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Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Entry 170: 1986 A Trip to the Fresno Zoo

          One of our first big trips with all five kids was to the Fresno Zoo.  The kids ran from one exhibit to the next.  Each animal seemed more amazing and spell binding than the one before.  The elephants were a hit.  The tigers were loud and scary.  The bears were holding their feet and rolling on their backsides so they were funny.  The birds were screeching and scared Charlie a little.  The snakes and other reptiles brought screams from the girls and giggles from Adam. 
We wandered around the zoo all morning.  When noon rolled around we had hot dogs and chips for lunch.  Heidi bought a bag of peanuts and took Adam to the monkey cage to sneak a few to the spider monkeys.
After a few minutes passed Adam came running back to us, grabbing at our hands, and telling us we just had to come with him.  He had found the neatest animal at the zoo.  He seemed sure we’d want to finish our meal where we could watch the orangatang.

Adam showed us why he thought this animal was worth moving our position to watch.  He started waving his arms in the air then put them under us arms and started making shrieking noises taunting the animal.  That old orangatang had played this game before.  After a moment a quiet rumble became audible.  It grew in volume reaching a grand crescendo of screams.  The louder he screamed the more agitated his actions were.  He started hitting his tire swing with the back of his hands then he grabbed it by the ropes and swung it as hard as he could.  When his show was just about over he scooped up a pile of his poop off the ground and while running at his growing audience threw it as far into the crowd as he could.
Several people had joined Adam while this show was taking place.  Most of them got out of the way but there were a few girls in the crowd, not ours, who had ducked down instead of running.  They had monkey poop in their hair for the rest of the day.
The show repeated itself about every fifteen minutes until the orangatang finally got tired and went inside to rest.  Luckily none of our family ever got hit with his “gifts.”  I’m not sure but it seemed the orangatang was enjoying putting on a show for us.  I was never quite sure why Adam thought we’d want to watch while eating but we did all finish our hot dogs.  As little as Charlie was at the time he knew when the sound got loud the crowd was going to scream and laugh and run! 
          It was kind of gross but that old monkey gave us a great family memory!  He is sitting in the tree below just out of site...Heidi is already getting ready to run!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Entry 169: 1986 Justin and the Air Freshener

One morning after one of the girls had been in the bathroom, Justin came to me with a very curious look on his face and a heart felt question.  “Mom”, he said, “why is it when the girls come out of the bathroom it smells good and when I come out it smells so bad?”
We were in hallway just outside the bathroom and I could smell the air freshener but the temptation to play with him was just too great.  I didn’t tell him it was because the girls used cologne and air fresheners.  I told him it was because they were little girls and he was a little boy.  I nearly double over when he burst out saying, “Oh, that’s what I thought!’  I never did tell him different. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Book Entry 169: 1986 Adams' Blue Ribbon Pig

            One of our sows had a litter of piglets with a very special piggy.  This particular little pig grew wider and fatter than any of his brothers and sisters.  Adam was sure the piglet could win a blue ribbon at the county fair.  When the piggys were about six weeks old our vet, Gary Daley, was at our place taking care of some calves.  When Adam mentioned how fat the little pig was Gary gave him a  checkup.
           In near disbelief Gary told us the reason the piggy was so huge compared to the others was that he was missing an exit for waste.  Let me put this as delicately as I can, the little pig didn’t have a butt hole.  Please excuse me but I don’t know how else to say it.  Gary fixed the piggy and made him what he was missing.  That little piggy pooped for the entire afternoon.  He was still pooping when we had to leave the corral that evening.
Adam couldn’t wait for morning to come.  He wanted to check on the pig.  At first he said he couldn’t find the little guy.  When he did the poor little pig had turned from the fattest of the litter to the runt.
Adam’s dream of winning a blue ribbon with a pig that summer disappeared.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Book Entry 167: 1986 Trick or Treating in Yosemite

         Mom and dad were camping in Yosemite during October.  We drove the kids up for a one night visit.  I had packed all their costumes. 
About mid-afternoon we went from campsite to campsite trick or treating.  There weren’t any other trick or treaters but the camps were full of hopeful grandparents.  It took about ten minutes for the kids to fill their bags with candy.  We actually emptied the goodies and went for more.  Besides all the candy they got dollar bills, apples, peanuts, sling shots, marshmallows, and pinecones!  I’ve got to say it was the best trick or treating we ever did!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Book Entry 166: 1985 Robbery at our Church

 We came outside after the church service at First Baptist in Turlock to find a couple fellows rummaging through some of the vehicles.  Several of the men started chasing them up the street.  Larry cornered one of the men behind the doughnut shop a block away.  The police were called and the men were arrested.
Several months later Larry was called to testify in court.  I suppose the lawyer was trying to make it seem Larry was prejudiced against one of the robbers over the other.  The lawyer asked Larry, “Why did you choose to chase the gentleman you chased and not the other?”  Larry answered without hesitation, “Because this one was fat and I knew I could catch him.” 
The judge sitting at the bench that day was Jeremy Cook’s dad, someone Larry had known all his life.  Larry’s answer caught him by surprise.  The judge laughed and snorted at Larry’s response.  Everyone in the courtroom chucked.  He gave Larry a parting smirk as he stepped down from the witness stand.  Oh…the memories!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Entry 165: 1984 Disappearing Mother

Justin was in his room when I had the bright idea to play a joke on him.  I called him from my bathroom.  When I could hear his little footsteps getting near I flushed the toilet, jumped into the shower, and quietly pulled the door closed.  
When Justin was almost to the bathroom I began calling out, “Justie, help.”  I repeated it two or three times each time getting quieter until I was silent.  I listened.  I heard Justin continue into the bathroom calling out, “Mommy? Mommy?”  He took the bait and thought I’d gone down the toilet!   He turned and took off running for the stairs.  
I quickly got out of the shower and pretended to be hanging things in my closet.  Justin returned a few minutes later.  He walked past the closet door into the bathroom.  He stared at the toilet for a long time with a puzzled look on his face.  When he came near me again he wrapped his arms around my knees and gave me a big hug never saying anything about what had happened.
I noticed later as he used the bathroom he was standing on his tip toes and a little farther from the toilet than I’d ever seen before!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book Entry 164: 1984 Justin Gets a New Name

        Charlie joined our family the day before Justin’s second birthday.  Because Charlie and Justin are half-brothers it made the day even more special.  Robin said,  “Now they are whole brothers and I am their whole sister!”  
        A few months later we went before the judge to make Justin an official Reed.  Again, we made a family event out of it and took all the kids to see the judge.  As luck would have it, this was during the time Justin had fallen in love with his cowboy outfit. 
For days he had worn his cowboy hat, chaps, kerchief, gun, and holster.  It was the first thing he’d look for in the morning and he’d fight to keep it on at bedtime.  His cowboy outfit was the first thing Justin actually took physical and mental possession of. 
Justin would pull the kerchief over his mouth and think we couldn’t tell who he was.  He’d walk from room to room shooting us expecting a long-lasting death scene every time.  Adam was great; he’d grab his chest and do a spiral that would last for minutes as he’d wobble and sway ending in a heap on the floor.  Justin would burst into loud giggles and immediately begin seeking his next victim.  Heidi and Robin didn’t think it was as much fun as Adam did so more often than not Justin would find Adam and shoot him again!
We met the judge in his chambers.  A huge smile covered his face when our family filed into the office.  Justin really caught his eye when he entered wearing his cowboy outfit, spurs clanking on the tile floor, his gun drawn and aimed directly at the judge.  One by one this kind man greeted the kids, shook their hands, asked their names, and asked each one of them if they wanted to make Justin their brother.
          The room was full of laughter.  Finally the judge set Justin up on his desk.  Justin’s holster hit the desk with a loud thud.  The judge bent down to Justin, pushed his cowboy hat to the side, and whispered something into his ear.  Justin grinned and the judge’s eyes sparkled as he stood.  He set Justin on the floor and proclaimed, “Well you’re official.”
          Larry shook his hand again and we filed out the door.  When we got into the hall the kids all began to laugh and chatter.  I asked everyone to be quiet and bent down to Justin asking what it was the judge had whispered into his ear.  Justin got the biggest smile on his face and told me.   “Mommy, he said he never changed a cowboy’s name before.” 
          I shared with the family and we all laughed as we followed our little cowboy down the hall.  When we got to the glass door Justin drew his pistol making sure the way was safe and we all proceeded to the car.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book Entry 163: 1983 Yosemite Goulash

There is just something magical about Yosemite.  It’s not just special to me but to my whole family.  As a child I spent many of my vacations in Yosemite.  I knew it pretty well.  I loved watching my kids discover Yosemite and fall in love with it as I had.
We were spending a few days in Yosemite in the fall.  Our camp was set up and the older kids were free to wander.  The standing rule was never go where you can’t see our camp.  Heidi, Robin, and Adam began to explore.  I noticed them looking at a couple spots near some bushes. 
The kids checked out the river and called to horses stabled across the river.  Then they went back to the spots they’d previously been studying.  After a few minutes I went to them curious to see what they’d found.  As I approached I called ahead, “What are you guys looking at?” 
Adam looked at me grinning.  I know he was remembering how I’d hide or bury failures from the kitchen in the fields.  The kids had discovered piles of something that looked like my Goulash Casserole.  Adam blurted out, “Looks like somebody made a big pot of your Goulash, nobody like it and they all dumped their plates over here.  It must have been a lot because it’s everywhere!”
They were poking at the piles with sticks trying to identify the ingredients.  Adam said, “It looks kind of like that stuff you make us eat!”
We all stared and bent in for a closer look.  The only thing I could really identify was what looked like chunks of apples.

           Slowly I realized just what it was the kids were poking with sticks.  I said, “What’s across the river growing in those apple trees?”  They all answered at the same time, “Apples.”  I said, “What eats apples and lives in Yosemite?”  They all looked like I’d ask them to solve the hardest puzzle of the universe.  There was silence as each waited for the other to answer.  Then all three of them, at the same time, answered, “Bears.”
          They still hadn’t quite caught on to what they were playing with until I said, “So, bears in Yosemite eat apples when they are ripe.  They eat lots of apples.  They eat apples until there are no more apples to eat.  What happens when you eat too many apples?”
          Heidi and Robin realized at the same moment what I was suggesting.  They screamed, “Bear poop!” at the same time and backed away like it was poison.  Adam continued poking at the piles trying to find out what else the bears might be eating. 
          It had to be a boy – girl difference.  The girls wouldn’t go near it again.  Adam, on the other hand, claimed the bear poop as one of his grand discoveries while on that Yosemite trip. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Entry 162: 1983 Near Catastrophe

Larry and I were in front of our garage one afternoon admiring an antique car body.  Robin was riding her horse, Nena, on our front driveway.  She was slowly walking next to the palm trees.  For some reason, and without warning, Nena fell to her side.  Robin responded quickly enough to clear Nena’s body before she hit the ground.  Robin jumped to her feet with the reigns still in her hand.  I’ll never forget the look on her face when her eyes met mine.  Her face was an ashen color.  Within seconds of springing to her feet she staggered to the palm tree and puked. 
          We could only surmise Nena’s shoe had slipped a bit on the asphalt and she jerked.  In jerking she had over corrected her weight, lost her balance, and gone down.  It had never happened before and it never happened again. 
Even though Robin and Nena loved one another very much, even though robin knew Nena would never hurt her, and even though Robin escaped without injury I guess her subconscious was alarmed enough to know she could have been badly hurt.  The puking was over quickly.  A few tears of relief followed by many nose pats and soft words to comfort Nena.
  Larry and I tried to act as if it was not a big deal.  We didn’t want Robin to feel intimidated or lose her love of riding.  We turned our attention to the Model A body in the garage.  After a couple minutes we noticed Robin as she was swinging her leg over the saddle.  I called out to Robin telling her to be careful.  As she rode away I heard, “Okay, how long till dinner?”  
Dinner was about two hours later.  Robin took Nena for a long ride ending her afternoon brushing Nena and cleaning her hooves.  When she joined us in the kitchen the first thing she said was, “Nena’s just fine.”  After dinner, while everyone else was playing, Robin went back to sit and talk with Nena.  I honestly think Robin was trying to convince Nena she wasn’t mad at her for falling.  She didn’t want Nena’s feelings to be hurt!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book Entry 161: 1983 Adam, Robin, and 4H

           Adam and Robin were in 4H for a couple years.  We thought it would be a good lesson to own, take care of, and show their horses.  We found a great little 4H club with a couple great leaders.  They taught the kids all the fundamentals of caring for and competing with their animals. 
          For the Christmas Parade all the kids decorated their horses by braiding their manes and tails.  They had matching saddle blankets, red bows on the tails, and bells woven into their mane braids.  It was lots of fun.  None of the kids had trouble controlling their animals and everyone successfully finished the parade.  When the kids were taking the saddles off the horses and loading them for the ride home a man dressed like a cowboy came up to us half-way scolding the kids telling them they should never tie bells to a horse.  He said they would surely be uncontrollable.  I always thought that was funny since it was at the end of the parade and the kids, as well as the horses, had finished the parade without a problem.
          We also took Adam and Robin to some gymkhana events where they, along with their horses, would compete with kids from other clubs.  Our leader insisted our kids do all the work.  They had to load and unload their own horse, they had to groom and saddle their own horse, they had to scrape the manure out of the horse shoes themselves, and they had to warm up and ride their own horse. 
Our horses were pets not thoroughbreds.  Our kids loved their horses. Unfortunately they competed with kids who did nothing but show up at the edge of the ring when their animals were prepped and ready.  They’d mount their animal, compete, and dismount handing the reigns to either a parent or someone who worked for their parent. 

   Fortunately our kids learned a lot in 4H about animal care, unfortunately they also learned sometimes people who cheat also win.  It was very discouraging to me to watch them compete in such an unfair setting.  Even so, they did each manage to win a few ribbons during those years.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Entry 160: 1982 Charlie Comes Home

We were waiting to hear confirmation Justin had become legally ours when our social worker called.   I wasn’t surprised to hear her voice.  I was a little surprised when she asked me to sit down for our conversation.  My heart immediately jumped to my throat.  I thought she was going to tell me we were losing Justin.  Instead she said his mom was about to have another baby and we were considered family because of Justin.  He was being offered to us.  Another baby was not my plan.
After hours of careful consideration and lots of prayers we decided we couldn’t handle another baby.  My life was so busy taking kids to school, picking them up, taking them to games, to church activities, shopping and everything else.  How could I possibly handle another one? 
We thought we’d made the right decision but God slowly, over the next few weeks, made us aware we had made a mistake.  We began losing sleep.  We became irritable.  We started feeling something was wrong or missing in our home. 
We had told our kids a new baby had been offered to us.  We told them we were considering it.  We hadn’t told them when we decided against it.  After a few days Adam asked when our new baby would be coming.  We told him we had told our Social worker we didn’t think we could handle another child.  Adam looked at Larry then at me.  With a very hurt and puzzled look on his face he asked, “How could you take away our baby brother and not tell us?”  We realized what was wrong in our home. We realized it was Charlie that was missing.   
Larry called our social worker and explained to her we’d had a change of heart.  Our whole family was in total agreement we just had to do everything we could to get this little guy into our home. 
Once a child is placed the county tries not to move him or her any more than absolutely necessary.  We were told because he’d already been placed, and placed in another county, we might have a hard time claiming him.  God started opening doors.  As it turns out Charlie had been placed in a Foster Home with an older couple who only wanted a child on a temporary basis.  The social worker assigned to him knew our social worker and agreed to help in any way to move this little boy to our county.  Within a few days we got word Charlie was to be ours.  What a relief. 
Like a lot of babies, Charlie was a surprise for us.  When he came home our hearts and house was filled with an unexpected joy.  Almost exactly one year after Justin came into our home Charlie joined us.  Charlie was three months old.  It meant another big escape from school for the three older kids. 
We arrived an hour early for our appointment to get Charlie.  When the social worker walked into the waiting room carrying Charlie, he said in a big booming voice, “We have a little boy here who needs a family.”  We all jumped up and started toward this stranger holding our new family member.  Larry reached him first and put out his arms to greet his new son. 
Larry gratefully took Charlie into his arms and turned him to be face to face so he could get a good look at this new little guy.  I’d bet not a full five seconds passed before Charlie got a funny look on his face and threw up all over the front of Larry.  In a flash Larry located me and quickly passed Charlie to me.  I cleaned him up and everyone took a turn holding our new baby. 
The family who had fostered Charlie was a Spanish family with several grown children.  Charlie had some medical problems when he was born.  This wonderful foster family had taken turns holding him around the clock for weeks until the symptoms had passed.  I will always be grateful to them because they could have given him drugs instead and they cared enough for Charlie to choose the same thing I would have chosen to help him through that time.
Charlie came home with everything he’d ever touched in his foster home including all the clothes he’d ever worn.  Taped to one of the bags of belonging was Charlie’s itinerary.  His day was divided into fifteen minute blocks with something marked in every block even if it was napping or sleeping for the night.  Along with this list was an alert warning that Charlie chokes a lot when he’s eating and that he throws up a lot after he’s eaten. 
When we were settled into the car with all five kids strapped and buckled in I opened the diaper bag containing Charlie’s food.  Inside I found several bottle of Gerber toddler foods such as lasagna and beef noodles.  To drink there was two empty bottles and four cans of orange juice.  Orange juice and chocolate are the two things my doctor told me never to feed a baby before their first birthday.  I figured maybe that was why Charlie was loosing his meals.  When I saw the toddler food it all made sense.  Maybe his foster family had been grinding the food up before feeding him but, either way; I put him on rice cereal and formula as soon as we got home.  He never had another problem eating or keeping his food down. 
Another thing included in Charlie’s belongings was a wonderful album full of pictures of Charlie from day one.  What a difference from Justin’s foster family. 
Adam was in first grade.  He had me bring Charlie to be his “share” on “share day.”  Charlie was too small to put in the middle of the circle of children.  I sat on a little chair holding Charlie.  Adam stood beside me.  As each of his friends came to look at Charlie Adam was proud to repeat, “This is my new brother, his name is Charlie.”  When Adam’s best friends came by he introduced them to Charlie calling them by name as if Charlie would understand him.   
Finally, our family was complete.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Book Entry 159: 1981 First Friend - Then Food

One morning on our ride to school we took a detour to Bill Reichel‘s farm where we were having a cow butchered.  On our ride to Bill’s place I remembered how much it bothered me when I was a little girl and our “Bossy” was butchered.  Remembering Bossie was a milk cow, and like a pet, living in our barn I figured I was probably more sensitive to her being slaughtered. 
We were going to see Larry and Bill and the cow Bill had raised for us.  We had never even seen this cow before.  We often bought bull calves from our neighbors dairy to raise for meat.  Bill knew how to fatten them up to make the meat just right.  We usually raised them at home but once in a while Bill raised one for us.
 As we drove up I saw the carcass hanging beside the truck.  It was already skinned.  For an instant I held my breath fearing someone was going to cry.  The girls hardly noticed.  Justin had no idea it was even a cow.  Adam looked at the carcass hanging there and said, “Wow, that sure looks like a lot of hamburger!”  It hadn’t bothered them in the least. 
We often had meat from more than one cow in the freezer at the same time.  The packaging would always have our name and date on it.  If we looked hard enough we could figure out how old the meat was.  We decided to change the way the meat was labeled.  Instead of our name we would put the animals name on the packages.  
The animals we raised were taken care of by Larry and our kids.  They were pets until the day they were butchered.  Because they were so much like pets they all had names.  Among other names we had Roast Beef, T-Bone, Burger-Babe, and Bacon.  The kids loved their animals.  They gave them attention, fed them, and kept them clean.  Some “butcher days” were harder than others simply because some of the animals were friendlier than others.  

 It was no surprise when I’d send one of the kids out to the freezer to have them ask me, by name, which meat I wanted.  Farm life is the best.  It teaches kids about life and death.  It teaches them what hard work is and the value of a successful crop.  It teaches them even if the work is done correctly sometimes the crops fail.  It teaches them animals aren’t always pets. It answers many questions before there is even a need to ask them.  I wouldn’t trade those years on the farm for anything.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Book Entry 158: 1981 Yeast Bread Success

I sulked for a few days about my failed attempt at making yeast bread.  I watched a program on the television called “The Galloping Gourmet.”  The chef was making bread.  He had a special oven for the dough to rise perfectly each time.  I didn’t have an oven like his so I invented one. 
I mixed the yeast packets with warm water and made a batch of dough big enough for two loaves of bread.  The whole house smelled yummy the minute the yeast packets were opened.  I put the dough into my biggest Pyrex bowl.  It only filled about one third of the bowl.
We had stand up floor heaters.  In those days our grocery store packed our groceries in boxes.  I picked the biggest box I had and placed it about a foot in front of the heater.  I put my bowl of dough in the box and covered the open side with a damp towel.  I waited, without peeking, for the two hours called for in the recipe and slowly pulled away the towel. 
My bowl was not just full it was overflowing.  I punched down the dough, divided it, and formed two pretty good looking loaves.  Once again I placed the dough, in their bread pans, into my little makeshift raising-box.  I made my afternoon run to pick up kids from school. 
While I was waiting for the kids I started talking to one of the other mothers.  I confessed my first attempt at bread and told her I was trying again and at that very moment my loaves were at home raising.  She laughed and said, “Don’t you know you can’t make yeast in cold weather or when it’s raining?  And I never heard of making a contraption like that for raising the dough but I don’t think it will work.”
I instantly forgot how pretty my loaves had looked when I left home.  It was cold, it was raining, and I’d just found out my raising-box might be a silly idea!
When I parked in the garage and opened my car door I could faintly smell yeast.  When I opened the door to the house an unbelievably scrumptious fragrance welcomed us.  The kids even noticed.  We all lined up in front of the box of bread.  I pulled up the towel.  Cheers and clapping followed.  There before us were two beautiful, even, full loaves. 
Heidi and Robin took Justin by the hand and walked him to the kitchen.  Adam carried one loaf and I carried the other.  We put the bread into the oven.  Everyone went about their afternoon routine for about thirty minutes. 
When their clothes were changed and the animals fed instead of playing outside the kids all came back to the kitchen.  Heidi and Robin set the table.  Justin pulled his high chair to the table.  When I said the time was near for the bread to come out of the oven Adam went to tell Larry dinner was almost ready.
Everyone was remembering the “dough grave” in the field.  The whole house smelled heavenly.  No one said a word until the oven door was opened.  The loaves were the most beautiful perfect loaves of bread I’d ever seen.  I took them from their pans and placed them on a wire rack to cool. 
Before the bread had cooled, even for a minute, Larry took one.  He placed it on the cutting board and cut it into slices.  He put a slice on each of our plates and a dollop of butter on each slice.  The bread was so hot the butter disappeared almost immediately.  It had burned Larry’s fingers while he cut it but it had cooled enough for us to nibble at it. 
It was delicious!  The first loaf was gone in a matter of minutes.  Everyone loved it.  We ate a whole loaf of bread, a cube of butter, and half a jar of homemade jam during dinner.  It was so good it turned out to be the main course. 
The next morning the other loaf was toasted, a slice at a time for breakfasts, until it was completely gone.
I made bread for our family a lot after that.  I got so good at it that winter when the following summer came I entered it in the fair competition.  I won a blue ribbon.  The following summer I added wheat bread to the competition and won two blue ribbons.  
The following year I added cinnamon bread and won three blue ribbons at the fair.  When I stood in front of the loaves on display they were perfect.  There were no air bubbles, no burned crusts, and no waves in the shape of the loaves. 
The third year while I was standing there a sweet little lady was standing next to me.  She commented on her loaf which was just next to mine.  Her loaf had huge air pockets, looked like it had a broken back, and was burned on the edges.  She said something about my loaf and pointed to my name saying, “She wins every year, hers is always pretty and mine is always wrong, I’ll never win.”
I was very proud I had won but never entered another loaf in the fair.  I always enjoyed making bread.  The nights we had it for dinner I never needed to call my family to the table.  Everyone knew by the fragrance the bread was cooking.