Toasted Butter

Grandma Kc wrote this on December 6th, 2014 13 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

It is amazing that my sister and I never burned down the house. True, we set the backyard on fire more than once but it had to be pure luck that we didn’t torch the kitchen. Well, there was that one time I tried to set mom’s kitchen on fire making candles but that was in her apartment many years later and the fire department never had to come out so I don’t think it counts!

That old house was cold in the winter and so was the kitchen. One of the many things I remember about that kitchen was the toaster. It had a brown cloth covered cord and a big round plug that always scared me. At one time, it must have had a brown plastic lever on the side for putting the toast down but it had broken off. Now if you wanted to put your toast down you had to use the wrong end of a spoon or fork to press it down. The knob for adjusting the color of your toast was missing, too so if we ever wanted to make it lighter or darker we had to use a butter knife to turn it!

toaster full of crumbsMy sister and I both loved toast. In the wintertime, you knew that the butter was going to be hard even if it had been sitting out all night. It was really cold in that kitchen, how could the butter be anything else? But my sister and I came up with a solution to that problem. We would toast our bread and carefully spread the cold butter on it – doing our best not to tear wholes in our toast. Then we would put it back down in the toaster to melt the butter! Yep, we toasted our butter. I’m pretty sure our mom was aware that we did it and strangely, I don’t remember her ever getting angry with us or telling us to stop! Thinking back, I can’t believe we didn’t at least short out the toaster. I may have put peanut butter toast back down once or twice, too!

They sure don’t make toasters like that anymore!

The End of an Era

Grandma Kc wrote this on December 2nd, 2014 27 Replies

I miss the swing set.

One of the grandmas commented that they liked the picture of Amara in her green pants on the swings and it really got me to thinking about how much I miss the swings. June 11, 2014 ended an era. It was the day that Amara’s swing set came down.

Grampy and I made the decision to have Amara’s old swing set hauled away. Jenna had seen a sign on a truck to have metal junk removed “for free”. I love free! I called the man and he came out that same day. He brought tools but I’m not sure he ever used them; the metal was very fatigued. It was kind of sad to see it go and the cats were very confused by the whole idea. So was the little bird that always used to sit on the crossbars. I still can’t get used to how different it looks.

This was Amara’s second swing set. There had been one in the backyard when we first moved into this house. Amara was only 5 months old then but the people moving out asked if we wanted them to leave it. Amara on Grandma Kc's lap swinging October 8, 2004I remember sitting with her in my lap and swinging. She loved it then and she loved it even more when she grew old enough to swing herself and to slide down the slide. When she was three years old we replaced the original swing set.

We have so many memories on both swing sets that I created a Photoshop series for them called Memories on a Swing. But after seven years the second swing set had seen better days, too. The little trapeze had rusted so badly that it broke off. The kids weren’t allowed on the slide anymore as it was almost cracked in half. I lived in fear every time Grampy would see how high he could swing Amara. The chains were getting very rusted. I worried about the neighbor girls, too. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt.

Swing set collage

I still haven’t gotten used to how big the backyard looks now without it. For a while, we considered and discussed replacing the swing set but to get a good one that would be big enough for Amara and her older friends would be expensive. I didn’t really see it getting a lot of use and so the decision was made just to have the old one taken away.

I miss the swing set.

Looking Back

Grandma Kc wrote this on November 25th, 2014 20 Replies

This will be Amara’s 11th Thanksgiving. We don’t always get to spend the actual day with her and her parents but we are very lucky to get to see them all the time! We have so many great memories (and pictures). It really is fun to look back on each of those Novembers and see just how much our little girl has grown!

You can click the picture below to make them larger.

This Thanksgiving we are all spending at her home. The Kids are deep frying a turkey and it will probably be the best Thanksgiving yet. I hope you enjoy yours!

The Worst Driver Ever

Grandma Kc wrote this on November 15th, 2014 25 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

My mother really was the worst driver ever. I remember when we moved to California and she had to take the driving test. She proudly told the story of how she almost failed because she didn’t know the three hand signals. She explained to the tester that in Michigan no one stuck their hand out the window to signal – it might freeze! She talked him into passing her. He really shouldn’t have!

I don’t remember my mother ever buying a new car. She always bought very well maintained used cars and usually they were Oldsmobiles. Those cars would quickly go from being in great shape to have dents everywhere! We hadn’t been in California for more than a week when the CHP pulled up behind her with his lights going. Since she was in the fast lane, she just pulled to the left and stopped! The policeman was not amused. He had to do a traffic break so that she could pull back into traffic and merge all the way to the right. She did not talk him out of that speeding ticket! Of course, there was also the time that the motorcyclist ran into her. She said she wasn’t to blame. We used to joke that mothers should get their children off the sidewalks when my mom was driving.

I remember one time when I was about 8 that we drove for miles with a police car behind us flashing his lights. She was sure it was my Uncle and that he was just clowning around. It wasn’t my uncle and she did get a ticket!

But what I remember most were the number of times my mother hit the fire hydrant at the end of our driveway and broke it off! Our house sat at the top of a hill with a horseshoe shaped driveway that went all the way around it. The fire hydrant sat to the left of the driveway just a few feet from the street. While that hydrant was painted bright red, my mother somehow managed not to see it more than once. There was the time she was turning into the driveway and managed to miss the driveway completely and hit the hydrant! Yes, there was a geyser! I remember sitting in the car and wondering if it would ever stop. She hit that hydrant at least twice when our driveway was coated with ice. She couldn’t get enough traction to make it up the drive and the car slid backwards and hit it. Now we had frozen geysers and that made the driveway even worse!

I see pictures from the fifties and sixties of children playing in the water of the fire hydrants. I do remember times when they would open the hydrants in the summer but what I really remember most is the times my mother opened it with the car! I have to wonder if any of the people who have lived in the house since have had so much trouble navigating the driveway.

The house I grew up in with the fire hydrant out front.

This picture is courtesy of my sister Sandy who went and took it for me. Of all the photos I have of the front of that house I couldn’t find any that included the fire hydrant. Thank you baby sister!

Fun with Amara

Grandma Kc wrote this on November 7th, 2014 21 Replies

Now for the important stuff! Last time I told you about all the fun I’ve had at Amara’s school lately. This post is all about the fun we’ve been having with Amara at our house.

Amara jumping

One of the best things about living so close by is that we get to see Amara a lot. I got to pick Amara up from school a few times last month. If I am going to pick her up from school, I usually plan to do it on Wednesdays as they get out early on Wednesdays. Wednesday is also band day. This means that Grampy and I have gotten some spontaneous concerts. She loves her new trumpet and she is sure improving.

Amara playing her trumpet for Grandma and Grandpa

I picked her up the Wednesday before Halloween. We were going to make a Halloween surprise for Mommy, Daddy and Grampy! I had seen a cute idea online for Candy Corn Parfaits and we were going to make them! They were very simple, just pudding, cake and Reddi-Wip. Oh, and some candy corns to top them with! Jenna just loves candy corn. I made an orange cake (with extra electric orange food coloring of course) while she was in school so that it would be ready. I let her make the vanilla pudding with electric yellow food coloring. I smiled when she told me she, “had to be careful and not use to much or else you would be able to taste it”. I love that she knows this stuff! We made the candy corn parfaits in little Ball jars and they came out really cute although next time we would wait to whip them until right before serving as it did kind of melt. So we just added more!

Amara and her candy corn parfaits

Amara spent the night with us last Saturday night. She had brought a movie but Grampy vetoed watching Beauty and the Beast for the jillionth time! Lucky for Grampy I had been out on Netflix trying to find something else we could watch and had stumbled upon the old 1991-1994 TV series, Dinosaurs. Grampy and I had loved this series when it was on but we weren’t sure how Amara would feel about it. She seemed very skeptical of it at first and I told her she only had to watch one episode and if she hated it, we would never watch it again. When it finished she proclaimed, “I loved it!” and wanted to watch another episode!

Sunday morning I asked her what she wanted to do for breakfast and I suggested we might want to try making a coffee cake, something we hadn’t done yet. She liked the idea but what she really wanted was pancakes! So blue and purple pancakes it was! We followed that up with a bike ride. It was such a beautiful day and the sky was so pretty after the little bit of rain we had gotten.

“Now what?” “Do you want to bake something?” She finally decided she wanted to make cake, a white cake but colored every color of the rainbow! Why not? She got her batter all made and we had 6 bowls on the counter along with the 6 required food colors. Food colors are something I try to keep a lot of on hand. The only thing I was allowed to do in the making of this cake was to divide the batter into the bowls. She did everything else and made all of the decisions. I found some mini-M&Ms up in the cupboard. She carefully sorted them by color into 6 more small bowls.

When the cake was finally cooled, she topped it with some yummy buttercream frosting she had made. Then instead of using those M&Ms to make a rainbow or something she just started scattering them all over the cake! I asked her why she had bothered to sort them and she just grinned. I think she did it so she could eat a bunch when she thought Grandma wasn’t looking! There was not a clean bowl, utensil or piece of silverware anywhere in my kitchen when she left on Sunday. It was so worth it.

Amara and her rainbow cake collage

I also picked Amara up this Wednesday. She had started growing some crystals over the weekend and I wanted her to see how they were doing! Of course if I was going to pick her up we really ought to go have yogurt afterwards and so we did!

blue crystals growing in a bowl

I love that she is only one mile away!

Fun at School

Grandma Kc wrote this on November 5th, 2014 27 Replies

I’ve had a lot of fun over the last few weeks. Not all of the fun events were exactly centered on Amara. Some were centered on her school. This post is about some of those school activities. The next one will focus exclusively on Amara and our recent fun together.

Of course, anytime I do anything at Amara’s school it means I get lots of extra hugs and kisses just because I am on campus and I can! Plus these days usually involve seeing her before school and sometimes even afterwards, depending on how long I am there. Sometimes I am lucky and even get hugs from other students. A Grandma can never get too many hugs!

Kc and Jenna at Movie Night October 24, 2014

Last month I volunteered for my third Movie Night. I got to be the greeter! Living in southern California, we can have outdoor movies on the grass in the middle of October and it will still be warm enough for shorts. Movie Night is a free event that the PTA sponsors each year. Of course, Jenna volunteered and Justin was the official “child wrangler”! He watched over some of the PTA kids while their Moms worked the event. The movie is free but they do sell food, drinks, popcorn and fun essentials like glow sticks! It was so neat to look out on a sea of shadows twirling and spinning glow sticks before the movie started. There were some technical difficulties and the movie started a bit late so it was a good thing the kids could entertain one another.

FIBO collage of Amara and her class

The Tuesday before Halloween was the first FIBO art presentation at Amara’s school, another PTA sponsored event. It was also crazy hat day. I went with Jenna to help out, take pictures and just to enjoy it. It meant I got to see Amara before school and when her class came in for their presentation. I got lots more hugs! The presentation was about Osamu Tezuka, The Father of Manga! It was incredible and it certainly sparked the interest of the students. Over the next few days, they had hands on instruction in their classrooms, too. I didn’t get to be there for that but I did pick Amara up that day and she was so excited about what she had learned.

Italian Street Art Collage October 30, 2014

The FIBO art presentations had been for Kindergarten through 5th graders. Thursday the PTA presented Italian street painting for the 6th through 8th grades. I was with Jenna at school all day as a volunteer photographer. They had the same wonderful artist last year. She helped them to create these beautiful chalk masterpieces. Again, we got so lucky with the perfect weather. The students loved it so much that after school was dismissed some of the students came back to do more! Some even brought younger brothers and sisters along to help, too. Amara is hoping they will bring her back again next year when she is in the 6th grade!

I am so glad that we live close to The Kids and Amara and that I have the opportunity to be part of all of this!