Category: Family (Page 1 of 4)

A Sibling-My Sibling #8minutememoir


I only have one sibling. Growing up I always wished we had more brothers and sisters. Not because I didn’t love my sister, Susan, but just because I thought it would make life more fun. My best friend had six siblings and life at their house was always fun. Susan and I got along most of the time. I remember one summer possibly when I was about twelve our parents decided it would be okay for us to stay home while they worked. The alternatives were going to Gramma’s house or having my mom work the night shift. We thought we could handle being alone.

One day when were supposed to be cleaning our room we got into a fight and started throwing stuff around. Then through the open window we heard Mrs. Hutchinson from downstairs yelling at us to stop the ruckus or she would tell our parents. Both of us were surprised and started making slapping and screaming sounds so she would think we were really hurting each other. We threw more stuff around and she yelled her threats up through our window. We sat on the floor laughing so hard we couldn’t breath. We finally decided to stop faux fighting to give her some peace.

I will never forget another time a few years later. Susan and I had come home on a snowy evening. While we waited for our parents to come home we sat in the darkness of the kitchen watching the snow fall. It was a beautiful scene, no one was out. The world was quiet and white. I think we were scared that our parents wouldn’t make it home. We began to sing Christmas carols. The singing  calmed us and we waited for what seemed like forever before Dad’s truck swung up in the driveway. I think of this night whenever I am somewhere with snow or sometimes when I sing Christmas carols.


Day 19- Fondant Cake


Maddie and her cousin Rorey

When my granddaughter Maddie arrived from South Africa last month, she told me she wanted to try making a cake with fondant. Maddie loves watching cooking shows and especially shows about cakes. Yesterday we shopped for fondant and today we baked a cake and covered it with fondant and flowers. Maddie did all the work. I love helping my grandchildren with projects and I learn new things, too. I have never worked with fondant before.




Maddie’s Fabulous Fondant Cake

Day 8- Unexpected fun

Today the act of kindness planned was changed. I had an opportunity to spend some quality time with two of my granddaughters. We went shopping for my gift to one of them, a leotard for gymnastics that she needed to try on. Then the other granddaughter wanted to shop for a gift for her younger sister. She is a very generous girl. I also took them to lunch at Wendy’s not planned but very much a good thing to do.

Long and Short

This post should have been written months ago. I am still behind, but I have this cute photo on my refrigerator and this morning I decided I needed to write about it. I have not posted anything about my experience with cancer here. I think that while I was going through it my experience was just too personal. Now that my last scan showed no evidence of cancer I may share some of my experiences from my journal here.

On the 14th day of my first cycle of chemotherapy I noticed that my hair was starting to come out. That was a Tuesday, each day after that more came out until Saturday when I could pull it out by the handful. I woke up and told Rick that today was the day, we got out the clippers and he shaved my head, then I vacuumed. I felt like my hair was everywhere in the house. Before this happened several of my children offered to shave their heads to show their support. I actively discouraged this. I felt like there was no reason for any of my girls to be bald ever! I also felt like my boys shouldn’t shave their heads, although Alex has had a very short haircut for awhile. Andrew did shave his head and I know James seriously considered it while Ruth and I discouraged him. Buzzed heads are not common in Europe and are most often associated with anti-social behavior there.

The thing that these beautiful girls did was unexpected. They all cut their long hair off in support of me and sent it to Locks of Love where they make wigs for cancer patients.

Carruth Girls Short Hair

Aimee, Caitlyn and Lainey

I love you girls! I am so grateful for all the love and support from my family. I am grateful for the prayers, fasting, Facetime and Skype calls, Facebook messages, email, cards, pictures and letters, meals, flowers, gifts, and expressions of love and concern.  I love you Rick, Allyson, Luke, Maddie, Izzy, James, Ruth, Caitlyn, Aimee, Lainey, Havana, David, Holli, Mark, Andrew, Leigh, Rorey, John, Kristina, Brian, Henry, Alex, Stacey, Ellie, Daniel, and Tyler. I am also grateful for the love and concern of my extended family and friends around the world.



Gramma - Helen B. Gren

Gramma – Helen B. Gren

During my early childhood my sister Susan and I spent at least 3 nights each week with our grandmother, Helen Madeline Brown Gren. My mother was not your typical mother in the 1950’s and 1960’s, she worked. Her working was necessary for our family to survive and plus I think she liked it most of the time. The way she and my father avoided paying for childcare was for my father to work days and my my mother to work nights. Our grandmother was our babysitter when they had other things they wanted to do and that was often.

Tuesday nights my dad met with his buddies and worked away on his dragster. We went to Gramma’s. Friday they had their bowling league. Saturday they both worked during the day and at night they partied. Sunday they recovered. We were picked up from Gramma’s when they got up, sometimes it was early, sometimes it was late.

Saturday was the best day at her house. The first thing she asked us when we woke up was what we wanted for breakfast. Some Saturdays we would lay on the couch watching cartoons while she delivered stacks of toast covered with margarine. I loved margarine for some reason, we only ate butter at our house. The toast was made from Hollywood bread, a thinly sliced bread with sesame seeds on the top. Often the toast would be accompanied by her home canned pears or peaches. I liked dipping my toast in the fruit syrup.

Other Saturday’s, Susan and I would go to the Wainwright bakery around the corner and buy a loaf of bread dough. Then Gramma would fry scones and we would douse them in margarine and jam. We would often buy the bakery’s delicious cinnamon knots. Another breakfast we loved was toast with soft boiled eggs, I dipped my toast in the egg.

After eating and watching cartoons for most of the morning we would get ready to go on Gramma’s errands. She worked as a secretary at Rose Park Elementary school during the week so Saturday was errand day. Her errands usually involved grocery shopping, fabric shopping and sometimes a stop at a variety store (think mini-Walmart). Susan and I were good listeners and obedient children and didn’t cause many problems. I do remember getting extremely bored in fabric stores and pushing the bolts of fabric apart so I could sit between them, my legs were so tired. Gramma seemed to take such a long time to decide on fabric. I remember one very long fabric shopping trip when an exasperated Susan exclaimed, “Do we have to go in another ‘terial store!”

After errands were done we would go back to her house and unload her purchases and have an early dinner. Then it was time to pick up the “aunts.” The aunts were Gramma’s sister Arvilla and her aunt Hilma. Neither of them drove and so we would pick Hilma up when she finished work at Auerbach’s department store and then we’d get Arvilla at home. The next couple of hours were a repeat of the morning errands minus the fabric shopping. Gramma didn’t like to shop much when she took the aunts, she was just the driver. Susan and I knew that if we behaved on this trip Gramma or Arvilla would buy us a new Little Golden Book or sometimes we would get some other treat. We were always good. We would drop off the aunts and their packages, they lived together in the house my grandmother grew up in. In the summer one of our favorite treats was a drive to the A & W drive in for a baby root beer or a lemon slush. As an adult I was shocked at how small the baby root beers really were and how I was perfectly content I was with it. I think they were free and Gramma’s root beer was a nickel.

Gramma would often hum songs when we drove home in the car at night. Songs like the Old Rugged Cross, The Red River Valley and most often I Love You Truly. She seemed sad when she hummed. If it wasn’t too late when we got home we would go out on the front porch and watch the Saturday night life go past while she watered the lawn with her hose. If we were lucky her fireman brother Byron, we called him Boogan, and his son-in-law Tommy would go by on their way to or from a fire. They always made sure to sound the siren whenever they went past Gramma’s house. We loved it!

When we were very young we would both sleep in the full bed with Gramma, but as we got bigger she kicked one of us out and made us sleep on the couch. We took turns until I was finally to too tall to sleep on the couch and then Susan had to all the time. I hated sleeping on the couch. In the winter, I could hear the mouse traps snapping and worried that one would crawl on me. In the summer, Gramma left the front door open with the screen door latched, I was worried that some one would come in and get me.

Saturday with Gramma was my favorite day of the week! I am so grateful we got to be with her instead of a babysitter.

Family History

Helen Madeline Brown Gren - My Grandmother

Helen Madeline Brown Gren – My Grandmother

I have never really had much time for family history. I always thought is was something old people did so they could perform LDS ordinances for those who had passed away. Well now I am old and I am interested in my ancestors, maybe because I hope someone will be interested in me. I think that it is natural as we age to hope that people will remember us when we are gone.

I have spent a lot of time over the past few months going through family photos and documents. I like the new and improved Family Search website and the ability to upload photos, stories and documents. The website is great and anyone can use it. You can login with an LDS account or if you don’t have one you can quickly set up an account. You don’t need to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to use this really great resource.

When I first experimented with uploading some photos I was surprised to discover that there were already some photos of my ancestors posted. It was fun to find photos of my father’s grandfather and great grandfather and see how much he looked like them.

I posted a story that my great grandmother wrote about her father. This has made me think about all the stories that are inside of me. I have been making notes each time I think of one so I won’t forget all the stories. Now, I just need to get busy and write them down.


One weekend while Rorey and John were here, Ellie and Daniel came over to play. Then we spent some time at the park with Henry. Here are some photos of their cousin fun:IMG_2081 IMG_2087 IMG_2453 IMG_2475 IMG_2478 IMG_2479 IMG_2482 IMG_2484 IMG_2485 IMG_2488 IMG_2491 IMG_2498 IMG_2505 IMG_2509

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Bridge Fest

When the bridge between Kingwood and Atascocita across Lake Houston opened the YMCA had a fun run to celebrate. Andrew, Kristina and Alex ran in it. Kristina, Brian, Alex and Henry participated again this year.

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Valentine’s Fun

I had Ellie, Daniel and Henry over for a little Valentine’s Day activity. It involved finger painting and decorating cookies-


Ellie liked the finger painting, but Daniel and Henry did not. Mostly, the boys just liked eating the cookies-

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The Frozen Hague

While we were still in Australia for Christmas we found out that Ruth would be having knee surgery after the first of the year. What none of us know at the time was that it would be major surgery and she would be off her leg for six weeks.

We were in Australia with all summer clothing and they were in the middle of winter in The Netherlands. I wanted to go to help, but I needed to stop home first. I was in Houston for a weekend…just enough time to catch up with family here and change wardrobes.

I arrived the morning after a big snowstorm. The temperature was below freezing and stayed that way most of the time I was there. When I hopped into Big Blauw the first thing I was reminded of was the standard transmission. It’s not that I can’t drive one, it’s just that I haven’t for awhile. Also, it would be a van filled with kids and I would would be driving on the left in the snow. I have done all of those things a lot so it didn’t take me very long to calm down.

I pushed Mark and Holli to preschool in the jogging stroller. The other children were pulled by their mothers on sleds. The stroller went through the snow well, but the sleds looked much more quaint and fun.

My days were filled with car pools, laundry and cooking, but I had such a good time. I love being with family and serving. The car pools always began with an argument about where everyone was going to sit. I finally got tired of the bickering and when it would start I would crank up One Direction or Taylor Swift and soon everyone would be singing along. Man, the words to You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful and We’re Never Ever Getting Back Together Were Stuck in My Head for Weeks, in a good way!

Here are some photos:


My early birthday celebration


Belgium Chocolate Trifle

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IMG_2114It was great fun!


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