Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saturday Gratitude - 1st Edition

I believe the old saying that it is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting. Positive thinking is powerful in our daily lives. It's with this thought in mind that I want to take time each week to think about the many things in my life for which I am thankful. I want to set aside Saturday as a time to count some of my many blessings.

This season has reinforced to me how very fortunate I am for my family.
1. I am thankful for my husband who is supportive of me and my wants and needs. He goes with the flow and is comfortable and happy with my huge family and big get-togethers. I'm thankful he doesn't just put up with all of us, but enjoys it and participates.

2. I am thankful for my 3 children who absolutely wear me out, but bring me more joy than I ever knew was possible. My life has changed drastically in the last nine years with the births of these 3 unique little people. I've never been more exhausted and I've never been happier or laughed as much! They are the light of my life!

3. I am thankful for parents who drove 2 hours to my house today and 2 hours back home just to see what Santa brought my children. Not because my parents are that anxious to see things they've already had described to them on the phone. But because it's important to my children that they see the toys and my children are important to my parents. My dad once drove 1 1/2 hours to get to my oldest daughter's pre-K graduation. I told him that I hated for him to drive that far for a 15 minute ceremony. His response was, "That's not the point. The point is for B to know how very important she is to me." That was the point to them today. I'm thankful for that love.

4. I'm thankful for my brother and sister-in-law who opened their home for us to stay in over Christmas. I'm thankful they let their youngest come back with us and spend a couple of days. The girls had a blast and built bonds that will last forever.

5. I am thankful that the Christmas season gives us time to get together and spend good, quality time with each other. I am happy that Christmas makes the world slow down and make time for family.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Family quotes

Thirteen quotes from my family
First edition
I'm new at this and can't quite figure out how this html code works. Here are all the parts, but maybe not in the correct order. Hopefully, I'll master it before next Thursday.
My family is unique and I love each of them. These are quotes that were/are frequently used by some of my family members. Each quote is unique (as far as I know) to the person that uses/used it and struck a chord with me.

1. "Don't tell me what to do" is something my dad would jokingly say to amuse my brother and me when someone told him to have a good day. He obviously didn't say it loud enough that the person who wished him a good day could hear it. :-)
2. "Read the directions. It makes Christmas last twice as long" is a quote from my Uncle G. When I was young, my family spent some wonderful Christmases with my aunt and uncle and their 2 children who were about the same age as my brother and me. This was his answer when we'd ask how to play a new game. He was right, it did make Christmas last longer and was educational too.
3. "Eat to live. Don't live to eat" is something my mother says when we were craving something unhealthy to encourage us all to eat more correctly. Food for thought.
4. "No one is wise enough or good enough to raise children" is from my grandmother noting how difficult it is to be a parent. It is encouragement and seems to imply that everyone struggles with this. No one can do it perfectly. It's an incredibly important job, there's no hand book, and we must do the best we can.
5. "Life is hard. Be nice to each other" sounds very simplistic but has valuable meaning. This is a quote from my grandmother and was meant to remind us that we don't always know what other people are facing. We should assume the best of people and give them the benefit of the doubt.
6. "I despise to cook" was our dinner bell and means come and eat. My mom would yell these words as she separated the parts of the meal we would eat from the parts of the meal that were burned and would be thrown away. This has become a joke in our family and really didn't happen as often as we all make it seem like it did. Mom's a good sport about it. :-)
7. "SB and WP." This was personalized just for me from my Aunt J and Uncle G. It meant "shoulders back and walk with pride." It was to remind me to not slump and walk with confidence. I appreciate the lesson.
8. "As long as I have a dime. You're not broke." I don't know if my Granddaddy really ever said this more than once to me, but once was enough. He told me this when I was an older teenager and the depth of the comment was very meaningful to me. It meant that he'd give me all he had, and he would have done that for any one of us at any time we needed him. He was a very giving, loving person and I miss him dearly.
9. "Sometimes the things you don't do wear you out more than the things you do." The older I get the truer this phrase spoken by my grandmother becomes. It's the things I worry about and dread doing that wear me out. If I'll just dig in and get it done, it's not nearly as tiring. I need to remember this lesson today as I dread taking down all of my Christmas decorations.
10. "Let me get a picture with my oldest and my youngest," is a phrase I heard many times from my granddaddy. He was an excellent photographer, and I am his oldest grandchild. Every time there was a new grandchild (and there are many), he would get a picture of the oldest (always me) and the youngest (always someone different). I loved it.
11. "Why don't you marry it?" a phrase from my brother successfully meant to irritate me. When we were children he'd say (in a sing-songy, high pitched tone) this every time I'd say I loved something. You have to picture it. Me, "Oh, I love these mashed potatoes." Him, "Why don't you marry them?" I bet you all can hear it. :-)
12. "He has no plan B," is a quote that cracks me up. My brother has a unique way to express things. This is his phrase for a person who can't break from the original plan or idea. The person with no plan B can't modify or adjust in any way.
13. "I wish I could buy him for what he's worth and sell him for what he thinks he's worth," is from my dad. It's self-explanatory and I'm sure it was NEVER spoken about any of our family members.
The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens! (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)
Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Family Ties

There's nothing like family! We've had a wonderful Christmas! We've shared a lot of time with family this week and have enjoyed every minute of it!

We spent Christmas Eve with RJ's sister and her family and brother and his family. This was a tough Christmas. My dear hubby lost both of his parents after long illnesses within a year of each other. This was our first Christmas without either of them. It's excruciatingly painful to celebrate such a wonderful occasion without the people who helped make the celebration so special for so many years. Many things changed and didn't "seem right," but many traditions stayed the same in new ways. We still gathered on Christmas Eve, but not in the same house we'd always gathered. We still celebrated family and being together, but with the screaming absence of 2 people we all deeply loved. We still brought food and enjoyed a wonderful meal together, but without his mother's experienced, home cooked touch. We're still family - with the same values, same history, and same love. We hurt, but celebrate together and will heal together very aware that time spent together is precious. Family is a wonderfully comforting and supportive gift from God!

Christmas morning was a tornado of activity with our three children. We had a great time opening presents, discovering what Santa brought, preparing and eating breakfast, and playing with new toys together. It was a time of excited activity! Family is a wonderfully fun and thrilling gift from God!

Christmas afternoon we arrived at my parents' house to spend time with them and my brother and his family. We opened presents again, had a wonderful meal together, played games, laughed and enjoyed each other's company. There are always many jokes and laughter with my family, many discussions and lot of kids' activity. Our time together is always comfortable and familiar. Family is a wonderfully loving and relaxing gift from God!

Tuesday we went to my Grandmother's house to celebrate with our extended family. My mother is one of 7 children and all 7 were at my grandmother's house with their families. In attendance were my grandmother, her 7 children, 6 of her children-in-law, 13 grandchildren, 4 grandchildren-in-law, 13 great-grandchildren, and 1 good friend. We had hours of loud, boisterous fun, times of in-depth conversation, and times of sharing stories and memories! Opening exchange presents with that many people in one room is a hoot! We had people ranging in age from 84 to 3 years old! No arguments, no disagreements, lots of laughter, lots of fun, lots of interaction! I love to see the small groups of people talking or playing change and revolve to different groups building bonds and memories. Family is a wonderfully secure and traditional gift from God!

Today we're back home with one of my brother's wonderful kids. I'm listening to sounds of four of the children I love most in this world laughing, playing and having fun together. This time is priceless beyond words. I thank God for my family.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Gotta Love It!

There are so many wonderful things to do with children this time of year! We had fun decorating, shopping for gifts, wrapping presents, going to see holiday lights, making gifts, making reindeer food, participating in Christmas programs and cantatas at church, and visiting with family! My children are perfect ages for celebrating and having fun with the anticipation of the season. Last Saturday, we went with my parents to Blue Ridge, Georgia and took a train ride with Santa. While we traveled from Blue Ridge to the Tennessee border, we sang Christmas songs, heard a Christmas story, played some games and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. At the end of the ride Santa, Mrs. Claus, and two elves arrived to talk to each child, give us all bells and candy canes, and allow us to take pictures. We had a lot of fun.

One of our Christmas traditions is to bake cookies for Santa, of course. Every year we make Peanut Butter Kisses and Buckeyes. Both are good recipes for kids. They love rolling the dough into balls, rolling the balls in the sugar or dipping them in chocolate, and putting the kisses on the cookies. They are good recipes for this mother because they only have 3 ingredients each and a couple of simple steps to the recipes. So, for my family Peanut Butter Kisses and Buckeyes are a win-win situation. This year, we tried a new cookie with a surprise middle. I got this recipe from watching Paula Dean make it on the Food Network. They are delicious, but HUGE! You can't eat more than one of these at one sitting! I'll post the recipes for all three cookies below.

Peanut Butter Kisses

1 C creamy or chunky peanut butter

1 C packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350. Combine ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until blended. Roll heaping teaspoonfuls of dough into balls. Roll in a bowl of sugar. Bake for 12 minutes or until set. Place unwrapped Hershy's Kiss on top of cookie and let set.


1 stick butter

18 ounces creamy peanut butter

1 pound box confectioners sugar

Cream together butter and peanut butter. Add confectioners sugar. Roll into balls. Dip into melted chocolate. Place on wax paper.

Paula Dean's Hidden Mint Cookies

18-ounce roll of refrigerated sugar cookie dough, sliced 1/2 inch thin

14-ounce package chocolate mint wafers (or any bit-sized candy or cookie)

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon chopped pecans or walnuts

Place slices or sugar cookies on greased cookie sheet about 2-3 inches apart. Top each with a chocolate wafer. Cover wafer with another slice of cookie dough. Brush dough with a beaten egg. Press nuts into top of dough. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Wham! Bam! Thank you, Ma'am!

I bought the first gifts for this Christmas on December 29, 2005. I have searched for the perfect gifts all year, found clever hiding places (so clever that I actually couldn't find 2 presents), hand-picked specialty items for each of my three children, listed each item, color-coded my list (Yes, I can be quite obsessive- compulsive at times.), and checked the list many times to make sure the lists were as equal as possible monetarily, in number, and in looks. I have worked for 12 months for this day, and I have enjoyed every minute of it! In 1 hour and 10 minutes all presents have been opened! Twelve MONTHS of secretive plotting, planning and hiding - and 70 MINUTES to unwrap all the surprises. Was it worth it! Absolutely! There is nothing like the excited faces of children as they discover what Santa brought and as they open their gifts! As I am typing now, I can hear the children playing, talking, and laughing and still discovering things amid the colorful wrapping paper, tissue paper and empty boxes. They are having a blast! What a whirlwind! I wouldn't trade this morning for anything in this world!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas Adam!

I stole that phrase from our preacher. He said that when his son was young, he figured that the day before Christmas Eve must be Christmas Adam since Adam was created first. So, merry Christmas Adam to all of you!

I hope you all have had a very good day. I've been to the grocery store twice today and it was a much happier experience at 8:00 this morning than it was at 5:30 this afternoon! Thank goodness I only needed one item for the 5:30 trip! I have "cooked" most of the day today. This is not something I do frequently nor something that I enjoy very often. I say "cooked" because even though I've made 4 side dishes to go with our Christmas Eve meal tomorrow, I've only turned on the oven once. The one dish I tried to "cook"was a disaster! Ovens and I don't always get along. However the spirit of Christmas overtook me, and in fear and trembling I preheated the oven and prepared to make a caramel cake.

Only love for my hubby, RJ, could persuade me to try such an ambitious cooking adventure. My husband's mom was an absolutely fantastic cook. With no recipe, not much measuring, seemingly no stress, and a smile on her face she could turn out an all-out feast! She was known for many wonderful dishes. The other day RJ mentioned in passing that he would love to taste his mom's caramel or coconut cake again. His mom passed away April 1, 2005. This will be our second Christmas without her and it's no easier than the first one was.

I have never made a cake from scratch. Never. I like boxes and kits. I like easy. I knew I would never be able to make a cake just like his mother's but thought I might be able to come close. So, with the help of both of my grandmothers - my Grandmother's cake recipe and my Mamaw's caramel frosting recipe - I attempted to bake a caramel cake. With the help of my 5 year old son, I made 3 beautiful round layers of cake and a pot of yummy caramel frosting. They LOOKED wonderful in separate pans on the kitchen counter. They TASTED yummy in separate pans. However chemistry must have taken over when I tried to combine the cakes and the frosting. I never did understand science. When I tried to put the cakes with the frosting, the entire thing crumbled right before my very eyes! The first cake did not come out of the pan nicely. I had to get rough with it and show it who was boss. I really didn't think it would be a problem. After all, it was on the bottom. It came out of the pan in several pieces, but I glued it back together with frosting. The second layer came out a little better, but still took some coercing. So, with more frosting patching I reached for the 3rd layer. The third layer came out of the pan the best - only in three separate pieces. By the time I patched those, I was running short on frosting. I poured (actually "raked it out of the pan" is more accurate since it was getting a little stiff) the remaining frosting on top on the cake and tried to spread (the nice way to say, "forcibly smear") it on the cake. As I did, the whole left side of the cake began to crumble and fall to the counter. It was somewhat like I picture an avalanche would be, but warmer. It's a sad little mountainish heap on a beautiful crystal cake pedestal. RJ was very gracious and went on and on about how wonderful it tasted. We have all eaten a piece of what we've been able to uncover of the first layer. It does taste good, but it takes a brave person to put something that looks so pitiful in his/her mouth! Maybe another holiday will fill me with the false hope that I can bake a cake and I might try it again someday. But on this Christmas Adam day, I am very thankful for bakeries.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Blogging Inspiration

As I mentioned in my first post, many of my family members are bloggers. I thoroughly enjoy reading their blogs and feel that I know them better because of them. My grandmother, of Ruthlace, started blogging a year or so ago, and her blog was recently nominated for the "Best Diarist" award. Her blog is fascinating to read. She tells of many of her childhood memories growing up during the Depression and of her early years of marriage during WWII. As her grandchild, I love being able to step back in time and learn about her life, thoughts, and history from her own words. What a great gift to me and all of her grandchildren and great- grandchildren to have these descriptions of our heritage! Being able to read about my grandparents' lives, beliefs, and values is priceless to me! She is one of my main inspirations to write a blog. I want to write about experiences my children will one day enjoy remembering and reading.

My mother, of Daddy's Roses, is another inspiration for my blogging interest. Her personality and interests in words, word play, and language come through in her posts. She writes about our family and experiences. I feel very fortunate to have these written stories for years to come.

I view my blog as a journal - a written record - of our lives and my thoughts to share with my family. I want my children to have a written record of their lives through my eyes.

Experimental 1st post

I am always telling my first grade students that if they can't think of anything to write about during writers' workshop they should write about how they can't think of anything to write. My theory is that if they plunge in and begin writing, it will help them think. It's with that thought in mind that I'm writing this first post. I'm not sure about many aspects of blogs. It goes against my cautious nature to begin something before I know all the ins and outs of it. Many of my family members have blogs and I thoroughly enjoy reading them, but I don't know many of the logistics of managing a blog. My mom, of Daddy's Roses, has offered to walk me through this process. So, this first post is experimental. I'm jumping into the blogosphere without full knowledge of how far I'll travel or how I'll get there. I am taking this first step because I like to write and enjoy expressing myself through writing. I'm looking forward to writing about some of my thoughts, ideas, and experiences here. I am looking forward to this journey.