Monday, June 20, 2016

Hazy, Crazy, Lazy Days Of Summer

It's here...the first day of Summer. It came around 6:30 pm and it brought with it a full moon on this solstice. That's a rare phenom that won't happen again for 70yrs.  I think I'll miss that one, so I made sure to take a good look at this full strawberry moon, as it's called.  The sky was hazy so the moon was shrouded in a milky covering.  The air is balmy with a slight breeze.  It feels like Summer with the temps in the 90's today and warm tonight.  I thought of the many things that remind me of Summer and the many things that make it feel like Summer has arrived.  When I was a kiddo it was the end of school and that first lazy day of just being outside the whole time.  No video games, tv, or other distractions.  The lawn sprinkler was the cooling off mode, or sometimes the public pool or a friends pool.  Oh that smell of coppertone!  Oh that smell of chlorine! Oh the first sunburn since sunscreen wasn't in our household.  We'd get tan eventually! Summer always was vacation time for our family.  My Dad bought a small house in Wisconsin about an hour away from our home.  He moved my Grandparents into it and he and my Aunts and Uncles worked together to make it a cute place for them and a good destination for us since there was a lake just down the road.  Dad and my brothers would go fishing and I learned how to swim in that lake.  I would stay with my Grandparents for at least a week during the Summer and enjoy my time with Grandma.  She and I had a good relationship and I loved her dearly.  She always made me doll clothes for my Barbies and there was always a new Barbie waiting for me!  She had a room that was full of the dolls she collected.  Heaven for a little girl!
Obviously this photo wasn't taken in Summer, but that's my Grandparents in the "house at the lake" as we called it.    Our Summer vacations also had many camping trips across the country.  I'll save those memories for another blog.  I'm sure everyone has their own way of ushering in this season.  Their own memories of Summer days.  I have many good memories of playing outdoors until it was dark, then watching and catching fireflies as my parents sat on the front porch and chatted with neighbors or my Aunt and Uncle who lived across the street.  Statue maker was another fun game we played as kids.  Time has replaced those childhood memories with memories of my own kids Summers.  We also spent time on trips and also time at my in-laws place that had a pond where my kids enjoyed swimming and fishing.  Again the smell of suntan lotion and chlorine and the sound of laughter and roasting marshmellows over an open fire.  Their games of ghosts in the graveyard and riding their bikes to the public pool.  Scout camp and basketball camps.
This pic is of a Summer many years ago with my oldest son, Jack, and I at a lake near my Mom's house.  I was 8mo. preggo with #2 son, Craig.  Now they are enjoying their own Summers with their kiddos...the circle continues.  Hopefully it will be filled with good memories, the smell of suntan lotion and chlorine and I know there will be roasting marshmellows waiting here at the Pines with YaYa and PawPaw during the lazy, hazy, crazy days of the Summer of 2016!  

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Time Is Not My Friend

June's almost half over and I haven't posted even once.  Really, time has flown and I'm about ready to just sit down and let it fly on by!  We're having Summer's graduation party here in two weeks and Jack and I are doing our best to get the Pines in party order.  We always have projects on our "to do" lists but sometimes it's easy to say: "Oh, I'll get to that later."  Well, it's later and all those small things we put off are now bigger and need attending.  So it's cleaning, painting, trimming, organizing, and much, much praying that the weather will be dry and coolish and perfect.  OK, so maybe we're asking a bit much but I always say: "Go big or go home"....and usually it rains!
I've  had this little table set for a few years and it was just wood with no finish.  I painted it red....same red as my front door.  I like it!
Flowers are mulched and coming along nicely.
Roses are blooming!
Pink ones:
And even yellow ones!  It's a good rose year I think.
Chubbs checked out the back yard after it's mowed and declared it dog worthy. The weather around these parts is always a surprise.  Last week we had cool and even down right chilly with night temps in the 40's.  Yesterday it was 93de on my car thermometer and sunny as all get out.  Summer had arrived!  Today, it's in the 70's.  Sometimes our weather is like whiplash!
Ominous clouds.
Dark and scary.
A few minutes later it's back to big and fluffy! So we'll continue to get things done and of course I'll have pics about the party.  In the mean time, I'm here and probably won't have much to blog about.   Although, like our weather, blogging can changed at any moment!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Day In The Life Of A WWII Soldier

My Dad served in WWII..The Third Armored "Spearhead" Division.  My Mom had my sister email me the letters he wrote home during his time in the Army.  I've been reading them and retyping them and hopefully will get them put into a book so they can be shared with our family.  They aren't worthy of a war movie to made about Dad..although he was handsome enough to star in one, but just having a tidbit of his time and his feelings as he fought overseas.  I wanted to share one on this Memorial Day of remembering.  He was fortunate as he made it home.  Made it home to marry my Mom, have 6 kids, build his own house and fill it with a lifetime of love, laughter, and good memories. Truly making it a home.  My Mom still lives in that same house.  Dad passed away in 1976...40 years ago this November.  Hard to believe as he's always in my heart and mind daily.  Here's his letter:

February 12, 1945

Dearest Mary,
      I passed up my chance to write yesterday but I am trying to make up for it tonight.
Mail has been pretty scarce here of late but I suppose I can't complain as I do not write very much myself.  At times you would be surprised what a change in mood a letter can make...or would you?
       I don't know why it is but here lately I have been thinking and wondering more and more about you and I and what we are going to do after this war is all washed up.
In magazines I manage to pick up here and there, I read all about the wonderful things they have planned for us after the war.  How changed things will be.  But do we want them changed?  I am sort of tired of the pattern people have fashioned my life to.  Why can't we have our own design?  I have come to realize that the most wonderful part of life is in making your own decisions and living them without regrets.
      Anyway, I've been wondering a lot about other things too.  After sweating this one out I've been wondering if it's  Occupation, China, or somewhere in the Pacific, or home. 
      I'd like to go home naturally, but there's a time element.  I wonder if I've been here long enough.  I know I've been in the Army long enough.  Three years now.  It doesn't seem that long does it?
      Well I guess I'll have to go now. I've got a little job to do tonight so until next time,
                                          Love as always,
                                                 Carl

Thanks Dad and my brothers who served in Vietnam and all who have served and gave the ultimate sacrifice.  True Heroes all!  God Bless America!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Momentous Moments

We attended our Granddaughter's graduation today.  The speaker used the term, "momentous moments",  in reference to the things that happened in the lives of the graduates.  Things like birth, first steps, first words, first day of school, etc.  Having gone through those in my own life and then my children's lives and now in my Grandchildren's lives it can make a person wonder where the time has gone, and how it just keeps circling and repeating itself.  It's different each time though isn't it.  When it was our time we saw it from our perspective, more self involved.  When it was our children's events, we saw it as proud, nervous, hopeful parents.  I find that I view these events in my Grandkid's lives differently.  More mellow..or maybe more melancholy!  This is the second Grandchild to graduate high school.  The first time I kept shaking my head and couldn't believe I had one that old! I'm still shaking my head with the same thoughts...really? My little Summer...I've always called her "Summer Days"...is done with high school? Not only is she done with high school, she did her senior year at Ashland University and has completed her freshman year of college!  She graduated with a 3.8 average.  Throw in her artistic talent, fun personality, and beauty...the world is her oyster!  Yes I'm still proud, nervous, and very hopeful.  I look at my son and I'm so proud of the Dad he is and how wonderful those kids have  turned out.  I feel for him having to let go and watch as they do their own thing.  His oldest is moving to Florida in a few days and I know it's heavy on his heart and mind.  Summer is going to be closer to home as she's staying at Ashland University for her degree.  We wish you the best Summer Days...we love you! 
Happy Graduate!
Summer and Dad!
Summer and her boyfriend Brett.  They've dated for all of high school and we just love him!

Little brother Cameron is proud of his older sis too!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

One More Thought

There were many fun and sweet moments last weekend at Mom's. So I'll finalize my birthday post with these final thoughts.   My sister has little garden path that she calls her "journey garden."  It's paved with brick and lined with flowers, hostas, daylilies and many other plants.  She made a spot behind the garage that was not being used and made it peaceful and pretty and a place to go to contemplate life a bit.  There's  messages on the trees.
Messages like this one.  Also some stepping stones.
Some of the stones get leaned against a tree! 
This "gazing ball" is really Mom's old bowling ball!  Midge filled this space with meaningful items!  Mom and Dad were always on  bowling leagues and I remember this item very well!
When Midge saw this pic she decided she should put some window boxes on the garden shed so it's a bit prettier....that would be cute!  I found these little guys and had to make their Mom just a tiny bit mad for a minute.
Too big for the nest?
He was on the verge of jumping out and making his way in the world...good luck Mr. Robin!  My sis said the nest was empty by Monday afternoon.   One last tidbit from the weekend made me smile and it had to do with my Granddaughter, Addy.  She came up to me at the party and whispered: "YaYa, why is there a policeman here?"  I immediately said it was because she was so bad!  Her big brown eyes got even bigger but I also immediately assured her I was just kidding!  I then explained that her cousin Katie was a police officer and the man that stopped by was her partner.  I went with her to introduce her to Officer Val.  She was so excited to meet him and he is the nicest guy ever.  He gave her stickers and then asked if she would like to see the patrol car.  Boy was she excited!
He let her sit inside!  She was so impressed!  She fell madly in love with Officer Val!  One day she might recognized him as Santa who comes to our family Christmas gatherings...until then I hope she continues to idolize him as Officer Val.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Let Them Eat Cake

Eat cake we did! Happy 90th Birthday Mom! We went to Chicago this weekend to celebrate and gather as a huge family and lots of friends to honor my Mom's special day.  Not only cake was consumed but every food imaginable from chicken to cotton candy!
The tables were set.
The jumpie house ready...what, you don't think 90 year olds enjoy a good time jumping?
Popcorn, snowcones, and cotton candy machine all ready.
Tributes.
The best candy bar birthday card made for Mom by Donna..it was a big hit. Mom couldn't wait to show it to everyone and read it.  Thanks so much Donna!
Cousins meeting up after a few years apart.  Picking up where they left off without missing a beat. (lft to rt...Jack, Craig, Bill)
All four of my brothers coming in from all over the map...well, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Florida! (from lft to rt..Ricky..the youngest, Jimmy #3, Greg #2, Phil #1...that's brother birth order, not ranking!)
Lots of twirling! My niece's daughter, Ella..or as we call her "Ella Bean".
We know that silly face...Jack!
Chubbs had to make friends with everyone.
Let's not forget our guest of honor....Mom!
You're never to old to eat cotton candy...
Or cake!
After you blow out the candles of course.
Open up presents...like a letter from the Pope and a special Rosary blessed by Him.  That was very special to Mom.
Lots of photos from Mom's life and the bouquets with pictures of her children (6), Grandchildren (16), and Great-Grandchilren (31..with 32nd one due in Sep!)
You might wonder why I put this photo in.  My brother got my Mom an apple tree for her birthday.  A strange gift? Not at all.  We always had apple trees.  Over the years they died due to storms and such.  My Mom makes the most delicious apple pie and what we call "apple slices"...it's like pie only made in an 11x16 sheet pan.  Anyway, Rick thought this all out and picked out a Jonathon apple tree for a few reasons.  First, Jonathons are great for cooking.  Second, my Sister's youngest son, Jonothan, was killed in a car accident when he was 18 (in 2004).  So, to include him in Mom's celebration and to honor her baking skills and to replace the trees that were gone, he planted this tree.  The tree in the pic is leaning against the outdoor oven waiting to be planted.  When I looked at this shot, the sun was shining down right on it and it's encircled by a pink light.  Camera and lighting tricks....maybe...or maybe not.  Perfect gift.  The weekend was perfect from the weather, to the guests, to the family, to wonderful feeling of gathering and celebrating.  Every day is a gift and to have lived a life full of good days, sad days, incredible days, life changing days, and just plain ordinary days that make up an extraordinary life is amazing.  I have never won a lottery and probably never will.  But I did win the lottery of an awesome family...for that I'll always be grateful.  Love you Mom!
This was a long post so I'll leave with the thank you gifts for the guests...

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Snow Way

I never thought I would be blogging about snow on May 15th.  This morning we had to go to Tallmadge (near Akron) for a Church conference.   On the way home it started to rain/snow.  If you blow up this pic I clicked with my phone you can see the white stuff against the red car. It didn't last long but it's been a chilly, wet weekend and I'm glad I pulled in some flowers I had planted in decorative planters for Mom's party next week. 
It cleared up this afternoon and I took a quick walk and thought I'd better capture what color we have since another 30de night is in store for us.
My only Azalea is looking good despite the chilly temps.
It contrasts nicely with the Dogwood, green hostas, and our white house.
These dogwoods are losing blossoms and getting the green on.
Snowball bushes (appropriate for the day).  They remind me of those coconut hostess cakes!
Put them together with the Azaleas and you have a nice bouquet.
 This guy was in my locker the other day..minus the flowers of course.  My coworker, Kim, gave him to me as a thank you for switching call. After planting him I do smile every time I see his "hat of petunias" !  Hopefully it will be able to be outdoors one of these days.  I'm sure he's thinking  "Whoooooo ordered this weather?"
All I can say is "Snow way, it wasn't me!"