Susie's Leaning Tower of Chocolate

Categories: swishina | Memories

Categorical collections of memories and vignettes from my past and childhood

Rest In Peace, Jim: My sweet father-in-law finally moved on from this difficult life. He was always so good about getting down on the floor and playing with the grandkids. My kids enjoyed playing pool, marble hockey, chess, Wii, uno, and more with him. They loved his Donald Duck voice.

This summer, when we spent a lot of time in Utah, we enjoyed a lot of meals around the table with him. It’s been many years since he made such an effort to get to the table while everyone else was still eating, but we had a lot of enjoyable family meals this summer. He was also very appreciative of the food I made, which made me feel good.

Picking Raspberries: Grandma Susan told me a story about a job picking raspberries when she was 13. The lady picked her up at 4 in the morning and drove a bunch of teenagers in the back of her truck out to her raspberry field. She picked raspberries until 11, and got $.10/basket. She said she was lucky to get $.40 some days, if you got assigned a row that didn’t have a lot of ripe ones.

Thank You, Internet: My brother lives 2800 miles away, and my sister lives 5400 miles away, and we just spent five minutes discussing clothing hangers in our childhood home.

: I've been missing my grandmas lately. Realistically speaking, this is Grandma Rosie and Grandma June. Grandma called me Sugar, a little bit of the Southern in her I guess. There's something enormously comforting about a hug from a comfy old woman who calls you Sugar.

I miss visitng Grandma June, doing puzzles with her, watching her get her "dying" body down on the floor to play with the kids, and fully appreciating every moment I spent with her, every errand I drove her on, every piece of chocolate cake I brought her. Few people in my life have made me feel so appreciated.

Even longer than this bout of grandma-missing, I've been noticing grandmas out and about. And taking notes for when I'm a grandparent. Seriously.

[Comments] (1) Sew On, Bernina: You sit down at the table. Your hands slip the fabric under the needle. The machine roars affirmatively, bringing life to helpless fabric, rising memories, maybe even shaking the table a little bit.

This is your mother's sewing machine. This is how she sewed. This is how sewing is meant to be.

Except. $200 later, the machine works again and now instead of roaring, it purrs. A very quiet, happy purr. The table doesn't shake. I am actually SHOCKED that the machine isn't supposed to sound like that. I feel like I was lied to my entire childhood.

And it sews beautifully.

It's amazing. I had to stop after one rolled hem to blog about it. I might even cry.

The repair man told me on the phone that the bracket holding the motor in place was loose. Looking back (at the last 20 years of my life), it does seem rather obvious.

My Dad: For my Throwback Thursday post on Instagram this week, I wrote about my dad.

April and May mark the bookends of my parents' lives. My dad was a track star, a cheerleader and played the clarinet in the UCLA marching band. He was a computer programmer when computers were huge. He was a science teacher and a cross-country coach, a family historian, a bishop and a choir director. He grew a fabulous garden, took us on outings, and painted stripes on my nails. He died of AIDS at 43. #tbt

Kind of more things he did in the outside world. While writing the post, I thought of a lot of other things he did that meant more to me personally. He read us bedtime stories. I remember sitting on my parents bed, digging in the drawers of their headboard while he read. He took the long way home. He stopped at Podunk, Everywhere to see all the sights along the way. He took us to the zoo, to Disneyland, to museums, to see the stars. He played Uno with us during Spending Time on Sundays (which I now see is the equivalent of my kids' Daddy Home Day). He did jigsaw puzzles and cooked. He camped and hiked and carried kids on his shoulders. I think we would have made a fabulous grandpa and I wish my kids had him around.

Grandma's See's: Last night, Brett, Rachel and I picked Leonard up from the airport. He said he'd brought a present for us that had reminded him of Grandma Rosalie and with that as our only clue we began guessing.

Peanut brittle
candy canes
fisher-price circus train
Stouffer's lasagne
orange soda
Tootsie pops
kids' TV dinners
Meow Mix
Burger King
green mushroom footstool
colored White Out

Eventually, Leonard came to the conclusion that he was the only person who remembered this about Grandma. It turned out to be a box of See's candy. Leonard remembered the large assortment box being on the orange counter at the ranch. Now that he mentions it, I can almost remember this. The chocolate is good, either way.

13 Cool Things We Did in '13: I was going to do a post about all the cool things I did this year, but then I realized there weren't any.

1. Maggie learned how to read. She also burned a track in the carpet from her running around.

2. John got promoted to Senior Manager. Did I not mention that? Well, he has his own blog.

3. We drove up the coast, then went inland to Yosemite.

4. We went to San Diego! Visited the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park twice each, and stayed in a cool hotel.

5. We made two trips to Utah. Oh wait, I said "cool" things, not cold miserable things. Utah in March is nice.

6. The kids went to summer day camp for the first time. Maggie to Hero Camp and both kids to gymnastics camp.

7. Sienna learned all sorts of stuff. She basically only knew how to smile at the beginning of the year. So she learned how to sit up, roll over, play dead, talk (recently turned from syllable repeating to babbling), stand up, sign, be silly, play peekaboo, climb up and down stairs, etc.

8. Legoland. Though, I just realized we probably still went to Disneyland more this year.

9. Dalton provided lots of entertainment with his hilarious adorableness, un-lost himself several times by asking a nearby stranger where his mommy was, and grew into the kindest sweetest boy imaginable.

10. Ok surely I did something noteworthy. I made our Halloween costumes. I breastfed. A lot. I did my own NaNoBloMo, plus kept our picture blog up to date. I spent a lot of time cooking and cleaning, and doing laundry and running kids around places and grocery shopping. Lots and lots of grocery shopping.

I think it's safe to say that while 2014 has yet to prove if it's better or not, it will definitely be more exciting.

Must add that much of my snark is coming from the 5:00 hour, thank you, Sienna, myself having already been up once in the night coughing.

AND I just realized I only posted 10 things. Officially time to go back to bed. Hah.

(Update #18) Now that I am awake (but no less snarky) I will add three more.

11. Everyone (except Sienna) got really good at playing iPad games. This may not seem like a big deal, but based on the number of hours involves, it's very important.

12. Maggie memorized the thirteen Articles of Faith and Dalton memorized four or five of them.

13. Maggie learned to ride a scooter. And do a cartwheel. And play the piano. Now there's a legitimate accomplishment for me: I taught Maggie piano lessons and she actually learned something.

[Comments] (2) Santa for Mom: When I was 14 or 15, I woke up early on Christmas morning and realized we hadn't bought anything for my mom's stocking! Even though she was married at the time, it was clear that us kids were responsible to be Santa, at least for the stocking. I bravely woke up Leonard - 16 or 17 then - and we agreed to drive to 7-11. At 6:00 on Christmas morning, we drove 10 minutes into "town" to buy Coke, Hershey bars and who knows what else to fill mom's stocking. Not every teenage boy would do that. Even though everything was obviously purchased at a convenience store, I wonder if she had any idea we had gone that morning to do it.

The year I was 17, we drove to Texas for my cousin's wedding and spent Christmas there. We filled mom's stocking with items (including collectible patches) sneakily purchased from convenience stores all along Route 66.

[Comments] (1) The Smooth: I am eating The Most Delicious peanut butter sandwich. Sara Lee soft ww bread, jif peanut butter, black raspberry jam. I opened the jam oh-so-cleverly using a rubber drawer liner. The peanut butter was also a new jar. Rachel and I used to argue over (or nicely share) the "smooth" - that lovely top layer of a new jar. Today I got both. Hiya.

Grandma June Round-Up: I looked through my blog for some memories of Grandma June to share. Wish I had more. Actually, there are more, I just can't find them.

Lots of hilarious Grandma June quotes 5/16/06
Grandma's siblings 6/30/06
Maggie's first "I love you" 8/7/2009
The story behind the picture of Maggie and Grandma June on her swing 8/21/10
Maggie reads a card from Grandma June 12/17/09
Maggie creates a tail for Grandma June 2/5/10
Grandma's favorite songs (Little Purple Pansies) 3/22/10
Snuggling Dalton at the cemetery 5/31/10

[Comments] (1) Through Orange-Colored Glasses: Maggie and I buy a fuzzy drink - orange Fanta - at the store, and open it in the car.

Hmm. This reminds me of The Ranch. Grandma and Grandpa always gave us orange soda and Mug rootbeer.
Man, we were spoiled grandkids.
Remember when being given soda was all it took to be spoiled?
I guess it still is at our house.

I lean over in the car and give Maggie another drink of orange Fanta. Time to make a new memory.

I'm Not Going!: Our trip to Bryce Canyon marks the occasion of Maggie figuring out this road trip tradition. We'd tried it before, with cute variations.

Dad, while driving over a bridge: I'm not go-ing!
Leonard, Susanna, and Rachel from the backseat: Oh, yes you a-re!

Me: I'm not go-ing!
Maggie: I'm not go-ing!

Me: I'm not go-ing!
Maggie: You're not go-ing!

Me: I'm not go-ing!
Maggie: You are going.

Me: I'm not go-ing!
Maggie: Oh, yes you is!

Me: I'm not go-ing!
Maggie: Oh, yes you a-re!

[Comments] (2) Susie the Circus Performer:

She flies through the air with the greatest of ease
Susanna Banana did not eat her peas
Her kittens have ticks and her puppies have fleas
And she always comes down in the bay.

The Flying Trapeze was written about Jules Leotard, inventor of the... leotard. For the record, I like peas.

[Comments] (2) The Blue Four: The Uno deck at Mom's house carried a hallmark card - the Blue Four with teethmarks from yours truly. You could always tell when someone held the Blue Four in their hand but we played with it anyway and laughed about how I chewed up the card.

Maggie's been playing with the numbers from her foam bath letters set and I remembered that the Four has teethmarks on it! There are three little bites. I'm pretty sure it was Colette who bit it because Maggie only had teeth on the bottom at the time. Also this Four is Orange. Nevertheless a little ironic.

[Comments] (6) Happy Birthday, Blog!: It’s been nine years since the gummy shark and I made our presence known on the World Wide Web. Not many people can say they’ve been blogging for nine years (I only know one). I didn’t really start writing until 6 months later, and judging from my short, reassuring entries, this was at Mom’s insistence. You know, since she never called. In the past nine years, I’ve gone from 2 readers to 7; pretty impressive considering one of the original two has since died.

Nine years is a long time. My blog has seen me through 13 moves, 3 boyfriends, 56 roommates, 5 countries, 15 states, 2 internships and 9 jobs (plus temp stuff, writing, and being a mom). It was there for me during the deaths of Danny, Grandma Jessie, Uncle Larry, Grandpa Dalton, Grandma Rosie, Mom and Jellybean. It saw my brother and two sisters-in-law get married (figuratively speaking, in Leonard’s case (especially since apparently I didn’t blog about it)) and my siblings both move thousands of miles away. I’ve had one wedding, one marriage, one pregnancy, one baby and one awesome husband.

I now have three blogs, so I've hopefully become better at blogging in the past nine years. Thanks for the 18th birthday present, Leonard.

[Comments] (3) Old School is New Again: Today I got out some of my old toys for Maggie to play with. Aside from three Piglets, a rolling piggybank (from Toy Story), a troll and a dino troll, I saved 5 My Little Ponies. (Maggie just came in carrying all three of the Piglets.) Per their bum tattoos, I've got Baby Mobilie, Christmas Stockingie (sent away for this with cereal box UPCs), Birthday Cakie (unicorn), Wormie (unicorn), and Braidie (her head twists, pulling in her tail, which you can then yank out again). Braidie is the only "adult" I saved.

Rachel and I had quite the collection of My Little Ponies back in the day. She had a male with a cowboy hat, and I got a My Little Pony birthday party set from Santa one year - I specifically remember plastic cake pieces with candles. We also had some "teenage" ponies with clear plastic wings that you could make flutter. Leonard was not ashamed to play My Little Ponies with us either, although I specifically recall him being Evil Pony.

Ponies these days have much more exciting toys. Ember got a Carnival for Christmas last year with a carousel, etc. The Ponies themselves are not any more exciting. Will they ever run out of bum tattoo ideas? I mean, 20 years ago I got one with worms on it, that is pretty bottom-of-the-barrel.

I was reading last night in a parenting book that "learning" toys do all the work for kids and they like creative play. This is why young children are often more interested in the box a toy came in. A lot of kids lose some of this creative interest and ability as they get older, from having toys do all the creative work for them I guess. Yay for My Little Ponies and creative play.

[Comments] (3) Defining Moments: Once Upon a Time, Mom was discussing us kids being "grounded" in our lives. She says I became grounded when I was in Romania. As I've mentioned earlier, I feel a lot of this process had already happened.

About a year before I left, a couple months before I applied for the program, I stopped taking my medication, broke up with my boyfriend and decided I needed to do something with my life. I was volunteering at the State Hospital and learned about Recreational Therapy - consequently changed my major. I signed up for Run For Your Life. I showed up at Alyson's house in the middle of the night (sorry about that!). I became less needy and dependent (high school girls can't go to the bathroom on their own syndrome) and, related or not, got abandoned at a strange apartment complex by my roommates. I applied to devote four months of my life to service halfway across the world. I moved into a house with 9 people I didn't know.

I decided I was going to get on with my life and live it. So I did.

[Comments] (1) Dr. Pivko Had a Picnic: Where is Dr. Pivko?

Yes. We had a song about our pediatrician. This fact alone made me concerned about finding the right doctor for Maggie. Apparently this is very important to a child, and I didn't want to screw it up (although we are moving in a few months anyway). I ended up picking someone on recommendation of two girls in the ward who didn't even use her. Luckily, she is wonderful. After she checked Maggie in the hospital John said, "she really wants to be our doctor." He didn't realize she was our doctor.

Other pediatric memories - Rachel crying when the rest of us got shots. Little Sympathetic Rachel.

: In the office of the ranch, where Grandma worked, there was a cupboard under the orange counter that held toys, just for us kids. Grandpa also had a giant jar of lollypops. But even cooler was Millie's white-out collection. She had every color and shade of white-out ever made, all lined up in rows. Very cool.

I've technically been using "Wite-Out". Do they think it makes them seem more credible because their brand name is misspelled? This theory is along the same lines of the used car establishment with the giant flag.

[Comments] (2) It all looks the same from down here: Probably my earliest memory is of running into the Wilshire Ward chapel, up to a group of High Priests and grabbing onto my dad's leg. Then I looked up, realized it wasn't my dad and ran out the side door.

When Mom was a little girl she ran up to a pant leg at church and grabbed on, only to look up and find her father and the rest of the men laughing at her for grabbing the wrong leg.

Last weekend we took Chad, Justin and Tyler to the arcade at Boomer's. Despite being 11, Justin has quite the propensity for getting lost (it's not usually the oldest child who gets lost at Disneyland...) so John and I made frequent Justin checks. Once I found him sitting and watching the horse betting. He was sidled up to a man, sitting next to him on the tiny bench. I stood behind him and watched for a while, trying to see what was so interesting about the horse betting. Justin was looking over at the man's notebook, then abruptly got up and walked right into me. "I thought that was Chad," he confided. Oh.

[Comments] (1) Ode to Leonard: Well, it's about time my brother got an entry all to himself about how much I appreciate him.

Leonard shamelessly spoils his sisters. And his Mom. And his brother-in-law, for that matter. We got tons of great and thoughtful presents from him this Christmas, even though he said he was going to spend less on us, and he always makes the stockings so full and fun. He even has one more present for me that he forgot, and a juicer!

He offers advice on computers and other nerdy stuff, like buying a digital camera. He is so smart. I love to brag about him. And he is very, very funny. I am so proud of myself when I can make Leonard laugh!

Once when we were pretty little, we were swimming in our pool and Leonard did or said something that made me cry (or pretend to cry) and I was sitting on the pool steps and he came over and apologized and gave me a hug. When I was about 15, I was watching a movie when Leonard arrived for the weekend from UCLA. He came in and gave me a hug. I was shocked! That's when I realized my brother loved me.

There are two times in my life when I was rather afraid to be in the car with Leonard. Once was when he had to drive the truck when we were moving to Bakersfield. Even if you can drive a manual, the truck was terrible to drive. Leonard now admits he was as scared as me, and I'm sure I didn't help much. Then, when he graduated college and got a new car and I drove to San Francisco with him. He hadn't driven much in the last four years and you could tell! Now I'm sure he is a wonderful driver.

Over 6 years ago, the day before my 18th birthday, Leonard set me up with my very own weblog. Thanks to him, the internet has been graced by my presence since then.

So basically, my brother is great and I really appreciate him and hope everyone else who is spoiled by his presen[ce/ts] does too. I love you, Leonard!

Yesterday I was wearing a necklace Leonard bought me for Christmas last year - a little porcelain heart that says "Susie" - and I got a compliment! Also, someone complimented the magnet Sumana bought me that says "Be Nice or Leave. Thank You." I have it on the filing cabinet in my cubicle, because my cubicle is, apparently, held up by plastic.

[Comments] (1) Nobody Likes Me: Growing up, we were only allowed to eat sugar cereal on Sundays (hence the term "Sunday cereal". Genius, n'est pas?). I remember one fine day when Rachel was pouting because Leonard or I had eaten the last of the Corn Pops. This day a new song was born.

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me
I'm going to go eat worms 
(And Corn Pops)
Big ones, little ones
Fat ones, skinny ones
I'm going to go eat worms 
(And Corn Pops)

Sorry Rach!

The title of this entry unintentionally reminded me of Hannah's whininess during the Disneyland trip. "Nobody wants to be my friend!"

Smarty-Pants: An actual quote from a parent-teacher conference between Mom and my seventh-grade Pre-Algebra teacher:

Teacher: She is always waving her hand in the air.

Mom: Well, you're lucky. It's the other side of her in the air at home!

Fun Times: My new favorite game-playing memory is of playing Taboo on and off during our Thanksgiving stay at Leonard and Jeff’s. Rachel and I kept playing until we had done both sides of practically all the cards. The funniest anecdote was when John and Sumana were playing. Sumana was trying to get John to guess the word “dawn”.

John: Sunrise?

Leonard helps: We have an uncle named this.

John: Larry?

Following close behind in the memory list is the time all the Chadwicks played MadGab at the Vans. I love playing games, esp. with my family.

Also, I consistently mispronounce the word “gestures” like the game “Guesstures”, which I have never played.

Traditions: John and I made some sugar cookies this week and decorated them. I used my Pampered Chef bowls to set out five different colors of frosting. We didn't roll and cut out the dough though; just made little balls. It is too much work for too many cookies that we won't eat, I'm afraid.

Somewhere along the line the Richardson's started drinking orange juice with ginger ale. I don't know where this came from (I suspect Leonard, an alcoholic drink, or both), but it's yummy! Of course, when John drinks his eggnog/ milk concoction, it means four bottles on the table for dinner.

The World is Quiet Here: My Grandma Rosie is gone. No one else in the world will ever be excited to hear of someone I met with thumbs like ours. I won't get to hear anymore of her Random Stories. I've been very lucky to have a wonderful, caring, grandchildren-spoiling Grandma.

I am a teeny bit mad at her for not waiting a few hours so I could visit her again. But she got to go home from the Skilled Nursing place, and she'd had a nice Thanksgiving with Pat and Alan. And she had finished the baby quilt she'd been working on.

I am more than a bit sad to have joined the realms of the grandparentless. There is still Grandma June (who "adores" me).

Other bad news: Unlike John, my cold followed me home from San Francisco and I am all runny today. Efrain was nice enough to bring me a box of tissues. Yesterday John and I brought in some Christmas decorations and did some fix-it things for mom. While trying to mend a pipe, I tripped and fell on the patio and now I am sore and bruised today. I am going to go stocking-stuffer shopping after work to make myself feel better, even though today is the only day to finish Christmas kits for Jamie. With John in LA, I will still have enough time to work, I hope.

Foggy Memories: It is a bit foggy today. Not "Gah! We're going to die, we'd better drive 10 mph" fog, but "oh, it's a bit foggy today" fog. When I went into the wide world of Provo, Utah, I didn't realize that other places don't get fog like Bakersfield does. I was shocked that other people didn't get fog delays! What do you do without fog delays! The joy of all winter existence! The Cancelor of Seminary! The reason for getting up in the morning (to listen to the radio)!

Other than listening to the radio, I have two distinct memories about fog. One was driving home from Bakersfield on a very, very foggy night. We were going less than 25 mph and had the windows rolled down to help us see better. Took us a very long time to get home. Someone was following us to make their way easier.

The other one was at Haven Drive. It was so foggy that we'd probably had a fog delay, but it hadn't cleared. Anyway, my friends and I were playing hide-and-seek on the playground, just feet away from each other in the open space. You can't do that in non-B-town fog!

Random Stories: One thing I love about Grandma Rosalie, or Grandma Rosalie when she has energy at least, is that she never stop talking. She just tells story after story about anything and everything. (It barely occurred to me this afternoon that I may have inherited more than just my squashed thumbs from her...) We reminisced today about one drive back from a Benson Reunion in Northern California, just the two of us. I don't think I said a word the whole time! Today I decided I was going to take notes on her stories, since I won't always get to listen to them.

Grandma Susanna: I have asked Grandma several times about her grandmother because it says in my confirmation blessing to get to know and emulate my namesake. Ok well, here's what Grandma Rosie knows: She lived with them when Grandma was a little girl; She was mean to her daughter-in-law (Rachel); She thought the girls' (Rosalie and Lou) dresses were too short, "Georgie, buy some fabric so I can sew onto the bottom of those girls' dresses" (direct quote from Grandma); Grandma has a picture of her sitting on the front porch with a shotgun in her lap. Yeah, that's it. We laughed so hard when she first told us about the photograph, though.

Grandma came to California when she was five. Mark had only had primer before, so they started first grade together and everyone thought they were twins. I think he is less than 1 1/2 years older. She said she later visited a good friend who still thought that!

I asked her if she'd ever liked to cook. She said when they were first married she made rolls from scratch for dinner every night. "When we started farming, that's when the cooking quit."

Oh, and Don was teasing Pat about burning dinner tonight. She says she only burns stuff when her brothers are around, and they told a story about one Thanksgiving when Dad turned the oven to "Broil" and let her rolls burn on purpose until the smoke detector went off. Everyone got blamed but him because he was sneaky. That reminded me of something John would do to tease and laugh about (well, maybe not ruin food...), especially since Pat's brothers are still teasing her about burning stuff!

Also, it was very cute to see Uncle Carroll sitting on the bed with his arm around Grandma, squeezing her every once in a while. Nice protective brother. He said he's been to visit her four times in the past two years.

[Comments] (1) : Grandma Mary died this week. As her second husband, my Great-Grandpa Call, has been dead for 15 years (?), I'm sure she is much happier. So I am glad for her getting to go to a better place. I remember visiting Grandma Mary's house when I was very young. She had toys in her cupboard, some toy that was pulled along with a string, and I remember her kitchen.

[Comments] (8) Yard Memories: Our house on Napa Rd. had a huge yard. It was plenty big enough for my many outdoor adventures.

I remember Leonard teaching me how to ride a bike. We had an old blue dirt bike - that one was the best, until of course I got my ten-speed. We’d ride around the yard, up the hill on one side, down on the other. I fell and scraped my right knee pretty badly going up the hill one time. I had three huge, nasty cuts that hurt when I washed them in the bathtub. But I thought I was pretty cool wearing shorts to school to show my scabs. We’d also ride down the road to the reservoirs. The guys in trucks checking on the fields were all ok with “we live down the road” when they found us wandering around.

Leonard also taught me how to place tennis, over by the palm tree with the owl. I was so proud that I could hit the ball over the pool.

We loved to go around the yard and find treasures – anything little piece of metal. My collecting spot was in the fenced-in pool filter area.

We grew a beautiful garden into what used to be a horse corral. I remember corn, watermelon, and berries. Leonard also grew loofah on the fences. In other areas of the yard, we had orange, lemon and grapefruit trees and later grew peaches, apples and nectarines. In the summer, I would make a bowl of macaroni and cheese with peas and a big glass of milk and eat it on the hammock under the lemon tree.

When we first moved to the house there was an old “shack” in the corner of the corral. It was probably really just a piece of tin with two sticks on one side and the fence on the other. Leonard was the only one big enough to get up there. That was where he stored the treasures he found. I remember being upset when the “shack” fell during a storm, before I was big enough to climb up on it.

One year, Mom built us a beautiful treehouse. It was big enough for slumber parties and had a hole with a rope through it so we could climb down. It also had a little “porch” with a sign that said “Our Precious Kitties.” And the kitties would actually sleep there! Our two Preskool chairs were up there, and a little white shelf to hold our treasures. The trees it was built on grew collections of seeds with red needles sticking out of them. We used to pretend it was pepper. There was also a beam across with rings and a swing. I used to go out and swing on the swing and sing Primary songs to myself. I remember doing that while Rachel was riding her bike by. We also had a tire swing (how cool was that) and a giant wooden spool – I think the spool was inherited with the house in Arvin.

One of my favorite spots was a tree in the northwest corner. I needed our little Playskool chair to climb up to the main branch at first, but from there I could scamper up the branch and lean myself against it while looking out over the fields. I could see cars coming down Rancho road. I could see across the grapevines to the orange groves. I could see the birds flying across the sky. I could see the mountains to the east. I loved to climb up there and rest myself against the branch and just think. I’ll admit there were some initials carved into the branch, where no one but me could find them. But I don’t remember what they are.

Ah the pool. Elizabeth Velez and I had a synchronized swimming routine that we practiced for years. I also loved spinning around with my fingers just grazing the water. Leonard was famous for his backflips, with his long hair trailing out behind. I remember learning how to dive – and trying to teach Rachel. She was too scared to just lean forward. I loved to swim all the way across underwater. I remember filling up the pool every year and having a little party. It seemed magical, for some reason, when it was only half full. I even remember swimming when the pool was nasty and green. We were just jumping in and getting out, jumping in and getting out. We always had pet frogs, which were thrown over the fence without dismay. But I would go around and carefully “save” any ladybugs, ink bugs or caterpillars I could find.

We had two water tanks, one new and one old. I am pretty sure I remember climbing on them, although that can't have been allowed. There was also one of those cement wells. I always wanted to climb up and see inside of it. I think I saw inside of a different one and it was just dirt on the bottom. But so intriguing!

Personal History: I was reading an article, in The Ensign I think, about a grandparent who is writing down his personal history in vignettes rather than trying to, you know, write his personal history. So I thought I would do the same with some of my memories I've been wanting to record. Once I got started I kept thinking of so many things I wanted to add. I had to make a list so I wouldn't forget anything.

So if you've been wanting to do anything like this, trust me, it's easy. All you have to do is get started, and type fast enough to keep up with the ideas.

[Comments] (3) : In Relief Society, I got to make a list of Fun Family Activities. Here it is:

acting out Bible stories
sand dunes
"tennis lessons"
candy canes
My Little Ponies (Evil Pony)
wooden blocks
lego contests
dress-up trunk
bike riding
painting nails
birthday parties
piano lessons
out to movies
Barbie Float Shop
"store" game
John's Burger's
Hot Cheetos
Pets: Kabooki, Ruffles, Morn
Rocket ships
walking Gretel
Family History
trading sinks
hot tub
singing hymns
dinner with missionaries
opening a present on Christmas Eve!!
sugar cookies

[Comments] (3) More Memories: Remember "Spending Time"? We used to have half an hour with our dad every Sunday (or something, I was little, what do I know?) to do things like play Uno and get our nails painted "half and half". He also used to read us books at night. I remember one about a girl in Idaho and cornfields and sitting on the roof....

[Comments] (1) Memories: The other day I was telling John about the "Richardson Family Funnies" and saying that we should be sure to write down all the silly things our kids say. The only ones I could remember were:

Leonard: Over the river and through the woods, watch out my apple juice.

Dad: Who is answering the phone? Susie: It's Susanna! It keeps on being her!

Can anyone (Len and Rach) remember anymore?

: I remember Leonard teaching me how to ride a bike when I was somewhere around 8-10 years old. Ah, the good old days of tree-climbing and tire-swinging. Rachel and I recently discussed how much we both enjoyed bike-riding and how much better it was when we lived in the country and no one could see us. Not like either of us are as lucky to own bikes, as Sumana.


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