Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Memories

Okay, I've got to admit, Thanksgiving really isn't any different from most family dinners.  The only difference is that I get to spend nine hours washing pots and cooking.  What has been nice is that as my gang gets older, they get to take over some of the responsibilities of cooking the side dishes.

 For the last ten years or so, Matthew has been very insistent on being in charge of the potatoes. I peel them and he cooks and turns them into the most perfect mashed potatoes you could ever eat (I taught him well).  The Kitchen-aid mixer that he is using was given to me by Matthew's grandmother when I moved back to New York State 19 years ago.  She bought that beauty 48 years ago and it works perfectly, except for not having the highest speed.  

In addition to his mashed potato duty, for the last two years Matthew has been making a delicious crunchy sweet potato casserole that we discovered. I would show a photo but I forgot to take one and the casserole was gone before we knew it.  It is in the foreground of the next photo, though.

 This was our spread for dinner: turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole (no, not the Campbell's version), cranberry-orange relish, Spring salad, dinner rolls, cherry pie and pumpkin pie. Usually we  drink sparkling cider but the store was sold out.  Ironic, considering the store is almost around the corner from the Welch's plant. 

 My gang waiting patiently for Mom to stop taking photos.  
"Bring on the food!"

 I forgot to take the picture before we cut into it but William made the pumpkin pie at school and brought it home.  It was delicious!!!

 After a nine hour cooking spree, you didn't think I would be doing the cleaning did you? Each of my kids are assigned a night to do dishes.  Since this was too over-whelming for William I decided all of the older kids (minus my assistant chef) would help get the kitchen back to my standards.  I admit I stood by, chatting and telling them how to properly do the job.

 Our older book-ends.  Timothy, my blind Westie-Poo, who is always near his Mom (that be me) and Cassidy, our Pekinese, who we rescued from our animal shelter after she was found one winter day a mile in the woods, down a horse trail.  They never let us out of their range.

I never said my family was normal.

Jerome, kept himself busy while the rest of us hung out in the kitchen.  For those who have read my blog, you know that Jerome is playing Joint Ops.  This is how he spends almost every waking hour.  I've got to say, he's pretty good. 

Odd quote of the day - from Matthew
"There are people in third world countries who would love to have that ketchup." 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Wishes!!!

May you and your families have the most loving and blessed Thanksgiving!

From my gang to yours...

(I hope you enjoy this little video featuring my men)

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Turkeys for the Community

Turkeys everywhere!

This is the second year that our church has held Adopt-A-Turkey Day.  The event was the brain-child of our outreach chairwoman.  The members of the congregation donated the money for the turkeys.  The turkeys were purchased from Walmart and then members filled their trucks and hauled them over to the church.  This year we had 703 turkey - plus 100 pounds of potatoes, which were donated by a member of our congregation.  Because we went over-budget Walmart of Harbor Creek, Pennsylvania donated the extra 38 turkeys, which they had already packaged for us.  

After the trucks began rolling into the parking lot, the unloading and lining up began.  Two rows per person was the idea, but this year we had more volunteers so it ended up being one row per person. 

Next the boxes had to be torn open and the turkeys moved into fewer boxes, for the convenience of the volunteers.  Andrew and Mandi helped us to open boxes.
Lots of boxes...

 Folks were so excited that they began lining up before the turkeys even arrived.  The line started forming over two hours before we began handing out the turkeys.

The next step was to tag the turkeys.  We attached tracts with a bible verse and Thanksgiving wishes to each turkey.

...all 703 turkeys...

We were scheduled to begin at 10am.  With volunteers working since 7:30am, we had some time to take a deep breath before the event actually started.  Andrew chatted with his friends...

India and Mandi relaxed on the stairs inside the church before their shift as advertising began.

William checked out the boxes.

Matthew held up the freezer.  Oops! My mistake.  Matthew made the coffee for the coffee bar in the Narthex.  We invited folks in and brought coffee out to those who preferred to stay in line. 
It was a chilly morning, after all.

And we're off!  
People were so happy.  There is nothing like helping out others.

I can't forget the advertisers. India stood in the park in downtown North East.  At first she didn't get much attention but after a while she took off her hood so her red hair was shining in the sun as she danced and sang.  India was even asked out by a boy in a passing car.  
(Not to worry, we know the boy from our volunteer work at the Thrift Shop:)

Mandi is a little less out-going.  I know! Weird, considering she is the cheerleader.  She was a bit uncomfortable with people looking at her.

Jerome wasn't really signed up for anything but he loves to volunteer.  Since I had signed Mandi up as advertising chairwoman, this is what Jerome chose to do to help.

The crowd making it's way through.  
I thought this photo was interesting because of it's angle.  I have a sneaking suspicion it was taken from atop the luggage rack of my van.

Once the walkers came through, we allowed people in cars to drive through as we placed their turkeys in their cars.

Behind-the-scenes view.  
This is how it looked from my perspective as we handed out turkeys to those in cars.

At first William didn't get it.  He couldn't understand why we were spending our Saturday morning giving turkeys to people.  (It's an Asperger's thing.)  Once he realized how happy it made people and how good it made us feel as a result, William was more than eager to start handing out turkeys himself.

With the turkeys all gone, the advertising crew returns.  

Last year we handed out around 653 turkeys and were stopping cars in the street to give them away. People thought "It's a church, there must be a catch".  There was no catch.  This was not based on income, if you needed a turkey - we had one for you.  

This year we were out in 55 minutes!!  55 minutes and 703 turkeys!  People heard the news and knew where to go.  I know we will be bigger next year.  
I know my church.

All that was left was to help Linda clean up the coffee bar, with help from Andrew, Matthew and India (Mandi helped too). Then home and to spend the rest of the day basking in the internal warmth we all felt.

Plus hanging out with Rachel and eating too much cake.  But that is for later blogs.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's Flu Season!!! Yippee?

Pregnancy puts some sort of anti-virus into your body.  This must be true because the only times I didn't have the flu were when I was pregnant.  Those winters when my ex talked me into a flu shot I still managed to find a strain that wasn't covered by the shot.  This year, true to form, I started early on my "bug collecting".  Can't miss out, you know.   

This fall I thought I would start out slowly.  Maybe with something a little mellower.  Some aches and pains.  Throw in a chronic headache and toss in some dizziness.  Take it easy, we don't want to get over-whelmed too soon.  After all, it isn't like life is going to stop and let me relax.  Heck no!  There's school concerts, parent-teacher conferences, grocery shopping, Thanksgiving prep.  

My poor kids had to suffer too.  After all they had to eat all that homemade soup that I kept serving them.  In their minds, if it isn't Ramen or tomato soup then it's just a cruel form of torture that I like to inflict on them.

Thank God for tea.  I drank so much tea that I may quite possibly be developing a British accent.  Recommendation: cinnamon apple spice left steeping overnight.  It turns so sweet!  Yummy!!!  (I learned this when I fell asleep half-way through the cup.)

After sitting through a meeting at church where I thought for a second that the carpeted floor of the narthex looked like a really comfortable place for a nap.  Followed by the "quick" 90 minute trip to the store and the drive home through the star-field created by the falling snow in the headlights, I feel amazingly better.  

That was a piece-of-cake.  

Come-on flu season. I'm ready for more.... Bring it on!!

Just remember to be kind.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

How Non-Californians Survive an Earthquake

As most folks know, Oklahoma had a series of earthquakes the other day. These terrifying events happened on the same day that San Francisco also experienced it's own tremor.

No, wait.  It wasn't that kind of tremor.

Seriously, the earthquakes were as strong as 4.7 in magnitude and terrified folks all over the Central Mid-West.  One police dispatcher expressed how frightened he was: "Oh, man. I’ve never felt anything like that in my life. It was the scariest thing. I had a police officer just come in and sit down and all the sudden the walls started shaking and the windows were rattling. It felt like the roof was going to come off the police department." 
(sounds like an AC/DC song to me)

You can almost taste his fear.  One television station received hundreds of emails (who calls anymore) from frightened citizens of the Plains States.  The following clip will show you the shear level of panic when you hear the extent of damage that was done including dry wall cracks, objects on shelves being knocked around and even picture frames being shaken from walls! 

For those who survived the horrifying 5.8 earthquake of the East Coast, this brought back memories of the fear and almost irreparable damage done to homes and businesses throughout that region. Scenes like these flashed in the minds of those still shell-shocked residents:

This scene of carnage was in Washington DC.

Another terrifying scene from DC.

Think of the long minutes it's going to take to clean up this mess in Virginia.

This scene from Wakefield, Massachusetts could cause nightmares for years to come.

And this scene in DC.  Oh Dear God, No!

Not to mention the structural damage in Hampden, Maryland.

Thank God I don't have to clean up this mess in Connecticut.

Oh, Canada!

Some of the damage was so sad in it's destruction of beauty.

Most terrifying of all was the tsunami.
Oh, wait.  I think this might have been photo-shopped.

So, back to Oklahoma.  the crowd went wild and the press went into a feeding frenzy.  Nothing like this has happened in... Well, I don't know how long it's been.  I'd have to google it, it's late, and I don't feel like it.

Head West, Young Man!

California or Bust!

California hear I come!

Westward Ho!

(Fill in any other California-based phrase here)

Over in San Francisco (where the 3.2 magnitude quake rattled the walls) like in Oklahoma, there were several smaller shocks. The quake hit just southeast of Berkeley.  These came after California put on way-too-serious preparedness drills complete with 3.8 and 4.0 earthquakes in the Bay Area.  Nerves were obviously frayed.  No one was able to email the press or even call the police to report damage or injuries.  
In fact, no one has come forward yet.  
I hope they are alright...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Orange Bowl of High School Football

As promised in my last blog, today my blog will be about the Clymer Central-vs-Chautauqua Lake Sectionals Football Game.  The Buffalo Bills welcomed the teams to play in their home stadium (Ralph Wilson Stadium).  
This is what I posted on my Facebook in honour of my Sweet Cheerleader and the team:  
Clymer Central, for which my daughter is on the cheer squad, played their sectional game this afternoon in the Buffalo Bills Ralph Wilson Stadium. Even though they lost, I want to let them all know how proud I am of them. Not just that they made it this far (don't forget how well you played throughout the season) but also for their sportsman-like behaviour. Never before have I seen an entire team get on their knee out of respect for injured players on opposing teams. Never have I seen cheerleaders cheer on the opposing cheer squads routines. It's little things like this, and your other kindnesses, that show people how truly great you are. You kids are winners in my book. Congratulations Pirates! You rock!!

Amazingly, Mandi was more excited that our minister drove the four hour round-trip to support two teens from our church (Mandi and one of the football players).  I am so grateful to him for caring enough to make that drive.  
"Welcome to the 2011 Section VI High School Play-Offs!! Class "DD" Championship Clymer Pirates vs. Chautauqua Lake T-Birds"
 The game was on Buffalo news.  How cool is that?
 The cheer squad and their coach.  I'm partial to the second from the right.
 Standing center-field on the Buffalo Bills logo.  Even cooler!!
 I wish I was big on football, then I could tell you who this "Bill" is.  I'm thinking his name probably isn't "Bill" though.
 I'm guessing they love Bob.
 Obviously, they don't love the Chautauqua Lake T-Bird.  Lesson here: don't tick off the cheerleaders. (Note: the mascot posted on Mandi's wall, apologizing for offending the cheerleaders.  How sweet.)
 Is this an attempt at The Third Position in ballet?
 Okay, everybody!  Come over here and have a seat. 
 On to a little Irish Step Dancing.
 No one rocks the 20 yard line like Clymer!
 Look! Up in the sky!  It's a bird!  It's a plane! It's Superman!!!
 Flying into center-field!
 Nobody move!  I dropped my contact lens around here somewhere!
 "We're showering where the Buffalo Bills shower!!"  Yes, that is a direct quote.
All the graceful cheerleader girly-runs.  Find the cheerleader with four brothers.  Look carefully.  I'm sure you'll be able to spot her.