Memories Of Christmas Past

I’ve always loved Christmas. I remember as a little girl, about a week before Christmas, my family would go to the Christmas tree lot and we would pick out what looked like the biggest, and prettiest, Christmas tree I ever saw. Every year our Christmas tree looked like the best Christmas Tree ever, at least to me…

However, when we brought the Christmas Tree home, we didn’t put it in the living room and decorate it. No, we put it on the back porch, in a bucket of water, where it stayed until Christmas Eve, when Santa came, and he put our tree in our living room and decorated it for us. I thought Santa did that for all children… You see, my mother was an RN and always had to work until Midnight on Christmas Eve and she wanted to be involved in helping Santa get our tree ready and all the presents in place…so she and Santa would put the tree up when she got home from work…

Oh, the joy on Christmas morning when my three brother’s and I ran into the living room and saw our beautiful Christmas Tree all lit up and all our toys just waiting for us under it.

My brothers and I tore into those presents like we had never had a present in our lives. No one waited to be handed anything… if it looked like it was yours, it was… lucky for me that I was the only girl so I always knew if there was a doll under the tree it was for sure mine!

After we made short work of opening all our presents, my mother made us get all dressed up in our Sunday best so we could go to Christmas Mass. But before we left for church, we always had to get a group picture in front of our beautiful Christmas Tree that Santa decorated up for us… Notice there are not many “real” ornaments on it but it has lots of “special” Christmas Card ornaments… Looked beautiful to me, and my brothers look pretty happy too…

From right to left it’s me, my oldest brother Tommy in the dark shirt (now deceased), Danny in the stripped shirt and Stephen in the white shirt (now deceased). And, in the background, is our family dog we named Troubles… Don’t we look like something… almost like a scene right out of the TV show, Spanky and Our Gang… Those were happy times and treasured memories…

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Another favorite Christmas memory for me is when our daughter, Shantel, was a very small child, we would always tell her about how she needed to be real good because Santa was watching her and he was making his list of who is naughty and who is nice so he knows who to bring toys to on Christmas Eve and who will only get a lump of coal in their stocking… That went on for a few weeks before Christmas until on day Shantel said “I like the Easter Bunny better than Santa.” I asked her why she would say that and she said “because the Easter Bunny brings you an Easter Basket full of candy and toys and he doesn’t get all up in your business like Santa does wanting to know how good you’ve been…” I thought I would die laughing, and still chuckle when I think about how serious she was when she said that…

Would love to hear you favorite Christmas memory…

Stay Tuned!

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Loving The Holiday Season

I love everything about the holiday season. From cooking and decorating to spending time with family and friends.

On Thanksgiving morning my husband Bill and I went to the Care Center where my mother lives to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving.

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Then we made our way to Phoenix to pick up our daughter, Shantel, and drove up north of the valley to New River to spend Thanksgiving day with our dear friends in their beautiful home that sits on top of a mountain. In fact, part of the home is built right into the mountain.

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The views from inside this home are just beautiful.

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We met new people and made some new friends and enjoyed a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner complete with all the trimmings. Good food shared with good friends made for a picture perfect day!

The next day it was time to turn my thoughts to Christmas and making our home ready to welcome family and friends for our Christmas celebrations. While Bill assembled the tree for me to decorate, I made sure to put touches of Christmas in every room of our home. I started with our Indian Nativity set and countdown to Christmas, Christmas tree. When Shantel was little, starting on December 1st, she would have so much fun getting a new ornament out of the little drawers and hanging it on the tree each day until Christmas.

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I set out my kneeling Santa that I love so much.

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And our dancing Santa that my mother bought when Shantel was a child. There is a little button on the back of Santa’s boot and when you push it Santa moves and dances, and Christmas music plays. Shantel would sit and listen to that music for hours while she kept her hand on Santa so she could feel him dancing… Such sweet memories.

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There are snowmen, bears, and Santa’s tucked in all around the house. All childhood treasures of Shantel’s.

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I couldn’t forget to decorate the kitchen with more snowmen and candy canes and the smell of oranges and cloves. Shantel loves the smell of oranges and cloves…and she can’t wait to get started on the candy canes…

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Even the bathrooms are decorated with little touches of Christmas cheer.

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Of course nothing will do but the cowgirl touch in the master bathroom…Shantel doesn’t like cowgirl stuff but she doesn’t go in there… 🙂

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With all the rooms completed, it was time to decorate the tree… lots of cowgirl decorations for sure… but I also sprinkled in a few of Shantel’s favorite childhood decorations too… trust me… she will ask! 🙂

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When all the decorations were on the tree just right, it was time to flip the switch and see the lights…

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Then, all that was left to do was find my “Santa Baby’ and see if he is going to slip a little something under the tree, for me…cause I’ve been a REAL good girl this year… Stop laughing Santa… I have…, it’s Bella that gets into trouble… 🙂

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Wishing all of you the Merriest Christmas Season ever!

Stay tuned!

 

Hoodwinked!

I don’t for the life of me know how I let myself get hoodwinked into doing things I don’t even like to do…

For years my family has been spending Thanksgiving with our dear friends, Holly and Chuck. This year we they are having Thanksgiving at their New River home. Of course I always ask Holly what we can bring and she always says that because she knows how much our daughter, Shantel, loves to bake… it would be perfect if we would bring pies. No problem. Shantel does love to bake, has a great recipe for her homemade pie crust, and Dutch Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pies are her favorite to make… So we always bring several pies…

Now anyone that knows me, knows I love to cook, but I DO NOT like to bake AT ALL!!! I would rather cook the entire Thanksgiving meal than make and bake one pie… So, then… how is it that I got hoodwinked into making all the Thanksgiving pies all by myself?

Well it went something like this… Shantel’s apartment is very small, and has a tiny little kitchen. She doesn’t have a Cuisinart Food Processor that she insists she has to have in order to make perfect pie crusts, and her kitchen is just too small and her dishwasher just broke down and she has class on Wednesday’s so she won’t be available to come home to make the pies today so they will be nice and fresh for tomorrow… blah, blah, blah, and so Shantel asked me if I would make the pies for her…? Are you kidding me, they didn’t have a Cuisinart Food Processor in the little house on the prairie days either but from what I read they turned out some pretty good pies… But, I love my daughter, wanted to help her have the homemade pies she loves so much, blah, blah, blah… 🙂

If these pies were only going to be for our house… I would have opted out and bought pies at Costco! But, because they are for my sister by love, Holly, I decided I would suck it up and make the pies from scratch myself… and so I did… 🙂

I started out at 7:00 a.m. and mixed the flour, water, shortening, and ice water until it came to a ball and pulled away from the side of the Cuisinart Food Processor just like Shantel instructed me to do, making sure I did this separately for each of the four pies I had to make…

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I put each ball of dough into plastic wrap and set them in the refrigerator to chill while I got the fillings for each pie ready…

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I assembled all the ingredients for the pie fillings.

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I had to core and peel the apples for the apple pies.

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I rolled out the dough and put it into the pie dishes and filled them with the sugar and spices and everything nice fillings I made for each apple pie.

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I made the crumb topping for each apple pie and began working on the fillings for the two pumpkin pies I still needed to make.. all the while I was humming to myself this tune… patty cake, patty cake, baker’s man, bake me some pies as fast as you can… roll them out, roll them out, and put them in the pans, turn around, look around and do it all again… and again, and again… 🙂 Take the apple pies out and put the pumpkin pies in…

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Wait a long, long time until a knife inserted in the middle of the pumpkin filling comes out clean… Yep, they look ready to me. 🙂

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Six hours later, and a big mess in my kitchen to clean up, I have four homemade from scratch pies that I think look beautiful… and because I can’t have sugar… I can’t eat any of them… did I mention I don’t like to bake?

I’m exhausted and feel like I need to make like my cat, Carmen…

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Except it’s almost time for happy hour now so I will opt for that instead! 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I count all of you among my blessings.

Stay Tuned!

Medical Marijuana

When our daughter, Shantel, lost both eyes to cancer at the age of two, both my husband, Bill and I had to get very busy, very fast, learning everything we could about total blindness and how to live with it, or more importantly, how to help our little daughter learn to live without sight in a sighted world.

I learned very quickly that as a child Shantel would take things very literally which meant I was always looking for ways to help her see in her mind what I was seeing with my eyes. I will never forget the first time Shantel asked me what is it like to see? I was fixing her hair in the hall bathroom of  our home and the shower curtain in that bathroom was white lace. I still have that shower curtain and it hangs in the hall bathroom in our home now…

When Shantel first asked me what it is like to see, I was struck dumb for a few minutes as my mind raced to find an answer that a small child could understand… Then, I picked up a section of the lace shower curtain and asked Shantel to touch it and tell me what she feels… She ran her fingers over and over the lace and said “it’s smooth in some places, has little holes throughout it, and is rough in some places.” I said “you described it exactly and the only difference in the way you came to know what it looks like in your mind and how I see it is that I don’t have to touch it to know it is rough, smooth and has little holes throughout…” After that, I knew that when I wanted to let Shantel know what something looks like… I would need to be very descriptive so she could really get a good picture of the item in her mind…? From that day on when I walk sighted guide with Shantel, as her mother, it has always been very important to me to make sure Shantel has a good picture in her mind of the surroundings we are in, and I go into great detail to explain to her everything I see…

After the initial shock of learning that Shantel’s sight could not be saved and she would be blind for life… we had no choice but to accept it and learn to live with it the best we could… we always hope for a miracle breakthrough for Shantel but for now, her reality is life as it is today… From time to time Shantel will share with me her thoughts of what she would have done with her life if she could see… When she was very young she wanted to be a Lawyer, then a Judge.  But now, at the age of 21, first on the list is that she would study to be a nurse. She is very interested in the medical field, which is what prompted our discussion today…

Shantel calls me everyday and we talk about everything and anything…. Today, she was telling me that her friend, Jaz, shared with Shantel that she has a friend that Jaz has known since grade school. They are both 22 now and Jaz has two degrees and is working as a manager of a group home for people with severe disabilities. The friend of Jaz also earned a degree in college, but has let her life slip into all sorts of drugs, alcohol, and worse… Jaz tries to help her long time friend get her life back on track, but she refuses to change her ways… In fact, this “friend” even tries to bring Jaz into her world saying Jaz should “at least lighten up and smoke some weed with her…” Jaz told her friend she doesn’t want to get into drugs of any kind and she has way to much to lose to smoke weed because Jaz is required to take random drug tests for her job…

Jaz told Shantel that her friend really doesn’t want to have a steady job and in fact she is trying to get a medical marijuana card so she can get high when ever she wants without worrying about going to jail.

When Shantel told me about this friend of Jaz trying to get a medical marijuana card I asked what bases would she say she needed to have a medical marijuana card? Shantel laughed out loud and said “Mom, these people know how to get everything… they know what doctors to go to and what to say to get what they want. She said if you have the money which includes a $150.00 a year state fee, and you come up with an ailment that sounds remotely good… these doctors will give you what you want… I asked what type of “ailments they say they have?” Shantel said ” they say things like Bi-polar, depression, chronic pain etc.” Then, she cracked me up when she said “Oh hell, mom, according to what these people say… if I wanted to get a medical marijuana card, I could probably go in and convince them that it would help me see again, and these Doctors  would write out a prescription for me…” OMG!! I don’t even know why, but that is the funniest thing I have heard all week… Really, Really, Sad, but it struck me as really funny!!! I can just imagine what Shantel would tell one of those doctors she could see if she smoked pot…

Stay Tuned!

What Could Be Better?

Than waking up this glorious sunrise view this morning right outside our family room picture window?

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In the grand scheme of things…. nothing! However, the day did go on to send a few more blessings our way.

First, as if we are now in practice mode for my husband, Bill/Bro, to retire in just two more years (we just can’t hardly wait)… we were blessed with Bill getting to have another Friday off this week. As I’ve mentioned before, Bill’s work schedule is supposed to be four ten-hour days, but that almost never happens. So, with Bill off again today, we both still got up very early, but instead of him rushing off to work and me to spend time with my mother or Shantel…. we just spent most of the morning lounging around the house drinking coffee and  enjoying each other’s company… Yeah us! 🙂 🙂 We also looked up a tracking number for some western window valances I ordered for the master bedroom and found out they were scheduled to be delivered today! Bill hung new wood blinds in the master bedroom last weekend and hung the rods for the valances so they would be all ready when the valances arrived. I don’t like heavy curtains. I would much rather have blinds with just a valence… I love decorating and couldn’t hardly wait for the new window treatments to arrive… Well here they are!!! P1030557

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It’s a little hard to tell by these photos, but in the middle of each brown, fringed area, are four silver conchos … Does that not just scream I want to be a cowgirl??

Because we live on a pretty tight budget now, so we can help our daughter Shantel until she gets through school and gets a job…., and these are a little more expensive than just regular off the shelf valances…, I order them from a western décor store, I only ordered the valances…. But, the next step will be to order the beautiful comforter set that matches the valances…. Something for me to look forward to… 🙂

Now, I know with all my heart that when I go to my great reward in heaven (and sing with the choir of angels, because I’m asked not to sing here….) our daughter, Shantel, will want nothing to do with anything that remotely say’s cowgirl, country… etc… Unless, she changes a WHOLE lot between now and then…. And, I’ve not heard of any of our other children that are interested in anything rustic western…. So all I can hope for is that one day, someone will love this décor as much as I do… someday!!!

Stay Tuned!

Can This Day Get Any Better?

I spend Wednesday mornings with my daughter, Shantel. Usually I arrive at her apartment at around 8:30. I always have some homemade meals for her to freeze and heat up when she is ready. This week I took her a meatloaf, a pound of bacon that she asked me to fry up for her, and a big container of chili. Shantel makes some of her own meals like chicken enchilada casserole, pasta with her own homemade sauce, and macaroni and cheese etc. and she is always baking something from scratch for herself on the days she doesn’t have class.

Today when I arrived at Shantel’s apartment she asked me if I would take her to the bank to get her one dollar bills for dial-a-ride this week. Then she wanted to go to the neighborhood Walmart store because she said she can get some of her cleaning supplies cheaper there than at Fry’s. After Walmart we headed over to Sally’s Beauty Supply to get her hair conditioner. Of course, running in and getting one thing and getting right out is never going to happen when Shantel gets in Sally’s. No, she will touch everything on the shelves and ask me what it is and what it says on the label about what it does… There is every kind of hair product known to man in Sally’s, so this can take hours if she didn’t have to get to class. Lucky for me she does have class on Wednesday’s… After we touched and smelled lots and lots of products, Shantel said she was ready to go pay for her conditioner and leave. Shantel was very excited to know that I had a 15% off coupon for Sally’s that came to our house in the mail for her. She smiled that beautiful smile and said “oh, my, this is turning out to be the best day ever…!”

When we left Sally’s we went to Fry’s to get her groceries. We shop the same store every week and go up and down every aisle the same way. I tell Shantel what we are passing and she tells me if she needs the item or not… We always end up in the bakery department and the first thing Shantel asks me is if there is anything on manager’s special? Usually we find something on special that she likes but sometimes there isn’t anything on special at all. Today, she hit the jackpot! I had to laugh as I told her what all was on manager’s special. It went something like this:

Me – two pieces of yellow cake with caramel frosting for 99 cents

Shantel – OK, I’ll take that

Me – four chocolate eclairs for $1.79

Shantel – Oh wow, I’ll take that

Me – one large chocolate brownie for 99 cents

Shantel – Really, I’ll have that too

Me – two small pieces of turtle cheesecake for $1.49

Shantel – OMG, I’ll have that too. Then she smiled and said “Can this day get any better? First the Sally’s coupon and now all these manager’s specials!”

This is what Shantel’s grocery shopping looks like.

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It looks like a good supply of groceries… but in reality, most of it is manager’s special junk food items like this…

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Or, ingredients to bake more sweets from scratch for herself like pumpkin roll cakes… I told Shantel I can feel myself getting fatter just by helping her shop for all her junk food! She just laughed and said “oh, mom, I don’t even worry about that. I just relax and enjoy it!”

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Note to readers: With all the sweets Shantel eats, she insists on buying diet Dr Pepper! Now, isn’t that a HOOT? 🙂 🙂

Stay Tuned!

Redemption, Of Sorts

My mother has always LOVED chocolate, and Ghirardelli chocolate has always been her all time favorite. Now hold that thought…

This past weekend my husband, Bill, and I, were getting some things done around the house when the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number on the caller Id and when I answered the phone all I could hear was some low, rumbling voices that I couldn’t understand… I asked who was calling several times but still could not make out what the person, or persons, on the other end of the phone was saying. Finally, after several attempts to find out who was calling and what they wanted… I just hung up the phone.

Just as I was getting back into the swing of the project at hand, the phone rang again, showing the same number on the caller Id. This time Bill answered it and found out it was my mother, calling from the Care Center where she lives. He handed the phone to me and when I got on the phone I heard my mother, and David, one of the other residents at the Care Center, talking to me on speaker phone asking me why I hung up on them…? I said “oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t know it was you, mom, or you David, because I couldn’t understand what either one of you were saying and I didn’t recognize the number on the caller Id.” David laughed and said he was just trying to be helpful and call me from his cell phone because my mother doesn’t know how to use hers anymore and she wanted to know where I was and what I was doing…? Then he laughed and said that is really a bad thing to hang up on your own mother…” Of course, then my mother chimed in and said “yeah, that is really, really, bad to hang up on your mother…” I said “well, I didn’t know it was you and I’m really sorry so what can I ever do to make it up to both of you?” There was a short pause and I could hear them talking to each other… then together they both said “chocolate always works.” I agreed and said I would be at the Care Center on Tuesday with chocolate for both of them…

Today, true to my word, I arrived at the Care Center to visit my mother, and brought both her and David a bar of Ghirardelli chocolate .

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When I arrived at the Care Center my mother was in the activity room attempting to play bingo. I helped her with her numbers and together we won two games. Then I pushed her to the dinning room for lunch. I read the menu choices (lasagna or BLT) mom decided on the lasagna. I sat with her through lunch and after she ate what she was going to eat… I brought out the chocolate bar and asked her if she remembered when she and David called me and I didn’t know who it was so I hung up on them? She said “yes, I do.” I said well I said I was sorry, and asked what I could do to make it up to both you and David, and both of you said you would like some chocolate, so here is a big bar of your favorite, Ghirardelli chocolate mom…picture a big smile on my face… 🙂 My mother looked at that chocolate bar and said “that makes me sick.” I said “mom you have always loved chocolate, and this has always been your favorite…” she just pushed it back at me and said “well, I don’t like it now because it makes me sick.” I won’t go into what I was thinking or feeling… but about that time, Bob, who is not a resident, but comes to visit his sister every day asked if he could join us at our table… Mom smiled up at him, picked up the chocolate bar and said “here Bob, this is for being my friend and bingo buddy… I excused myself from the table saying I would be right back and went to find David to give him his chocolate bar.

I found David at the nurses station. He saw me walking toward him and started waving. When I reached David he asked me what I was doing walking the halls without my mother. I said “she is in the dining room, I just left for a few minutes to bring you this chocolate bar as promised after I hung up on you and my mother the other day.” David’s face lit up and he said “oh, you didn’t really need to do that, but thank-you so very much, and I will share this with one of my friends this evening after dinner…” Then David asked if I gave my mother one too… I said I did, but she said she didn’t want it because it makes her sick…. David laughed, shook his head, and said “she is something else…. has to be a hard ass right to the very end…” I didn’t say anything back to David because I was thinking to myself… enough said…!

As I was driving home I was a little bummed, but not as much as I would have been in the past. I have accepted the fact that my mother and I have always had a difficult relationship to say the least… to be very honest, and this is what I try to share in my blog posts… i.e. the good, the bad, and the sometimes ugly side of family life…, In my younger years I thought I hated my mother… as I matured, I tried desperately to win my mother’s approval… and now, as I get older…, sometimes I pity her, because she just can’t accept what is right in front of her… again… enough said.

That said, I was welcomed by this beautiful sight as I pulled into my driveway upon returning home from my visit with my mother… I so love this little turtle flower-pot…

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And if you look closely, at the top left of this planter, there was a beautiful black and yellow butterfly going from flower to flower..

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Just the fact that the flowers Bill and I planted are still thriving… MADE my day today!!! Sometimes you just need to look for the little things in life to lift you up!!

Stay Tuned!

 

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