Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas from the Midkiffs

It's a Jib Jab, Wonderful Life, starring Norm, Miriam, Missy & Matt, with a little help from Norm's brother Mike and Miriam's dad, Bryan.

Don't send a lame Holiday eCard. Try JibJab Sendables!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Homecoming 2007

Tonight is Missy's Homecoming Dance. The first two photos were taken on the day she purchased the dress. The one with her boyfriend was taken this evening, right before they went to dinner. How grown up she's getting!

(To zoom in, choose a photo and keep clicking on'll be taken to several other pages in the process.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A New School Year

I haven't posted any news in over two weeks...I've just been so darn busy! Labor Day weekend was filled with back-to-school shopping. We also had some distant relatives visit that Monday, which was very enjoyable.

Matt really is enjoying all his classes as an 8th-grader at his middle school. He has a 10th-grade honors math class at the neighboring high school three days a week (because they have an A-B schedule). The other two days he has a study hall period back at the middle school. He also has Health and Fitness (P.E.), Life Skills (required class - home ec., sex. ed., etc.), Honors English and History, and Science.

Missy is a junior this year, and continues with Stage Crew during zero hour for the second year in a row. The school decreased the amount of drama classes available, so she is taking Leadership instead, with the same teacher who taught her past drama classes and current Stage Crew class. She also has a second year of German, Honors English, AP American Studies, Human Biology, and Pre-calculus. The homework load is heavy this year...typical for a junior year. She started working at Cinnabon tonight and will be working three or four days a week, mostly evenings the latter half of the week and on the weekends.

In my classroom, we have only 13 students, none in wheelchairs for the first time ever. Five--or about 38%--of our students have some sort of autism spectrum disorder; three of them quite defined. One of our teachers is out on maternity leave, having given birth just a few days before the school year started. Her long-term sub is a mom of three, expecting a fourth. Two years ago, one of the assistants was pregnant. So we've had a pregnant staff member in our classroom three years running. I'm not drinking the water (or talking to the water boy)! I was able to slip right into the swing of things right away. First period is a combination of Technology and Social Skills (keyboarding several days a week in the library, social skills the rest of the week). Second and third periods are math and reading, respectively. Each of us staff is leading a different part of math; mine is measurement. Fourth is vocational training. We gather the recycling products around the building (paper, aluminum cans) and take care of the rags used to erase the white boards (gather dirty ones and do the laundry; fold the clean ones and replace the dirty ones with them). We also shred confidential papers (those particular students either can't read or can't comprehend what little they can). After lunch, I assist two of our higher-functioning students in a Humanities (Language Arts - Social Studies) two-period block.

Tomorrow our class will go to the Spokane Interstate Fair, something I look forward to every year. We don't do rides; just look at exhibits and animals, and enjoy our lunch. We usually see old friends (students and staff) from other special ed classrooms in the district.

Matt has some sort of injury or inflammation in his right foot. It started Labor Day weekend, and he ended up missing school last Thursday because he couldn't walk on it. I took him to the doctor and he couldn't find anything wrong with it. It still wasn't better on Monday, so I took him in again. His "knuckle" on his big toe was pretty swollen. They took X-rays of both feet for comparison; no fractures. They also ran blood tests to check for arthritis and synovitis (inflammation of the membrane that lines a joint). The results came back negative. He was given crutches to use if necessary, and it seems to be slowly healing.

His bowling league started up last Saturday, and he enjoyed hanging out with his old gang from elementary school all day.

Norm's been putting in his second week of overtime in a row. He also worked a full day Saturday. So not much has been getting done on the house, and I keep telling him not to worry about it; he needs his rest. He anxious to get things done before the cold sets in. He's just about got all the flooring done, so we can use the front door again. I got a new camera, but I haven't taken any pictures yet...I'll try to do so this weekend and get them posted here.

Both units in the duplex next door are filled: a couple on the south side and a mother with children on the north. Everyone seems quiet, so far, and friendly, so we are grateful!

Please keep my mom and dad in your thoughts and prayers. My mom's health has not been so great lately, and I know it is tough for my dad.

My sister just finished her classes and received her LPN certificate! I'm so proud of her! She just needs to take her state exam to be an official nurse. She'll continue on in school towards her R.N. degree.

That's all I can think of. We've been busy!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Nice Matters Award - Part 2

This is my third attempt to complete this post. There's a bit of a storm blowing in the online genealogy world, so I've been compelled to blog-as-it-happens on my genealogy blog, AnceStories. As I said a couple of days ago, I received the Nice Matters Award, and I'm eager to pass it on! Here are my nominees, and the reasons why I chose them:

  • Mauro C. at 1 Million Love Messages has a great idea: post one million love messages from around the world. Can hear you hear the music? "What the world needs now, is love, sweet love..." Mauro's been doing a great job making sure the love gets passed around and thus making the world a better place. Head over to his site and spend some time reading. Then send him an e-mail with a message for your sweetie, and he'll post it.
  • Dawn Meehan of Because I Said So recently became a Famous Person. As a mom of six kids (yes, they're all hers!), her hilarious description as to why she was selling her son's Pokemon cards on E-bay received thousands upon thousands of views at the auction site. She was instantaneously jet-propelled into national and worldwide attention, receiving 100,000 hits on her blog and 10,000 e-mails IN ONE DAY. I'm awarding her the Nice Matters Award because she is using her fame to help others, by placing ads on her blog so people can donate to breast cancer research and St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
  • Vienne, of Eavesdrop Writer, deserves this award for compassionately, yet frankly, writing about the little dramas she daily overhears or views: the proud wife of a blind man, the intolerance of teens toward a homeless woman. Reading her observations makes me stop and think about ways in which, perhaps, I'm not so nice; and determine to do better.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Nice Matters Award

Francis over at Caught in the Stream nominated me for the Nice Matters Award. I blogged about it on my AnceStories blog. I'm also going to post more about it here, and nominate some of my favorite non-genealogy blogs...but later.

Today was my first day back at the district...six hours of training in de-escalation and soft restraint. I'm pooped and would have gone to bed a few hours ago, but Missy is at an Indians game with her youth group doing post-game cleanup, and I am waiting for her call to pick her up.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Different Kind of Family

This is a duplicate of something I posted over at my genealogy blog, AnceStories, this morning:

This really doesn't have anything to do with genealogy, but this morning my dad instant messaged me about an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he knew I'd be interested in.

A new totem pole was dedicated at The Center for Wooden Boats...a 24-foot pole that was carved by five young carvers (including at least one girl) from my hometown of Klawock, Alaska, to return the favor of a gift to a man who had created a canoe to honor the community where his wife once lived. These teens were trained by none other than my "Indian brother," Jon Rowan, a master carver and teacher at my childhood community. A celebration involving other Tlinget communities, as well as Haida, Tshimshian (both also from Alaska) and Duwamish (Washington state) tribes, took place yesterday as the pole was raised into position. Each figure on the pole tells part of a story, and I'm sorry to say there aren't better photos of the pole, nor was their anything really written about the story behind it. According to what I can tell, the top figure is a wolf, the next-to-the bottom figure is a killer whale, and the middle figure is holding a canoe.

The article is located here, and there is a photo gallery link you can click on (photo 9 includes a shot of Jon). The Heenya Kwan dancers are the troupe from Klawock. When I was in elementary school, I was a part of this group and had a beautiful black-and-red button dress and blanket made by Jon's grandmother. In ancient times, the buttons were made of abalone shells, but now they are purchased plastic pearly-colored buttons. I also had a headband that I had beaded myself with blue, red, black and white seed beads. (I'll try to find a photo later and add it to this post). Looking at these photos, I can hear the drum beating and I know which native Tlinget songs are being sung. The last sentence of the article mentions one of my favorite treats: smoked salmon. Yum! If I had known this celebration was taking place, I would have made an effort to take the 6-hour drive over to Seattle to be present!

My family was "adopted" into the Tlinget community, with my father being a Raven and my mother and siblings and I being Eagles. Jon, his mother and his siblings were also Eagles, so we were considered siblings, too. It's a complicated sort of family structure, created--no doubt--to prevent incest by the ancient ancestors of the Southeast Alaskan natives. In the old days, the tribe was divided into two clans, the Raven (who has supernatural powers) and Eagle (his friend). There are also sub-clans. For instance, the Wolf is a sub-clan of the Raven, and the Killer Whale is a sub-clan of the Eagle (my blanket had killer whales on the back of it). You could not marry another person of the same clan; it was considered incest, no matter how far apart you may have been related. In this matriarchal society, the children of a couple were considered to be members of the mother's clan, and her brothers and male cousins would take on the father's role and help to raise her children. Her husband, meanwhile, would instruct and care for his sisters' and female cousins' children.

Chiefdom was passed on to the nephews on the women's side, rather than from father to son. And the tribe had its own form of Social Security: old widowed people were married off to young men and women, who were young and strong enough to care for their elderly spouses. When their spouses died, they could pick someone of their own choice (provided their spouse wasn't of the same clan), knowing that when they were old and alone, a strong, healthy teen would be assigned to care for them in their elder years. Of course this system was obsolete by the time we arrived in Klawock in February 1971.

One of the things I think my father enjoyed the most about being a minister to this community was his visitation duties: checking on the sick and elderly, he loved to sit for hours at a time (which was considered proper and respectful) and listen to the old people, who still could speak the native language, tell the old legends and how it used to be. One elder, told my father of the three wives he had had during his lifetime (I just checked the Social Security Death Index, and he was born in1900). The first wife was an elder, and he cared for her when he was young. The second wife was a woman he fell in love with from his own clan. He married her, but the elders came and took her away from him. He always referred to her as the "wife I loved." After this, he found a woman from the other clan. I've always thought this was a tragically romantic story!

Saturday, August 25, 2007


I noticed on the news feed for KREM-2 (lower right hand of this blog) that a "Watchful Neighbor Stops Drug Deal With One Call." Give me a break!

Do you know how many times in the past nearly 11 years I have called the police on drug deals going down in the parking lots of KFC and Peking North, and they never showed up?

Do you know how many times they've shown up too late, or made enough of an entrance to the block in their patrol car that the dealers/buyers hid the goods by the time they were questioned?

What about that time a year ago August, when two doors down, the drunk twenty-somethings were firing a gun (target practice) in their backyard, and I called 911 five times over the course of three hours...and to my knowledge, the police never showed up?

My neighbors have similar stories. One involved an attempted breaking and entering, and the police wouldn't show up until the neighbor told 911 he was going to shoot the intruders himself.

This is not a bad neighborhood; it's a working class neighborhood with concerned, involved citizens.

Kudos to the guy on West Frederick who called the police, and kudos to the police for stopping the drug dealing in that neighborhood.

But what about ours?

Missy Got a Job!

Missy had an interview yesterday morning at Cinnabon at the mall. She received a call in the afternoon that she could start training as soon as she obtained her food handler's card. She immediately took the course online, but will have to take her test and pay her fee in person on Monday when the county health district office opens.

She's very excited about her first job, as am I!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Have You Voted?

I found this handy voter's guide for Eastern Washington on the Spokesman-Review's website here. Tomorrow (August 21st) is the last day to vote in the primary. Here in Spokane, we have mail-in ballots. They must be postmarked by tomorrow, but if you miss the postal carrier, there are drop box locations, including all public libraries within the county, where you can leave your ballot.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Our Week at Lake Gillette

I thought I'd share some of our experiences from cabin camping at Beaver Lodge at Lake Gillette. This resort is located in the heart of the Colville National Forest on Highway 20 on one of the chain lakes of the Little Pend Oreille (pon duh RAY) Lakes in the Selkirk Mountains of Northeast Washington.

First off, a little history: I used to live in the Colville area, during my 8th-12th grade school years, and my parents continue to reside there. I first saw Beaver Lodge on a Labor Day weekend drive many years ago (early 80s). Our family used to drive into Canada every Labor Day weekend on a day trip (back way before border crossings were no big deal!), and I remember seeing the rustic lodge on the side of the road. That original building burned down in the mid 80s and was rebuilt.

Fast forward to Summer 1990: I was pregnant with our oldest, and the church we were then attending had a church camp out for the weekend at Beaver Lodge in late July or early August, I believe. Norm and I had done a lot of weekend camping that summer, figuring it would probably be our last opportunity for a while (we were right), and trying out our new, family-sized tent. We had already camped at several of the Forest Service campgrounds at some of the other chain lakes nearby (Lake Sherry and Lake Leo come to mind). So it was an easy decision to go up with the church group. By that time, I was well into my pregnancy, and the tent sites were located far from the restrooms; in fact, you had to cross the highway to get to them. I well remember getting up several times a night to trek the long path through the woods and across the highway to get to the restrooms, with a full bladder and a kicking baby, to boot. I was young (23) and probably pretty foolish in those days (but then, too, I lived many years of my childhood without either running water or electricity)! Seventeen years later, I felt pretty inconvenienced to walk only 25 yards away from the cabin we rented (which was much more comfortable than a tent). I'm getting older...

I don't remember the church camp out the following year, but I definitely do in 1992. The main reason I remember is that is was the first time I had been away from our daughter since she was born. My parents and my teenaged sister babysat her, and it was a relief (for me) and a worry (for Norm) for us to get away. My family brought Missy to us at the resort before we left, and we have a photograph of her and Kayla (my niece) as toddlers in a little wading pool at the lakeshore. I think we tent camped once more with both the kids (our son Matt was born 3 years later) as part of the church group, and then we had a long absence. Meanwhile, my brother-in-law continued to bring his kids (most of whom are much older than ours) up to the resort for special dad-daughter or dad-son tent camping weekends, and the occasional family vacation renting one of the cabins for the week.

Four years ago, we decided to plan our family vacations together with my brother-in-law's family, and ended up renting two cabins in mid-August, during probably the wettest August on record! Fortunately, the cabins, while rustic, were well equipped for bad weather; in fact, they are used year round, and snowmobilers and cross-country skiers use them frequently in winter. Each cabin has a couple of beds, a wood stove, table and chairs, a TV and VCR, a refrigerator, coffee pot, hot plate, microwave and toaster, a cold-water sink, a kitchenette equipped to feed four. The store has groceries, a little restaurant, a selection of videos for rent, and a couple of gasoline pumps. So even though it was really too cold and miserable to swim, we were able to play games, stay warm by the fire, and we took a number of drives around to the various lakes, as well as up to the Gardner Caves near the Canadian border. In fact, there's a half-mile trail from the mouth of the cave to the border: did you know there's a cleared border of about 50 feet wide from the Pacific to the Atlantic, all along the U.S.-Canadian border? Check out Google Earth or Windows Live Local (aerial view) to view it!

The last three summers we've had beautiful weather. In 2005 and 2006, we went in mid-July; this year, we again went in August. Here's a list of some of the activities we engage in while there: swimming (of course!); water fights (ditto!); fishing (Matt always does well at that); kayaking (several of the lakes are connected by a canal); sailing; renting a paddle boat; hiking (there are mountain trails all over); driving around to find wildlife to photograph (moose, deer, bear, turkey, pheasants, cougar, etc.); basketball; pool (except this year, they had taken out the pool table - sad!); toasting s'mores and enjoying drinks over a campfire (not this year, due to a burn ban); reading; napping; playing board and card games (Balderdash is a favorite, and this year we learned Pass the Pig); checking out the hot guys (oh, wait, that was what Missy, Kayla, and their friend Stephanie were doing...!); sitting down at the dock late at night and looking up at the stars so bright you could see their reflection in the water below; ditto for the meteorites; driving around and visiting the other lakes and communities (a lot of railroading, lumber, and mining history here); exploring the caves and seeing the border as mentioned above; and sharing meals (we usually do a big pancake breakfast, a spaghetti dinner, and a burger cookout as joint meals with my brother-in-law's family).

There were some disappointments, some of which I've mentioned in the last paragraph. The other was that this resort has gone through many hands over the years, and the latest owner, for which we've had so many high hopes, has decided to sell as well. It can't be easy to run such a place, and really, I think it can't be done without better, more reliable help, a computer system for registration ease, and a website for advertisement. While there was a badly-needed new dock this year, it wasn't conducive for swimmers' convenience, with no ladders available. One of the newly-built cabins was so poorly constructed that the floor is sagging and separating from the wall; it also had no sink installed, with only a spicket on the outside of the structure. My brother-in-law had reserved it, but after two nights of listening to a rat or squirrel in the walls, requested a different cabin (and got it).

So will we return next year? That's a discussion (or two) we'll probably have in the next nine or ten months. And I hope to post some photos soon of this year's visit.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

We're at Lake Gillette!

We're enjoying our vacation at Lake Gillette. Check out our photos from last year. Hover your mouse over any photo to read the caption. Click on the + or - symbols in the lower left corner to speed up or slow down the slide show. Enjoy!

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Porch

On Saturday, Norm's brother Mike and nephew David came over and the guys worked for seven hours on the front porch. How I wish I had my camera working! :-( I had actually asked to borrow my sister's and then she and I both forgot about it...anyway, the guys tore off all three layers of the old porch flooring and frame, 80+ years' worth. The house was build 1907/8 and the porch was not original to the house; it appeared sometime before 1920. Every time the porch flooring rotted during the last century, the current owner would throw another layer of good wood on top of it! We had three layers of rotten wood flooring, and the pillars holding up the porch roof were rotting, too (Norm had replaced two of the worst pillars over a year ago)!

Besides tearing out the old porch flooring and joists, the guys replaced the third pillar, and added more cinder blocks to the crawl space beneath the porch in order to support the new joints, which they nailed in place. The joists are made out of treated wood, so no worries about rotting wood anytime soon! They also cut out some of the plywood that will be used for the new floor, although it needs to be primed and sealed with Kilz before being bolted into place. It's hard to believe all this took seven hours, but there really was a lot of hard hot work to do! We are so grateful for Mike and David's help!

Sunday, Norm and I spent several hours cleaning up the mess. All the old porch wood was piled up on a tarp in the middle of our lawn. He sawed up all the old wood into approximately 3-foot lengths and I hauled them over and filled up the crawl space under the porch with them. That way, we don't have to slowly fill our garbage can or rent a dumpster to get rid of the debris. It'll slowly finish rotting into the soil until the next century. Norm's going to seal off the entire crawl space so we don't get any cats or skunks under there like we have occasionally had in the past.

So there's plenty more work to do, and right now the front door's not usable as an entrance or exit; but I am dreaming of the day when I can sit on my front porch in a comfortable Adirondack chair, looking at my new beds of flowers and enjoying listening to the wind chimes while I read a good book!

Friday, August 3, 2007

This Week's Update on the House Project

Norm has been working very hard these last few weeks on the prep work for the house painting project. He tries to put in at least an hour every day between breakfast and getting ready for work, and as long as it's not too hot on the weekends, he puts in quite a few hours those days as well.

He spent a long time prepping the front window next to the front door, because that's the main window the public sees as well as visitors to the front door. It had a lot of little nail holes in the frame back from when this place was a rental and people would tack up plastic over the windows in the fall to keep out the cold (the previous owner seems to have been a bit of a slumlord). Norm filled in the holes with wood putty and sanded it down, then applied several coats of Kilz primer and sealer to seal the wood and cover up the old rose trim color. He then put several coats of the off-white trim and dark red counter trim on the frame. He also has cleaned and prepped the aluminum storm window and primed that frame with Kilz. He needs to finish painting the frame and after the porch has been rebuilt, he'll put the storm window back in place. He only has a couple more windows to do; most were done last year or the previous fall when he first started working on this project.

Norm has also applied a coat of Kilz to the entire first floor of the south side of the house (including the aluminum screen door), since it receives so much direct sun, as a way to preserve the paint he'll add later. He also has put Kilz on all the other sides of the house from the ground up about 3 feet, where the water has splashed off the roof or from the sprinklers and has taken the old paint and primer off the siding.

Another thing he's done is borrowed a Dremmel tool and clipped off all the roofing nails that protrude through the underside of the eaves so that it will be easier to scrape and paint them. Speaking of scraping, my very small part in all this has been to begin scraping the porch ceiling using a scraping pad attached to a drill. It's a lot harder than it sounds, because the steps on the ladder are either too high or two low for me to reach the ceiling just right. So I either have the power tool very close to my face or have to reach and operate it with less control and more discomfort to the shoulder. It takes me about an hour to scrape a 2 x 5 foot area. And by the time an hour's up, I'm hot, sweaty, and covered with tiny flakes of paint...more than ready for a shower!

Tomorrow my brother-in-law and nephew will be coming over to rebuilt the front porch. It will be so nice to have a safe, nice-looking porch for really the first time since we've lived here (10 1/2 years)!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Not A Quick Fix

So I ran out a bought a new wireless card this afternoon, loaded up the installation disk, plugged in the card and voila! a very quick, great connection...for 15 minutes. And then, the same old problems: pages not loading, the connection timing out, sluggishness, etc., etc.

Called Norm at work and we both wondered if the slot the card slides into is shot or one or more pins are bent or broken. Norm had me talk to one of his co-workers, who suggested that something may be getting too hot and shutting down.

SO thirty-five bucks later, nothing solved, but one more possible problem crossed off the list.

Computers...gotta love 'em.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cabin Fever

I think I've figured out why on earth I've been so uptight this summer: I've got cabin fever. Yes, you know that confined, claustrophobic feeling you get at the end of a long winter, when you've spent too many hours indoors with your family in what seems to be a never-shrinking house? Well, I've got the summer.

It's been too hot this summer to go much of anyplace that's not air-conditioned. Prohibitive gas prices don't allow for the traditional Sunday drives we used to take into nearby rural communities. We've had major expenditures this summer: an online math course, driver's ed., Norm's company rearranging the pay schedule resulting in a week's "lost" pay, rebuilding the porch and painting the house, and putting aside savings for vacation.

The kids aren't little anymore. You can't entertain them with free movies at the Garland Theatre, free-swim time at the city parks, or story hour at the library. They're too cool for the Boys and Girls Club, too young (Matt) or too busy (Missy) for jobs, and the budget's too tight to set them loose in the mall. We all want to use the computer to "escape"; trouble is, we're down to one computer, and that one is being used several hours a day for math. The digital camera gave up the ghost. If one more thing breaks or dies, I'm going to scream! The kids are on each other's nerves, on my nerves, on Norm's nerves, and I'm on theirs and his, I'm sure!

Summertime cabin fever: now that I understand it, I can deal with it. It's the not understanding why I'm so cranky and crabby all the time that makes it worse.

And some "good" news: Norm got someone to test the wireless card from our laptop. The card is bad. It's good news, because I've been tearing my hair out wondering if we simply had the network set up wrong on the laptop after it had been re-configured. See, the wireless card works enough to get a good signal for 10 or 15 minutes, then the connection gets very sporadic. Now that we know it's bad, we can easily--and fairly inexpensively--replace it.

Sometimes you gotta look--and be grateful--for the silver linings in all the storm clouds above. I have to remind myself of that a lot these days. :-)

Friday, July 27, 2007

This Week's Family Celebrations: July 22 - 28

Happy birthday to my cousin's son, Xander, who turned four on Wednesday!

This Week's News

This week has been hot, hot, hot! Actually, it's been this way all summer. We never did have our cooling beginning-of-summer rains, so things are really parched around here. My laptop is having problems connecting to the Internet. I took it to the library last Saturday to try to connect to the library's hot spot. That didn't work. When I got it home, the wireless card seemed to work fine, but the network connection was gone. A long call to my ISP tech person didn't help. I called my husband's nephew, who helps us with so many of our computer issues. He worked on it for an hour and a half, and finally got a connection, but it failed about five minutes after he left.

I called our ISP tech person again today. I think we have it partially figured out; but I need help figuring out how to reconfigure the rest of the settings, and I couldn't get back through to tech support.

Missy was at church camp all this week. While there, she received a text message from one of her friends informing her that the little sister of another friend had passed away on Monday. You can see Maddie's obituary here. I felt so badly that I wasn't there when Missy heard the news, and of course, I feel badly for Maddie's family.

It's just kind of been a rotten week, and I'm glad it's almost over.

Friday, July 20, 2007

This Week's Family Celebrations: July 15 - 21

Happy Anniversary to Norm's Aunt Carol and Uncle Ray, who celebrated their 44th anniversary on Wednesday, July 18th.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Peach Dessert

This recipe was shared with me by a girlfriend years ago. I'm not sure where she found it, but we both agreed it was scrumptious! It's a family-pleaser, too!


  • 32-oz. can of sliced peaches, drained
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. ground cloves
  • dash of salt
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick (1/4 #) butter or margarine
1. Heat oven to 350° F. Mix filling ingredients well and put in bottom of a 9" square oiled glass pan.

2. Mix dry topping ingredients. Mix vanilla, egg, and butter and then add to the dry topping ingredients, using a shortening cutter, until the mixture is damp, but crumbly. Crumble this topping over the filling.

3. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes. Topping will be crunchy-looking but bubbly. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping. Wrap leftovers in pan well with plastic wrap before refrigerating, or dessert may crystallize and be difficult to serve when cold.

This favorite goes well with my spaghetti dinner.

My Spaghetti Recipe

My kids really love my spaghetti recipe. The last time we went to a buffet house, my son got a plate of spaghetti and after a couple of bites, put it aside. "It doesn't taste good at all, Mom. It's not like yours." My daughter went to Tomato Street with some family friends several years ago and tried their spaghetti. She told the family she was with that her mom's was much better. High praise from some picky eaters!

So I'm not Italian at all, and can't say I spend hours simmering my sauce or use fresh-from-the garden ingredients. I don't even use meatballs, but instead use ground beef. Despite all this, it's a family favorite, and easy to make into dinner for a crowd.

  • Cooked spaghetti noodles, drained (when I throw the dried ones into boiling water, I grab a bunch big enough to fit within the circle of my thumb and index finger...about quarter-sized)
  • 1 # ground beef
  • 1/2 c. diced onion (I prefer Walla Walla Sweets, but any will do)
  • a couple cloves of garlic, pressed (or use garlic salt with the spices, instead)
  • 1 15-oz. can of stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 15-oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 6-oz. can of tomato paste
  • 1 small (8 oz.?) can of sliced mushrooms, drained; or a few fresh ones, sliced
  • 1 small can of sliced olives, drained
  • oregano
  • cumin
  • basil
  • seasoning salt (like Lawry's); omit if using garlic salt instead
1. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef with onion and garlic. Chop up meat into very small chunks. Drain meat into colander to remove excess grease, wipe out skillet with paper towel, and return meat to pan.

2. Add canned ingredients and mix well. Generously sprinkle entire sauce with the spices and seasoning (or garlic) salt. Mix well. Let simmer for a few minutes (about 10).

3. Add drained cooked noodles to sauce. Mix well. Serve with a tossed green salad and/or cut green beans (fresh or canned), and garlic toast. Sprinkle spaghetti with grated Parmesan cheese if desired. A favorite ending to this meal is Peach Dessert, served with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping.

Friday, July 13, 2007

This Week's Family Celebrations & Memorials: July 8 - 14

Happy Birthday to Norm's Aunt Carol on July 8, and his niece Jennie on July 10.

We received news earlier this week that my granduncle, Lloyd Jack Robbins, had passed away in Florida on July 12.

Sizzlin' Hot!

The last few days it's been in the 100s here in Spokane. Today, we had humidity, overcast skies, and strong winds. Later in the afternoon, there were lightning strikes and downpours here and there. It cooled down 20 degrees in 2 hours...from 102 at 5 PM to 82 at 7 PM. I went out and filled my garbage can with small twigs and cones from the trees in our yard while talking to a friend on the phone. She was also talking from her front yard, and we both remarked on how good it felt outdoors in the 80s!

My dad e-mailed me earlier today and sent me the weather report from Colville - 108! Sheesh! It is supposed to be 103 tomorrow, with another chance of storms, then cool down into the 90s next week.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Fourth of July Photos

My parents stopped by last night, and Dad gave me a CD of photos he had taken at our Fourth of July barbecue. He is the only one that does not appear in the slideshow below:

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Projects: Wall, Porch, House Painting

I'm very excited because next weekend, Norm, his brother, and his nephew will begin rebuilding our front porch! This weekend, he's finishing up the retaining wall he built around the back end of the shed next to the driveway of the duplex that was recently built. This is to prevent a vehicle from running into our shed and storage area, as the driveway is pretty narrow and about four feet above our property level. We also purchased the rest of the paint we'll need for the house. Right now my digital camera is unusable; I'm hoping to get a replacement next week so that I can document the work as it is done and post it here for you all to see. It's a tremendous amount a work, and I know that Norm and the others will do a quality job!

Further Updates on My Father-In-Law

Norm talked to his dad the other day, and he's feeling much better...especially since he's allowed to sleep. While in the hospital, he had been woken by nurses every two hours to get his vitals checked, and it wore him out so badly, he couldn't even keep food down. He has spent the last few days sleeping and eating, and it has helped tremendously! He will have to keep it easy for about six months to help prevent more clots.

Thank you for all your prayers and thoughts sent his way!

This Week's Family Celebrations

Happy Birthday to two of my cousins--brothers Ted (July 3rd) and Karl (July 7th)--ages 21 and 23 this year!

Happy 5th Anniversary to Norm's niece and nephew-in-law, Jennie & Nathan, on July 6th (their online family photo album can be found in the right-hand menu)!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Another Update on My Father-In-Law

We were away from home most of the day with the holiday celebrations, but received phone messages and e-mails notifying us that Norm's dad was discharged from the hospital today. He's still pretty tired and in some pain, so he could continue to use your thoughts and prayers. Thank you to all of you who've been doing so!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Wave Your Flag Cake

I'll be making this dessert today in preparation for the annual Robbins Fourth of July Picnic held at my parents' log house north of Colville. There's usually a small crowd attending: my daughter and her boyfriend, my son, my sister and her children, her birth daughter and her adoptive family, family friends, and a small crowd of my folks' church friends. Loren is usually in charge of the grill (burgers or hot dogs), and everyone brings a dish or two. Dad makes his famous baked beans (a Robbins Robbins Family Reunions in Michigan, you could find dishes and dishes of baked beans on the table!), and supervises the s'mores makings. Laurie often brings her delicious cold three-bean dish. There's always potato salad, chips, and soft drinks. Janet usually brings a peanut butter pie! Pete helps Dad set up the tables, and Mom puts out the red-white-and-blue tablecloths, dishes, tableware, and condiments. While things are being prepared, the little boys will play with Grandpa's train layout. Then Dad will gather anyone around to say a prayer of gratitude for the good food, good company, and our freedoms. We'll dig in, enjoy each other, and go home to watch fireworks in the evening!

Wave Your Flag Cake

(image and recipe from Kraft Foods)

  • 1 qt. fresh strawberries (about 4 cups), divided
  • 1 1/2 c. boiling water
  • 1 8-serving pkg. or 2 4-serving pkg. of red Jell-o (I prefer strawberry flavor)
  • ice cubes
  • 1 12-oz. pound cake (or I use Sara Lee 10.5 oz. pound cake, and slice it very thin), cut into 10 slices
  • 1 1/3 c. fresh blueberries, divided
  • 2 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 8-oz. tub of whipped topping (store brand is fine)
Wash and hull strawberries. Slice one cup, set aside. Halve remaining strawberries, set aside.

Stir boiling water into Jell-o dry mix for two minutes until completely dissolved. Add enough ice to cold water to measure 2 cups. Add to Jell-o; stir until ice is melted. Refrigerate 5 minutes or until slightly thickened (consistency of unbeaten egg whites).

Meanwhile, line bottom of 13x9-inch dish with cake slices. Add sliced strawberries and 1 cup of the blueberries to thickened gelatin; stir gently. Spoon over cake slices.
Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with wire whisk or electric mixer until well blended; gently stir in whipped topping. Spread over Jell-o. Arrange strawberry halves on whipped topping for "stripes" of "flag." Arrange remaining 1/3 cup blueberries on whipped topping for "stars." Store leftover cake in refrigerator (hmm...there's rarely any leftovers at our picnic!).

Monday, July 2, 2007

Another Update on My Father-In-Law

Yesterday evening, we had a message from Norm's brother that he had called Norm's dad in the hospital and talked with him, and that his dad said he would like to hear from Norm. So Norm called his dad and talked with him for a little while. Norm was a little shook up afterwards; said his dad sounded just terrible; he couldn't remember Norm's brother calling him; and was confused and kept calling Norm by his brother's name at first. I reminded him that his dad is doped up on pain killers, has some oxygen deprivation (which is why he is on oxygen); has lost track of time; and is fighting some pain after he has had the painkillers reduced. Still, I know it is hard to see (or hear) a parent in a weakened state. It reminds us of our mortality, and how fragile life really is.

Norm then talked to his mother for a while. The doctors are fairly convinced that if his dad didn't have pneumonia, then he has had at least a severe infection. He won't be released from the hospital tomorrow as first expected, because of this infection. It will be a few more days. This has been really hard on Norm's mom, so please continue to keep both his parents in your thoughts and prayers...thanks!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Update on My Father-In-Law

My father-in-law is better...but he has pneumonia...the doctors think. I have no idea why having pneumonia is "better," but maybe what this means is that the blood clot is going away.

Thanks for keeping him, my mother-in-law, and the family in your thoughts and prayers. I'll keep posting updates as I hear them.

New Design

While this is a rather new blog, you may have noticed that there was a change in the design and colors today. The pixel painting in the upper right hand corner, with the plaid background, is a drawing I created using my Paint Shop Pro 6. And yes, it is of our least the way I want it to look when the front porch has been repaired, the exterior paint job finished, and new flowers planted. Right now it's still looking a little run down around the heels! I took a photograph of the house and using PSP drew over the house with digital paint, changed the colors, highlighted and added shadows, and then used a filter to create a plaid background. I'd love to get some stationery made with this printed on it...actually, I could print some myself! What do you think?

Another Gun Brought to My School

As I added a feed to one of the local television news stations on the right-hand menu on this page (near the bottom), I noticed one of the headlines was "Airsoft gun brought to Spokane middle school." Clicking on the link brought up a photo of my work location and the story of how a pellet gun was brought to the summer school program being held there. (Sigh!) This is the third incident (that I know of) where some type of gun was brought to school in the past 12 months. It's a tough neighborhood, and a tough population of kids, which is why we have chosen not to have our own children attend that particular middle school or the high school that it feeds into. Guns don't scare me; it's the fact that it's the kids who have not been trained properly in gun usage and safety who are the most likely to pull such a stunt. Their reasons for bringing a weapon to school are to show off, protect themselves, or use it for revenge--none of which are very reassuring.

[By the way, the news article was wrong. The school is located in East Spokane, not West.]

Friday, June 29, 2007

June 15 - 29

Here's a summary of what's been going on in our lives. School got out June 15th, the same day Norm's sister and brother-in-law stopped in on their way to Mt. Rushmore from the Portland area with their new-used 5th wheel. We enjoyed the visit and admired their new rig. I have to say that my sister-in-law is pretty handy with the sewing machine and does a great job at decorating!

Saturday, June 16th, Norm's niece Becky graduated from Eastern Washington University with a B.A. The next day, we celebrated the 5th birthday of my sister's middle boy, River, at Chuck E. Cheese's. All last week the kids and I just enjoyed not having to do anything, not being at school, sleeping when we wished! I did work hard for my presentation to the Bonner County Genealogical Society up in Sandpoint, Idaho. More on that here. And Missy started working with her youth group cleaning up the Indians stadium after games to earn credit towards church camp next month.

This week, Missy began her first week of Driver's Ed, two hours a day, three days a week, for five weeks. She and a friend turned in a dozen-anda-half applications and resumes apiece at various business at our nearby mall. Matt started his virtual math class online; he will be in 8th grade next year. The online class is for 9th grade math, and next fall, he will spend one period a day--his math class--at the high school, taking the 10th grade course. I spent several days--ugh!--entering months of receipts into my Quicken program on the computer. In the midst of it all, I discovered that someone had used our credit card number to apparently create a false card and swiped it to make two purchases of gas in Mexico last month! I reported it right away, and it seems to be resolved, thank goodness!

This morning we received an e-mail from Norm's sister telling us his father has been hospitalized for a blood clot in his lung. Things seem to be stable, now, but please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

We have had gorgeous weather for this time of year. Generally, we get a lot of rain during June, that doesn't let up until around the 4th of July. This year, it's been drier and hotter. My rhubarb is more than ready to be picked and frozen, ready to make pies. This year, we got a small yield of sweet, juicy, and huge strawberries (we learned late last year that they shouldn't be fertilized, which is why we never had any fruit before!). My peonies and wild roses were gorgeous, and I'm so sad my digital camera is broken; I would love to post some garden photos on this blog. I planted some petunias again, and the alyssum is starting to bloom. I'm not putting in any perennials until after the porch gets fixed and the house painted. I don't want to spend a lot of money on flowers just to have them trampled during projects and repairs!

Last week, they tore down that house across the street next to KFC. They're going to enlarge the restaurant parking log. It's so sad! The house could have been sold and moved elsewhere. I blogged about it here. Next door, the new duplex is getting finished on the inside. They drywalled most of the week. I hope we get some quiet, clean, private neighbors. It will be unsettling to have people living so close. Their front doors will be on our side, and as that lot is a couple of feet higher, they'll be looking right down into our yard and windows (we have had the blinds shut on that side for some time, now).

In other neighborhood news, the Chevron that we frequently patron, has been sold to a firm from Seattle. The place has been owned by a couple that have wanted to retire. It was a modern version of a mom-and-pop shop. Their adult children worked there, and they always have hired friendly employees. I hope things won't change too much when the new owners take over.

So that has been our summer vacation so far! Thanks for dropping by!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

This Week's Family Celebrations and Memorial Events

June is an eventful month in this family. Between Norm and me, we have seven birthdays, an anniversary, Father's Day, and usually a graduation or two to celebrate within our extended families. My grandfather's passing in January brought down the number of birthdays from eight to seven.

This week's celebrations and events:
  • June 25th - Happy Anniversary to my parents who are celebrating 42 years together!
  • June 26th - In Memorium. My cousin Chris was born on this day 40 years ago. He passed away December 15, 1985. He was more than a cousin; he was a good friend. I miss him and his sister Carrie tremendously.
  • June 27th - Happy 63rd Birthday to my mom!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Oh, Just One More Thing, Ma'am...

Just what I need: another blog. Problem is, there's too much I want to write about that doesn't fit under genealogy. So here it is, a place to post my other random thoughts and maybe try my hand at some fiction, daily life, rantings & ravings. This is for Everything Else In My Life, and that's why it's called "&Etc."