Grave Robber, Gram!"

I know she doesn't understand the significance of cemeteries, graves, etc. But, I think by taking her along with us, eventually she will learn the importance of remembering, honoring the memory of some people, such as my Aunt Anna Mae who died a year ago and who Maya knew, as well as giving due respect and homage to the other family members laid to rest there who are her ancestors.

By trying to teach her about this, about the traditions involved and such, perhaps it will instill a sense of responsibility then in time in her.

And maybe -hopefully -by having either Mandy or Clate go with me to the cemetery each year, they too will know who is buried and where and what that person was within either my Mom's family tree or my Dad's family tree too.

And in the process, she'll also learn the true meaning and reason for this holiday -formerly Decoration Day to my generation, but Memorial Day now for hers.

And she'll learn too then the importance of paying respect to family and friends deceased as well as learning to do the same for any and all military personnel -whether it be those long since gone to their final rest or those who still serve and protect us and the values of our country.

Rest in peace yes, but also, maybe the idea of a little bright-eyed child, dancing around on the graves of those interred may somehow bring a little light and joy to those who sleep there now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Late Night Friday (and a few other things)

I haven't checked my reader since Monday morning and tonight, since I am late (I know, what else is new) in getting a post up, I'm delaying looking at my reader now until tomorrow! Risky business doing that as I have no clue how many posts are there, just waiting for me to start scrolling down and reading to my hearts content. Notice -I said nothing about the issues this may create for my poor old eyes though! Hope everyone has posted nothing but the most scintillating of reading material so I don't get drowsy while reading and fall asleep with my hand on the mouse wheel, ya know!

Because it is late and I am trying to revamp my sleep patterns just a tad, this is going to be a short post. Yeah, I can hear ya'll mumbling already that you've heard me say that before and ended up with a mini-version of War and Peace to read, but really, I am going to try to keep this as short and sweet as is humanly possible for me to do without running the risk of exploding from words left behind in me.

First up -I told you last week I was working on a sweater for Kurtis. Well, it's done! It is the same pattern as the one I made earlier for Maya -just a different size -and because the animal faces, like the teddy bear that I made and put on Maya's sweater didn't exactly thrill me because it was a whole lot of extra work and I am so NOT about any thing remotely related to being "extra work" so I decided to design my own thing for Kurt's sweater. I did it in blocks of five different colors. Mandy wasn't too sure how she would like this when I started on this project but once it was done and we got Kurtis to model it, she decided she liked this sweater just fine and dandy.

TA DA! Here it is!

The color is actually a little darker green than it appears in this picture. I adjusted the sleeves a bit on this one too since the sleeves on Maya's reach well beyond her fingertip line and I don't really like when that happens, so I made his sleeves a tad shorter than it called for on the pattern and it fit him beautifully!

If you recall, back in January or February a lady from our church contacted me about sewing four aprons for her. It was decided she would get the fabric she liked, drop it off here and then, after winter ended, I would sew four aprons then for her. I had told her I wouldn't do any sewing during the winter months because the heat supply in my room -which is the location of my sewing machine, is too poorly heated for me to try to do any sewing during the winter months and she was fine with that.

But she called me Saturday asking if I might be able to get the aprons done this week as they were going to be visiting her sister this weekend and she was kind of wanting to give her sister one of these items.

So, as a result of that, I spent the bulk of Sunday re-arranging my room, somewhat, or as much as one can considering it is very small and I have a lot of junk. And I do mean a lot of stuff -fabrics, yarns, more clothes than I can wear mostly because many of them are now to small for me. Big surprise there too! Well, the main reason I was re-arranging my room was because I kind of had to do that ino order to just locate what pile of stuff my sewing machine was hidden under!

Finally got that done and I then got all four aprons cut out Sunday night. Ended up having to call my next door neighbor to borrow her iron and I probably should have asked if she had an ironing board too but I used the kitchen table in place of an ironing board.

Monday afternoon, I got started sewing and after a lot of diddling around with the pattern stitches on my machine, trying to figure out which buttons to push to make the stitch appear correctly -stitch length, stitch width, stitch balance, etc., I finally was able to dig in and start putting these aprons together.

Last night, after Maya fell asleep in my roon, I stayed up working to get the third of the four completed. By this time, it was nearing 2 a.m. (yeah, my prime time normally) and I was working away when I heard some odd noises.

It sounded like there was something outside, bumping up against the house and was near to the area where my room is located. At first I ignored it, thinking it was the cat inside here knocking something or other over but then, I heard it again and I stopped, listened and heard this noise even louder and what's more, it was evident it was something by the window of my bedroom!

I looked up and just about jumped out of my skin at first -just the sheer shock of seeing something there -but then, when I realized what it was and how foolish I was to have been afraid, I just had to giggle to myself.

You see, it was Chino, our small gray cat, who had snuck outside somehow and wanting back in apparently she had not received any reaction when she used her normal method -throwing herself against the screen of the back door of the house that goes out to the deck. She normally leaps at the door and lets her claws sink into the mesh of the screen and then, hangs there till someone comes and lets her in.

Well, last night, because I had the light on in my room, of course, she spied my windows and was doing the same thing to my wondow screens as she likes to do to the back door!

After that little scare, and my eyes were getting way too heavy to see well enough to risk sewing, I hit the trail to dreamland.

Got up this a.m. and finished the third and fourth aprons and then, I called the lady I made them for to let her know they were completed. I had planned to show you a picture of all four aprons but I screwed up and lost track of the time and after she'd been here and gathered up three of the four aprons (I still have a little trim work I want to put on the one she left behind) I then remembered I'd planned to post the pictures of all four aprons.

However, I did get this lovely shot of this one apron. When it is fully completed, it will have two medium sized red buttons at the shoulder straps and a red matching button in the center of each of the two pockets too! Should look really cute on that fabric which is a green cotton with red and white peppermint stick type stripes.

Last week, my favorite online crafts store -good old Herrschnerrs - had a big sale, lots and lots of stuff I wanted to buy but I tried to curb myself a little bit. I ended up getting a 50x70 tablecloth, 3 tabletoppers, a pair of hand towels to embroidery with a strawberry design, and four pair of pillow cases to do up. I also splurged and got a Christmas sampler type picture to do up in the lovely Counted Cross Stitch stuff too! Then tonight, the same company had a one day only sale open to members of their "Stitcher's Savings Club" and I ordered four more embroidery project thingys! Just what I really need, I know!

And for a little humor as to what the kids have been into, I give you a look now at what may possible someday be a podiatrist of world renown.

Then, after Mandy took that picture of Kurtis, here's the next shot she got of him. Guess by the looks of this one, we can forget the idea of him becoming a podiatrist as he's giving us a peek I think of the beginnings of a foot fetish. You tell me what else you think this might indicate!

And to think how I used to bribe my kids with everything and anything I could think of to get them to just simply massage my poor aching feet and to rub a little cream on them. I never even thought of getting any of them to suck my big toe, although that seems to be a favorite expression of one of my daughters when she is a bit peeved with someone.

And finally, here's Maya's reaction to the whole foot in mouth thing with Kurtis. By the look on her face, I'm wondering if she probably is the one who put him up to doing that with his mother's feet!

Ah the joys of having small children for entertainment, huh?

And now, I'm off to beddy-bye! See,that was sort of a short post now wasn't it? Well, short for me, anyway!

Peace, all!

Friday, May 15, 2009

A New Song

Last summer, when our next door neighbor was reorganizing the Children's Choir at our church, Mandy and I both mentioned to her about allowing Maya to participate in that choir.

Initially, Deb was a bit leery as one of her requirements of the kids was that they be able to read. However, she relented and took Maya into the fold to participate in some of the songs -at least the easier ones that she can just memorize the melody and the words.

Back in November, the Children's Choir sang at the service on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and that was Maya's first time singing in public with them. The song was an old family favorite -as well as a big favorite within our parish too -an old Swedish hymn. The title is "Children of the Heavenly Father" and the kids were to sing the first verse of it in English and then repeat the first verse in Swedish.

So Mandy and I had to practice this song, over and over with Maya to be sure she knew the melody as well as the words. We even had to teach her the words in Swedish too. And the surprising thing is she learned it very well. Frequently, during that time span, she would be busy playing with her toys and humming something and then, all of a sudden, she would switch over and start singing this song.

On the day of the service, Kylie, the Director's daughter, stood directly behind Maya and held both her hands, down at her side, which served multiple purposes. It relaxed Maya, helped take away any stage fright she may have been encountering and also, it kept her from putting her hands up to her face and mouth, which would have muffled the words and melody as she sang.

And she did beautifully! You could watch her lips as she sang along with the other kids and you knew that she KNEW the words -that she wasn't just mouthing something, anything, to pretend to be singing, the way kids often do.

Now, the Children's Choir is to sing at the service on the first Sunday in June. Because of the proximity of that Sunday to high school (and college too) graduations, the song the kids will be singing is one that Maya has probably never heard. It's a bit more involved in length than was the other song too but I think the words are easy enough that, with a good bit of practice with her, she will be able to master that. The melody too is a bit different but pretty in a kind of upbeat type of way. The whole song is, to me, just hauntingly beautiful.

The name of the song is "I Was There To Hear Your Borning Cry" text and music by John Vivasaker, 1937.

It is written as a song being sung to us, each of us, by God, our Lord and Savior and it takes us from our birth, how our life progresses through the church as well as outside of that fold until our life on earth is done. I think most hymns are written to be songs of praise by us to God and this one is Him, speaking to us, telling us He has been with us from the hour of our birth and that He will be with us through out or lives, through the good times and the bad as well and shows that He will never leave us.

I'm really looking forward to teaching this song to Maya -to practicing the words with her and then, to helping her to learn the music. (Provided I can eventually master picking out the melody on the organ in the first place!)

Hopefully too, by practicing this song, over and over, during the coming weeks, by the time the kids get up to sing it, I won't fold up and cry a river when I hear them sing it!

Yes, it does have that much of a sentimentality with the words to do that to me -to Mandy too!

Don't believe me? Then you read through this -the words to the song -and see if it doesn't bring a bit of moistness to your eyes too.

I was there to hear your borning cry,
I'll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized,
To see your life unfold.
I was there when you were but a child,
With a faith to suit you well
In a blaze of light you wandered off
To find where demons dwell.

I was there to hear your borning cry,
I'll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized,
To see your life unfold.

When you heard the wonder of the Word,
I was there to cheer you on;
You were raised to praise the living Lord,
To whom you now belong.
If you find someone to share you time
And you join your hearts as one,
I'll be there to make your verses rhyme
From dusk till rising sun.


In the middle ages of your life,
Not too old, no longer young.
I'll be there to guide you through the night,
complete what I've begun.
When the evening gently closes in
And you shut your weary eyes,
I'll be there as I have always been
With just one more surprise.


This hymn has become the hymn of choice now for almost all baptisms in our church and as such, it is that memory Mandy has of hearing it sung when Maya and Kurtis each were baptized and if brings tears to her eyes.

For me, it is those two events as well as the words and the meanings they leave behind that spark the tears to flowing.

Somehow, I rather doubt that all the practicing to come will prevent either Mandy or me from crying a bit in church as we watch Maya singing it with the other children from the parish.