Archives for category: Family

Red bins full of Christmas memories

It is time to trim our collection of Christmas memorabilia. We decided to spend the morning sorting.

When we were first married, while Ted was still in law school, we didn’t have much money to spend, but each Christmas we would buy a small figure of an angel and one of a Santa. The tradition stayed with us and now 53 years later we have dozens and dozens. Time for some sorting and thinning. Silly Santas had joined the collection as well as stuffed Santas, a Santa stapler, a napkin holder, things that really didn’t add to the of meaning of the collection.   So we began tossing.

miss piggy

Miss Piggy is gone now, along with this box of odds and ends.

Miss Piggy in a Santa costume was easy to toss and a few others as well. Then we got to bins with things like the tin of half burned candles. Out. A box of ornaments carefully wrapped in paper dated 1987, which should have been tossed then, went out, they had not been opened since then. Tarnished? Chipped? Out they went.


Dozens of Christmas stocking most belonging to children who have lived with us.

Next were the Christmas stocking, all of our kids, grand kids, foster kids and a few assorted others, had stockings with their names on them, no matter how many years had passed since they spent a Christmas with us.. These I could not part with. Each brought special memories, especially the two that had belonged to our sons who are no longer living.


My childhood stocking. My mother embroidered my name on it. Two of these stockings belonged to our first born children and the Hawaiian Santa belonged to my father.

We sorted through all 12 bins. We sent two boxes to the trash and sent three boxes to the Good Will. And brought our total down to 8 bins. It is a start!



If you asked any of our children what special Christmas food is their favorite, most would say, “Christmas bread.” I bake it each Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning we eat it while unwrapping the packages.

I was a little late getting going on it this year and about 3 o’clock on Christmas Eve I was ready to start. But I realized that if I started at three, it would be risen and ready to bake just as we were  to leave for church.  So, I decided to wait, start it a little later and let the dough rise while we were at church and bake it after church.


All went according to plan, when we got home from church the dough was perfectly risen and ready to roll out. I rolled the dough, filled it with cinnamon, raisins, walnuts and sugar and formed the bread rings.  Then I put them on pans to rise again before baking, which takes about a half hour.

I got busy doing the things a parent does on Christmas Eve and was ready to go to bed when I next thought of them, they had risen and risen until the little cell walls had burst and then fallen, almost flat. There was nothing to do but go ahead and bake them  though they came out rather flat.  I figured frosting and cherries would help hide the problem.

The Christmas bread was a hit as usual.   I am probably the only one who knew that it was less the perfect this year.   This morning our little foster boy had the last bite.  That little guy loves my cooking!!

And if you would like a copy of the Christmas bread recipe, send me an email!



Last to be added are the cherries.


Advent is the season of waiting, longing and preparation.  We are waiting and preparing—



We made a space on the porch for a swag of greens which we bought from an organization working to reduce teenage drinking.

We cleaned the guest closet and took out unused coats to give to the church clothing closet and to leave space for coats of visitors during the season.

We cleaned and emptied a corner of the house in preparation for the Christmas tree.

empty corner

We noticed that Seneca has posted a rather lengthy list of things she would like to receive this year, in preparation and anticipation.


And the kids created two different ginger bread houses for us to enjoy.



Soon we will begin making candy which is to be our Christmas gift to friends and relatives this year.

There is much busyness but  we attempt to quiet ourselves to prepare our hearts for Christmas.

buster eye



“We don’t need another dog.” “But I WANT one.”   This conversation repeated itself multiple times over the past year or two.    We have a cute little dog, we got her from PAWS, the pet rescue in Ocean Shores.  Summer  is everything a dog owner could want, but she is not “another dog.”

Seneca was relentless. Finally is a moment of insanity I said.  “Seneca, if you can behave for 100 days with no school problems or temper tantrums, we will get another dog.   “A tea cup chihuahua,”  she asked? ”  “No not a tea cup chihuahua.”

Her behavior behaved dramatically. No more calls from school, home work was getting done, and tantrums at home were  greatly reduced.  But 100 days was a long time for her to maintain.  She was determined.  She marked days off on the calendar and each day we got a report.  She gradually ticked them off.

Along about day 85 I saw a mention in the 4-H newsletter about an Australian Shepherd that was in need of a new home. That is Ted’s favorite breed.  The ad  said he was small.  Ted called. Ted was hooked.  A week later Buster moved in.

He is everything I want in a dog, doesn’t yip, doesn’t chew, and doesn’t climb on the furniture.   And Seneca adores him.  He sleeps in a kennel beside her bed.

Poor Summer is a little out of sorts, but Raven came to the rescue, he gave Summer the quilt he made in 4-H this summer.  There is plenty of love for two dogs.

summer and girls

Much loved, Summer

raven and Adam

Raven with Summer and our grandson.



buster sleeping

Love is all around

summer on pillow

Raven gave Summer the quilt he made in 4-H. He didn’t want her feelings to be hurt.

And Maddie, the cat is, is not so sure.  Here she is in “retreat”.



Kids love seeing the fire truck up close.

Fire hats

Here they were told what to do in the event of an earthquake

Little kids are so enthusiastic. I got to help with Safety Fair at the Elwha Head Start this week and it was such fun to see the little guys. Police, firemen, and emergency preparedness folks were there to talk with the kids and show them their equipment.   I talked with the children about using 911, what constitutes an emergency and how to actually dial 911 on the phone.   Fifty-six kids were amazingly attentive and should all have a better idea of how to respond to an emergency.

Later in the day I went with the grade school children from the Lower Elwha After School Program on a field trip to the museum maintained by the local Historian Society. These kids are a little harder to impress, or so I thought, but in teams they searched for items on a list, which gave an incentive to see everything. A favorite thing the wooden school desks bolted to the floor, with flop up seats and ink wells, just like what we used as kids.  They also liked the phone booth with an early phone, and a Victrola which was demonstrated with a flourish and played “Ciribiribin.” Check this link to hear Harry James!


The demonstration of a wind-up Victrola held the kids attention



wooden school desk

Old wooden school desk

Raven played in the All City Orchestra performance this week. This orchestra included all 600 strings students in the district playing the same song at the same time. Raven’s favorite was, “That ‘William’ song” otherwise known as the William Tell Overture.

Raven bass

Raven plays in the all city orchestra

Last night our family attended the annual meeting of the Dungeness River Audubon Center at the charming park facility located beside the Dungeness River. We are members and the mission is to inspire understanding, enjoyment and stewardship of the Olympic Peninsula’s unique natural and cultural resources… Our kids have gone to science camps and field trips sponsored by this organization and they emphasize learning while enjoying the beauty and learning about human responsibility for our environment.
dungeness audubon society

Of course the kids came home with wet feet and I won the door prize, a lovely salad bowl painted with Native designs.


salad bowl

I love the door prize I won

So, it has been a busy week and while exposing our kids we get exposed too, aren’t we lucky!!


cat earings 2

Cat earrings from Seneca and Raven


Yep, today is my birthday.  When I got up this morning (very early) I had two messages, one from a friend in Japan, another from a former foster child.  Neither was expected, a nice birthday surprise.

Ted made me an absolutely fabulous birthday apple pie.  He is very good at it.  The kids, with Dad’s help, gave me a pair of my favorite kind of earrings.  I wonder who thought cats would be a good idea?   We celebrated yesterday because the kids and I have 4-H tonight and won’t get home until their bed time. Friends joined us for dinner.

Another nice surprise was a call from my brother in Thailand.  There were cards, calls and email from my sister, daughters, grandchildren, a cousin and friends, it all makes me feel very special.

A big question around here is “How old is Mom?”  The kids are a little uncomfortable having “older” parents so we haven’t really talked about our exact ages.  They do a lot of guessing and actually are getting closer.  But if you want to figure it out:   I don’t remember Pearl Harbor but I came into the world just three months after.

mom quilting machine

One goal for this year is to learn to use this quilting machine


Lots of little shoes

“…a few days” was what I heard the caseworker say when she asked if we could take two little ones into our foster home for a short time.  They were from a neighboring county, there were no foster homes available there, and the kids had relatives who could possibly take them but they had to be “checked out” first.    I was already thinking that we could help out when she told me their ages, one had just turned two and the other was seven months.  Two babies in diapers sounded like a lot, but for “a few days”  we should be able to manage.   That was in November.  Three months later, last Friday they rejoined their Mother, which we hope will work out for all of them.

no fear of santa

No fear of Santa at the Klallam Christmas party

These two were some of the nicest kids ever.   The older one was a girl.  She would get up smiling each morning and would greet each family member with joy every time she saw them.    She didn’t talk much, especially at first, but gradually she learned to say “please” and “thank you” in her sweet piping voice.  She loved Seneca and called her “Yaya.”  Seneca spent many hours playing with her with her dolls.  The little guy was also a cheerful baby who rarely fussed.  He liked to get up early with Ted and would sit beside him in the big chair watching as Ted checked the internet on his lap top.  He mostly laid on his back at first but gradually learned to roll over, move around and was crawling and scooting around the house when he left.  Raven especially enjoyed him, loving to make him giggle.

craft project home depot

Ted helping construct a project at Home Depot

The house feels a little empty without them, I keep thinking it is time to feed or change and listening to be sure they are OK.  We miss the little guys, are glad they shared the past three months with us, and are praying for the best for them.

three with quilt

I made them each a quilt, here the little guy is admiring his.


Copy cat with the binoculars

Raven binoculars

Raven shows her where to look for the eagle

black and brights

“Black and Bright” is what I named this quilt

Today is Robin’s birthday.  Our daughter is 49, I can’t be old enough to have given birth to her!  Robin and husband Ryan live with their three teenagers in Salt Lake City.  They also share their rather small home with three large dogs, two Leonbergers and a growing puppy being given pre-training to potentially become a seeing eye dog, but that is a different story.

robin and seneca

Robin and Seneca during a visit last fall

Thea, Tanner and Maya with dogs!

Thea, Tanner and Maya with dogs!

Robin is a creative person, very giving and always on the lookout for something nice she can do for others.    I remember the day she packed up a supper and drove to the airport in San Francisco with her little kids so we could eat together when I was there between flights.

We have many grown children and I usually don’t do much to acknowledge their birthdays, a card, maybe a phone call or email message.  But Robin has had a rough few months and is actually in the hospital at the moment recovering from surgery which took place earlier this week.  Something special was called for.  A week ago I was finishing a quilt top which I had intended to give to a foster child, when I thought about how its bright colors would appeal to Robin.  It needed to be quilted and Ted helped me load it onto the quilting machine.  But I am still in the early stages of mastering the machine.  No luck, something was causing it to stitch very slowly.

I emailed my friend Marilyn who has an amazing knowledge of things that are mechanical and quilty.  She send back a couple of suggestions and concluded her message saying that if I couldn’t get the quilting machine going, I should bring the top to 4-H on Monday and she would quilt it on Tuesday and bring it to me at Quilt Club on Wednesday ready to bind.

So, that is what happened.

putting on the binding

Attaching the binding

I mailed the quilt on Thursday and she should have it today, for her birthday.  It is nice to think of her snuggled in the bright quilt, recovering on the couch, dogs at her feet and kids bringing her tea!  Happy birthday Robin!

Luckily I have enough fabric left to make another quilt like this for a foster child!

ready to wrap

Ready to wrap

Raven spreads his wings

Raven spreads his wings behind Seneca, drummer

This weekend we have been to Scotland, Ireland,  Spain, Palestine, Alaska and more all through the tales told by five talented storytellers who were part of the 19th Annnual Forest Storytelling Festival  here in Port Angeles.  The guest tellers came from Australia, Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon and Tacoma, and over the course of the weekend we heard dozens of wonderful tales.

Ted is a member of the local group Story People of Clallam County and Seneca and Raven have been good listeners since they joined our family five years ago.  Each year we have increased the number of events we have allowed them to attend.

Family stories

Families attend a special afternoon event

Festivities began on Thursday night when the tellers, along with members of the Story People group came to our home for a pot luck/kick-off dinner.  Storytellers are naturally outgoing and like to talk so the noise level is always high.    I especially enjoyed watching Seneca who, in honoring the training she is receiving in Native culture, began fixing plates and serving Elders in the group.

Gene-Raven from web

Gene Tagaban as the Raven

One of the tellers, Gene Tagaban , who calls hiself the Storytelling Raven,  is Tlingit, the tribe of Seneca and Raven. He has lived in the town of Hoonah where their relatives are.   Gene is a gentle but strong person who shared stories from and of his grandmother and uncles as well as traditional tales.   He also plays the flute and drums and during one performance he invited Seneca to the stage to keep rhythm with the drum as he sang. She was fascinated by him.

raven talks to drummer

Raven talks to the drummer, Seneca

Many of the stories have animal themes.  We heard about whales, frogs, snakes, dogs, a horse, deer, sharks, rabbits and hummingbirds. We heard tales of pirates, vampires, treasure, ghosts. Tales of love, loss, kindness and foolishness.


Stories can do many things, they can teach, entertain, express feelings, hold memories, and impart values.  They can make you laugh and cry, feel a twinge of guilt, and inspire you to make changes in your life.   It was an amazing weekend.


Seneca and Gene confer


Gene and Seneca

Below are the names of the guest storytellers, you can google them for more information.    Andy Offutt Irwin and Gene Tagaban  Mary Hamilton  Anne Rutherford

and Meg Philp, the Australian, who seems to have no web presence though she should!

Washing hands

Washing his hands at Head Start

Friday night Larry went to visit a new family with the hope that it would be a good fit and he would be able to stay. It is hard to know just what he understands of all of this, he will be four this month but has very little language. Still he must know that he has been moved from home to home many times in his short life. He is a friendly outgoing guy, who has never met a stranger, lucky for him, as the cast of adults around him has been constantly changing.
He made amazing progress during the six weeks he spent with us and it was tempting to ask if he could stay but he needs younger parents who can be more actively involved with him and who can keep up with his energy level.

breakfast 2

Breakfast at Head Start, he is learning to serve himself


Breakfast at Head Start, he loves to eat–

His vocabulary increased at an amazing rate while he was here. The kids and I had him repeat words after we said them and the last day instead of simply pointing when he was ready for breakfast he said, clearly, “cereal,” “cheerios,” and “mMilk.” I felt like cheering.
He played well with our grandson Adam who is the same age. They loved playing “chase.” They also built with blocks, side by side, then laughed when their structures fell down.
It is quieter here now, Larry was always talking to himself or making noises of one kind or another, which made it easy for me to know just where he was at the moment. But he was active and sure footed. One of my favorite memories of him is when we were camping. He climbed on moss covered logs, as large in diameter as he was tall, and ran their length as fast as he could go. He never fell.
We are cheering for you Larry!

building blocks

Playing with blocks in our kitchen

Today I received the foster parent newsletter with the following message:

Washington has a critical need for more quality, safe and loving foster parents in your community. Do you have friends or family interested in learning more about becoming a foster family? The state foster parent recruitment phone line: 1-888-KIDS-414, gives information and answers questions for interested families. Information is also available at our website:

Anyone wanting to know more about foster parenting is welcome to contact me!!