Category Archives: family

Pizza and Movie Night

It seems like every weekend, we have one night that is pizza and movie night. I make my special homemade pizza with two boxes of Jiffy pizza crust mix spread into my large jelly roll pan. I use Pastorelli pizza sauce from Chicago, Illinois. The Lemon Drop Pie family pizza features pepperoni and onions, with no onions on Emmy’s corner. When there are five minutes left to bake, I top it with fresh mozzarella bought in bulk from Costco and then frozen, because we’re frugal like that. I prefer to eat my pizza with a big glass of milk. I’ve heard that’s weird. Do you think it’s weird?

pizza and milk

Tonight’s movie pick from the library archives is Chicken Little, a movie I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. It’s surprisingly more about a relationship between a father and a son than the sky falling.

Do you have pizza and movie night at your house? What’s the last movie you watched together?



P.S. What do you put on your pizza? :)


Forget-Me-Not {Spin Cycle}

I’ve always wanted Lily and Emmy to have cousins the same age as they are. They do have two older cousins on Ed’s side, but they are quite a bit older and really, not that fun to play with. They are more interested in sleeping when they come home for a visit. My siblings don’t have any kids, and are unlikely to. My cousin, however, has children that are about the same age. We try to get the kids together as often as we can to see each other, but since we live a couple of states away from each other, this doesn’t happen as often as we’d like!

Here, in their own words, are Lily (10) and Emmy (7) telling you about their second cousins.

Hi, I’m Lily and I like spending time with my family members.  Especially with my cousins Laura, and Mary. The problem is that I don’t usually get to see them. I only get to see them once a year!

When we see each other we play with stuffed animals, go to the beach, explore out side, tell scary stories and many other things. We have so much fun together. Every time we see each other we play every chance we  get. It is hard to stop.

The rest of the year I miss them so much. Laura and I write letters to each other. Emmy, my sister writes letters to Mary and Laura too. I like doing this. It makes me feel like I get to see her more.We also send each other small things to help each other remember them by. I still don’t get to communicate with Mary that much. Even though Laura tells me how she is.

I am always thinking about what we will do the next time we see each other.I always wait for that day and I always will. I think they probably feel the same way I do.  I know they miss me as much as I miss them. It is nice to have good family members even when I don’t see them much.

Forget me not

I love my cousins but I don’t get to see them a lot. I get to write to my cousins but still I don’t get to see them in person. It isn’t fair! I only see them once in a year! It feels like throwing away your favorite thing when it was perfect! By Emmy

Lily and Emmy say it much better than I ever could! Hopefully we’ll see Laura and Mary (along with their mom and dad) next summer!

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Spin Cycle at Second Blooming

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Being a Hostess Is Exhausting

When I was growing up, my mom was a crazy lady before guests came over. I couldn’t figure out why.

Now. Now I know why.

We had my husband’s family over for Lily’s birthday party today, and we’re such a small family that it really should be easy.

I get a little bit crazier with each party anyway.

It all begins with the meal planning. Lily suggested that we have hamburgers, and I thought that would be a great and easy thing to have. At the store, the pre-made burgers didn’t look appealing to me, so I thought I would make my own burgers. I brought home ground beef and eggs, and made a simple hamburger recipe. However, making things from scratch makes a messier kitchen. Egg shells, a whisk, measuring cups, and a big dirty bowl now littered my counter. I plopped the burgers on the grill and stuck the Tater Tots in the oven.

When my father-in-law said he had no idea what Tater Tots were, I was a little dumbfounded. Sure, he’s 84 years old, but he’s never had Tater Tots before? Well, tonight was going to be a new experience for him.

When I went outside to flip the burgers, I discovered that the grill had run out of gas. We have two extra gas canisters…but they were empty. I grill a lot. So I threw the burgers in the oven with the Tater Tots. This is when my craziness really came out, and I snapped at Lily for making a hamburger bun tower. I had simply asked her to put the buns on a plate, NOT make a tower of buns!

The burgers came out great despite the gas shortage, the bun tower didn’t fall to the floor, and the salad was tossed.

But then…I still had to make dessert. I know, I’m crazy. Lily wanted strawberry shortcake, and I hadn’t had time to make it beforehand. It’s really easy to make…but it makes a mess in the kitchen. I threw even more dirty dishes on top of the hamburger ones.

Thank goodness for paper plates! Amazingly, I had bought a huge package of paper plates this afternoon. I usually forget the paper plates.

So now the guest are gone, I’m finishing my glass of wine as the dishwasher runs its first load, and I have pajamas on.

Nothing is better than pajamas after an exhausting evening of being hostess.




Rainy Deserts and Mountains

dinosaurs Rt 66

During our trip to the Painted Desert last year, we learned that we should have brought raincoats.The day started out sunny, clear and hot, at 94 degrees, just the kind of day you would expect to experience in the desert. As we explored the petrified trees and historical sites, however, we began to see dark clouds in the distance. The temperatures began to drop. Our plan was to be in Petrified Forest National Park for only one day, so we raced against the storm clouds, trying to see as much as we could before the storm started. When the lightning started to get too close for comfort, we spent some time in the Visitor’s Center.

petrified forest 1

After the storm, it was cold and drizzling. But this was a place that we would probably not visit again for years, and I had to walk among the blue mesas. In sunny weather, anyway, they look blue. In the cloudy gloom, they were layers of greys and browns. The girls and I only had sweatshirts on. While our walk was well worth it, we got soaked. It took a while to warm up, and swimming in the outdoor pool was not going to happen!

rainy blue mesa

As many of you know. this past summer we ventured into Sunny California, which has been in a drought for three years. But still, based on our desert experience, I decided we all needed to bring raincoats on our vacation. For the most part, we didn’t need them.

But then…we did.

On our drive from Yosemite to Death Valley, we made a stop in Bodie State Historical Park. Bodie is high in the mountains; it used to be a gold mining town. Now it is a abandoned ghost town. Everything is left as it was left, so most of the building are locked because they are unsafe to enter.

ghost town kitchen

We wandered around the town with other tourists, and could see the rain clouds approaching. Pretty soon, it started to sprinkle. I was so glad that this time, we were prepared!



We weren’t as prepared as we thought, however, because then it began to do something we really didn’t expect to see in California in the summer in the middle of a three year drought.

It began to hail.


What unexpected things have happened to you when you’ve traveled?





Yosemite, Day Two

I was the first to wake up in our beautiful rental house, and the first thing I did was open the front door. We had arrived in the dark the night before, so I hadn’t been able to see our surroundings. The house looked out on a field with grazing cattle and a forest beyond. The air was cool and inviting, so the first thing I did when I went back into the house was open the kitchen window as I began to prepare our picnic lunch for that day. That’s one of the great things about renting houses or cabins on vacation; we make our own breakfast and lunches, and also have the option to eat dinner “at home.”

We wanted to get an early start to the day, because it was going to take up to two hours to get to Yosemite due to the fire and road closings. Normally, the house was only half-an-hour from Yosemite. We hadn’t brought coffee with us, so we stopped at the grocery store/gas station down the street to get our caffeine start to the day.

Jackie, the awesome cashier working that morning, told us that the store closed at 6:55 that evening. She said she had a heck of a time getting the locals to understand when the store closed, and they were always rushing in that the last minutes to buy groceries! I wanted to stop back on the way home to buy something for us to grill for dinner.

After driving that torturous mountain road again, we finally arrived back in Yosemite Valley. What I didn’t expect was how crowded it was. When I think of National Parks, I think of wide-open spaces, wilderness, and quiet. But this was summer, peak tourist time. So we found a parking spot and took advantage of the National Park’s shuttle service.

One advantage of being in the middle of throngs of tourists is that there is always someone who will offer to take a picture of your whole group if you return the favor. I took a lot of photos with other people’s cameras! I hope they all turned out as good as this one did:

Yosemite Falls

Due to the three year drought, Yosemite Falls was a little on the thin side, but still beautiful. A nice man with a British accent took this photo.

The girls were working on their Junior Ranger books, so we went in search of a Ranger Walk. We found one at Happy Isles! It was hot that day and so our hike was not very long, with frequent stops. The ranger talked with the girls about the importance of water, and we went into The Fen, where it was cooler. Water came bubbling up from several springs, and it was green, lush and full of life in the Fen. And we were the only ones there. Even in such a busy place, Yosemite is so huge that there are quiet places if you know where to look. We didn’t know, but the ranger did.

At the end of our adventure, Lily and Emmy received their Junior Ranger badges.

Yosemite Jr RangersWe knew the day would be a hot one, and we also knew that there were a couple of beaches on the Merced River. Ed and I had planned ahead of time to bring swim suits and towels so that we could take the girls swimming after our hike.

Remember how I wrote yesterday that entering Yosemite Valley is surreal?

Swimming in a river surrounded by such beauty is surreal. I only wish my pictures were clearer, but smoke still filled the air that day.

swimming in Merced RiverAfter splashing in the river for far less time than we wanted to, we needed to head back to the house. The grocery store closed at 6:55, and I didn’t want Ed driving on 49 to Coulterville in the dark! We made it to the Greeley Hill Market just in time to buy some steak and salad for dinner. Perfect!

More posts about our California trip:

Meeting Gretchen from Second Blooming in Los Angeles
Hiking the Lemon Grove Loop Trail in San Luis Obispo
Yosemite, Day One





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