Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Family Thanksgiving, My Dad's Birthday, and Joshua's Facebook Post

We've had a great couple of days. I've been cooking and cooking! I love it, so I've pretty much been in my happy zone. Things get crazy as I try to pull it all together to serve, but the girls will help me get it all pulled together right before we eat.

Logan and Morgan were supposed to come in tonight, but they called us last night with a surprise: they were on their way! So, we are so blessed and so thankful to have them here with us today. Holly had class Monday, Tuesday and tomorrow, and just want to say "WHY ARE YOU HAVING CLASS ON THANKSGIVING WEEK, NURSING SCHOOL?" 


We had a great meal. We enjoyed having everyone here. We were missing two of ours, plus a couple of friends who joined us last year...but couldn't make it this year. I only had 2 "fails." One was the dressing for my spinach salad. I thought I used the same recipe as always, but it did not taste the same. I was cooking about 5 other things at the same time, so maybe I missed an ingredient. I don't know. And the other one was not really a "fail." When I make my pecan pie recipe, it turns out good every time. When I make Ree's (The Pioneer Woman) pecan pie recipe, it's always kind of runny. Every time. But it's better. If that makes any sense. I even cooked it 10 minutes longer than recommended, and it still was not "set." But the ones who ate it said it tasted SO good...so it might not even qualify as a "fail."

We had turkey AND ham, mashed potatoes AND sweet potato casserole, green beans, spinach salad AND Waldorf salad, cranberry sauce, rolls and Jim's family's purple punch (purple kool-aid and pineapple juice mixed). For dessert we had pecan pie, chocolate chip bundt cake and ice-cream.

Isn't it amazing that it can take a week to prepare for a meal like Thanksgiving? From making the lists and going to the store...defrosting the turkey for 3 days, preparing side dishes in advance, cooking on the actual day. 

And then it's all gone and eaten in, like, 15 minutes.

That ain't right.

I also made Shay's chocolate chip bundt cake as my alternative dessert for the ones who don't like pecan pie. It was amazing! YUM.

So very thankful for family and friends.

Today is my Dad's birthday. I wish we could be with him to celebrate. We are going to try and go later in the week if we can. When I talked to him today, he said that his birthday and Father's Day are his two most favorite days of the year, because he gets to hear from all of his kids. Made me so sad. ;( 


Anyway, my Joshua wrote the sweetest post for my Dad today, and posted it on Facebook. It was so sweet and it made me cry. I texted my Dad's wife's daughter because I wanted my Dad to be sure and see it today. They don't check Facebook often, because they have to go all the way into the spare bedroom and TURN ON the computer. 

Bless their hearts.

So Clara's daughter read it and she cried...and then she called her mother and when she read it, she cried. Then, my Dad came in and read it and he cried. 

I'm coping it just like he wrote it:

Happy birthday to the most wisest and the bravest man. I've ever known., I'm so morphincally proud of the determination and love and service that this man who pledged to lift high our nation's flag. I want to say not just a happy birthday to a grandfather that I loved so dearly through out my 28 years that I been with. I also want to thank him. For the man I hope on day I will give my child one day after him. I will want my child one day to follow in the foot steps of my godly and wise grandfather. I will say this to pawpaw skip. Thank you for the service not just to our nation. But the most important thing that can be the highest importance of all to our family. And I speak on our family's behalf to say happy birthday. Pawpaw skip. We love you.


My Downsie-boy wrote that. My sweet man-child. We are so blessed by him, and so thankful for his life.


And then, just to end with a funny...Joshua wrote the post, and then he LIKED his own post...and then he COMMENTED on his own post. His comment was: "I'll one day name my child after him."

And then JENNI saw this and SHE said that someday in their future, they can have a son and name him Skip Lee. My Dad's name is David, but he goes by "Skip." I have no idea where the "LEE" is coming from.

So...there ya go. "SKIP LEE."

"God blesses those whose hearts are pure..." Matthew 5:8

Monday, November 24, 2014

Competition and Brothers

So, last week, Jim and Joshua went down to The Lakehouse (where my in-laws live) for a couple of days. The whole reason they went is because Jim's brother, Jeffy, was going to meet him there...and they were both going to run a 10k on Saturday morning.

I am not a competitive person. Even tho I'm a first-born child, I don't really have any of those typical first-born characteristics. I just want everyone to get along...and be happy. Because you know the one most important thing our society needs? "That would be harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan. And world peace."

My mother-in-law...she had 3 boys...and they were going all Jacob and Esau on each other from the time there were two of them. And then when Jeffy came along, it was all out war. All the time. Now that they are older, they not only love each other, you know...because they're "bruhs..." they actually LIKE each other. But they are all LOUD and they are all OPINIONATED and they all always think they are RIGHT.

It's exhausting, really.

I have 3 boys, too...AND A DAUGHTER...and I totally "get" the competition thing. Altho my boys aren't nearly as bad as Jim and his brothers. Or maybe that's just my opinion.

So, when Jim told me that he and Jeffy were going to run this race together, I thought, "heeeeeeeere we go." And when Jim told me that he ran a personal best, I wasn't surprised. But then I heard the REST of the story. He told me that he ran with Jeffy for a while and then he said that he ran ahead and told Jeffy, "you'll probably catch me on the hill." But Jeffy didn't catch him on the hill. Jim beat him by SEVERAL minutes.

I'm sure we will hear ALL about it over the holidays. And EVERY HOLIDAY for the rest of our lives.

The other thing that happened was that Jim texted me to ask, "you use JIFFY cornbread mix, right?" Which, I thought was funny since he KNOWS I do...because he made it perfectly clear from the get-go of our marriage some 100 years ago that he did not like JIFFY cornbread mix. He liked the way his mother made cornbread...from scrap scratch. And sometimes I do it that way, but most of the time I do it the JIFFY way.

And so I knew he was going thru the groceries at his mom's house. I've written before how she loves to load us all up with the extra groceries she buys at The Krogers on Tuesdays. Because it's not only senior citizen day...it's double-coupon day...and they "practically pay HER to shop there." And she said that, many times, the cashier will call the manager over because my mother-in-law is saving so much money, "it just can't be right."

Whatever.

I told him, "yes, I will use some JIFFY cornbread mix...but NOT TEN BOXES OF IT."

Their family kind of goes overboard on things.

I had already gone to the store while Jim was gone. I wanted to get all organized and buy everything I needed for our Thanksgiving meal...so my pantry and both refrigerators were pretty well stocked. And then Jim came in from The Lakehouse with so many groceries...I can't even tell you. And, a lot of it was stuff that we don't even use! What in the world? When I asked him about it, he said, "well, Jeff was grabbing things so fast...I had to get it before he did." And I was, like, BUT WE DON'T USE THOSE THINGS."

And he looked at me like I was crazy. Like, it doesn't matter if we use it or not...we can't let Jeff get it.

And before y'all think I'm being ungrateful...I totally appreciate everything my in-laws have done for our family. I do. But Jim brought home two dozen eggs with an expiration date of 10.24.14.

And it's 11.24.14.

And the eggs I bought that were "fresh" at the time...will be "old" by the time I finally get to use them.

So I guess it goes without saying that I will be using those old eggs to make the cornbread.

"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony." Psalm 133:1

Sunday, November 23, 2014

All Kinds of Cranky Up In Here

Warning: obnoxiously long post

I'm not one to get cranky. I just usually wake up happy and I choose to be in a good mood, if I can. Not every day, obviously, but most. And, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt...because you just never know what is going on in someone else's life. My mother-in-law does this by making up stories about strangers she sees...

"Bless her heart...she's probably had a bad day." Or, "he probably only has his kids on the weekend." Or, "look at that Grandma with those little kids...she's probably having to raise them because something happened to the parents and even tho she's in bad health, she took in the grandkids and she is just trying to do her best. I'll smile at her and let her know that it'll be okay."

This is what I live with...and now it's what goes on inside my head. I'm turning into her.

BUT YESTERDAY.

I headed to the store for a few grocery items...AND to get my Operation Christmas Child stuff. I left Clark at the house because SATURDAY. I went first to Wal-Mart. I don't typically shop there for groceries. Okay...ANY MORE. I used to...until I discovered the blessing that is KROGER when we moved here. Plus, Joshua has determined that Kroger is better than Wal-Mart because their "nanners" are "more bigger," and their buggies aren't "janky." Whatever that means to you. To me it means that Joshua and I go to Kroger.

But I didn't want to traipse all over town in the rain, and Joshua wasn't here, so I decided that Wal-Mart would be the best place to go to pick up everything.

WRONG.

Because who doesn't have Dole Pineapple Juice in the can? My Wal-Mart doesn't, that's who.

And, I was sorely disappointed in the selection of things for my OCC box. Things that I usually get...I couldn't find. Little fun bracelets and colorful hair things and small, soft dolls that aren't $12.97 THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I don't give crap to the poor, like we've all read about and I agree with. I really do try to choose things that I would and I HAVE given to my own children. But where are the little nerf-like footballs? The squishy balls that light up when you throw them? Small etch-a-sketches? Sets of those long mardi-gras type beads for little girls? My daughter loved those when she was little. Could not find any of these things at my WM.

So, as much as I hated to...after I left WM, I stopped at Dollar Tree. Actually, the reason I stopped is that I noticed a young mom with two girls, who had been shopping in the same areas I was at WM...walking into Dollar Tree with a young child and a BABY ON HER HIP. And I thought, "if she can shop at two stores with two kids on a rainy, cloudy day...then so can I."

Not a fan of the Dollar Tree's selection, either, but I was blessed by going there. I was on one aisle and I could hear a commotion on the other aisle. Not bad...just lots of excited little kid voices. And I heard a mom say in her kind voice, "okay, listen...too many people are talking at the same time. One at a time, please."

Of course, I had to check this out. I went to the next aisle, and there was a mom and 4 little girls. The girls were all talking at once. One of the little girls said, "we are get-tin thum toy-ees for da kids who don't have no toy-ees."

I about died at the cuteness.

And the mom said, "yes, we are...and what do you think they would like better? A tamborine or maracas?" And the one little girl said, "tam-boo-WEEEEN." And the other 3 girls said, "maracas!"

For the record, I would've gotten the tam-boo-WEEEEN, just to hear the little girl say it again.

Listen, I have been there, and sometimes it's hard to have that kind, calm voice when you have a list and are trying to get something done while teaching your children that it is better to give than to receive. It's a LOT easier to shop by myself, but when our 4 kids were growing up and at home...I took all 4 of them with me to the store and let them help pick out items for our OCC boxes. And we got 4 boxes, because we have 4 kids. This morning, I did it all on my own, and, for a minute, I kind of lost the perspective of what it's all about. It's meant to be a joy! And hearing the excitement in those little voices blessed me so much!

At this point, I probably should stop writing and call 'er done, but I need to just keep it real.

I picked up a few more things there, and drove home, feeling content with my newly re-charged attitude. But then, when I got home and started unloading my vehicle...I couldn't get in the door to my house. I had left the door that goes from our garage to inside our house...unlocked on purpose...because the garage door was DOWN and I thought it would be safe.

But do you know what is super fun? Having arms loaded down with grocery bags, and having to put them all down and use the KEY to get in...and then finding out that our FRONT DOOR, the one that leads outside to the world, was left unlocked by Clark when he went out that way...and realizing that I'm coming into an empty, unlocked house.

Lost that lovin' feelin' real quick.

And do you know what else is super fun? Finding the box of Pillsbury "Frozen" themed cookies with the purple heart in the middle...in a bag that you didn't unpack because it was filled with toys and so you thought it could wait until later.

Do you organize your buggy items as you put them out on the conveyor belt thing at the store? If you don't, stop reading right now because the rest of this is going to make me look like a lunatic.

I am not organized in very many areas of my life, but I've always unloaded my buggy in a very specific way. All the boxed goods, all the cans/jars, all the cold items, the freezer stuff, then bread, chips, eggs, bananas. It just makes it so easy when you get home, especially if you are in a hurry or have somewhere else to be. You can just grab the bags that need to be refrigerated, and leave the rest for later.

This system works out great until someone packs need-to-be-refrigerated "Frozen" themed cookies into a bag with crayons and toothbrushes...and you don't find them until later. Much later.

Argh.

I told Clark that I was feeling like the "before" guy on the Snicker's commercials. You know, "you're not you when you're hungry."

I took some time and thanked God for being able to drive to a store for food anytime I want...for the blessing of Jim's job that provides our family with income to meet our needs...for our 4 children and their spouses and friends.

And now, if you need me, I will be scavenging through our left-over Halloween candy...looking for a Snicker's bar.

"...in Your presence is abundant joy..." Psalm 16:11

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday: Jim and Joshua Are Home!

On Thursday, my husband picked up Joshua from Therapeutic Recreation, and they headed down to The Lakehouse...where my in-laws live. Back years ago, when our kids were little, Jim traveled often...so it doesn't typically bother me too much when he's gone. I mean, as far as being afraid or stuff like that. BUT, something always happens right before he goes out-of-town that sets my nerves on edge. Things like...a light comes on in my vehicle, or there will be an escaped convict running loose in our town, or...what happened this week...the saga of the garage door. It pops open randomly, EVEN WHEN IT SHOWS TO BE LOCKED.

But Jim said he disabled it so that it's not supposed to go up OR down...and I've had no problems with it for the past 2 days. We've just been using the other door.

There are things I usually do when Jim is out-of-town...paint a room, clean out the frig, move furniture. Last night, I got in the closet under our stairs and went to town on the junk in there. There's still a lot that I need to go through, but I'm not Nate Berkus...I'm just one woman. It looks a lot better than it did, and I don't feel like I have to fight to hang up a coat in there now.

Also, I didn't realize that I still have so many of Holly's pageant and prom dresses. I gave a bunch of them away to an organization that provides prom dresses for teenage girls in a shelter. 

And also, found a stocking-stuffer I had gotten for Joshua last year AND THEN COULDN'T FIND. It was stuffed in the back of the closet.

It's like Narnia back in there.

I also put up curtains in my dining room and switched the dining room curtains to the kitchen BY MYSELF. I'm talking using a stud finder and a hammer and a drill and window "hardware" and by last night I wanted to...as my father-in-law says, "say my Sunday School lesson backwards." 

JUST KIDDING.

But seriously. Frustrating and tiring.

And I put up the Christmas tree in my entry-way. I am one that doesn't like to do ANY Christmas decorating until Thanksgiving. I'm legalistic like that...ha! I feel like Thanksgiving gets lost in the Christmas shuffle and it's such a sweet and important holiday. I love the leaves and pumpkins and the PILGRIMS. But, I love Christmas, too...and I just decided that I could do a few things now and the earth would not fall off it's axis. So, yes...I've got a pumpkin AND my pilgrims on a table in my kitchen...right under our Thanksgiving Tree. 

I was so happy for Jim and Joshua to come home today! It's been weird without Joshua here...because he's ALWAYS here. And he is so predictable and I know him so well, that my ear is trained to hear all of his movements even when I'm doing other things. I can pretty much tell what he's doing upstairs just by the ordinary noises that he makes. I told Clark that I thought I heard him up there twice yesterday...but then I had to remind myself that he wasn't here. I know Joshua because I've spent so much time with him. I know Joshua because I've taken the time to sit with him and listen to him. And I can tell what he's doing because I have trained my ears to hear him.

God uses the ordinary things to show me His Big Truths...and He has used Joshua to teach me many things. And this time of year, in this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, He is showing me that I am fully capable of keeping my mind and heart on HIM, even in a season of much busyness. And that if I know Him, like REALLY KNOW HIM, like I know Joshua, I will know His character and I will discern His will. I will sense His presence and I will be able to the quietest whisper of His voice.

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me." John 10:27

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dazzle Daze and Links 11.21.14

It's been a great day! Holly was off from nursing school, and so we went to a little Women's Event in our town called, "Dazzle Daze." Lots of vendors from around the state set up booths in at building out at our fairgrounds. We saw lots of pretty things!

Then, we went to lunch...and did more shopping around town. It was a cold and rainy day, but we had a blast! I took her home so that she could do some paperwork for her classes, and I came home and hit the ground running. I heard from Logan and Morgan about when they are going to be able to come here...and so I just have to make sure all of the other kids can come on that day. Around here, we celebrate holidays whenever everyone can be here...it doesn't have to be on the exact day. We didn't celebrate Thanksgiving on the exact day last year, and we won't celebrate it on the exact day this year.

And that's okay.

I've been working my tail off in my house all afternoon. I have to be verrrrry careful with my back, and unfortunately I've been up on ladders and chairs and things like that...I am already feelin' the pain. Ugh.

But, the good news is that I have one Christmas tree up! It's not decorated, but I put all the lights on it. Holly said she would come over tomorrow and put the mesh on it for me. I am thankful for a tall, helpful daughter!

I'm also really, really thankful for my Dad. Four years ago, he had a heart attack...and he survived. I am very thankful for his presence and influence in my life.

On this rainy day, I thought I would send a little love with these links:

When Slaying the Giant is Only the Beginning...this.

I thought this from Edie was so sweet. Maybe you had someone in your life like this...maybe you ARE someone like this.

When the world seems neither glorious nor free, this.

Maybe a better way to get unexpected news. I shared this with Holly. Since she is almost done with nursing school, I thought it might be really helpful for her to read this. Honestly, it's probably a good read for all of us...for those situations when we really aren't sure what to say.

And, finally, if you ever feel lonely...read this. "You aren't set aside. You are set apart."

Have a great weekend and stay dry! :)

"He gives rain to the earth and sends water to the fields." Job 5:10