Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Recap

IMG_13622010 – One of the coldest Christmas seasons I can remember. We even had snow across a large part of Alabama for Christmas day –almost unheard of in the deep south! I enjoyed this season with my two babies.  Hannah and Katelyn are growing up and I am increasingly aware of how short our time together is. In the blink of an eye they’ll be gone off to college and my days of mothering children will be over. Of course I’ll always be their mother but as they grow up and begin their own lives and families, my mothering responsibilities will fade to the IMG_1387background and we will become friends. And hopefully there will be grandchildren in my future, God willing.

We enjoyed the time of Christmas vacation from school – laughing, talking, watching tv together, baking and making Christmas goodies. We wore Christmas pajamas all day on some days.  What could be more comfy on days when the weather outside is frightful and flannel pajamas are so delightful!?

 Hannah and Katelyn did a little cookie baking and then while Katelyn was visiting at a friend’s house, Hannah and I did an afternoon or two of baking and dessert making. It was really fun spending that time together and I hope she will save that memory, as will I.

 Hannah was dipping pretzel sticks in white chocolate – one at a time, so carefully insuring each little stick got dipped to within a half inch of the tip, leaving a little handle to grab them by.  I asked her if she was getting tired of dipping them after a while and she said “Oh no… it’s fun!”

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While Hannah dipped pretzels, I made Ritz Chocolate Peanut Butter cookies. Not really sure that’s what they are called, but it’s my name for them! Simply spread peanut butter on a Ritz cracker and then sandwich another Ritz on top. With a butter knife, go around the edges cleaning any excess peanut butter that squeezes out. Then dip the cracker sandwich in melted chocolate bark and lay them out on a sheet of wax paper to dry. It doesn’t take them long! If you like the combination of chocolate and peanut butter (think Reese’s!) then you’ll love these.  We were busy all afternoon in that kitchen and it was delightful! Laughing, talking, creating and memory making. Even Casey kept us company, keeping a close eye on all the food prep!

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Over the weekend our oldest 3 were able to get home and we all enjoyed the family time. Bobby cooked a pot full of his renown gumbo and it was a hit! We made my mom’s Christmas punch (a yearly custom which my kids clamor for!) and a batch of her Christmas Snowballs (a pecan sandy/shortbread type goodie) and just had a wonderful time. All too soon and one by one, they had to say goodbye and head back to their homes. Though we loved having them all, yesterday afternoon there was a nice ‘quiet’ in the house… an ‘unbusy-ness’ which was welcome.

Today is December 30th – a quiet, chilly, damp gray day. We are staying in and winding down today. Tomorrow we will tackle the un-decorating and packing away of Christmas 2010. As always, it was bittersweet. I missed you mama. It has been 20 Christmas’s now, since you celebrated with us. So long ago, yet 20 Christmas’s closer to the day we will see you again! ♥

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Blessings

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Joy to the World! The Lord has come! Christmas 2010 has arrived and and is now winding down. The day brought time with some of our family, and others to arrive tomorrow.

The day brought sorrow as well as I learned of the unexpected sudden death of an online friend. For years I have followed the cancer journey of a young man named Kody. He developed a brain tumor when he was a young boy and has battled (successfully) for years. He’s now a young man in his mid teens and doing pretty well. Along the way a friendship developed and I enjoyed knowing Kody’s family through the writings of his parents (Karl and Kim) chronicling their son’s journey through cancer and ensuing treatment. We went through spells of cutting up with one another through comments/emails. Kody’s parents were a lot of fun to mess with – they were both good sports and I enjoyed their friendship. For several years we lived in Florida (they also live in FL) and I thought one day our paths might cross and we could meet even though we lived a number of hours apart. It never happened and a couple of years ago we moved back to Alabama.

I’ve continued to keep up with them but life has gone on and we’ve had our own trials and struggles as all families do. My time for commenting on blogs was more limited but I continued to read and check up on Kody and when his mom Kim started a blog, I became a regular reader but a limited commenter.  Haven’t been by Kim’s blog in about a week so today I clicked on to wish all the K family a Merry Christmas. Her latest post puzzled me so I read down through the past week’s postings to see what was going on with them. I was absolutely shocked to read that on Wednesday evening, December 22, Karl was killed in a head on collision on his way home after work. I was so shocked and my heart just broke for them. On Christmas Eve as most families were preparing to gather for Christmas, they gathered to say good-bye to their daddy/husband/granddaddy. He was my age.

What a poignant reminder of the fragility of life. All our days are written in God’s book. He knows the length of our lives and the bible says not a second can be added to, or taken away from the time He has ordained for us to be here. This has always been a comfort to me, knowing I would live every moment of the life God has ordained for me but still the tragic circumstances of life tear at our hearts and we cannot comprehend so many things that happen in this life. The K family has endured so much over the years. It just seemed they had worked through so many trials and struggles and had recently bought a new home which they were so proud of. Just seemed things were looking up for them and now suddenly Karl has been taken from their lives.  Without understanding of this horrible tragedy, but with faith and trust in God, I pray for their comfort and peace, and that this will draw them closer to one another and to the Lord, their sustainer in this life and beyond. May their faith not waver and may their hope grow ever stronger. God’s promises are true.

If you happen to read this Kim – God bless you and all the children. And may all of us be reminded once again – beyond this day is not promised to us. Let us live fully each day and leave nothing undone or unsaid which needs to be said. Live in love. The K family was a wonderful example of this philosophy.

I’ll write more about Christmas later.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

Saturday was a chilly and damp sort of day so we hung out around the house trying to stay warm and fend off that damp chill. Katelyn and I sat at the kitchen table all morning and worked on Christmas cards. I addressed envelopes and she stuffed them, stamped them and placed our return address labels on each one. What a big help that was! Then we went to the post office and she dropped them in the mailbox inside so they are now on their way.

On Sunday we had a family gathering at my dad’s in Greenville, AL. That was fun as the whole family was able to be there. My sister and her husband have one daughter Abby, who is in college at the University of Kentucky. She’s two years older than Hannah and two years younger than Zachary.  My brother has two children – a boy, John and a girl, Owen. Katelyn was born right in between them so they are like stepping stones. Right now they are 14, 13 and 12 years old and they always have fun when we get them together. All our crew was able to come – Nathan and his wife and Gretchen and her husband. My dad fixed a pot FULL of gumbo and a pot full of rice and some good southern baked cornbread. My sister brought some KFC for the ones who don’t care for the gumbo. She had several sides in addition to the chicken and would you believe – every bit of that food was gone!? My dad really put us over the top with his famous blueberry crisp for dessert. YUM!!

This is the time when we exchange presents with my siblings and then our older kids will be home next weekend and we’ll have a more intimate time together with them. I got some fun things this year! My brother gave me something green with Ben Franklin’s picture on it! (wink!)  He also gave me a pretty tray and said he expected to be served something good on it next time he came! Hee hee.  The pattern is Eddy and you can learn more about this versatile cook and serve product by clicking on the tray. The picture is not a very good one – it’s really a beautiful, high sheen metal.

My sister and family gave us money as well (boy is that good because the girls have a return visit to the dentist this afternoon for more work. What a bummer that my Christmas present goes to the dentist. SIGH) Every year imageshe gives me a box from Victoria’s Secret as well. YAY for the ‘5 for 25’ sale! I always love the fun patterns she chooses!  Just click on the picture and take a look at all the fun colors! I’m not into the fancy or sexy ones – just give me those wonderful hi-leg cotton briefs! Love em!

My sister also got me a very unique ‘hometown shop’ gift.  Next time I go to Montgomery I have to check out this new shop. It’s called The Vintage Olive and they offer a wide variety of cold pressed olive oils which are infused with flavors and spices. Their menu of selections looks very interesting. I received the Tuscan Herb EVOO. Their website is very new so they don’t have any pictures I can show you but you can click the link to check out their product line. My sister said you can sample all those wonderful oils and she and my niece did just that in order to find the best one for me! YUM! I bet that was fun! It says on their site that the Tuscan Herb is excellent for bread dipping. Can’t wait! Might have to go buy some good crusty bread today!

Even though we were not really having ‘Christmas’ with our kids yet, my oldest two both brought us a little something. Nathan and Amelia gave me a Best Buy Gift card and Gretchen and Joe gave me something I’ve had on my wish list at Amazon – George Bush’s “Decision Points” book which was recently released. I enjoyed all those interviews ‘W’ gave this past month so was really wanting to read the book! Yay! Happy reading ahead for me! And now it’s on to Christmas – 5 days and counting!

If you are interested in reading George Bush’s ‘Decision Points’ you can click on this link to get it from Amazon.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Toothless in Dixie…

Well, not exactly toothless… but missing lots of teeth tonight. No… NOT ME!  Ha ha! Poor Casey, our beagle had dental surgery this morning. She had to have all of her upper jaw teeth pulled. OUCH! Her teeth have been icky for so long. This

time last year I paid for dental surgery on her and unfortunately the vet I took her to did not do all the work he needed to do. He pulled one tooth but there were several that needed attention. It’s risky to put elderly dogs under anesthesia as sometimes they don’t wake up. Sad smile Casey will be 16 yrs. old in May. So it was upsetting to me when a month after that 1st surgery and as soon as her antibiotics ended, her mouth developed that familiar foul odor that indicated infection was present. 

Needless to say, I never went back to that vet. I changed vets. I heard about a wonderful vet about 20 minutes away in a very small rural town south of us. So in May we went in for the annual check-up and shots and then he took a look at her teeth. He shook his head and said “OH MY! These are really grodie.”  I told him I had just had a dental done on her and was very disappointed to see her in this shape again. I couldn’t afford to turn around and do it again right away and neither did I want my sweet little Casey to go under anesthesia again. She didn’t appear to be in any pain, she just had stinky breath. So we waited. And things got worse. And we finally got to that point where it began to cause her pain and it was going to affect her health in some serious ways. 

Yesterday she went to visit the vet and he said “We are to that point between a rock and a hard place. It’s risky to put one to sleep at her age…sometimes they don’t wake up. But this infection is going to kill her if we don’t take care of it.” So we agreed she really needed to have some teeth pulled. This morning she went back and her sweet vet pulled 5 jaw teeth. Having already lost two, she has nothing left up top anymore. SIGH.  He called me this morning to let me know she had made it through the anesthesia and surgery just fine and she could go home this afternoon. When I arrived to get her, he said this was one of the worst cases he had ever seen. Thankfully she tolerated the anesthesia well and he was able to really get in there and clean things up and get rid of all those rotten teeth.

As I prepared to leave with my very groggy doggie, our good doctor said “she might not be able to eat for several days but try to keep her drinking. Call if you need anything over the weekend and please call Monday and give us a report on how she’s doing.” Well, that silly dog came home, slept a LONG time. And when she woke, she realized she had slept through her suppertime! She got a spoon full of canned food with her antibiotic stuffed in it. Carefully licked that up and looked at me for more. Smile So I spooned out a bit more. She ate that, licked the plate to death and looked at me as if to say “is this it? You DO know that I missed breakfast this morning, right?” So I soaked her dry food in hot water, mashed it up and she gobbled that down (carefully!)  Then I worried she might upchuck it all because she is still having some anesthesia affects. So far so good – it seems to be staying down. So much for being in too much pain to eat! He obviously did not realize there is no such thing as a hound being in too much pain to eat! If she doesn’t eat, it will be because she is dead! LOL! Dogs! Gotta love em! I snapped the picture with my cell phone  a little while ago. She was curled up at my feet in her little bed, snoring. Winking smile

Get well soon sweet Casey!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cookies… Cookies… Cookies!

Chocolate Chip CookiesHannah and Katelyn have been baking cookies this past week. Katelyn baked some chocolate chip cookies that barely lasted 24 hours! Of course no one ‘ate them all’ – they simply disappeared! Winking smile They had those yummy big chocolate chunks in them.

Then Hannah baked some snicker doodle cookies which are her favorite. We still have a few crumbs left of those; they lasted slightly longer! She added extra cinnamon and they tasted so buttery and cinnamon-y! 

It’s nice to have girls who are old enough to turn loose in the kitchen. I think we’ll do some peanut butter cookies with kisses on top next. Any predictions on how long those will last??  We seem to have a house full of cookie monsters!

Cookies fill the tummy with love!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December Happenings

DSC01767Well we are midway through the month of December and as usual, it has proven to be a month of challenges. Hannah had her first of two dental appointments this past Monday and had several deep fillings that involved some pulp treatment before filling. I sure hope they work and she will be pain free.  She has another appointment this coming Monday to do the rest. Katelyn will also be going Monday for a bit of dental work as well. Poor kiddos.

This week is a rough one as the girls are having final exams for the semester. They are more than ready to be out of school for a little break. Two more days after today… they can make it!

We have a sick doggie as well. She’s been coughing a lot so I’ll be calling the vet and seeing if we can get her in and get her on the road to recovery as well. Merry Christmas to the dentist and the vet – not so merry for us.

The winter sickness has found me as well, and I have been battling a sore throat, coldsick[3]impacted sinuses and cough, cough coughing. UGH!  Nyquil is my friend of necessity right now. It will be a good day when the misery goes away.     

There was some excitement from Panama City as many of you may know. They made the national news yesterday when a man with a gun interrupted the school board meeting. After a rant about his wife being fired from the school system, he opened fire on several board members. Thankfully none of them were injured, but the gunman was shot by a security guard and then apparently turned the gun on himself. Very sad and scary situation. The superintendent Mr. Bill Husfelt was Zachary’s principal at Mosley High School when we lived in Panama City. You can read about it here –>Gunman Interrupts FL School Board Meeting  This man was very troubled and apparently facing deep financial difficulty as voiced in his rant before the shooting began. Times are so hard for so many but violence of this nature is a permanent solution to a current/temporary problem.

I am wondering how the vote will go today, concerning continuing the current tax rates, or letting them expire. I definitely do not want to see taxes go up but feel so disheartened over the loading up of what should have been a simple up or down vote on continuing the tax rate – we now have yet another omnibus bill filled with spending billions  in multiple other areas. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE? Did they NOT UNDERSTAND what happened in November?  What other job allows people who have been fired to continue making policies?? SIGH. Throw this mess out and let the new guys come in on January 5th and vote straight up or down, to continue the current tax rates – PERIOD. Don’t attach anything else to it. NO MORE spending.

Rant over… for now. Winking smile

It’s very cold in the deep south. May the love of God warm our hearts and souls.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

2010 Christmas Card

Christ Wishes Religious Christmas Card
Make a statement with custom Christmas cards at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

I LOVE our Christmas cards from Shutterfly! For many years we sent out Christmas cards with family pictures. I loved doing that but after 9/11/2001 Bobby lost his job and it was almost 17 months before he got work again. Needless to say, we didn't get to send cards that year, nor the next. In fact, we haven't been able to send Christmas cards for several years now. It's one of the things I've missed since I enjoy getting cards every year. It's fun to see family and friends growing through the years.

I was excited when I learned of Shutterfly's promotion for bloggers. It was a pleasure to write about because it was a very nice product. With so many card designs and formats, shapes, sizes and colors - there's something for everybody! In my case there were too many to choose from! I wanted several designs I saw. :) Already looking forward to next year's card line-up.

Thank you Shutterfly, for your generosity! And thanks for a beautiful product that I am going to be so proud to send out to friends and family this Christmas!

And friends, if you blog it's not too late to get in on this offer! But time IS growing very short! Check out my previous post for the link.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

A Very Merry Shutterfly Bonanza

Have you chosen your Christmas cards yet? It seems like Halloween just departed the scene and Thanksgiving came swiftly on its heels.  The delicious aroma of cornbread dressing and turkey still lingers in my memory. Alas, I blinked my eyes and it is December the 4th already and my neighborhood is lighting up in many splendid colors. Wreaths are going up on the doors, Christmas trees are appearing in more windows every day and I bet this weekend a LOT more will go up. Folks, the season is HERE and NOW!

The Shutterfly 2010 holiday card collection is amazing! I looked at a number of different sites over the past two weeks and kept returning to Shutterfly. Their cards are so beautiful, so well designed, and the price is right!  The other sites just could not compare. You won’t have a problem finding a beautiful card at Shutterfly – the problem will be settling on a single design!

Perhaps like me, you have scoured the web for the best prices, the cutest, or most eloquent designs and most variations and customizations to choose from. Look no further; just hurry to Shutterfly and get ready to feast on their lovely eye candy! Maybe you have one special photo you want to send out to all your family and friends and you need a stunning card to show it off perfectly. I love the card to the left, “Peace on Earth” because your photo is the star of this card. Very pretty! 

Or maybe it’s  been hard to choose just one photo and you’d like to find a design that you can incorporate several favorite photos into.  I really liked this folded design with the family monogram, the year and verse – all personalized by you. –>

You’ll love how easy it is to create your perfect card in Shutterfly’s user-friendly format.

 

Maybe you’d like to find a design that allows a whole year of photos! Check out this wonderful card below. You can customize the text and this would be great for someone who has had a new baby this past year and wants to send pictures that allow family and friends to watch baby grow through that first year.  Do you want to send a photo card but also include a personal Christmas letter with your prized family pictures? Shutterfly has it! This is a great card for families who enjoy writing a Christmas newsletter. Pick your pictures and write your family’s story for 2010.

                                                           

Perhaps you want to find a card that expresses the true reason for the season… or a card that allows you to say what you want to say whether it’s “Happy Holidays” or “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” Check, check and check! Shutterfly has got you covered!

         

        

There are pages and pages of great card designs – over 800 to choose from.  You have a multitude of styles – vertical, horizontal, flat, folded, square, color, black and white – it’s all there!  I enjoyed several hours of browsing and trying out different card styles before I finally settled on one and it is beautiful. I was able to personalize it with several photos and to write a custom greeting that focused on Christ during this season. In a few days I’ll post our card, once they’ve been mailed out. 

In the Shutterfly card and stationery section you can also select some holiday invitations, address labels to coordinate with your Christmas cards, thank you cards – even invitations for your New Years gathering. Again, there is a wide selection.

       

 

Right now Shutterfly is having a special promotion for bloggers and I am grateful to be included. Check it out here if you have a blog, but hurry! Registration ends on December 10th.  I hope all of you will click any of the links in this post and visit Shutterfly today. If you are not a blogger, don’t fret.  They have a great sale going on right now. I included lots of images in  this post but trust me, this is only a drop in the bucket! You’ll enjoy browsing and choosing your family’s perfect Christmas card! And check back in a few days to view our family Christmas card for 2010.

I’ll leave you with a look at our Shutterfly book which highlights our years living at beach. We’ve had this book for a couple of years now and we LOVE THIS BOOK!  My kids all enjoy looking at this book and reading the things I had written on every page. You might want to create your own quality Shutterfly books and give them as Christmas presents. Thanks Shutterfly, for all the great products you offer!

                          

Friday, December 03, 2010

Bow Making….

For a number of years now I’ve been making my own bows for packages, using the wired ribbon. They just look so much prettier to me than the premade bows packaged several dozen to a bag. You know the ones I’m referring to! Be right back  They’re always smashed and lop-sided in the bag. Ick! This morning I was reading a blog I have bookmarked and enjoyed for some time now - Home On The Range.  If you click this link or click on her picture to the left, the ‘MidLife Mom’ has a good tutorial for making your own bows. So easy and they turn out so fluffy and full! So head to Michael’s, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Target or any place that sells wired ribbon and stock up! You will enjoy making your own bows and friends and family will be wowed over how pretty their packages look. They won’t want to open them! Thanks to Midlife Mom for posting this easy to follow tutorial with pictures that show the procedure well.

Well, Katelyn had her dental visit yesterday.  In my previous post I wrote about Hannah’s experience earlier in the week. It turned out that Katelyn had a few issues herself. For some reason some of her baby teeth have been very reluctant to get loose and come out. Last year she struggled to get out one of her upper molar teeth as the permanent tooth was coming down. In the nick of time, just before an appointment to remove the tooth, she wrestled it out of there! Now, same tooth on opposite side refuses to loosen. This time she won’t be able to wrestle it out. The permanent tooth has come down beside the baby tooth, to the inside toward the roof of her mouth. As a result the permanent tooth has not put any force on the roots of the baby tooth to loosen and dissolve them. Now it will have to be pulled out. Both of those new molars are sitting out of line with the rest of her teeth because they came in beside the babies and strange as it sounds, they are turned sideways as well, at a 90 degree angle! How crazy! So they will need to be straightened out, turned like a screw! And they need to be pulled back into alignment with the other teeth. Every other tooth in her head is in PERFECT alignment. This is crazy!  She has three molars that have a defect in the way they were formed and as a result there is some decay in the deep crevices that are abnormally deep – just like Hannah’s. So in a few days they’ll be going back. We’ll get 11 fillings total, 5 sealants, one tooth extraction and a beyond broke mom. Eye rolling smile

When it rains… it not only pours, it FLOODS!

Sigh.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Sweet Tooth… or NOT So Sweet?

Aaaaah… no it’s not so sweet!  Over the weekend Hannah told me her teeth were bothering her. For a long time she has been chewing on one side only – since she got a filling, in fact. She says it’s sensitive where the filling is.  So for several years she has chewed on the opposite side only.  She complains about her teeth a good bit but nothing has ever been found… except for very DEEP pits in all her molars. (not her tooth to molarthe right, but an example of deep molar pitting before sealants) She has had sealants in those pits but they don’t seem to stay put very well. 

Wouldn’t you know it, those darn pits have finally caused some trouble. She went to the dentist Monday and we learned she has 8… yes EIGHT areas of decay. EVERY molar on both sides, both top and bottom is affected. SIGH.  On the 13th she’ll be having all of one side done, top and bottom. Then a few days later they’ll fill all the other side. Poor, poor girl. Freezing 

In Hannah’s defense, she’s not actually a big sweet eater and has pretty good oral hygiene. We drink water at home so she’s not even a big soft drink fan. She just had the misfortune to have extremely deep crevices and pits in all her molars and they are VERY difficult to keep clean. Toothbrush bristles have trouble getting in those crevices. 

As if that were not enough, they showed us a lovely panoramic film of her mouth which revealed 4 impacted wisdom teeth that should come out at some point in time as well. He strongly suggested when we do it, that we go the IV anesthesia route and have all 4 removed at once so we have it behind us with a single recovery period. I can’t imagine – all four at once! POOR POOR girl! SIGH. Katelyn goes for her cleaning tomorrow and I am PRAYING they will find no problems with her teeth!

And thus begins the Christmas season at our house! Still working on ‘putting away’ fall!

Remember:  Drink lots of water. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, concentrating on reaching every surface of every tooth. Try to floss daily. And go easy on the sweets! Laughing out loud

Until next time…