Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We survived the reunion. Every last dish, bowl, and coffeepot has been washed and put away. I washed 8 loads of laundry and put the clear Christmas lights back in the basement. It was a lot of work, but at the same time, it felt wonderful to be a part of the Graham family. This picture was taken at my parents' home for the Friday evening picnic.
The food line twisted through the family room into the kitchen. It was warm and humid outside, so most people were glad to be indoors.
Here's Mom setting up the desserts. The menu was roast pig, cole slaw, 20 lbs of fresh blueberries, potato salad, chips, hotdogs, and corn on the cob. My sil made a cheesecake dessert that disappeared quickly, and Mom made her famous chocolate eclair dessert (see last post for recipe). Several folks asked for Mom's recipe.
In a few years we will wonder how we fit all the cars in Dad's yard, so I took this picture...but many more came after this was taken.
The children had fun swimming.
Everyone found places to sit on the decks, around the pool, and under the tent.
Cody and his friend had fun in the paddle boat.
And Allen caught 4 fish. On Saturday, we had our lunch and dinner picnics on the naval base. It too was hot and muggy (89 degrees). The beach house that we thought would be air conditioned, wasn't.
When I got home that night, I couldn't believe it when I looked at facebook and saw that my cousin's wife had already posted her reunion pics!! This is Richard and Deb, part of our local family who was hosting this year. Deb let me use her pictures for my blog. (All the good pics are hers:-)

Richard was in charge of games this year, a position no one wanted. My family said he did a fantastic job. I thought he was heartless...an egg toss??! But Richard was so good that we've already decided he's in charge of the games in 2019. Go Richard!
I am tired tonight, so I know my writing will be jumbled. This picture (above) makes me laugh every time I see it. Only the Grahams wouldn't mind running through mud to get to first base! It was fun playing Grahams against the Grahams. At one of our reunions in PA, we played against the amish...and got creamed!The coffeepot challenge went like this:

One of these coffeepots belongs to the Graham family and gets passed to the host family each year. Guess which coffeepot this is.
One of these coffeepots was picked up at the dump. Which one?
One of these coffeepots was bought on eBay for $5. Which one?
One of these coffeepots was bought at a thrift shop for $6. Which one?
One of these coffeepots was bought at a thrift shop for $8. Which one?
Four of these coffeepots belong to Kathie. Yes, she uses them. Kathie has one complete collection of something. Can you guess what that is? (Folks who read Kathie’s blog are disqualified from this bonus question!)

The answer to the bonus question is that I have a complete collection of Roy Roger's movies (90 - Roy actually made 96, but 6 have been lost/destroyed).

The answer to the Skittles game (see last post) was 2100. Victoria, I should've put an apple next to the jar so you could see it was a very large mayo jar.
The coffeepot that has been passed down since 1935? The above blue one. We don't use it anymore, but it is still fun to get the coffeepot when it's your turn to host. Some of us enjoy traditions no matter how off the wall.These are my 3 brothers cooking the hotdogs and hamburgers for Saturday's dinner. For lunch, our menu was BBQ pig sandwiches, cole slaw, potato salad, fruit salad, fresh salsa, corn on the cob, 6 lbs of fresh blueberries, baked beans, a wonderfully healthy salad (thanks Dorleen and Patty!), and way too many desserts. I didn't realize our extended family has so many vegans or we'd have provided more dishes for them. As usual, we enjoyed taking turns with darling Abby.

One of my memories of my grandmother is of her standing at her kitchen door with a wet washcloth in her hands, waiting to wash our faces and hands as we came in to visit her. So on Saturday, when it was obvious that the only two toddlers were suffering from the heat (they had the reddest faces, poor darlings!), I enjoyed getting a wad of wet paper towels and washing their faces, arms, and legs. Oh how they loved that! And I would tell them about my dear grandmother Dicus washing my hands and face. Such wonderful memories!
Speaking of babies, this is Uncle George, the baby of the family...of the original ten children. Uncle George says he works out twice a day for an hour each. Wow! My Dad wasn't feeling so well...he will be admitted to the hospital next week for 3 days while the Dr. tries to correct his arrythmia...his heart's irregular beating. The humidity didn't help.
Oh how I loved my cousins on Saturday! Just when the day was coming to a close, and I was getting tired and worn (mostly from that humidity), my cheery cousins, with their energy and smiles, asked how they could help clean up. Wow! They made quick work of it. What a wonderful bunch! (Do you see the menfolk anywhere?!)
Some of the Grahams braved the jellyfish and went swimming. What a beautiful view.

All too soon it was over. Next year the reunion will be at the original reunion place ~ Shawnee Park near Pittsburgh, PA. Hopefully we will make it.

It was good to catch up on folks' lives. I was surprised at how few children there were.

While I was preparing for the reunion, I came upon this website for another family's reunion (you may want to turn on your mute first). I thought their itinerary was interesting.

Enjoy your week. Keep cool. Do NOT visit the amish in this humidity:-)

My brother in law just came to visit and said he almost ran over a huge copperhead on our road. So now everyone has put on their boots, and gotten their flashlights, and they're outside in the dark looking for snakes. I'll let you know if they are successful.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

PS ~ Did I mention the humidity?

Friday, July 24, 2009

It's the Allan Graham Reunion time!

This year is my family's year to host our annual reunion, so we're very busy preparing for tonight's picnic and tomorrow's all-day bash. Folks are coming from New York to Tennessee. One of our favorite games is the "Guess how many skittles are in the jar." How many do YOU think? I'll give you the answer on Sunday...or whenever I recover from tomorrow.

What will the prize be for the unfortunate winner? They have to take home a huge, ugly, ceramic, red bull. That is one picture I hope to take! Everyone dreads that their child will be the unlucky winner:-)

I googled Graham reunion and came up with hundreds of reunions...but none of them were ours! So I changed my title to the Allan Graham reunion. Allan Graham is my great-grandfather. The families of Allan's ten children take turns hosting once every ten years.

Everyone has funny "picnic" things that they drag out of the pantry. A few of mine are this napkin holder which can hold its own in a strong breeze,
my placecards that I use to identify foods (diet jello and sugar jello, regular and decaf coffee, etc.),
and my cute little jar of toothpicks, thanks to old folks and corn on the cob. Actually, there is one other thing...my fly swatter.
My mother is making many dishes of Chocolate Eclair dessert (I'll show pictures of hers later) that is as good as it sounds. We got this recipe 30 years ago from a friend/neighbor that we recently reconnected with this week on facebook!!

My dessert contribution is Sugarfree and Regular Jello Jigglers. I know it's basic, but with the 89 degree heat and high humidity, I thought both diabetics and children would like this. But I wish I had a bigger refrigerator for all those 9x13 dishes! I made four batches last night, and six batches this morning.

That box holds my 20# of fresh blueberries that I will dump into a large 2-gallon stoneware bowl. You should see the size of those blueberries. Better yet--you should taste the sweetness! My children and I ate one box throughout this week, and we are already looking forward to the second box!

WARNING: To Deb and Simba, and any other friends who don't do snakes, do not read any further!!

Last night around dusk, Ruthie came running in with one of our favorite yells," Snake Alert!" Sure enough, this 4-ft black snake was making its way up our porch.
In hindsight, I should've pushed him off at this point. But I was fascinated/scared stiff.
It was also fascinating to watch him slide through my birdfeeder and on up to the eaves. It was at this point that I tried to stop him with my broom, but was unsuccessful. So now we have a snake somewhere up in the eaves. Hopefully the heat will drive him out.

Everyone is home now, Sarah from Alabama, Mike from California. We are busy assembling everything for the picnics. I have to admit that I am deep in nostalgia. How did my great aunts prepare all those tasty homemade dishes (I remember trays of lasagne, rich desserts, wonderful variations of zucchini casseroles, etc.) without ziplok baggies and Dollar Stores? We even had gallons of homemade ice cream that we took turns churning. (In those days, every family I knew owned a wood bucket ice cream maker. Now I don't know one.)

I'll be taking lots of pictures if the camera doesn't slide out of my sweaty hands from the heat:-) My brothers got up at 5 am this morning to put the 200 lb pig on the smoker/roaster. Better them than me.

Enjoy your weekend. If you live locally and can get on base, please come by for a visit. We're at the beach house.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Have you ever seen a welcome mat like my mom's? No, this is not a new idea for excess zucchini. These are cucumber slices. My mom has a problem with ants, especially in the summer. She has tried everything, both green and commercial. But nothing has worked like the cucumbers! Read here for some other green ways of getting rid of ants.
I enjoy looking out my window each morning and watching Lizzie trying to eat her bowl of cereal. I'm afraid Ranger is getting spoiled as well as developing some bad habits. And Buttermilk finally has her beautiful blue feathers...and her voice. We've never had a quacker before. When Lizzie takes the goats out to the field every morning, Buttermilk is right behind. I also enjoy watching the goats rub their foreheads on Lizzie (lovepats). Lizzie loves her animals. (BTW, no sign of either muscovy now...much to Lizzie's dismay.)
So I've got my little luggage carrier with Maggie's records and MRIs, and we're off to the orthopedic dr. Maggie laughs at me for using the carrier, but those MRIs are heavy and awkward. I also add my handbag and put a bungee cord around it all...then I'm all set!

Summer is quickly fleeing. Hope you are enjoying it. God blessed us with a good bit of rain on Monday, so things are looking green again.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Saturday, July 18, 2009

This morning Lizzie started her first day of volunteering at the local Greenwell State Park. She is what they call a Barn Buddy. This is the perfect job for Lizzie.
Greenwell has many programs, but one of them is therapeutic riding. Lizzie will be helping with the horses that support that program. This morning she groomed horses, cleaned water pails, and learned about horse safety. She was on cloud nine!
Greenwell State Park is one of the most beautiful spots in southern Maryland.
I especially love to see the acres and acres of corn.
There is a little hidden beach that is open to swimming...at your own risk. I used to wait until September when the schools were back in session to take my children to the beach there.
On Friday, Allen had his friend, Jeff, come over to play airsoft guns. On New Year's Eve this year, Jeff and Allen played airsoft guns with three other boys. They braved the bitter 26 degree weather for 6 hours. But today they melted after 30 minutes in the humidity. I think that is funny!
So they spent a lot of time swimming in the pool. What a fun day.

Last night we went to Mom and Dad's home for a planning meeting. This year our family is in charge of the family reunion...186 folks have signed up so far! So next weekend we will be very busy cooking and playing hosts. If you click on the family reunion website, you can see my grandfather in the family picture, Floyd (Turk). I sure miss seeing all those aunts and uncles at the reunion. Only the baby, George, is still living.

The weather is beautiful, 84 degrees and low humidity. Tomorrow should be the same.

I hope to get some furniture painting done and start on some sewing. Maggie had two good days this week, PTL. It warms my heart to see the old Maggie.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The time finally came for Allen to take his first batch of chickens to the farm to be butchered and dressed for the freezer. I forgot to take a picture of the chickens to show you how large they were. We ended up with six chickens.
We took them to Warren over on Pincushion Road. Beautiful old order Mennonite country over there.
Warren's home is a ways off the beaten path. You have to drive past the beautiful amish schoolhouse.
And past the outhouse that belongs to the schoolhouse. Isn't that a large outhouse?! Must be a 10-seater!
Past the beautiful fields of produce.
Warren runs his organic farm according to princples taught by Joel Salatin at Polyface Inc. in Virginia. This is one of many chicken cages seen on Warren's farm. This is called Pastured Poultry.
The drive back to Warren's farm runs along a fence covered by honeysuckle. If you roll down your windows, you can smell the delicious scent. It was pretty sunny the day I took this picture, so you can't see the little flowers very well.
We dropped the chickens off at 8 am, then picked them up at 2 pm. Warren has a young family of four children (the oldest is 5), so I took them a large batch of cracked wheat sourdough dinner rolls...straight from the oven. It was worth it to see the look of delight on Warren's face!

I wish I could show you pictures of Warren's family...but they are plain folks and do not believe in taking pictures of people.

How large are the chickens? Huge! Two were 10 lbs, one 8 lbs, and three 7 lbs. Allen and I are very pleased. The one thing we learned? Be sure the chickens are in the henhouse when you drive the truck up for delivery. When I drove the truck up, these free ranging chickens scattered and ran for the woods!
One last picture of our cutie kitty, Ranger. I gave in and let Ranger have my flowerbox for napping. It's okay...the trees have gotten so big that they shade it too much for flowers now.

Today was a good day for my soul. Last week I found myself teary-eyed and constantly crying. I was just overwhelmed. Today is our day to help Dad cook for his church, but my children told me to stay home and relax. Wow. So Ruthie and I have been enjoying doing laundry and cleaning, the simple tasks of homemaking that I enjoy. Mike is in California for two weeks, so we are living simply.

Tomorrow I take Maggie to Walter Reed for her accupuncture appt and to show her dr all the latest results from her tests.

Hope you are enjoying your summer. God is surely good. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Saturday, July 4, 2009

This past winter when I read the article on cnn.com about the man who invented a $5 solar oven, I could hear homeschoolers across America shouting YES! Of course, Allen had to make his own, so yesterday he finished his and set it out in the 80 degree sun. It worked wonderfully! The thermometer inside got to about 160 degrees...and that was on an unseasonably cooler day.

The only problem is that Allen made his small and I can't figure out what to bake in it. So now he is making another oven that is large enough to hold my 12x18 dish so I can bake a batch of sourdough rolls. I'll let you know how that turns out.

If you'd like to see good step-by-step pictures of how to make this solar oven, google "blog-homemade-solar-oven" or go to my favorite version here.

I have lots of miscellaneous pictures, so I'll post them here so I can delete them from my files. It's not the dog days of summer yet...but there's plenty of loafing going on. Anna and Ranger love the hammock on the back porch.
Even JJ is taking a break from her wanderings.
Allen wanted me to post this picture of his final k'nex masterpiece. We were both unable to part with his massive collection of k'nex, so we decided to break everything down and store it in two huge bins. Allen's collection was seven years of great deals from thrift shops, freecycle, and gifts. He says he will look forward to rediscovering k'nex with his children. I'm just thankful for the space!
Ever since I started blogging, I've kept a camera with me wherever I go. I snapped this picture in Leonardtown, MD, on my way to violin lessons. I know it's strange, but I am thankful that I still live in a small town where tractors and combines hog the road.
Here is one of my latest fun projects. I found this ugly, rusted tray in the thrift shop and bought it for a dime.
This is what it looks like after a little paint remover.
And this is what it looks like painted white! I have another tray like this if you'd like to try it. It's already been through the paint-removal process...just ready for painting. Let me know and I will give or send it to you (USA only, please).
We watched Allen earn his green belt in Tang Soo Do last week...but all my pictures are blurry. Allen broke a board with his hand, and another with a kick, both on first try. Hurray, Allen!

How was that for a hodgepodge mixture of pictures?! We're off to my parents' home (one mile away) for a July 4th party/picnic. I'll be sure to take pictures.

Enjoy your Independence Day. Many blessings ~ Kathie