Sunday, April 05, 2009

Hello--Not From Utah! Warning--Very Long Post, Don't Miss the Awesome Cookies and Cream Rice Crispy Treats at the End!

Well, here we are back in Kansas.  We weren't supposed to be in Kansas right now.  We were supposed to be in Utah.  Kevin's grandma died last week.  She was 101!  (HUGE side track from my story so I can write about Grandma.) 

Here's Great Grandma (Relia Cooley Smith) about 10 ears ago, when she was 90!  Scott and I (that's Scottie and me in the picture with Grandma, Scott was SO little!--Okay, really he was a BIG baby, but I mean, I can't believe Scott is almost 11 now!  I really wanted to crop myself out of this picture, but decided not to.  Holy cow, I look young!)  Anyway, Scott and I used to go see Grandma every day and make her lunch and get her meds and hang out with her.  It was fun to be there with her as she still lived on her own then and needed a little help remembering a few things, like eating and taking medication!  She LOVED Scottie and Scott actually talks about remembering a little bobble-head turtle she had at her house.  He wasn't even two, probably age 1-2 while we were going over every day.  Cool that he would remember something like that.  Even "back then" no one would have ever guessed that Great Grandma would live to be 101!


Grandma was so funny.  She wanted me to make her a bacon sandwich EVERY DAY.  Heavy on the "strong" cheese, she would say (extra sharp cheddar).  I would present her with a nice big sandwich, lettuce, tomato, the works, with a little something on the side.  She would "complain" that there was no way she could eat it all and then proceed to eat every last crumb of it.  She gained a few pounds back then, her doctor said "So what, she's 90 years old, let her eat whatever she wants."  For a time while I was visiting her, she was receiving Meals On Wheels.  She would open the lunch, usually complain about the food, freak out that she certainly couldn't eat all that gross food, and then eat every last bit of it.  So funny!  Kevin, Scott and I would also go visit Grandma every night during that time (Kev's parents were away as mission presidents (for our church) then and his dad used to go over every day and check on "Mother" and be with her.  While they were gone, Kevin and I kind of took over that role for a while.  We loved being with Grandma every day.  She loved singing and having people sing to her.  I am not a great singer, but Kevin brought over his friend, Alberto a time or two and the two of them would sing a duet together for Grandma.  


Here's Grammy in 2005 at a Smith Family Reunion.


Also in the video is Kevin's dad, Jay, and one of Kevin's  sisters, Relia (named after Grandma Relia.)

Here's Grandma singing at the Smith Family Reunion 2005.  She was singing clear up until she left us.  And she really loved hearing others sing.  The last time I saw her, we were visiting in Utah two summer's ago and took the boys to see her.  She was in a care home then.  She wasn't fully awake that day, but Kevin's dad was there with us and every time he'd say, "Mom, sing something with us for Kevin, Katrina and the boys."  We'd start singing, "She'll be coming 'round the mountain"...without fail, Grandma would sing and add in real loudly, "When she comes" at just the right times.  Never missed a beat.  We sang lots of songs with her that day.  I hope the boys will remember her.   Oh, Gram, until we meet again!  I LOVE her!

You can read more about Grandma's passing on Kevin's sister's blog.  Such touching stories of our wonderful Grammy and how Kevin's dad got to say goodbye while they are on a mission in Hong Kong.  Check it out when you get a second at Nutrition Momma's blog post about Grandma.

We decided after much deliberation to all go to Utah as a family to be there for her funeral and to be with family.  Apparently it wasn't to be.  You see, on Friday we started our drive "out west".  We planned ahead to have the boys out of school Friday, and next week (Monday is no school anyway), then Tuesday and Wednesday.  Kevin worked out having someone teach his class on Tuesday and I did A LOT of laundry, house cleaning and packing to get us all out the door EARLY Friday morning.  We were on the road by about 7 a.m.!  That's really good for me.  We always drive for a day and stay in Denver, then drive on to Utah the next day--8-9 hours in the car is a long drive for us with the boys.  Sam especially does NOT like being in his car seat that long.  I also especially don't like being in MY car seat that long.

We knew Denver was going to have a snow storm and we were praying all would work out.  When we got to Denver about 4 p.m., we went to the Aquarium as something fun to do.  It was fun and is now the ONLY highlight of our trip.  In fact, we'll now be joking for years that we took quite a long, expensive trip to an aquarium!

Here's some pictures of us at the aquarium.



Parker.  Love his hands!









Man, there are some strange creatures under the sea!




Kevin loved some of this stuff, as he recently started his own salt water fish tanks.


We found Nemo!


Stingrays!  Pretty cool, up close and personal.  Parker was the only one who was not afraid to touch them.



Taylor and Parker got a little face painting.



But the BEST part of the whole thing, the thing we all agreed was the coolest was a 4D movie with SpongeBob Squarepants that was showing at the Aquarium.  Besides 3D glasses, you sit in a chair that moves like you're moving along with the video, swooshing down into the depths of the sea, etc.  It was fun and rockin' and Scott, Parker, Taylor and I loved it.  (It was only about a 10 minute video.) 


The passes we paid for allowed everyone to go to the movie twice.  So I went first while Kevin stayed with Sam--the movie would have scared the pants off him!  Then the boys were more than excited to see it again with Kevin.  


Go ahead, laugh at my boys and their unkempt hair, raggedy clothes, etc.  We'd just driven 9 hours and went straight to the aquarium.  That is why you won't see any pictures of me!

After the aquarium, we drove a good 40 minutes to Loveland where our hotel was.  Kevin wanted us to be just that much closer to Utah on our next day's drive.  In the SpongeBob pictures, it was just starting to rain.  The DARK clouds were ominous.  We knew in making this trip that Colorado was supposed to get snow.  It was coming!  It was actually supposed to snow that night anywhere from 4-10 inches in the Denver metro. 

We made it to the hotel after grabbing some Subway sandwiches.  Oh, the hotel!  Great room, two queen sized beds.  The biggest problem--one word--SAM!  He  was in to EVERYTHING.  There were two phones in the room--he would NOT leave them alone.  The lamps, the refrigerator--that's right, this room had a fridge, the ironing board in the closet, the dresser drawers, the tv and remote, hmm, let's see, what else?  I'm sure there's more, but Sam would not leave anything alone.  I understand the exploration of a 2 year old and dadgumit, he is cute--but we just about when nuts.  At one point of Sam's frustration after having been told to stop doing something, he grabbed Taylor's GameBoy and ran to the bathroom as fast as he could and threw it in the toilet!  I got it out of there fast, and after drying out, it is working okay.  With no nap (okay, a short one in the car), Sam just needed to go to bed!  Normally, when we go on trips, we take the playpen for him to sleep in, but WHERE IS IT?  We could not and cannot find it--anywhere!  It's gone.  We last used it in May of last year--when we went to Nauvoo, IL with Cindy and family.  Did we leave it at that house we rented?  Dunno.  Anyway, Sam slept on the floor next to our bed at the hotel. 

There it was, only 9 p.m., but we WERE tired and REALLY tired of dealing with Sam in the hotel room, so we made everyone go to bed, including us.  Lights out, night night.  It. was. a. very. long. night!

We also kept checking on the snow situation.  But by morning, it had not even snowed an inch.  We got up a little after 6 a.m.  We decided to hurry and get ready and get going to make the trek to Utah.  Kevin checked all the weather and road conditions on I-70 through Wyoming and I-80 through the Colorado mountains and it did not look good!  I-70 was closed!  I-80 had gotten up to 20 inches of snow that night!  And it was beginning to really snow in the metro. 

Kevin does not like driving in rain let alone SNOW.  We really didn't know what to do.  We thought about just staying in Denver an extra day and trying to drive on to Utah today, but we decided and just felt right about turning around and going home.  Back to Kansas.  Sigh.  I was/am deeply bummed that we could not make it for Grandma's funeral!  So is Kevin. 

We got back on I-80 and headed east back towards Kansas.  It was snowing and VERY windy.  It seemed to take forever just to get out of the Denver area.  We were driving 30 mph for quite a while.  We also were slowed down by and saw three nasty accidents within about 5 miles near Aurora.   As he was driving, Kevin said it felt like he was literally being pushed by the wind on the icy road.  I swear we drove about two hours at a very slow pace.  Sam, once again, was NOT happy to be strapped in the car.  I thought I was going to die from the pain of constantly turning around to deal with the boys.  My neck and back were killing me. 

We drove on.  It was windy the whole way home and snowing off and on even through a good part of Kansas.  Finally about 2 hours from home, it was clear and sunny--but still a little windy.  The day was SOOO long.  I think we left Denver (8-9 hours normally) around 8:30-9:00 and got home at 9:30 p.m.  Thank you Kev for getting us all home safe and sound.  I often would rather just "face the storm" and in this case, we still wouldn't have made it to Utah and could have been seriously hurt.  I know we made the right decision.  When we got home last night, Kevin checked the road reports and also this morning.  I-70 through Wyoming was/is still closed.  He read all kinds of reports about accidents and pile ups on I-80 in the mountains.  Who knows what could have happened to us.  We know that we were truly blessed and said many prayers along the way and are very grateful to Heavenly Father for blessing us.

Enough said!  We'll miss ya'll Smith family!


I know, I could and probably should post this recipe on a new post instead of at the end of this very long one, but this is just the way I like doing it and it's my blog, so ppppbbbtttt! ;)  jk

You have got to make these Rice Crispy Treats!  I found these on yet another yummy blog, Cast Sugar, a few months ago and have had them in the back of my mind since.  I whipped them up today--love Rice Crispy Treats, they are so simple and tasty!

These treats have chopped up Oreo cookies in them.


Looks great, but that's not all.  After the treats set up, you cut them into squares and dip them into melted chocolate and add more Oreo on top.  Hello?  Heaven!


The recipe on Cast Sugar is with white chocolate on top.  I actually like that, but Kevin doesn't care for white chocolate, so I did half with white and half with a semi sweet chocolate. 


These are good.  Very good!

Want the recipe?  You can get one version on the link to Cast Sugar above and I did it quite similar, but here's the recipe as I  made it.

Cookies and Cream Rice Crispy Treats

3 oz. (about 1/2 cup) semi sweet or dark chocolate (I used Hershey's Special Dark chips)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

10 oz. marshmallows

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 cups crisp rice cereal (I used Rice Krispies)

6 ounces mini Oreo cookies, cut in half (you could use 15-20 regular sized ones chopped)

4 ounces white chocolate, chopped

4 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped

2-3 ounces more mini Oreo cookies, crushed and crumbled

Melt the 3 oz. of chocolate in a microwave safe dish in 20-30 second intervals.  Stir until smooth.  Set aside.  Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Set aside.

Melt the butter and marshmallows in a large pot over medium heat, stirring constantly until melted.   Remove from heat and stir in the melted chocolate and vanilla and stir to combine.  Gently stir in the cereal and chopped cookies and combine well.  Press into the baking pan using your hands.  (I always spray mine lightly with cooking spray, or use a spatula.)  Allow to cool completely.

Once cooled.  Remove from pan using the edges of the foil.  Remove foil and cut into squares.  Melt the white chocolate and semi sweet chocolate in separate microwave safe bowls.  Crush the cookies in a plastic bag (or use the bag the mini Oreos come in) with a blunt object, like a rolling pin.  

Dip (or spoon and spread)  each square into the chocolate.  Sprinkle with some crushed cookies.  Set aside to cool and set completely.  Eat them or store in an airtight container.



Elyse said...

Katrina, Grandma sounds like quite an amazing lady! I love the story about her chiming in to sing "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain." The picture of her and Scottie is just precious!! I'm so sorry that the snow intruded upon your plans, but I think it's wonderful that you're remembering Grandma in your blog post.

The aquarium pictures are fabulous! Petting sting rays is so fun--although they feel sooo slimy! Sam is quite the explorer, huh? I'm sure you're happy to have him home and away from those hotel telephones :)

These rice krispie treats look INCREDIBLE. Anytime you can put chocolate into an old classic, I'm a fan! Can't wait to try these for myself.

Megan said...

So sorry to hear about Grandma's passing - but 101 years means she lived a good long life!

Wow - what a trip - but at least you are all safe and that's the most important thing.

I understand your frustration at not being at Grandma's funeral - we had a very close family friend die 2 days before 9-11 and I couldn't fly home to be there.

noble pig said...

Aw, sorry to hear about Grandma, she lived a long time!

It looks like the best was made and those krispies...OMG, pure evil deliciousness.

Anonymous said...

Great family pics. It sounds like it has been a wonderful vacation.

Those rice crispy treats look really decadent.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

So sorry to hear about Kevin's grandma. My great grandma died a few years ago at age 102! And she liked singing as well, so that must make for longevity! Sad you couldn't attend the funeral... But when you can't, you can't.
Now about the treats... you know I always think something with oreos is great!!!