In Loving Memory of Grandma

Last week we said our goodbyes to our last living Grandma. As expected, it was difficult, though memories of many years together helped provide much comfort. I was so very blessed to have had my mom’s parents around to see me graduate from high school, college, get married, and meet my two kids. While Grandpa Mark passed away in 2013 (I wrote about some memories of him), my Grandma lived on to reach age 87.

Grandma can be described as independent, generous, hardworking and kind. I always remember her home full of family socializing around holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays. We often went to classic Wisconsin supper clubs together to enjoy fried chicken and meals served family style.  Grandma was the matriarch of our family, raising three independent, strong daughters while working on their farm for over fifty years.

Grandma and her daughters 1960s

Love this picture from 1960-ish of my mom and aunts snuggling with Grandma. How many selfie’s do we take today with our own kids?

I have so much respect and admiration for all of my grandparents, given how much the world has changed in their long and full lives.

Many Changes in 87 Years

My Grandma was born in 1930. She remembered hobos coming up to their farm house and asking for food. Her mom would always manage to find something to give them, but made them sit outside and eat.

Grandma and her siblings 1930s

My Grandma was the youngest of four, here in the lower right. She is about 4 years old in this picture.

She attended school in a one room schoolhouse through the eighth grade. After that she was needed to work on the farm. I remember her telling me that she would have liked to have gone to school longer and might have even become a teacher. Though she didn’t teach in a classroom, our family will long remember her lessons and values she passed on to all of us.

As she went on to tell my mom, that’s just how things were back in the 1950’s: few women worked outside of the home, unless you were a nurse or a teacher. Women got married, kept up their home, raised children, and in my grandma’s case helped on the farm.  She would drive the tractor and work alongside my grandpa. Running a farm certainly takes a lot of hard work.

My grandma was proud of her daughters, who all went on to work full time and raise their own children.  When my mom had me and my sister (and after we had graduated from college), my grandma commented that her granddaughters “didn’t need a man to provide for them.” So true – how things have changed in 50 years!

The Original Girl’s Night

Along those lines, my grandma and her friends had their own “girl’s nights” except they took place on Tuesday mornings at the area bowling alley.  There was even a newspaper clipping that showed my grandma leading her team with a score of 186! When she talked to my grandpa about the possibility of bowling on Wednesday mornings too, he told her, “Dorothy, well, I don’t know about all of you women getting together at a bowling alley.” Her response, “Mark, who’s going to pick up a bunch of farmers’ wives at 9 am in the morning?”  She went on to enjoy bowling with her friends two mornings a week.

Grandma & Grandpa

When my grandparents were married in 1950, my grandma moved to grandpa’s farm, where he had led the life of a bachelor for several years.  He only had 1 fork and 1 spoon, and when he made her eggs, he first gave her the spoon. My grandma refused to use the spoon, so he let her have the fork! My grandma just laughed at this memory and would shake her head every time she would retell it. She truly was the one who made their house a home!

As I mentioned earlier, there was always a lot of talking at family gatherings. My grandpa was notorious for his jokes and stories.  I always liked it when he did something to make Grandma say, “MARK!” in her disapproving, scolding tone. Grandpa’s eyes would get really big, he’d raise his shoulders and cross his arms, and say, “I’m in trouble!”

So Many Good Memories

I was so blessed to have shared so many years with Grandma and fondly remember the earlier days when we’d visit their farm.  There was always something to do on the farm: playing with the kitties in the barn, petting the calves and seeing the big cows, climbing around the hay mow, sledding and snowmobiling in winter too. One friend once asked, “Doesn’t everyone have a grandma who owned a farm in Wisconsin?” Yes, many do! And I certainly loved mine.

While the later years were more difficult as her health declined (farm work is tough on a body), I still enjoyed visiting grandma with my own family. As I put together the photo boards for the visitation and funeral, I especially loved seeing the pictures of Grandma with her great grand kids. She gazed down at them so lovingly, so full of pride.

Grandma and great granddaughter

Grandma and my oldest’s first Christmas. LOVE this picture.

The great grandkids always brought a smile to her face. I have pictures from Mother’s Day this year, ones I took and others that my seven year old daughter took.  My daughter’s picture captured Grandma with a genuine smile much bigger than those in my pictures.

I’m so glad my kids were able to get to know you, and I hope that all of us grandchildren brought you joy and made you proud. Love you always, Grandma.

 

Family Vacation Pictures: The Good, the Bad, and Mostly Silly

Hi ya! I was scrolling through some pictures from our road trip out to Washington D.C., and I couldn’t help but make some collages of our many attempts to get a nice family picture. It was a beautiful spring day on the Mall. While we missed the main cherry blossoms, it was still a lovely temperature, which was much, much nicer than the spring we’ve been having in Wisconsin. My kids were having more fun being silly for pictures I was trying to take to mark the occasion: their first trip to D.C.

Here’s what I could capture:

Go Mama O. family vacation silly pics 2017

Top: Goofy faces in from of the Washington Memorial, and cuddling her water bottle at the Lincoln Memorial. Bottom: On the road! Daddy O. isn’t so sure about this trip in this picture (ha ha). 

Go Mama O family vacation 2017.png

More family picture attempts that day. That’s my annoyed face in the lower right.

The one on the top left is one of the last pictures of the day. We quick grabbed some ice cream and shakes from an ice cream truck because it was hot and we were all tired from a day of walking.  If my son had worn sunglasses, it might be almost passable.  At least we are all in the picture, unlike the one at the Lincoln Memorial, where my son is hiding behind Daddy O. (riding on his back). I also like the one on the top right, where my daughter looks confused and my son is sort of winking.

At any rate, these collages are fun.  Much like any family vacation in its entirety, they are not perfect by any means. There are good times, bad times, and down right ugly times as kids (and adults) get tired, impatient, and sick of being in the car for so long. We were silly. We did laugh and have fun, and we did it all together, making memories along the way.  These pictures are reminders of all that!

Cheers to family pictures of all kinds!

More stories about our trip will be coming.

Fly on the Wall: #LifeGoals and Shams

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 9 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado                  http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Menopausal Mother                     http://www.menopausalmom.com/

Searching for Sanity                 http://singlemumplusone.blogspot.com

Eileen’s Perpetually Busy            http://eileensperpetuallybusy.blogspot.com/

Spatulas on Parade                    http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

Never Ever Give Up Hope                   http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Bookworm in the Kitchen            http://www.bookwormkitchen.com

When I Grow Up                       http://kimberlyyavorski.com/whenigrowup/

Here’s who you’ll be hearing from in my house:

  • Me, Mama O.
  • Daddy O.
  • Big Sister, age 7
  • Little Brother, age 5

When I was a Baby

The kids have been fascinated with stories of themselves when they were younger, especially babies. We’ve had some fun sharing memories and have had some funny conversations along the way – like this one:

Little Brother: When I was just born, did I jump into your arms.

Me: Well, not exactly. You came out, and they put you in my arms. Babies can’t really jump when they’re just born.

Little Brother, crawls on my lap, as I’m seating on a glider chair with my feet on the ottoman and says, “toilet.”  I had to think for a bit, but remembered that the kids made up this “game” when I sat in this chair with my feet up.  “Oh yeah, that’s what you meant when you sat on my lap and said toilet.” It’s not that he had to use the toilet. Just go with it, Mom.

#lifegoals

Me to Big Sister, “I like your cardigan. I’d wear it if it were in my size. Someday maybe we can share clothes.”  And possibly shoes too…fingers crossed! Seriously, sometimes her clothes is cuter than mine! Someday – #lifegoals

Me & Daddy O.
Daddy O (referring to the pillow shams: These are on the floor 90% of the time!
Me: Yeah that’s why they are called a sham.

Daddy O. (looking at Big Sister’s jean jacket): Shouldn’t you iron that?

Me: (who HATES ironing): No, you don’t iron jeans, silly!

What Really Goes on at Scout Camp

Me: I was thinking about looking at sending big sister to a girl scout day camp.

Little Brother: Do they hunt deer?

Me: No, it’s not like they live off the land.  They may make a fire, but I’m sure they have food ready for them.

Daddy O: It’s not like Oregon Trail.

Me: Where they hunt for berries and then get dysentery. (This joke is going over the kids’ heads completely, by the way.)

Big sister: That doesn’t sound like fun.

On Money

Big sister:  Can I just get an allowance?
Me:  No, you need to do chores for money.
Big sister: No, just get money every week
Me: Just for being my daughter? No. You need to do work to earn money.

Learning Early

Little Brother goes to school half days, but has recently shared with me, “Mom, I wish the school days were on weekends and the weekends were on school days.”  I just reply, “Well, those two school days would be super long. I don’t think it’s going to change.”

He then said, “Maybe God could change that.”

I think that may fall under the “unanswered prayer” category, but I think it’s sweet that he’s already pining for longer weekends at age 5.

 

Spectacular China Lights Exhibit

If you ever hear of the China Lights Exhibit in your area, I’d highly recommend going! We went several months ago, but I enjoy looking at our pictures from that night so much that I decided it was “blog worthy.”  My entire family really enjoyed it!

We had tried going during the week, but arrived too late to really see much before our kids needed to go to bed. For our second attempt, we arrived extra early to buy tickets before the gates even opened. To pass the time, our kids played in the leaves, and we took a selfie with the entrance gate in the background.

pre-china-lights

Fall fun as we waited for dusk – playing in the leaves, Daddy & Mama O. with the red entrance gates behind us.

While it wasn’t yet dark when we entered the exhibit, we did enjoy grabbing some Chinese food to fuel up.  Around the dining area were animals representing the Chinese zodiac signs. I’m a monkey. Daddy O. is a horse. My daughter is definitely an ox – well described as determined and a bit stubborn. My son is a rabbit, which was not as easy to see, but he is fast!

After eating dinner, I managed to grab this great picture of the pagoda with the brilliant blue sky behind it. As you can see in later pictures, the sky turned to black as time passed.

china-lights-header

The pagoda was one of the highlights of the exhibit, positioned right near the entrance. 

The dragon was huge and beautiful. The white speck in the sky is the moon. It really was a lovely night for viewing the lights.

china-lights-collage

Huge dragon, bottom left: Gates near the entrance, me & Daddy O., Fish, and Flower Lantern walkway

These pictures were just a sampling of the exhibit. There were animals of all kinds – zebras, giraffes, swans, penguins, bears, birds, fish, and more!

dragon-made-of-glass-bottles

This dragon was made from glass bottles. 

You can see some animated characters from “Finding Dori” in the background too. There were a collection of four glass-bottle dragons.

peacock-on-the-fan

My daughter really liked the flowers and peacocks on this giant fan display. 

The China Lights truly were beautiful! We had such a fabulous time walking through them as a family.  Have you seen them before? What lovely pictures are waiting in your queue for your blog?

 

Sort of #SilentSunday

I would normally stick with the theme #SilentSunday, but I have been so absent from my little blog that I feel obligated to write something!

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I setup a wide variety of paper, stamps, heart punches, and other craft items for the kids.  They went CRAZY making pictures and cards. While I wasn’t thrilled with the mess (or using blank cards as “picture paper,” I stepped back a bit after a few days and just enjoyed their creations that were made with love.

I believe my five year old made most of these. They are pretty sweet.

valentines

A whole lotta love went into these masterpieces

After all of their card-making, the kids insisted that we make cards for them, and so Daddy O. and I did.  It’s becoming a tradition each year, as I shared in this Fly on the Wall post from two years ago now.  Daddy O. broke out the Spirograph and even made me a card. It was pretty sweet.

So cheers everyone! I hope you felt the love this past week as much as I did!