Sunday, June 30, 2013


This is a picture of my maternal grandmother, Gregoria Bruno Emmert.  Everyone called her Granny.  She is on the left.  I don't know for sure who the other people are, but can only assume based on family stories, that this is a family she worked for in Hawaii as a teenager.    

Granny was born in Puerto Rico, in about 1900 along with a twin sister, Amelia.  Her mother died shortly after her birth, leaving her father to care for two small babies by himself.  He applied for work on the pineapple plantations in Maui and boarded a passenger ship with his two young daughters in about 1904.  Overworked, desperately poor, and unable to care for the twins, he eventually took them to the Salvation Army Home, a local orphanage on the island.  The girls and their father spoke no English and the women at the orphanage spoke no Spanish, so they estimated the girls ages.  One of the women was kind enough to give them her own birthdate since they had no birth certificates or records with original dates.  The girls spent the majority of their childhood in that little orphanage.  

Granny and Amelia were fraternal twins.  My grandmother had very dark skin and Amelia was fair skinned, and unfortunately the prevailing thoughts of the era allowed only Amelia to receive a formal education.  I often heard stories growing up about how my grandmother started working as a housekeeper at a very young age, while Amelia was able to stay in the home and learn to read, write and play an instrument.  My grandmother learned to read late in her life and her writing skills were primarily her signature and a grocery list.  Although my grandmother did not have the opportunities that her sister had, she never spoke with any resentment about her lot in life.  She was only ever grateful for her sister's blessings, and compassionate with the limited understanding of the people in Hawaii in the early 1900s.  She placed a very high value on education, though, and made sure that my mother only attended the best private schools in Hawaii, no matter the cost or sacrifice.  

I was supremely blessed and fortunate to have grown up with my grandmother.  Granny lived with my parents their entire married life, and so when they adopted me in 1970, she became my primary caregiver during the day while they worked.  She was my link to my Hawaiian heritage, my trusted confidant, and my biggest fan.  She celebrated even my most insignificant little victories and listened with interest to every detail of my days.  She planted strawberries and blackberries along the hill below our house in California and picked them each summer and then magically turned them into jam.  She made a lemon meringue pie that no one before or since has ever been able to recreate.  She took me with her every summer to Hawaii because I couldn't bear to have her leave me for three whole months.  And every time I came home from college about, $20 would mysteriously appear in my wallet.  I'm sure there are countless other little things she did for me that I have no memory of.  

I have fond memories of watching Another World after school every day, and then after I endured her "programs," she would endure The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch with me while she made dinner.  I remember her drinking a glass of Thunderbird every night before bed, and playing Solitaire for hours.  She sewed, cooked, mended, and cleaned.  When she would get frustrated with me, she would slip into a combination of Spanish and Hawaiian that no one else could understand.  

Granny was generous and wise and lived an entire lifetime before me that I only have small details of.  I cannot imagine the depth of her trials and challenges.  But I am so grateful that the road she traveled led her right to my parents' home and therefore right into the center of my life.  I am so grateful to have had the treasure of growing up in a multi generational family.  I think of her nearly everyday, and I wish she had lived long enough to know my children as teenagers and adults.  I think she would be very proud of them.      

Happy Birthday, Granny.  

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Allen Celebration

Fourth of July festivities start early in Allen.   Tonight was our 3rd annual Allen Celebration with the Rodriguez's.  We had so much this amazing summer tradition.

All this is literally right in the Rodriguez's backyard so we always have an up close parking space, perfect seats for the entire night and great company.

 Here's how brooding teenagers spend their evenings outside in the gorgeous summer weather.  I finally got her to perk up and smile for one picture with me.

 McKay spent most of his night trying to track down people to play catch with him.  
 Isn't this the most adorable Rodriguez you've ever seen??

Emerald City...70s and 80s cover band.  Unbelievable.  Best local live band EVER!  They opened for Dennis DeYoung, who wasn't as good as these guys.  :)

 Star Spangled Girls

 Another adorable Rodriguez.

Fireworks!  I tried to practice with my manual's SO hard to hold the camera still without a tripod.  

We had an amazing night hanging out with our dear friends in the cool Dallas summer breezes.  What a great way to end June and bring in July.  More fireworks next week, too! 
I LOVE summer.

Friday, June 28, 2013

High Five for Friday

1.  The Video
I know you've been sitting at home for these past two weeks waiting for me to download here it is...they're so silly, but it's still so sweet to watch their little compilation of songs for their dad.  Love these girls!

2.  Season Tickets
Football season is around the corner.  You can feel it in the air when you drive past the high school.  Practices have started.  There is early morning activity on the field.  The band is enjoying one last month of vacation before marching practice begins again for them.  Summer is short if you're involved in Texas high school football.  Savannah and I went to the Athletic Center on Tuesday afternoon to pick up our season tickets.  
Aren't they beautiful??  I'm just going to put them on the desk and stare at them for the next two months.  :)

3.  New Treasures
Emma and I have started a weekly summer ritual of wandering to Hobby Lobby and browsing the 80% off section.  Mostly we don't find anything we need, but it's fun to pick things up and consider them anyway.  This week, though, we found this gorgeous bowl.  It's beautiful all by itself, but then when that lamp on the table comes on, it GLOWS with this turquoise brilliance that I can't take my eyes off of.  And it was only $6 which is practically free, right? 

4.  Crepe Myrtles
The myrtles are in full bloom everywhere.  That's one of the best things about June in Dallas.    Myrtles.  Even the name is endearing.  I love them...especially the pinks.  

5.  HUGE Weekend Plans!

Hope it's a great weekend for you, too!  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sticky Note Adventures

Sometime on Sunday night, when I wasn't really paying attention, Savannah and her BFF asked me if they could get up at 4:00am and decorate their friend's car.  I absent-mindedly said, "Sure!" and then promptly forgot about it until this morning at 4:18 when I received a text from Savannah saying, "We're leaving!"  What???  

It probably wasn't very responsible of me to just let them go out in the middle of the night/morning and "decorate" someone's car.  What exactly does that mean in teenager language anyway??  

Well, at 6:35am I got this text from Savannah...

This is what they meant by "decorating" his used to be red!

Garrett is a football player at the HS, so he gets up and leaves for training at 7:00.  His dad had to take him this morning because his car was not drivable.  :)

I seriously cannot believe the creativity and audacity of my children.  I don't know whether to be shocked or to admire their amazing work.  Who gets up at 4:00am and makes a sticky note masterpiece out of someone's car???  Apparently Savannah and her friend...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Little Friends

We have a super cute family in our ward that is moving to Houston this weekend.  Savannah has been their primary babysitter for over a year and she LOVES these kids.  And it's totally mutual.  Every Sunday at church, they run up to her and hug her like she's part of their family.

Today we had them over to our house for one last adventure before they leave for their new home.  We picked them up at 9:00, had pancakes for breakfast, and then they played with McKay for awhile before everyone decided that they should head over to the pool.  Savannah brought lunch to the pool after she got home from work, and they played for a few more hours.  

This afternoon, we all curled up on the couch (with Sonic slushies) to recover from all that playing in the sun!

All three of my girls were the BEST babysitters today!  They volunteered happily to entertain these cute kids and give them one last super fun day with the Thunells before they leave for their new home.  I was so proud of them and thrilled to be their mom.  It's nice to see your children nurturing and caring for other little people.  
Little fingers and toes were painted.
Games were played. 
Forts were built.  
Friendships were solidified.
We are SO going to miss these sweet kids.  But we're happy that they have new adventures and new babysitters/big sisters waiting for them in Houston.  And we're so glad to have known them for a little while here in Allen.  :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mom's Banana Bread

Summer is a great time to dig through boxes and piles that have been neglected all year.  It's also a great time to try new (and old) recipes.  I have stacks of boxes from my parents' house that we brought back with us after my dad passed away in 2010.  This little tin recipe box was in one of those boxes.  

Both my parents loved to cook, each with their own style and favorite recipes.  My dad was professionally trained so he cooked with exactness and meticulously followed every letter of every recipe.    My mom cooked from memory and tossed random things into pots.  I have very vivid memories of some of those tried and true recipes from this little recipe box.  Gum Drop cookies at Halloween.  Portuguese Soup for New Year's Eve.  Fruit cake at Christmas (that's not as fond a memory as some of the others.)  And banana bread every time the bananas lingered a little too long in the fruit bowl.  

Yesterday morning, I found that banana bread recipe and thought I'd bring a little of Grandma Dollie into my kitchen.   So many memories of my mom came flooding back when I saw her handwriting on all these little note cards.    

And then so many more came back when I smelled that familiar banana bread smell an hour later...  

Craig and the kids LOVED having fresh, warm banana bread for breakfast.  And I was so happy to have found all those old recipes from my childhood.  It was like having my mom sitting right there in the kitchen with me.     

Mom's Banana Bread
1/2 C butter
1 C sugar
2 eggs
2 large bananas
2 C sifted flour
1 t baking soda
1/8 t salt
1/4 C sour cream
1/2 C shopped walnuts (I left these out because we have allergies in our house)

Beat butter, sugar and eggs in a large bowl with mixer 3 minutes until light and fluffy.  Stir in mashed bananas.  Sift flour, baking soda and salt onto wax paper.  Gradually add flour mixture to wet ingredients in bowl.  Stir until well mixed.  Add sour cream and stir until smooth.  Pour batter into well greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake at 375 for one hour.

Friday, June 21, 2013

High Five for Friday

1.  Another book...
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Oh my, this book was a roller coaster.  The language is awful.  Some of the subject matter is more than questionable.  It's completely inappropriate on almost every level and not the slightest bit uplifting.  So, if you decide to read it, please don't do it because you think I've recommended it.  Because I'm not.  If anything, I might recommend that you stay far, far away from it.  Take it back to the library and run in the other direction...quickly.  But...if you're feeling adventurous and at your own risk.  This book is deceptive, malicious, ridiculously dysfunctional, and deliciously twisted.  And I jumped in without knowing that, and then happily and gullibly swam around in it for a whole week.  This book called to me during the day.  I could not finish my responsibilities and get back to it fast enough.  I fell asleep reading it, had nightmares about Nick and Amy all night long, and then woke up at ridiculous hours of the early morning just so I could go back for more.  Guilty pleasure of the summer, for sure!

2.  Dark Chestnut.  
I've never actually colored my hair before.  I know, hard to believe, huh?  I've had it professionally done, but never in the whole 43 years that I've been alive, have I EVER bought a bottle of anything and dyed my own hair.  But you know what...It's summer.  I was feeling impulsive.  And I have an adventurous, cosmetology-inclined daughter in my house.  So we bought a box of Garnier Nutrisse dark chestnut hair color.  And it isn't hideous. It didn't turn my hair some artificial reddish purplish color.  It covered all those little greys that keep coming up these days.  And it's a lot less expensive than the $80 professional highlights that I have done twice a year.  Dark Chestnut might become my new signature color.

3.  Successful Swapping.

McKay had such a fun week at Twilight Camp and successfully collected enough swaps to cover most of his hat, including the highly sought after ShotgunShell swap.  

4.  Love Notes.

I love sending love notes.  But I especially love receiving love notes.  This one is from my sweet friend Amy who just spent a week at Girls Camp watching over MY children.  And she was thanking ME.  I love her!  

5.  Monsters U.
We are so excited to see this movie, I can't even tell you!  We bought tickets for the 12:40 show today, so looks like a movie and popcorn for lunch!!  Can life get any better?  I don't think so.  

Have an amazing weekend!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Throwback Thursday

I love summer.  I love that the sky is always blue.  I love staying up late and then sleeping in the next morning.  I love lazing around reading all the books I don't have time for during the school year.  I love watermelon.  I love the smell of grilled dinners.  I love road trips.  

But the thing I love most about summer is WATER...

lake water...

pool water...

beach water...

sand mixed with water...

It doesn't really matter to me.  I just love that the summer makes all that water a little more accessible.  I look forward to lots of watery activities in the next few months!