Tag Archives: family

#SOL21: Stories

A cookie story. Cookies made by a spouse. Cookies that presented a challenge. To the plain-speaking recipient, “Can I take these home? I’ll drill a hole in them and use them as washers.”

Sisters listening intently.

Sisters side by side.

One liked to drive the tractor.

The other not so much.

Sisters listening intently.

One brother came and collected him after school using the argument that, “he was needed at home for chores and he was late.” They left without another word.

Sisters naming the cows.

Bonnie and Sweet Pea

in their stanchions.

Knowing their own spaces.

Something like this . . . times 9.

Sisters listening intently.

Sometimes adding comments.

Sometimes asking questions.

Always laughing

While sisters listened intently?

Getting in Trouble? Nahh!

But there was that story about tying the tails of two cows together. And yes, it was a problem when they tried to leave the barn at the same time and the door wasn’t open quite wide enough. Or even how while tied together, that tail felt like a billy club instead of an easy “swish, swish, swish” while milking.

A few stories shared in great detail.

Perfect company.

Perfect grouping.



What stories do you tell? What stories do you remember hearing? What makes a story memorable for you?


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#SOLSC21: Grands


Come in many ages.

Some refer to “grands” as the elders in the family.

Some refer to “grands” as the younger ones in the family.

Grands: I have a few . . .


One a lover of dinosaurs

and one a lover of all animals.

Grand nephews

The older crew

Awash in sports

And video games

And driving.

The younger ones

Following the older ones.

Grand nieces

From apartment living

To sports and school activities

To school concerts, masked and distanced,

To the little ones, still finding their way.

Grands: 17 in all from.

Watch them GO!

How far does your family extend? As the generations grow, how are those connections nurtured? How do you celebrate their uniqueness?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum during the month of March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOLSC21: Timing

It used to be . . . . 35 minutes from start to finish. it’s a bi-weekly ritual. Pan, water, eggs, timer, tray of ice cubes and 30 minutes to that finishing ice water bath.

So why was today different? All because of that new black appliance. That new black appliance has different settings. Large pot for the front burners? Setting for large pot? What shall I use?

It used to be a “6” on the double side.

Today I’m facing uncertainty because instead of the usual 20 eggs, it’s 6 dozen for the annual Greubel Easter Egg dyeing. 6 dozen. Two pots x two batches. All on the first use of the burners on the new stove. (And yes, it was St. Patrick’s Day, but the kids won’t be back for Easter.)

Make a guess. Try a “5” at the mid-point and take a bit longer.

It used to be 4 minutes to a gentle rolling boil.

Today it took six minutes. Already feeling the pressure of having the eggs boiled before half the kids woke up and the other kids arrived. Schedule already awry.

Timer set. 20 minutes to cook.

I perused “slices” and responded while the timer slowly ticked away. I tried to avoid looking at the clock. It felt so incredibly slow. How could a two minute change seem so enormous? It was the two minutes times two batches and who knew what other difficulties still were on the horizon.

The timer dinged as I pulled out a stack of hot pads ready for the next part. Perfect. One cracked egg so I can legitimately check to make sure they are done without spoiling the count. Yes, done. Yes, hot. And one more extra minute added to the process. Water poured out. Cool water covering. Ice cubes dumped on.

It used to be that I would only need to remove the eggs and refrigerate them at this stage.

But today I had to cool the eggs and then refill the pans. I had just passed the one hour mark because I let the eggs cook for two extra minutes . . . because of all my worries about the new settings and simmering eggs. Off schedule. Feeling frazzled. Caught between the known and the unknown.

So batch two prep. A repeat of almost everything from the first time. With one extra caution, carefully drying off the bottom of the pans before they were returned to the glass top.

Ten minutes less than two hours and the eggs were ready. My major cooking task for the day complete. Success in the form of 6 dozen hard-boiled eggs ready for kids and dye cups.

What happens when you have to REVISE your timing for a familiar process? How do you adjust? What is your response? How do you celebrate the changes?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum during the month of March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOLSC21: So Ready

As I turned the corner, I could smell success.


I could see success.

The curved tops gently rising above the pans were clearly visible even under a towel.

I couldn’t wait. I had to examine success.

I peeled the towel back slowly. Yes, all three are rising nicely.

I decide to wait. They aren’t quite ready to bake. After all, it is only 7 am and dinner is not until 5 pm.

At 9, there is no more time to wait. The oven is preheated. The timer is set.

I smelled success.

I could smell it browning. I could envision the outside gently turning brown as the timer counted down.

The aroma filled the house.

I can envision the sights, smells and even words that will surround eating homemade bread with lasagna and the “spring break kids” later today.

Success in baking.

Success in family gathering.

It was easy to define success. The bread rose. The bread was baked. The bread was sliced. We enjoyed eating it. We laughed and talked all through our dinner.

No grade.

Real life.

When should school be more like LIFE? Joyous? Real expectations?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum during the month of March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL21: Lost and Found

We’re 19 days into 2021 and the weather has been a topic of conversation every single day. Yes, another gray day. No sun. Gray. Gloomy. Cloudy. Gloomy. Another day of fog. Fog visibility warnings (5) . Blizzard warnings. Gray days. Cloudy nights. Freezing fog. A layer of snow. A layer of ice. A layer of snow again topped by ice. The weather has seemed oppressive. Is sunshine “lost?” Will it be “found?”

I’m reminded of Brent Gilson’s blog “Lost and Found” where he wrote about feeling a loss of joy due to Covid 19 and the changes in instruction. And yet by the end of the post, his inquiry project and his teaching was filled with joy. Do we need to dig below the surface to FIND the gems? Is it our perception that causes us to “think” something is lost? Found?

Lost and Found . . . a juxtaposition.

This weekend I lost my godmother. Not to Covid, but a goodbye to Earthly presence two months shy of her 98th birthday. With the holiday and an out of state daughter (and of course Covid), plans are still in limbo. And that’s why I feel as though I am stuck in this juxtaposition as I consider my memories.

What is a godmother?

In my generation in our family, our godparents are our aunts and uncles. With seven of us, that pulled in many, but not all of my mom’s nine siblings. In more recent years we have gathered as a subgroup with the same godparents and often compared stories. And there are many stories to tell . . .

My godmother . . .

That feisty godmother who could fire off a quip to stop you in your tracks.

That matriarch . . . mother, godmother, sister-in-law, aunt, grandmother, great grandmother, great aunt . . . so many names for the roles she filled in our lives.

That  joie de vivre that filled the space around her.

A card player who maybe had her own rules for games.

A vibrant human being.

That playhouse in their back yard in Shueyville.

An “old soul” who definitely believed in fun!

Because there were two Aunts with the name Doris/Dorris, she called herself “Old Dorris” with a laugh!

A godmother who is now reunited with her husband and many “Baby Ruths” in several generations. (I wrote about her husband, Uncle Bob, here.)

Because of Covid, we did not have our annual Ruth Christmas in 2020. (Lost)

Ruth Christmas 2015. Now in January of 2021 only 6 Elders remain.

But we did have in 2016, this 70th anniversary celebration with my godparents. (Found)

July 2016

When I began writing this post, I envisioned a column from the left of things “lost” and a column with right justify of things “found” but each memory and thought is so complex with layers and nuances that allow it to fit into either category. Not just one or the other! Perhaps that is truly a blessing!

The common denominators are family, love and laughter. We long for a return to face to face events. The hugs. The buzz of conversations. That memorable laugh. And of course, the food that accompanies our gatherings! Zoom, email, Facebook, messenger . . . all of these tools allow us to “connect” so we are not adrift on the sea of life. But oh, how we long for human contact!

As 2021 begins, what have you lost? What have you found? Where are your silver linings?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOLSC20: Day 1

Ding. Ding. Ding.

I hear the ring.

But I miss the meaning.

Not my phone.

Not anyone else’s phone.

And yet . . .

Ding. Ding. Ding.



It registers!

It’s the oven timer.

Breakfast casserole is done and the timer is my reminder to check the casserole in the oven, turn it off, and grab plates and silverware.

But wait!

Are our tasks complete?

Rug moved from under cedar chest. Check.

Rug vacuumed. Check.

Rug replaced under the table. Check.

Old rug out on the deck. Check.

First round of Saturday work done.

Time for breakfast, conversation, and catching up with the week’s events.

How Leap Day began for me . . . a day of industrious work . . . cleaning, carpet shampooing, cooking, and collaboratively planning the work of co-conspirators.

What did you do on that extra day of February? 

Were you busy prepping for “Leap Day?”

Were you busy prepping for the #SOLSC20?

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Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum in March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: A Volunteer?

“We need a family to volunteer.”

Eyes down.

No eye contact.


And, then . . .

“We will host it.”

And that was the beginning of a year of thinking, planning, and talking about possibilities. Hosting a family dinner, the Sunday before Christmas, a busy time of the year!

I’ve written about our family Christmases before…

here and here

so you might have a picture in mind.

 But as with any great plans…

We needed a back up plan…

And even on Thursday,

Just three short days before the dinner,

We changed the location AGAIN!

Here’s the church basement

In the middle of setting up

Taking our turn to serve as organizers/coordinators/hosts.

The Ruth Family Christmas Dinner!

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Where will you gather over the holidays?

Will you be adding any new traditions? 

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

And connections . . .

How do volunteers in your world feel?

Do the same folks volunteer all the time?

How do you check in to see if your “process” is working?

What do those conversations sound like?

What adjustments do you make?

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: Celebrate!

“Almost 90 cards. So close. Can we count the card sitting at your sister’s?” (The goal was 90.)

Of course, I agree.  Doesn’t every family have one member that keeps time in a different fashion?  Later arrivals?  Later mailing dates?

I’ve written about my family before.  One of my favorite posts is this one with a few of our Christmas traditions.

A family that celebrates:

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Our family

Descendants of Grandma Ruth

But as time has marched on, change has been happening.  We communicate by family Facebook, my immediate family and the Ruth family.  We hold tight to our Christmas celebration as we lose elders and gain littles.  And we have added “Cousins” meeting monthly.

Yesterday was special as the Ruth cousins celebrated Aunt Janie’s birthday.  Of course the 5 sibs were the first ones there . . .

BEFORE the scheduled time!

They may be the elders but EARLY is how they roll.

I don’t have a picture of the cake or the honoree.  But use your imagination!

A cousin’s breakfast at 7 in the morning complete with birthday cake.

Currently the eldest of the “Baby Ruths”;

With 5 siblings – two brothers, their wives, and a sister;

With all 5 children celebrating again with cousins;

(With the possibility of 50 first cousins . . . )

The second oldest cousin up from Danville;

Five Droll cousins;

A Jenn cousin;

A cousin from Frances and Emily’s family;

My sister and I . . .

And even a cousin of the honoree!

Eight families represented . . .

Twenty three was the count .  .  .

Celebrating a 90th birthday . . .

Celebrating the joy of a Mom, Sister, Aunt, Godmother, Cousin . . .

Stories, past and present;


Perusing pictures;

Connecting times and places.

So many reasons to celebrate family, fun, and food!

What family birthdays do you celebrate? 

What makes family time extra special? 

What are your favorite stories?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: In Retrospect

I was ecstatic.

When reporting on my ancestry, I said I was from Czechoslovakia.  Sometimes I spelled it – showing off just a bit because it was a six syllable word.  But most of the time, I just wanted to beat classmates to it and tell my version first. I was in third grade.

My heritage. Mom’s side and Dad’s side. Bohemian. Czech. Others. But probably 75% Czech.

My goal:  To be proactive.  I don’t remember if anyone in my third grade world knew where Bohemia was and ever mentioned it to me.  But my goal was to end it before it began.

“My family is from Czechoslovakia.”


Why did it matter?

The joke of the day then was always about “Bohemians.” It was the 60’s. More recent iterations have been “dumb blonde jokes,” “midgets” or ethnic variations.”  (We were short on entertainment as tv watching was rationed and phones still had party lines.)


Just jokes.

A common one was: “How many Bohemians does it take to screw in a light bulb?”

Iterations readily found online include:

How many Bohemians does it take to change a light-bulb? Five. One who does it and four who would chat about that the old one was much better.

How many deputies of Kénikrát (Bohemian parliament) does it take to change a light-bulb? Absolute majority. The opposition thus could not propose a bill to screw it in the other direction.

How many Bohemian cops does it take to change a light-bulb? Eleven. One stays on a table, four move around the table, next four move in an opposite direction to prevent nausea of the first four, one checks the service box, if the current is on, and commands it all.

How many Bohemian clerks does it take to change a light-bulb? Five. One writes an application form to screw off the old bulb, the second stamps it, the third writes an application form to screw a new one in, the fourth stamps this and the fifth, after few hours of argumentation if there are correct stamps, would exchange it. (Retrieved from IllBethisad wiki – link)

How bad was it?

So many terms come in varying shades. How do we navigate in these times without getting carried away? These definitions from Intermountain Health Care seem to make sense to me.  

rude – inadvertently saying or doing something hurtful

mean – purposefully saying or doing something that hurts someone once or twice

bullying – intentionally aggressive over time and often involving an imbalance of power

So the intentionality matters.  Multiple events over time matters. The perceptions of the “wronged individual” matter.  It’s possible that rudeness could develop into meanness over time and as specific behaviors became habituated.  Yet I don’t know if one could become a bully without being aware of the hurt they were causing.

Was it rude?  mean?  a case of bullying? 

With the passage of time, it’s hard to say. 

I still have that gnawing, churning feeling in my stomach when I hear jokes that demean any group of people… even by profession!

What I do know is that we must be more aware.

It’s not okay to let incidents pass by. It may be the first instance that I’ve heard that comment, but what if it has been long standing behavior by the speaker? 

How do you differentiate between “rude, mean, and bullying”?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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#SOL19: Family Traditions

“I just picked up two dozen, ” Mom said. “If you need some before tomorrow you will have to stop by.”

I relayed the message on to my sister Sherry.

But  . . .

Two dozen?

JUST two dozen?

There would be twelve of us. How many would we need?

It would be inappropriate to run out of such a signatory heritage dish at a family holiday dinner.

We drove to Cedar Rapids to the  bakery and picked up another dozen and a half. After all, it was 24 hours until our dinner.  We would be hungry before then and holidaying at the hotel rules out our own baking.

We MIGHT have ordered some extra that we consumed during our travel as well . . . but that story will stay in the Ford Expedition!

All in all we celebrated with blueberry, cherry, rhubarb, cream cheese, and pineapple . . .

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What traditional family dish have you eaten recently?

(And yes, astute readers . . . I just wrote about them last month here!)

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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