Wednesday, July 27, 2011

fill a bucket

This last week, Ashley, Jacob and I went blueberry picking at the local blueberry farm. We each had a bucket to fill with the bountiful blueberries. Jacob and Ashley liked to run off down the row and would often get out of sight with all the blueberry branches there were extending out into the rows which limited my view.

After not seeing them for a little bit, I heard Ashley say from around the corner, "Mommy, Jacob is helping me fill my bucket." As Ashley said this, it reminded me of a book I purchased this last fall called, "Fill a bucket" by Carol McCloud and Katherine Martin.

  Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for the Young Child

The book helps young children (great for pre-school age and early elementary children) understand the concept of adding to and taking from other people's lives. It talks about how each day, we have opportunities to "fill others' buckets" or to "empty others' buckets." It is a simple concept, but it seems to have stuck with Ashley. Ashley was even able to take it and let her teachers share it with her friends in her preschool class. Throughout the year, she has come inside to report good news such as, "Jacob filled my bucket. I was stuck on my bike coming up the hill and he came and pushed me up the hill." Or something like, "Mommy, mommy, I filled Jacob's bucket! I shared my yogurt with him." You get the point.

Anyhow, as we picked our blueberries, we once again were able to talk about the concept presented in this little book and how good it makes us feel to have our bucket filled by another. And this time, we had real buckets in hand to go along with the metaphor.

May your day be a day of filling buckets!

Monday, July 25, 2011

30 days later...

30 days, 6k+ miles, 10 states, 2 countries, 4 American National Parks, 2 Canadian National Parks, one slight fender bender (not our fault), one ding in the windshield, lots of family and friends and innumerable pictures, PBJs and cheetos later, we have returned to Texas.

What an amazing Summer 2011 road trip we had. Our kiddos were great, especially given their young ages (4 and 2) and the number of hours we spent together in a vehicle. We never once even had to make a "potty break" on demand. What a blessing!

Some people asked what we did to stay sane, help our kids stay sane, etc., while spending that much time in a vehicle. We did lots of different things, but I'll try to post on here some of the things that helped us the most.

For the kiddos, Joe introduced to them the "tractor" game. It evolved to be the "Tractor, Train, Antelope, Moose, Bear, Bison, Elk" game, and it worked well. Joe told the kiddos he'd give them a penny for each tractor they saw, and a nickel for each tractor they saw that was in motion. This game helped keep the kiddos looking out and around and taking in the beauty of God's Creation. It also gave them something to focus on, rather than sticking feet in one another's face.

As I mentioned, we ate LOTS of PBJs on the trip to help keep food costs reasonable, as well as to maintain flexibility in our ability to adventure as we drove. We also used my grandmother's old traveling trick to help with food expense. We purchased a little electric skillet like this one Oster SH12 12-Inch Skillet with Hinged Lid, Black. Available for less than $25, even if you use it in place of eating out for a meal or two, you've essentially "paid" for it. This was especially helpful because eating out with tired little kiddos who have been stuck in car seats for way too long can be a really painful experience!

I'll post some pictures soon, as well as some other good lessons learned and ideas from our trip.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Tribute to my Grandpa Thomas

Here is a picture of my kiddos and me with my Grandpa Thomas on the 4th of July. He passed away 11 days later on July 15th. What a sweet, loving Grandfather he was to us all. I think we each felt like his favorite grandchild, and there were 38 of us. That's a lot of love!

I remember most his smooches on the lips, even when we were in those years where it was really weird to smooch your grandpa on the lips, him "shucking his teeth" (sliding out his dentures), him telling me he loved me "just a little bit," starting with his hands close together and then stretching them all the way out as wide as they could go, sitting on his lap and giggling at the anticipation of him tickling me on the knee, and volunteering with him and my dad to drive the Care-A-Van on Fridays where we would pick up elderly and disabled individuals and transport them to doctor's appointments, etc. And I definitely remember him telling me about how he went to Japan in WWII and they surrendered before he got there because they heard he was coming.  What sweet memories I get to share with my children!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011
The Dalles Chronicle
William Thomas
     William “Bill” Thomas, 86, a lifelong resident of The Dalles, Oregon died at his home on Friday, July 15, 2011.
      He was born on April 17, 1925, in The Dalles, Oregon, the third of four children to Frederick and Clara (Spiekerman) Thomas.  He grew up in The Dalles and started his working career working along with his father as a delivery boy for the family grocery delivery service. By age 12, the family moved to their farm on Five Mile Road, where Bill learned to do a man’s work such as plowing, tending their many farm animals and tending the crops. Bill held a variety of jobs throughout his career including owning his own construction company and farming which was his lifelong passion.
      Bill married Margaret “Maggie” Greiner in 1945 after his return from Army service. His Great War story for the children revealed that the Japanese had surrendered only when they heard that Bill Thomas was on the way.
      Bill was preceded in death by his first wife Maggie, who died in 1981, his son William D. “Bill” Thomas, Jr., who died in 2002 and Frederick who died in 1951 as a young toddler.
      In 1982 Bill married Joan Wilson. Together they combined seven children each and at the time of Bill’s death they had a whopping 38 grandchildren and 28 great grandchildren, all of whom were dearly loved.
 Bill’s life has been a story of challenges, tragedies, joys and sorrows but he always persevered and found a way to support his family. A hallmark of his character was that he loved to talk. He always welcomed friends, family and even strangers for coffee, to chat, solve problems, or to share his knowledge and opinions about the world. Often standing at the gate at his Five Mile property with his trademark pipe in hand, he loved to have that friendly interface with others. He always acted on the impulse that no man was a stranger.
      Bill and Joan were living at Flagstone Assisted Living at the time of his death. Bill is survived by his wife Joan, his daughter-in-law, Barb Thomas; his children and their respective spouses, Jan Shough (Mike); Joanne Howell (Tom); Mary Cox (Dale); Sam Ellis (Gary); Peggy Brittle (Lance); Sally Sheehy (Jim); and his step-children Steve Wilson (Janice); Barb Rolfe (Phil); Dianne Wilson; Jim Wilson (Alex); Dave Wilson (Tammy); Maria Wilson and Dan Wilson (Nancy).
      A rosary will be held on Friday evening, July 22nd, 2011 at 7:00pm at Spencer, Libby & Powell Funeral Home. A Mass of Christian burial will be held at St. Peters Catholic Church on Saturday, July 23rd, 2011 at 1:00pm with Father Charles Nnabuife officiating. Interment with Military Honors will follow at St. Peter Catholic Cemetery.
      Remembrances may be sent to Flagstone Senior Living, 3325 Columbia View Drive, The Dalles, Oregon 97058.
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Red, White and Blueberry Cream Pie

After picking two gallons of blueberries today with our sweet kiddos this morning and with my Texas Mamma Jayne tonight, I was reminded of this favorite recipe of mine from last summer. So, here it is again for you all to enjoy as you pick your blueberries this summer. I hope I have some cream cheese hiding in the fridge so I can make some tonight. 

Red, White and Blueberry Cream Pie
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust (I like the larger one because you can get more slices).
1 8 oz. package Cream Cheese
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 t. vanilla extract
Sliced fresh strawberries (optional)

1. Place 1 cup of blueberries in the bottom of the crust (cover bottom with one layer)
2. Beat cream cheese in a large blowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Spread into crust.
3. Top with remaining blueberries and sliced strawberries in a fun pattern/design.
4. Cover and chill 3 hours, or until set. I also froze one and it tasted great thawed tonight with guests. Refrigerate leftovers.