Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Traditions

In our family we have a tradition of eating Clam Chowder on Christmas Eve. This year 3 of our 4 children and their families will be at the cabin for Christmas Eve in Island Park, ID. I suggested Clam Chowder from a can but was vetoed. This week Hailey helped me make our traditional Clam Chowder. I guess family traditions aren't traditions unless they are the same every year. The recipe for our traditional Clam Chowder follows. I got it from my visiting teaching companion who brought us a jar one Christmas. She was a wonderful lady who taught me many things.

Bratten's Famous Clam Chwder

2 cans (6 1/2 oz .) minced clams
1 c. finely chopped onions
1 c. finely diced celery
2 c. finely diced potatoes
* 1 cube butter
1/2 c. flour
*1 qurt half and half
1 1/2 t, salt
2 T. red wine vinegar (optional I leave it out and instead add a couple squirts of Louisiana hot sauce to enhance the flavor. It does not make it spicy hot, just makes more flavorful. I add it to many things for that reason - cream sauces, gravies, eggs, etc.)
a few grains of white pepper ( I usually leave this out too and just let people seson at the table.)
Saute onions and celery in a thump of butter. Drain juice from the
clams and pour over the vegetables (potato, celery and onions0 in a small saucepan. If necessary add enough water to barely cover vegtables. Simmer covered, over medium heat until barely tender.
In the meantime melt 3/4 cube of butter in large saucepan. Add flour and blend; Cook and stir for 2-3 min. Add half and half. Cook and stir with french whisk until thick and smooth. (about 7 min.), always stirring in the samd direction. Add undrained vegetables and clams and heat through. (Never boil after clams have been added as the clams will toughen.) Males 8 servings

* really necessary to bring out the flavor of the clams

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Cookies

This week Hailey helped me make gingerbread cookies to take up to the cabin for Christmas. Three of our kids and their families will be there which surprises me because their families are getting older and hauling eveything up to the cabin becomes more and more complicated.
I love gingerbread so I have to admit this was a bit self-serving. I have some cookie cutters shaped like gingerbread houses so we used those. We shall see if grandkids are excited when I tell them that each one gets to decorate their own gingerbread house and eat it all if they want. I hope they won't be too disappointed when they find out it is just a 5"x5" gingerbread cookie. Here is the recipe we used:

Rolled Ginger Cookies

1 c. shortening
1 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 c. molasses
2 tbsp. vinegar
5 c. sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream shortening and sugar. Beat in egg, molasses and vinegar. Sift together dry ingredients and blend in. Chill dough 3 hours.
Roll dough 1/8 in. thick on slightly floured surface. Cut in shapes. Place 1 " apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 5-6 min. Cool before frosting. Makes about 5 dozen.

Another Christmas eve tradition is setting up the creche which we call the manger scene. Grandpa reads the Christmas Story from Luke in the Bible. As each character is introduced, the figure is set by or in the stable. This year at the cabin we are going to make the figures out of what we have up there which is construction paper.
Each grandchild will be assigned to draw a part of the manger scene and we will set it up as grandpa reads.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Party Mix

This past week Hailey helped me make Party Mix. I like this recipe because it is different than any I've seen and it makes a festive gift for neighbors or "home teaching" families. I got the recipe from my sister, Kerry. Besides, I think it tastes good.

White Chocolate Party Mix
10 oz. or 1 1/4 c. small, round pretzels
5 c. cheerios
5 c. corn chex
2 c. salted nuts
1 lb. m & ms
Mix the above ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.
2 12 oz. packages white chocolate chips
3 T. vegetable
Microwave white choc. chips and oil for 2 min. on med. high. Remove and stir. Return to microwave and cook for 10 seconds. Remove and stir again until smooth.
Pour over dry mixture and mix well. Pour out onto waxed paper and let set up. After mix has set up store in plastic bags.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Hailey and I did not cook last week but Ralph and I had a wonderful vacation. I probably shouldn't speak for Ralph but both of us enjoyed being at the cabin. Ralph cooked a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and we had delicious leftovers every meal afterward. I struggled with the "wonderful" symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis but I would rather do it in that beautiful environment than anywhere else. Ralph was able to work a little more on his "Homes of the Prophets" book and make some shutters for the back window so the deep snow doesn't break the glass. We both watched the Utah/BYU game on TV and enjoyed a slow pace over the holidays. Hope your Thanksgiving was as enjoyable. Now it is on to the Christmas Holidays!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Home-made Butter

Hailey and I made butter this week. This is something I used to do with my kindergarten kids the week of thanksgiving. It is easy and it brings back memories for me when I was a girl and had the assignment to churn butter every week from the cream urnished by our Jersey cow, using a paddle type butter churn with a glass bottom. For my kindergarten kids and Hailey all we needed was some clean baby food jars and a carton of whipping cream.
You just put about 1/2 in. of cream in the jar and screw the lid on tight. Then you start shaking the jar rhythmically making sure the cream hits the top (lid) and bottom of the jar alternately with each shake. Shaking does not have to be done fast but hitting the top and bottom of the jar causes the fat globules in the cream to turn into butter.
This takes about 15 minutes. while everyone was shaking and waiting for their cream to turn into butter we would take turns talking about Thanksgiving traditions.
After about 15 minutes a yellowish thump of butter should start to form and the leftover whey can be poured off. Sometimes I save it and use it in baking (such as cakes).
In kindergarten we made corn muffins (I just used the Jiffy brand corn muffin mix. I added a couple teaspoons of sugar since they were not served with honey or jam.) in a mini muffin pan. My mother added a little salt and yellow food coloring to our butter but in kindergarten we ate it without. It tasted a little like whipped cream on a cupcake.
Students were excited to make butter just like the pilgrims did and it might give your children something to do while they are waiting on the turkey.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

German Chocolate Cake

Last week I made German Chocolate Cake Frosting/Filling with Hailey. I have to be totally honest. The fact that Ralph's birthday is this week and this is his favorite kind of birhday cake probably entered into my choice. We made a chocolate cake mix since that was not the focus of the project. We each got a round 9" cake with German Chocolate Cake Frosting/Filling on the top. The cake got eaten before Sara & family came this weekend to celebrate his birthday. (Jay was in Texas at the football game with TCU.) We managed a quick birthday celebration during halftime and finished warching the TCU game while we ate dinner that Sara had made of Ralph's favorite foods, Roast Leg of Lamb, mashed potatoes and gravy, fruit salad with cool whip, etc. Sara even made another birthday cake (carrot cake with cream cheese frosting) with all 59 candles which the grandkids helped grandpa blow out.
Sara and Emily gave Ralph a Chocolate Latte machine and some cans of flavored Hot Chocolate mix so we each had a cup before we went to bed. All in all, it felt like a family celebration which is hard for two old fogies like us to accomplish.

German Chocolate Cake Frosting/Filling

1 c. evaporated milk
1 c. sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 lb. butter or margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
Cook in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until mixture thickens. (about 12 min.) Add 1 1/3 c. angel flake coconut and 1 c. chopped pecans (chopped walnuts may be used.) Beat until frosting is cool and thick enough to spread. Makes 2 2/3 c. frosting.

There is enough to spread the top layer and fill the midde of two 9" inch chocolate cakes (German chocolate cake is usually lighter chocolate.) I frost the sides of a two layer cake with regular chocolate frosting and put a marascino cherry on top like the bakery does.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

White Chili

Last week we made white chili. The nane has never sounded very appealing to me but we really like it and get a hankering for it from time to time. Neither Ralph nor I like spicy food so I cut the spices by as much as 1/2. The canned green chilis are not hot.


1 lb. white beans (navy beans) - soaked overnite and drined ( 4 cans,including liquid of cooked navy beans may be used.)
6 c. chicken broth ( chicken boullion may be used.)
2 cloves minced garlic
2 medium chopped onions
1 T. oil
2 4 oz. cans green chilis, chopped
2 t. ground cumin
1 1/2 t. chopped oregano
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
4 c.diced, cooked chicken breasts
Combine and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 3 hrs. (If using canned beans cook for less time or until flavors are combined) Add more broth if necessary.
Serve hot and topped with your choce of the following items:
chopped green onions
sliced black olives
grated cheese
chopped tomatoes
sour xream
crushed tortilla chips

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Split Pea Soup

We have been having snow and cold weather so it felt like soup. Ralph requested his favorite soup - Marcia Homer's Split Pea Soup. This is a recipe I got while we were young married and in college at the University of Idaho. It has been a family favorite in the 30 years since. It has a little more pizazz than plain old split pea soup.

Marcia Homer's Split Pea Soup

1 lb. peas, rinsed (I have never rinsed as the split peas I buy in the grocery store are pretty clean these days.)
2 quarts water
2 c. chopped carrots
2 c. chopped celery. including tops and leaves
2 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. dried parsley flakes or 1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
1 T. oregano leaves or 1/4 t. ground oregano
1 T. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 bay leaf ( I generally do not have them and have never included them.)
1 meaty hambone or hamhock ( I usually use the bone left over from a holiday ham I have on hand.)
Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hr. 3o min. or until a thick soup has formed. Remove cooled meat from bone. Add meat to soup and throw bone away. Enjoy with bread and butter.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Easy Peasy Cookies ( Pumpkin Spice Cookies)

I don't really know the name of these cookies. Emily, my daugter, made these cookies for us at the cabin a few weeks ago. They were so easy and good I thought I would pass it along. I made up the name but it helps me remember that there are only three ingredients in these cookies

1 Spice Cake Mix
1 large can pumpkin
!/2 to 1 12 oz. package chocolate chips ( depending on your preference For me 1/2 bag was plenty)
Mix altogether with mixer and bake in 350 degree oven for about 10 min. (We had to add 5 or more min. These cookies are soft and mosist. Mostly they should be cooked enough so they don't have runny, cake batter-like middles.) I like them because they stay moist even when they are cool.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Boy Scout Doughnuts

In our family we call these Boy Scout Doughnuts because Ralph used to make them with his scout troop they are so easy. I found the very same doughnuts in the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook. There they are called "Jiffy Doughnuts". I have made them with my grandchildren, some who were preschool age. I rarely do anything with deep fat frying partly because I have known some people who have suffered life changing accidents with hot oil. Hot oil and childen don't mix! The nice thing about these doughnuts is that the children can help away from the hot oil while another adult fries the doughnuts.

l or more cans of refrigerator biscuit dough
hot oil ( It must be 2 or 3 in. deep in a heavy pan. The recipe book says 375 degrees but I rarely use a thermometer. I just pinch off a pea size piece of dough and place it in the oil. When it floats and fries like a doughut instead of dropping to the bottom, the oil is ready.)
Make a hole like a doughnut in the middle of the refrigerator biscuit with your clean finger. Fry in hot oil (the cookbook says 2 min. on each side but we found they only needed seconds on each side) until golden, turning only once. Remove from oil and drain on several layers of paper towel.
When cool enough to touch, glaze with powered sugar frosting. If desired doughnuts can also be decorated with sprinkles, coconut or cinnamon and sugar.
These douhnuts taste best when eaten imediately rather than the next day.

Doughnuts (which my mom made from scratch) and fireworks remind me of Halloween because that is how we celebaated when I was growing up in Canada.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Is Here!

Fall is finally here and we have leaves all over our deck. I guess we had better hurry up and enjoy the whole week it will be here before winter sets in. We are enjoying the foods that taste good in the fall so this week Hailey and I made Stuffed Acorn Squash.


The Acorn Squash was called Danish squash in the store but I have always known it as Acorn Squash. At any rate you need to buy one or two depending on the size of your family. ( 1/2 a squash is one serving size.) Cut squash in half from stem end to blossom end. The shell is hard so I always use my biggest, sturdiest knife. After removing and discardig seeds, place squash hakves, cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for about 20-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. (You can use a little cooking spray on the baking to avoid sticking.) Remove squash from the oven when inside flesh is cooked and soft.
When squash is cooked remove from the oven and fill cavity with the following:
1 T. butter
1 T. brown sugar
Browned ground sausage
A little diced onion (browned with sausage)
a little shredded cheese (optional)
Heat stuffed squash again for serving.
Eat by scooping squash and stuffing mixture out of shells. (They look pretty on individual plates and can be eaten out of the shell at the table.) The recipe book also suggests that they are good served with applesauce on the side.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


This week Hailey and I made applesauce. I am not going to give a recipe for applesauce because you can buy a canning book or get pamphlets at the Extension service with step-by-step instructions.
The applesauce we made yesterday tuned out beautiful and all the jars sealed so that gave us a feeling of success. The only hitch was that I couldn't find my canner or canning supplies but luckily Hailey had borrowed some so we managed fine. Probably I gave them away when I gave away all my quart jars and can't remember.
One thing that makes a big difference to me is the variety of apple used. We couldn't find any canning apples around here so we bought some when we visited Treasure Valley last weekend. The lady at the fruit stand said apples are about 6 weeks late this year but we found some Jonathans and bought about 1/2 bushel. I have tasted applesauce, both commercial and home canned that tasted like cardboard. My favorite apples to use are Johnagold or a mixture of Johnathans and Golden Delicious. Red delicious, while good for fresh eating, do not make good applesauce. I don't care for Rome apples either for making applesauce. I have made pretty good applesauce out of Criterions, a new variety.
The nice thing about these Johnathan apples was that they had very red skins so when cooked with the skins on, and put through a "Foley Food Mill" or "Victorio Strainer" they make a pretty pink applesauce.
At supper last night we didn't want to open one of our precios new jars of applesauce so we made "quickie" applesauce" by peeling and cooking about 1 and 1/2 inch pieces of apple in a small amt. of water. (about 1/4 in. deep ) When cooked, mash the apples into a chunky applesauce. It was white because the apples were peeled and delicious when served warm. It is also good if refrigerated and eaten cold.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Life Goes On

We have had a busy but good summer. Now it is September, the air is getting cooler and we are bracing for winter. It is supposed to snow in the mountains this weekend. I think we will watch the General Conference broadcast at the cabin this weekend and build a fire.
Last weekend we went to Treasure Valley. Emily and Kennedy stayed with us in a hotel in Meridian. We attended Bernell Norris' funeral, Ralph had meetings at BSU and we got to visit with Ben, Emily and family who attended and participated in the funeral as well. It was nice to see some old friends but we are both glad to be home again. Eastern Idaho is seeming more like home all the time.
Sara had a good idea. Each week I cook something with Hailey, a young married girl who lives in our basement and comes to help me four days a week. Its kind of a symbiotic arrangement. At least I hope she enjoys it. She does all the cooking. I just keep my usual spot on the couch and provide recipes and suggestions. Then we split whatever we have made. I feel like I can make a tiny contribution, new recipes and techniques for a new mom, and one night a week that Ralph doesn't have to make supper.
Sara's idea is to publish our weekly cooking fare each week on my BLOG. I think it is a good idea and about the only productive thing in my life right now. So I will start with my next BLOG.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


A quick update:
We are headed back up to the cabin after spending this week in Rexburg. Dad has finished building a paint booth in his shop. He is planning to paint the MG green and paint some detail on the model As. At the cabin he moved the plathouse from in front of our cabin to Paul's property by Hungry Bear Market so he can use it for a tack shed. Grandma is fixing up Grandpa's old log tack shed for a playhouse. I think everybody is happy. Dad still has a lot of work to do on the water tank and well in front of our cabin. Grandma Kern is dealing with this first year after Gr andpa's loss the best she can.
All of our kids are busy with family life. Sara and Josie were both involved in Girl's Camp and now everyone's getting ready for a new school year. Josie and Blake are moving to Michigan on August 24. I think even Dad will be glad to start school after his many summer projects. Happy Fall!

Friday, July 31, 2009

I was going to wait until I could post pictures but I probably should give you an update anyway.
Ralph took his mom and sister to a concert last night. It featured a girl in our ward singing with somebody Beck, a boy singer that others know about but I have never heard of. I got to stay home and listen to Grandma Kern's new dog yip in his cage for an hour and a half. Not many functions are held at 9:00 o'clock in the the morning before my body completely shuts down. Ralph is good to bring me pictures or a program. Misst Babcock, the girl, specializes in jazz music which I've tried to like but haven't made it yet. Ralph said his favorite song was "The Prayer" which Emily performed with two other girls at her High School graduation.
We will probably spend most of Augusr at the cabin which I am looking forward to. He has only one month summer vacation and has it filled with projects. Today he is picking up his third Modek A in Utah, meeting with a photographer in Salt Lake so they can collaborate on the book he is writing, and attending his aunt's 80th birthday party. He manages to stay busy but I think there could be worse problems.
The girls and husbands want to take another hike so they will probably go with Ralph into Yellowstone Park about the third week in August. Josie and family, Sara and family have already been up to Island Park once or twice this summer.
We found a wild strawberry patch in bloom and I hope there are some ripe berries left by the time we make it up to the cabin. Ralph made two new swings in our back yard. The Grandkids have been picking lots of raspberries from our backyard and making signs that say "Welcome to Raspberry Park!" This week Hailey and I (Hailey did all the work.) made Raspberry/Peach jam. Hailey, her husband and their new baby rent our basement apt. downstairs. She has become a good friend and helps us out with a lot of things. Happy Summer!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ashtyn went to Golf Camp with some of her cousins in Driggs, ID the following week and stayed the night at our house before Ralph took her home this Saturday. It was a delight for us to have her here. She picked a bouquet of snowball flowers for me. It was so beautiful we had to take a picture. (See below) I guess all the rain has been good for them. We each had a piece of oatmeal cake for breakfast and called it our "bowl of oatmeal". Each of us decided not to tell her mom. It was fun to have her here but I think she was glad to get home with her own family.

A Fun Week

Last week our entire family was here for kind of a mini-family reunion. Wd were glad Ralph had finished the room over the garage so we could accommodate everyone. The room turned nicer than we thought - so much so that Ralph is interested in staying in this house instead of building a new one next door.
All our daughters and one daughter-in-law ran a half marathon in the Teton Dam Marathon. Two son-in-laws ran too. I worried about them getting rained on but weather for the race was beautiful. I didn't give any thought however to what it would be like to have 13 grandkids cooped up in the house while it rained the rest of the time. Chad saved the day and rented a "Bounce House" which eventually got rain-soaked too.
Ralph parked his recently acquired Model A a couple blocks from the finish line and put all he grandkids in it. They honked the "ah-oo-ga" horn at each runner to encourage them at the end of the race. Everybody in our family finished well and were proud of their accomplishment.
We also had delicious meals provided by each families' contribution. The weekend was wonderful! I was tired out from doing nothing but it was worth it because of all the good memories we made.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Taking Things Too Seriously

I was thinking about and remembered a time when I had to remind myself not to take things too seriously, There have been many times I've had to remind myself of this. I guess the key is to just keep working at being a parent. Teenagers have a way of making you wonder.
One day I was driving in the country with the kids in the car. My son, a teenager, said "Smell that dairy air." as we passed a farm. Concentrating on my driving and other things, I assumed he said the French word "derriere" which means "behind". I said, "Do you know what that means? " and proceeded to explain why his statement was inappropriate. It took awhile before I understood that he was just making a comment on a rural reality. Because he currently works in the dairy industry, I think he still likes to smell the "dairy air" and I have learned not to make assumptions quite so quickly.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Being a Mother

Yesterday was Mother's Day and I talked to each one of my kids. Mother's Day brought back many wonderful "mother memories". Mother's Day used to be my unfavorite day of the year. Besides making sure each of Ralph's and my mother were appropriately taken care of, we sat in church and listened to some mother talk about how angelic motherhood was. At our house that morning we had panic because we couldn't even find the hairbrush. I'm not going to subject you to the same thing but I would like to list some of my favorite "mother memories". I'll admit there were times I knelt by each child's bed after they were asleep and wet their pillow with my tears because I felt like such a falure or wondered why I had childen in the first place because it was so hard when they were growing up. However, it is kind of like childbirth. You can't remember what the labor pains felt like, just the joy when you held the little one in your arms.
I remember an article in the Children's Friend magazine when I was young about a little girl who couldn't make up her mind what she wanted to be when she grew up. One day she wanted to be a teacher and the next day she thought she wanted to be a nurse. There were many other aspirations so she asked her mother for some advice. Her mother explained that they were all good ideas but a mother will be all those things to her children. I have felt like I have accomplished and become good at many things in my life but I still have much to learn as a mother.

Favorite Motherhood Memories

I remember my first time sitting beside my son, wearing his cub scout uniform, in church on "Scout Sunday" and listening to him sing a patriotic song.

I remember watching my oldest daughter give birth to her first child and the many sacrifices she made to ensure that the child thrived.

I remember a weekend when the family had planned to go somewhere but I was at my emotional rope's end so a teenage daughter stayed home with me while the rest of the family went. We layed in the grass in the orchard to talk and went to a garden tour together. At the end of the weekend my "cup" was filled again and I could face life.

I remember a gift on Mother''s Day from a grade school daughter. It was in a small white box with a note that said, "Open me, it will be a BLAST!" Inside was a paper clip that had been bent so one could make it jump.

I remember a mother's day when after the "Breakfast in Bed" tradition my ostensible gift was a red vacuum. Throughout the day each child gave me an unknowing gift. My teenagers sat on the stairs and talked to a discouraged mother, and my gradeschooler came out of her bedroom dressed for church with a big smile on her face. She said, "Look, Mom. I am wearing tights." Every Sunday before, putting on the tights had been a big fight.

There are many other memories that make me smile and give me comfort and peace. Now, I love watching my own children be parents. It confirms what I believed when my young children used to ask, "Why can't I go to daycare like all the other kids at school?" I used to think and I still do, "Why should somebody else have all the fun!"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Today the elevator at church was broken so we decided to go on a Sunday drive instead. Ralph went up the stairs and checked it out but after going to the trouble of dressing and getting in the car (which is a big effort for me) we went to Kilgore the back way which Ralph nor I had never been. We also went to check on the cabin and yes, there is still snow there. This area will appreciate the moisture and I am really looking forward to our short summer. We listened to one of Elder Uchdorf's conference addresses and Sunday music on KBYI. It is cloudy and rainy today but we are having an enjoyablle day.
Now it is nice to be home with our variety of daffodils. I took a picture of our flower bed outside but I'm still working on getting it into the computer. I'm slow as I am with just about everything these days.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rexburg: Land of Oxymorons

I have decided I live in a place where oxymorons abound. For example, I have been enjoying the beautiful daffodils in our yard and the hint of Spring in the air This morning we woke up to a snow storm. Other things have been very diffeent for me. There are many contrasts. A local television car ad says the best thing about coming to the "big city" of Idaho Falls is that you get to ride in an elevator. However our next door neighbor is a retired airline pilot and now drives a school bus for the local school district. My sister on the other side of the State says they should be so lucky in their school district.
I thought it odd that irrigation pipes were used in the local dance and celebration of the completion of the Rexburg LDS Temple. When we went to church in West Yellowstone near our cabin, the speaker remembered this experience:
During the forest fires of 1988, the town of West Yellowstone, MT became threatened. The speaker was fire chief at the time and considered how to save the town and lives and property for which he was responsible. Someone suggested using irrigation pipe from the farmer's in the valley (Rexburg and other communities) They saved the town of West Yellowstone by using the irrigation pipes farmers had willingly brought up from the valley.
I have learned that what may seem odd or different may have totally different signifance once the facts and history are known. For now, I will remember that Spring will come to stay and that I live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. In the meantime, I'll enjoy my bouquet of daffodils in the house.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Easter

Last weekend we made a daytrip to Sara's in Utah to celebrate Easter. We enjoyed watching the grandkids dye and hunt Easter eggs on on Saturday and had a traditional "doo-dah" family dinner. The girls made familiar food that tasted very good to me. Training good cooks was not high on my priority list but every daughter sure is one.
We came home late Sat. night and when Ralph apologised for not having Easter Baskets and candy on Sunday morning, I was totally o.k. because I felt like we had already celebrated on Saturday. Besides, Sara sent home some leftovers which we had for Sunday dinner.
It was nice to see Blake and Josie and family, especially since Blake's job is ending in Twin Falls and no one knows where they'll be living next.
I have posted a picture of some of the grandkids sitting on the steps at Sara's house. Sunday was a quiet day. Our big celebration that day was to see the purple crocuses in bloom outside and the Easter Lily blooming inside, both reminders of the Resurrection and that there will be new hope even after a long winter. Hope your Easter was good too!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I love my grandkids! Even though this stage of life came before I felt I was ready for it, it has been one of the pleasantest surprises of my life. As I am sure all grandmothers feel, I have the best grandchildren in the whole world.
Four of my grandchildren came to stay with me last weekend. I am always pleased at how kind and respectful they are. A great deal of credit goes to their parents. Even 18 month old Jacob, who loves cars, brings me many cars. With them piled high on my lap, I can be thankful for his 18th month old compassion or frustrated about the pile of cars on my lap. I love interacting with him on this level Other grandchildren made pictures and stories for me. Soms wrote notes to me. It is a completely different way of interacting with each other but I love it.
This weekend wore me out but it also envigorated me and gave me many happy memories that I am still enjoying. Sara took a picture of Grandpa reading a story about cars to Jacob. I will post it but it may take me awhile. Ralph went to Salt Lake this weekend to sing in a choir for the LDS General pnference, spend time with his sons, and of course he had to look at a classic car which was for sale. For now, I will think of my wonderful weekend.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It has taken me two days to get this picture on my BLOG but I finally did it, and Ralph wasn't even here. I am slow but I am learning to be persisrent.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's Getting Closer

Spring will come. It does every year. We finally have most of the snow gone and daffodils are poking about an inch out of the ground. A few year's ago, one Spring, we were asked in Relief Society to write down something we know for sure. When I was called on I said, "I know that no matter how long and cold the winter is, the daffodils will always come in the Spring." I forgot about it until the next Christmas when a lady in our ward brought over a copy of the quote, brautifully framed as if somebody important had said it.
I keep it where I can see it. Besides being a reminder of this lady's thoughtfulness, the reminder of a more eternal metaphor has gotten me through many discouraging moments.
Long winters make people do funny things. Last Saturday Ralph threw the last of the snow from the front yard into the street so we could see grass. Then he planted flowers in the flower beds. In one flower bed there are scores of daffodils poking through the ground.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

I 'll Make It!

Yes,we still have ou yard covered with snow. In fact it snowed this morning. March is my least favorite month. I used to put a little note on my calendar to remind me that April would be better. I am realizing that the weather in Rexburg is not that diffeent than in the mountains. At least Ralph and I have gotten smart. For Valentne's Day the past couple of years he has given me a container of forced bulbs. Now I have Spring in my dining room and we can watch the flowers grow. This year I have Grape hyacinths, daffodils and tulips blooming with a giant, pink hyacinth growing in the middle. Between that and Emily Reil Kern's humorous post about the things kids say, I am smiling and I think I can make it to April.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Fun Weekend

We went to the cabin in Island Park last weekend. Jay and Sara and family went too. We had a wonderful time. The girls put on a play using the loft for a stage. Even grandpa played the big bad wolf. Sara cooked many delicious meals and they even convinced me to get in a long sled and we went for an outing. Thank goodness for snowmobiles which made pulling me up big hills much easier. Others went out and played in the snow other times but I was happy to stay in the cabin by the warm fire. Their new dog, Millie. became my new friend and wasn't shy about jumping on my lap which I enjoyed.
We went to church in West Yellowstone where Jay and Sara had the chance to hear from some of the local characters. I love it up there, people are 'down home" characters but genuinely good as can be.

President's Day Pics

Thursday, February 12, 2009

V alentine's Day

Kindergarten kids get excited about all holidays, not celebrating them is not an option. Before Valentine's Day in kindergarten, I sent home a list of all the first names of students in the class. Students were not required to bring Valentines but if they did, they had to bring one for everybody. If they did not bring valentines and were allowed to celebrate we had some valentines dittoed off for them so they could participate. My aide would help them address all the valentines. In all my years teaching I only had to provide valentines once or twice.
Previous to the holiday, one of our activities would be to make giant envelopes shaped like a heart. Each child would lace two big pink paper hearts together and write their name clearly on the front. On Valentine's day the envelopes would be taped up in the room to be filled. Students were expected to match the name on the valentine with the name on the envelope.
This activity pushed some kids to their limits but they were anxious and proud to be in charge of their own valentines. Although their name and the names of others were the first words they learned to read, it also motivated them to write clearly and readably or they wouldn't get any valentines. It also gave them practice writing and reading. Parents who wrote all the names denied their child the writing practice. (Some wrote dots and let their child go over them with lines to practice. What a good idea!) It was a difficult task for some children but all were happy to do it. At the end of the day we celebrated with Valentine treats. Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Monday, February 2, 2009


I have learned to post pictures but I forgot to proofread my post. The "dugutak" camera is supposed to read digital camera. Now my ineptness is on display for all to see. I guess I'll just watch TV. I can halfway work the remote.

Success and practice

Guess what family home evening was tonight? Ralph showed me how to put pictures from our dugutak camera into my computer so I can post them on my BLOG. Now I am going to practice so I can remember how to do it. Hence two almost identical pictures. I am so sorry Ralph has to be patient with such a "computer illiterate".

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Being Patient

It's still January, there's still a lot of snow in the back yard, and I still haven't learned how to put pictures on my BLOG. My computer battery died two weeks ago and really messed things up on my computer. Ralph ordered a new battery off the internet and I think thngs are back to normal now. I guess patience is the lesson I have to learn because I have been given lots of chances to practice lately.
We are looking forward to President's Day. Ben and family are scheduled to make a trip to the cabin. He has some work issues that might interfere but Sara and family plan to come then too. I am glad our children like this area because I truly enjoy seeing them instead of the obligatory visit to see "the folks". Maybe there is a little of that, I don't know. A few years ago, before we lived in Rexburg, we were playing a game where you to tell everyone where you would like to live most in the whole woeld. I was surprised when one of our daughters said, "Rexburg, Idaho"
Tomorrow we might make a quick trip to the cabin just to check on things. Last night was "date night". Ralph brings home fast food every Friday night and we watch a movie together. Last night we watched "In Search of the Castaways", a favorite movie from my childhood. It was a real "blast from the past" for me and Ralph liked it so much he ordered one online so we could have a copy for the grandkids either here or at the cabin
Today Ralph is working on our new room over the garage. We both find it helps to spend time on things that distract us from the problems of real life. Then we can deal with 'real life" and its imperfections without becoming too bitter. Ralph has a colleague that just moved here from Nampa. They were talking yesterday about how the Lord blesses us in ways we can't magine to help us deal with our trials. Though I had a hard time at first considering moving to Rexburg as a blessing, I can now see many blessings living here in Rexburg.
If you are still with me, thanks for putting up with my random ramblings. At least when I wrote letters only a few people had to endure my thoughts written down.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

First Snow, Second Snow, etc. etc. etc.

It's snowing - AGAIN! Somehow the first snow in November or December is magical but now it is getting old. It snowed yesterday and it is snowing again today. I know it is only January but where we used to live Hyacinth and Tulip shoots were coming up by now. I am gearing up for the rest of winter, assuring myself I can make it until April. Until then I will try to lose myself in indoor projects. Oh well, snowmobilers and skiers will be happy.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Early in the year I would teach kindergarten students to recognize and identify patterns. I found that recognizing patterns helped with every subject. I read somewhere that most scientific disoveries were a result of discovering patterns. Students would find patterns everywhere in their environment. They would even point out patterns to their parents.
We would start out by making a two part ( AB ) color pattern using unifix cubes (plastic colored blocks that hook together ). Each student would make a pattern then read it aloud to me going from left to right. You would be surprised how many students track from right to left and have to be retrained to prepare them to read English.
Every day we would practice patterns. Sometimes I would put a pattern on the board e.g. sniley face, frowny face, etc, Some days I would make "People Patterns" by lining up a row of students and have the class identify the pattern e.g. long hair, short hair. As the year progressed we would make and identify more complicated patterns. Nearly 100% of students mastered this concept. By the end of the year, students were competant identifying quite complicated patterns.

What I learned: Patterns can be interesting and in many cases are the key to learning.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Something caused me to think about a past experience. When I was younger and married with small childen, I had a friend in a similar situation. We used to meet in the dark after the kids were in bed and run around the block a number of imes. Bwsides talking about chld-rearing,we discussed our beliefs since we both attended the same church.. At the time our beliefs were being publicly challenged and much was written in newspaper editorials. My visiting teacher. who was also my neighbor, gave me a book that was supposed to expose my beliefs as false. She also was very against what I believed. I had always believed what my parents had taught me but I decided it was ime to decide for myself.
I embarked on a careful study of the book my neighbor had given me. Upon researching the original sources of every (supposedly somehing us poor duped believers should be made aware of) accusation of falsehood, I could see how it had been taken out of context to show a completely different meaning. I also was surprised to learn that our church had a library containing many negative and "anti" pieces written and anyone could go there to study them. After awhile of finding the same misrepresntations over and over again, I decided I was wasting my time and I woulld continue to believe what I had been taught. Since that time, I have had many experiences and read many things that confirm what I believe I also learned the importance of knowing something for oneself not just beieving what you hae been told.