Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tulips in Our Yard

What a joy to look out our windows and see the tulips and not snow!!!

The Hellebores are blooming too!

Such a Happy Color

What a Smashing Color Combination 



Do for others with no desire of return favors.
We all should plant some trees we'll never sit under.

From P.S. I Love You
compiled by H Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Another April Birth Day

If a little girl is lucky she will have some magic in her childhood. Some girls spend their summers at a beach house, others get to fly in an air plane, or spend several days at the Magic Kingdom. In my childhood the magic was in the form of a Grandpa who put on rodeo shows. For my sisters and me it was a Grandpa provided magic and fun galore.

Cindi in the pony cart with Grandpa
The other day I drove by a pasture where ponies were grazing. My heart went back to my childhood as I wondered what stories these ponies had to tell. Do they willing let young riders hop upon their backs? Were they like some of the ponies my Grandfather kept?

Most times there were two or three ponies in residence. They had names like Candy, Sugar Babe, and Trudy. First we would help water, feed and curry the ponies. Most Sundays Grandpa would saddle up a couple of ponies. We kids would take turns riding beside him all around the neighborhood. Other times he would hitch a pony to a two seated sulky cart. Perhaps it was not a two seated cart but one big enough for a small kids and a small grandpa. That was the most fun of all; all the pleasure of being with Grandpa and none of the challenges of riding.

Maybe it was me or maybe it was the fact that ponies naturally have a mean disposition, but seldom did I ride without some pony trying to nip me in the leg or balk at where I wanted to ride.

One summer Trudy was pastured at our farm. I rode her bare back occasionally. Once while I was riding her, she took off running. She ran right up to a fence. Stopped quickly and with that I went flying over her head into the hog lot. I do not recall if I ever rode her again without Grandpa along but I do know I never liked that pony from that day forward.

What was the most fun was when Grandpa would put on his one man pony show. I know Grandma did not approve of his show riding. Yet a couple of times each year he would thrill us kids with a show. Perhaps he only did it while Grandma was not at home. This little man would ride standing up on the pony, ride backwards and best of all do the under the belly trick. That trick most likely has a proper name but is unknown to me. Grandpa would go from sitting upright to moving around the belly of the pony to sitting upright all the while the pony was racing around in a circle. He was our own personal circus performer.  I had a Grandpa who created wonderful fun memories.

My Grandfather was never a big man, yet I did not realize that until long after I became an adult. That is because we, his grand-kids, saw him as a man who shared so much of himself that he just had to be big. One of my earliest memories is of sitting on his lap while Grandpa sat cross legged on the floor. As a Grandma myself, I now know that only the limber and accommodating can accomplish that task. While on his lap he did the Swedish version of three little pigs while wiggling my toes. Tommy Toot, Slicky Put, Stiry Mon, Little Hon, and Little Vicky Vinnie.

He and Grandma took their crew of Grandchildren camping several summers in of my youth. Some kids enjoyed cabins by the lake and others went to the faraway places. We went to state parks, camping in tents, with our grandparents. Being the oldest Grandchild, I had the privilege of going alone one or two years.  There were thirteen of us in all and I think eleven of us went together one year.

One time, we pulled into a cabin area while lost in the state park looking for the camp ground. Grandpa asked for direction. When he returned to the cars, he laughed with Grandma about the way the man giving directions had shook his head in disbelief at our caravan. We traveled in an old green Dodge and a slightly newer station wagon piled with kids and camping equipment. Kids from a family were split up so if either car was involved in an accident some from that house hold would be spared.

Almost weekly our family made a Sunday visit to Grandma and Grandpa. They lived on the outskirts of town on a couple of acres. Today when I drive by the house and yard the place looks small and a bit run down. We helped grandpa pump the outside cistern pump, played on the swing set bought new for the grand-kids and picked berries along the path to the pony shed. In summer we spent countless hours riding the ponies. The distance between the house and pony shed now seems rather close compared to my childhood memories.

Grandpa was born to Swedish immigrant parents in the town of Munterville, Iowa on April 22, 1906. From what my father recalls his Grandfather was a stern man. Most likely he had a hard life. It is almost certain the reason he left Sweden was because he wanted more from life than what could be had in his home country. One of the few pictures of his wife shows a happy person. It is said that her family did not approve of him as they were a family of means. No one knows the story of their courtship but family lore has it that the reason he changed his name was because there were others with the name of Andreasson in the area and he did not like their getting his love letters. The flu epidemic of 1918 took her life. Dad states that his father recalls seeing his Mother walk home across a field a dusk from helping neighbors who had the flu. The next morning she died. I suspect he got his personality from her as he was our fun Grandpa.

Grandma, Grandpa, myself, Mom, Dad
Great Grandma and Grandpa Cox
My High School Graduation

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April Birthday Number Three

It is official Malissa and Matt now have two teenagers.

Hannah is my game player. She and I need our game playing fix regularly. Since she was young we have had our special games. My favorite is Tantrix. It is not Hannah's favorite so she uses it as an incentive to get me to play the ones she likes. Only after playing all of her favorites can we play my game. She loves Headache, Bonkers, Stadium checkers, Monopoly, Aggravation, Rook, Gobble It, and Strawberry Shortcake. And she loves to play Pit. I refuse to play that game unless there are at least four players. It was always our Christmas Eve game when my sister Deb and family joined us Christmas Eve. It is a rowdy game.  That is what makes it fun. Hannah and I both love to play Backgammon. Most of my games are ones left over from when Malissa and Rhett were growing up. The Backgammon was getting rather used so Warren gave me a lovely wood set this year for Christmas. Now we play in style. Hannah still wins most of the time but not as often as Malissa used to beat me. I think that after she turned 11 I won a total of twice. I could have the best game going yet she could somehow pull off a win. One game Hannah does not like is Scrabble. She will only play that once or twice a year when we have a family game night.

Hannah is a fun gal. Until this year when she went out for sports I would pick he up from school. Her after school treat of long standing is marshmallows (and string cheese). What we like best is for the marshmallows to turn hard. There is most often a bowl or two of marshmallows left out to dry in a kitchen cabinet. We have done the taste test on marshmallows fresh from the bag and those that are hard. Our expert opinion is that Kraft Jet Puffed is the winner. We take our marshmallows very seriously. Two years ago she and I learn to make homemade marshmallows. The experience earned her an Iowa State Fair blue ribbon. They are wonder in hot chocolate. But they taste incredible roasted over a fire or in s'mores.

I have had the privilege of helping both Hannah and Kelsey with 4-H projects. They both have become excellent basket makers. We have cooked, painted, sewed, and matted photos together. I have guided them in poster making and on their working exhibits. It has been so much fun to see their independence and knowledge grow each year.

This year she has tried and liked the school sports of volleyball and track. Hannah plays in the local soccer league.

We had a great time shopping in Des Moines last Sunday after we enjoyed our noon meal and gift opening at the resturant of her choice. The shopping gene is alive and well with her.

Happy Birthday Hannah Marie

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April Birthday Number Two

Samantha is our second April birthday.  She has lived it four different cities in the last eight years.   We enjoy her (mostly) quiet and sweet personality. 
Their school is out on a two week break.  Rhett, Stacey, and kids are off on a trip.  They use school breaks for travel in their part of the world.  This year it is a trip to Thailand.  Sam is the traveler of the two kids.  She has been excited about going for some time.  Samantha is already talking about their next trip in July when they will come our way for a visit.
Sam likes to read, ride her bike, hike, and spend time with friends.  She and Sage have introduced their neighborhood to Halloween trick or treating American style.  Her friends have tried some American treats when visiting or over for a party.  Rice Krispie treats did not go over well but popcorn with cheese balls did. 
The day after Samantha was born we headed to Davenport to see her for the first time.  They brought her home to the lovely new place Stacey and Rhett built in Muscatine.  It was a beautiful house and would have been a great place to raise a family.  John Deere had another idea.  By the time she was a couple of months old they were living in Ankeny.  After four years they were off to California with Rhett's new job.  Mountain House was home for less than two years when his employer, Topcon, asked them to move to the Australian continent.   After celebrating her sixth birthday early they were on their way to living in Mawson Lakes, a suburb of Adelaide. 
Our Birthday Girl in January 2009

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April is a month filed with birthdays

“A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday
but never remembers her age.”

Robert Frost

Today is my birthday. You can remember my age but just do not remind me of the number. I have mixed feelings about saying the number out loud. Samantha wants the world to know that she will be 8 on the 14th. I on the other hand only want cards and gifts. Yes, I still like the special attention a birthday brings; it is just that the number is both scary and validating.

The first picture of me that I know of, is the only one with both of my parents by myself that I think exists.

I am a Sunday girl. I was born on a Sunday, and married on a Sunday. This year my birthday falls on a Sunday. We will celebrate by going out for a noon meal with our daughter and family. Hannah will also celebrate her April birthday. I suspect she likes getting her gifts a week early. The gals in the family plan to shop after we eat.

My Mom once told me that she thought I was the prettiest little thing. My three month old picture shows a very bald baby that I find rather unlovely. I will not be posting that photo. Later on I got blond curly hair and pretty was not an out of bounds description.

I have not forgotten Malissa is our other April celebration. As she was born on her due date of the 30th we will wait until then to celebrate with her. Sam and family will be in Thailand on her special day. We have sent her Dad home with videos and books for her and the singing princess card has arrived. Our year two student is getting tall and growing up all too quickly.

Friday, April 9, 2010


I have always liked to see eagles soaring in the sky. It is a sight I have witnessed only a few times in my life. Picture a lovely home nestled in the woods. Picture too a room full of woman. Add to that picture an eagle only yards away flying through the woods. Silence and total absorbance became the demeanor of the group as the eagle flew nearby.

Today Hannah is taking part of a two day event. Her team is a part of our state's Future Problem Solving competition. Her Eagle teacher is the same one our son had when he was in school. Mrs. Bailey is one of the "really good teachers." Her goal is to enrich the lives of her pupils by giving them the tools to become all that their intelligence affords.

When she took on the Tag program in our school it was new to our district. In the 20 plus years she has done this many students have benefited. My wish is that more students could be in this program.

She keeps in touch with her former students in the form of e mails that I have been told arrive weekly. They in turn value her adult friendship.

May Hannah and her team soar like eagles.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring in Our Yard

Siberian Squill

I saw my first garden blooms yesterday while enjoying a warm afternoon spent cleaning in my gardens.  It was a glorious day.