2020: Z – April A to Z… Family Stories
I’m back in 2020 for my fifth year of participating in the yearly April A to Z challenge… and as usual I racked my brain scribbling ideas on paper since the end of last April. It wasn’t until January, that the light bulb finally went off in scrolling through the 85+ of unfinished blog posts in my draft folder. Bingo… there was my A to Z topic…
Family Stories as told to me… mostly by my husband!
From the moment I married into this Italian family… I fell in love with their stories… their memories… and the family. My husband grew up in West Haven, Connecticut… where there was so much to enjoy as a young boy… especially a place known as Savin Rock… although long gone now. It somewhat resembled Coney Island… but was even larger when his parents, aunts and uncles grew up. They had stories… and I was always an eager listener whenever they told those stories… remembering, and scribbling down to preserve, just as I did with the family recipes that had once only been in their heads. 2020 has became the year I’m telling many of those stories… along with my husband’s memories to preserve for the generations to come. Many of those who told me their stories, are no longer with us… and I hope to keep their memory alive in these stories… as they are now my family also… and I love them all!
My previous years of A to Z Challenges are:
- 2016: A to Z Southern Foods and Memories… they said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.
- 2017: A to Z Conversations with Mama… it was a somewhat easy one for me to write as I’d journaled our conversations for years… I researched favorite topics to write.
- 2018: A to Z All About Nancy Drew… this one has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another one to equal it
- 2019: A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories… I felt it was time to finally write the favorites of my husbands family foods.
Come sit a spell and enjoy!
Zee Things the Grandchildren say…
Ella’s words from her first day of kindergarten (2015) was the best… she came home and said, “I don’t think I’m going to like this – not enough nap time…. it’s just not going to work for me.” And after two days… she asked her father for an I-Phone and a Facebook page… He laughed… she got neither!
The first time my son took Ella to church on Ash Wednesday… she was like… “I don’t want to go, they’re gonna pull my eyelashes out?” Sure…. ashes and eyelashes sound alike to me!
Ella spent the first three years at Pop’s daycare in our home… it was usually just Ella and Pop daily… where they formed a great bond. I spent time with her in the afternoon when they picked me up at work. One afternoon I wanted her to go in the kitchen, so I told her to march herself in there… she literally marched with her little legs going up and down as she stomped into the kitchen. I guess she learned about marching on the Mickey Mouse Fun house show she liked to watch… as who teaches them to march!
Grace and McKinley told me about their walk with daddy one day as they hiked up Sleeping Giant… “we get to pee in the woods when we walk with daddy… and sometimes daddy pees in the woods.” Kids remember everything… especially things they shouldn’t re-tell!
Sleeping Giant Park is one of McKinley and Grace’s favorite places to hike… especially, way up to the top, where the castle is. In 2018 a tornado whipped through the area… just down from the girls home, a few miles away. The park was devastated with trees toppled down everywhere… and it was so severe that the park had to be closed; it took over a year for it to be cleaned out and reopened. As the girls were driven by for the first time after the tornado, Gracie said, “Sleeping Giant is very sick.“
Both, McKinley and Grace are somewhat picky eaters and in taking them out for dinner one night, I ordered chicken “tenders.” Gracie immediately began saying,
whining, that she didn’t want them. McKinley quickly piped in to tell her… “they are literally the same thing as chicken nuggets, you’ll like them.” Big sister trying to diffuse the situation!
Often it was never more than 10 minutes of being in the car before Gracie would say… “are we there yet?” That always reminds me of my mother, as when we take her in the car… she says the same thing!
On days that we pick them up from school, or keep them for the day, we’ve driven to various farms to visit. While they don’t remember the actual names of the farms, they have their own names that they associate with where they’ve visited… hence the “doggie farm” is actually B&B Farm in West Haven. They have two really friendly dogs there that they enjoy petting and bringing dog bones to. The “swing farm” is The Lavender Farm in Killingworth… where a swing is suspended from a huge branch… and they always fight over who’s going to swing first… and whine… that so and so is taking too long on the swing! The “tractor farm” is Rose’s Orchards… their name is from the big tractor that they enjoy climbing up on… I’m actually surprised that they didn’t call it the goat farm or the ice cream farm. The Book Barn in Niantic is called the “cat farm“… because they have several cats that wander among the books… and they enjoy searching out the unusual sleeping places among the bookshelves. The first time we took them there, they took the pamphlet with the cat pictures and walked around searching for them… they weren’t interested in the books… just looking for the cats.
McKinley (Sept. 2015) said to her mother one day… “I smell something!” Mom… “what do you smell?” McKinley… “Grasshopper Pee!” Now where did that come from? And what does grasshopper pee smell like?
McKinley, at age 4 asked me one day to “pause” her TV program! These kids today are growing up way too smart… and too fast! They can handle the Firestick remote better than I can! They’re born knowing the finger movements to handle the I-Phone… swiping through photos and pinching the screen. My son was proficient at that age with the VCR… I remember him putting the tapes in that he wanted to watch. What will these young kids see in their lifetime when they have children… they’ll probably command everything through speech… we have so much already of that from Alexa, Sirri and the Fire Stick.
The girls were at our house for the day and McKinley discovered a couple of wooden cows that I painted years ago… she asked if she could have them… then asked why I didn’t paint where the “milk part” was. She’s obsessed with cows lately… is she going to be a dairy farmer? Then the joke came… “where do cows like to go?” Me… “I don’t know.” McKinley, “They like to go to the mooovies.” I should have recorded her, as she thought it was hilarious… which it kinda was!
Whenever we had any of the kids in the car when they were young, we always told them to pay attention to their surroundings… so they knew how to get to their house and always knew where they were. McKinley paid so much attention that she’d constantly tell you that you were going the wrong way… if you took a new route. I think she had a couple of meltdowns with her mother whenever she didn’t take the route that McKinley thought she should. I used to like to tell her that Pop was lost… and she’d immediately say… “well this is what we should do, let’s pull into a driveway and turn around.”
In picking up McKinley on New Year’s Eve at after-school daycare… she hold me her mother had sent party hats, but she couldn’t find them in her cubby. Her teacher told her they were way down in her backpack… McKinley says to me, “now this is what we should do, empty out my pack, we will find them and then put everything back.” I told her “no we should not.”
McKinley always knew her right from left… placing her right hand over her heart for the Pledge of Allegiance at daycare. The teachers said she always paid attention to the younger kids and helped to correct them if they used the wrong hand. At her graduation from Pre-K, she was chosen to say the Pledge of Allegiance using the microphone… and she said it like a pro! I was a very proud GiGi!
One afternoon while I went in the yarn store downtown, Pop rode the girls (McKinley and Grace) around the block. When I got back in the car, McKinley said… “I like seeing reflections.” I then asked “do you know what a reflection is?” “Yes, it is when you see yourself in the glass, or water or even a window.”
Sometimes I laid down with McKinley at nap time, especially when she didn’t want to sleep. One day I told her to count sheep jumping over a fence, after she kept saying that she couldn’t sleep. I looked over later to see her dragging her hand across her face, saying “one over the fence, two over the fence“… I closed my eyes or I would have laughed!
I can’t remember what I was talking about or had in my hand but Gracie said… “Is that from China?” I then asked her, “why, you don’t buy anything from china”… “no we don’t buy anything from China!”
Grace’s favorite last words whenever she thinks she doesn’t get the same as McKinley- “but what about me?“
Every try to tell a kid to be quiet in the movies… it usually doesn’t work as they like to talk and laugh out loud. While at Dora the Explorer movie, Gracie realized Dora was talking about going to the bathroom in the forest and said… quite loud… “I know, she’s pooping in the woods.” Gracie got a laugh from most everyone in the movie… as she was quite loud!
Giving kids a bath is always interesting… as they first liked to hunt all around the house for things to pile in the tub, but it was the hair washing which often had its quirks… Gracie had her own way of getting her hair wet… “I lay down in the tub unless we’re taking a shower” It was her way or no way! Then McKinley said, “my hair feels so soft” after washing and rinsing, I said, “why, doesn’t it feel that way at home?” “No, not unless we use conditioner.” I had used baby shampoo… not wanting any tears from soap in their eyes!
Coming home from the first day at kindergarten has always been interesting. McKinley came home and whispered in her mother’s ear… “I have a boyfriend… don’t tell daddy!” Oh Boy, that sounds like trouble! Daddy has already told both his red-headed daughters that there will be “no” boyfriends!
McKinley started 1st grade on August 29, 2018… and riding the bus for the first time. In asking her what she liked best on her first day, she yelled out – “riding the bus“… that’s because she’s such a social butterfly!
One afternoon while McKinley was playing, and not listening to little sister Grace… who was trying hard to tell her something… Grace finally said, “McKinley, I’m not going to tell you again!“
While at my son in law’s father’s birthday (2019) party…. Grace said to me, “where are the people with the goodies“… referring to the waiters passing around the appetizers. I then showed her the goodies in my purse… a chocolate candy bar. She was thrilled and forgot about hunting down the people with the other goodies!
I asked Grace and McKinley about the St. Patrick parade… as they had rode in the “Roaming Train” car Stop and Shop sponsored in the parade. McKinley said, “it was fun.” Grace yelled, “it was cold.” I asked her, “well, did you wear socks.” McKinley said, “no she didn’t, but Mama put them on her.” (2019) For some odd reason… Miss Grace has an aversion to wearing socks! I recently told her I was going to knit her a pair and super-glue them on… she looked at me… and giggled!
Gracie was amazed at Pop hanging laundry outside one morning, and said… “Pop does laundry… my daddy doesn’t… he doesn’t know how much soap to use.”
In teasing Gracie about me popping her backside, she laughed and told me… “my mama says I’m cruising for a bruising!” I bet I said that to her mother when she was little too, and I’m sure she probably got that bruising… that she had been cruising for!
I asked McKinley if she had a secret safe word between her and her parent’s… meaning so if they had to send someone to pick her up, she’’d know it was OK to leave with them. She said, “no“… then she began coming up with one word after another of what they could use. I could see she’d never pick just one! It’s like just picking out one toy, she can never make up her mind. I told her that the word for her mom and Uncle Steve was Nipper! Then I had to explain who Nipper was… the dog for the RCA Company.
McKinley and Grace were digging in the yard for buried treasure one Sunday afternoon while their parents worked outside… after much complaining that they hadn’t found anything… their dad walked by when they weren’t looking and dropped several coins where they’d been digging… they soon began yelling that they found buried treasure… but not first before Gracie complained that McKinley found more than she had! It’s always a competition! (Summer 2018)
My son had twins in 2013… two little dark haired bundles of noise and energy. Twins are so much different… each demanding your attention at the same time. It has been fun watching them grow in different directions… forming their own personalities… and having conversations with them… but their energy often zaps mine! Love you bunches Ana & Nina!
And the robot says… “my butt cheeks are cold!”
We went to a Halloween parade at Ella’s school, where she dressed as a “punk rocker” with pink hair… her younger sisters came dressed as a “fairy princess” and a “robot.” Ana was transformed into a robot by the means of a big box for the body… but it was a very, very cold day and she just kept saying… “my butt cheeks are cold.” It was a short box! (I drew the picture in my journal… you can clearly see I’m no artist! LOL)
(2019) Our Nina is a little trickster! She fooled us last year into thinking she didn’t know how to put her shoes on the right feet. When I told her that her shoes were on the wrong feet… she criss-crossed her feet… gave me a sly smile, and said… “now I have them on the right feet.” Ella is the more quiet of the three sisters. She loves looking at 3-D pictures with Pop… seeing them pop out at you; Steve gave her his book of them on our last trip.
I took the girls a DVD of the new Nancy Drew movie and also the 2017 one and we all watched together. They loved them… wanting to watch over and over again… they are movie buffs at a young age. After they understood all the clues in the movies… they’d tell them outloud to you throughout the movie… then they wanted to play Nancy Drew. We downloaded the Haunted Carousel Nancy Drew game on Ella’s computer… she’s trying to figure it out. When cousin McKinley came down last summer, she showed her and the two of them were trying to figure out the clues. I loaded it on my computer also, but I’m not much help… even with cheat sheets. Nina enjoys drawing and is quite an artist… she drew me an elephant after seeing it on my shopping bag. Her teachers are very impressed with her art skills… she tells me she wants to be an artist!
June 25 2019: We picked the girls up at YMCA camp today… they were all excited from camp and I found Gracie flirting with one of the cute boy counselors. McKinley couldn’t wait to show off her singing and clapping song she learned… and Gracie showed me how to do Rock – Paper – Scissors… but she’s tricky… as she likes to wait for you to throw out first… so she can win.
On the ride to our house from another YMCA camp pickup, I asked if they swam today? McKinley said, “I love swimming and I want to be a swim instructor”… last time she wanted to be a vet… and recently she wants to be a yoga instructor”. I‘m going to continue taking swim lessons every year and ballet in the fall.” I asked if she had tried diving yet… “I can kneel down and lean over, and Mar Mar pushes me in.” Then she asked, “how do you stand and dive in?”
Oct 16 2019: At my daughter’s birthday dinner, Gracie blurts out in conversation “Mckinley got lost in Florida.” I looked at my daughter…. and then the story was told; I was surprised the girls hadn’t spilled the beans before. They had gone to a turtle rescue center in Jupiter to watch a turtle release. It was very crowded, and as Mckinley really wanted to see, and no one would let her through the crowds… I guess while Melissa held onto Gracie, she wandered off down to the beach to collect shells! As soon as the turtle entered the ocean, everyone quickly dispersed… and there was no McKinley! Amidst tears… and the police searching for a red headed girl in a pink hat. Suddenly, Uncle Steve finally spotted her at the beach edge.., picking up shells… oblivious of where she was… and that people were looking for her! She was like… “I went to get shells.” Hopefully a teaching lesson came from this!
In stopping at my son’s house one afternoon, Ella told me about taking her Nancy Drew book to school for classroom reading. I then asked, “are you taking all your Nancy Drew books with you when you move to Florida?” “Oh Yes, I’m taking them all!” Made me feel good as I had given her 1-56 of the original Nancy Drew books.
In listening to Ella talk about school last year.. “it’s all about drama at school“, she said. “Girlfriend drama… Boyfriend drama“… I laughed at all the “drama” words of a fourth grader. Ella talked about how she wants to be an actress and a singer… Ana wants to be an artist… and Nina just wants to play Barbie and be a scootch! She’s the wise guy and trickster… and the LOL (doll) officiendo her mother tells me!
(Dec. 2019) We picked the girls up from school and they came out with gifts in plastic bags… they had shopped in the school store for presents for their parents. Coupons are earned in school and parents sent in a couple dollars for each of them. McKinley told me that one student didn’t have any coupons so she gave her one of hers. She’s so sweet and tender hearted like that… she even bought her sister a gift.
As Gracie played and talked to her dolls, she told me. “My baby’s birthday is tomorrow on Christmas day and she’s going to get lots of presents from her and Tikie, Grace’s husband…and he’s celebrating Hanukkah.” I guess there has been much talk about Hanukkah in school. (2019)
Grace and McKinley were here for the afternoon and as their dad arrived, we all sat down to enjoy “breakfast” for dinner. I took a photo of everyone to send to their mom… and she quickly came back to tell us we weren’t practicing “social distancing”… Really! Gracie said, “we should just all put duct tape over our mouth.” This was during our March 2020 Quarantine!
In waiting for the girls dad to pick them up, the word “moustache” came up because of the cartoon they were watching where the man had a large handlebar moustache. I asked Gracie if she wanted her daddy to have one like that… “well he had a beard once, but he shaved it off… it tickled and scratched me.” (2020)
While at Melissa’s for dinner, (Jan. 13, 2020) McKinley brought me a felt/flannel scarf and asked if I thought it was bought or made. After looking at it I said, “maybe bought“. McKinley said, “no, it was made by my teacher… she gave one to every student… she made them.” I thought it interesting how she asked my opinion… testing me! She thought it was very special that her teacher made everyone in class a handmade gift. She knows about crafts as I knit, her mother knits and her other grandmother knits… I had just brought her and Grace a scarf, mitten and hat…. from a recent knitting frenzy of mine!
Also while there, Melissa told us how Gracie announced the other day, “I can read.” It must be so exciting when they first discover how letters suddenly make sense to them as they turn into words. We had taken over Pop’s rocker from he was a kid, Gracie took it over immediately… sitting in it all evening.
While over for Gracie’s birthday (April 25, 2020), I mentioned the word “stupid” and Gracie told me it was a bad word, but I replied “It’s not really a bad word and depends on how you use it.” Melissa came in and said… “now I know where she gets that word, more often from Pop though.” She then asked Gracie, “what does Pop call bad drivers?” Gracie giggled and said, “I’m not saying anything!“
In asking my son for some funny moments… “I was taking the girls to school on my way to work… and yelling for them to hurry up, but someone had to go to the bathroom… naturally at the last moment. I’m yelling to come on and hurry up, and with Ana in the bathroom, her sister, Nina, yells out loud… “she’s pooping.” Hey when you gotta go… you gotta go… and you can always count on your twin sister to rat you out!
I’ve always been amazed at how fast my daughter in law, Rose, takes hand of their three girls… I always laugh at how her hand is quicker than you can blink an eye! One birthday as my son blew out his birthday candles… with three girls right beside him helping… but there was one candle that didn’t go out. Ana went to pinch it with her little hand… but mama was quicker than a speeding bullet in grabbing her hand… coming out of nowhere to swoop in!
As my son was taking Molly for a walk, he asked if I wanted an ice cream… “they’re out in the freezer in the garage… I eat one out there so the girls don’t see me and all want one!” I laughed… as I had this mental image of him sneaking out to the garage for a quiet moment… and an ice cream… and then remembered all the times I hid foods in the house from my kids… him included! I guess what goes around… comes around!
A few of my own children’s funny things popped in my head, so I thought why not write them also on “Z”… before I forget!
One day I sent my son stephen to his room for saying bad words… he was about five years old. I told him that he could not come out until he could behave and stop saying them. So off he went to his room, shutting the door… and soon I began him hearing him saying several bad words, over and over. Then it was all quiet, he came out and said, “I’m all done.”
Stephen, was probably around eight, when I made him push the upright vacuum in the living room one morning; his sister, age four, was sitting on the floor with her hands behind her. Most likely, after several times of yelling to move… he pushed the big red upright vacuum over her hands. She screams and I run… quickly turning it off… heart racing… as all I could think of was that her little hands were rolled around the beater bar. Melissa was crying, I was crying, and Stephen was crying! I slowly lifted the vacuum and both her hands were still flat on the floor… and fine! I don’t remember what I said, but I’m sure I had words for both of them after that!
As I made french toast the other morning, I suddenly remembered when Stephen and Melissa made french toast in their teens; I was working. Melissa told her brother that she would make breakfast that morning… but soon after she asked, “ok, so how do you make it?” I’m sure Stephen gave her several eye-rolls, before saying, “never mind, I’ll make it!” Stephen had always had more interest in cooking than she did… and cooks quite often even today. When both my children left home… they left with a homemade recipe book of most of their favorite recipes. Melissa is quite a good cook today though!
It just goes to show you that if you don’t write down the funny things said when it happens… it’s often long forgotten. I’m sure there were more things my own children said or did… but those memories are scattered to the winds now. My suggestion to anyone now with children… keep a journal for each child and write to them as time persists. I so wish I had thought to do that… as what a gift it would have made! Hmm… now what would be in my journal if my mother had written to me!
For all those who have followed me along in my 2020: A to Z of Family Stories… THANK YOU for your support, comments and sharing your family remembrances with me! I’m sad that today is my last day of writing hubby’s family stories… It’s been FUN!
© 2020, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved