Catching up…

Catching up…

January in Des Moines is not for the faint of heart.  After a couple of weeks with frigid well-below-zero temps, the days that followed spoiled us with the temperature in the mid-thirties.  I ventured out yesterday and was nearly blown away with a fierce wind that made the actual 29 degrees feel more like -50!  I’m not kidding.  I did my banking at the drive-up window and my deposit slip almost flew out of my hands before I could reach the rock in the drawer to anchor it down.  Next stop was for a much needed haircut and purchase of necessary hair products.  The water here is so hard (no water softener) that it does a number on my hair!  Last stop was the grocery store for a few supplies.  Today the temperature is a windy 17 degrees.  Think I will stay in where it’s warm and knit!

Last night, I took the ingredients to my downstairs friend’s condo and she showed me the secret for making her delicious orange chicken with broccoli, carrots & rice that she served when I was her guest a couple of weeks ago.  Basically, we repeated the same delicious meal she served and enjoyed it once again!  Since it is no fun cooking for one, we decided to cook together occasionally and try to recapture the joy of cooking.

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I seem to have lost my mojo for writing these past few weeks, so this blog post is by way of catching up.  I had a wonderful visit with each of my sons and their families before Christmas.  I helped put up a Christmas tree and decorate for the holidays in Louisville and then in Dallas.  The visits were wonderful and I miss them all!  I arrived back in Des Moines on the 17th of December.  I was battling a sinus infection and didn’t feel like even putting up a tree!  I spent a fun Christmas day with my daughter and her family and then on the day after Christmas, we all traveled back to Kentucky.  I spent ten hours in a van (coming and going!) to enjoy a quick 48 hours with my oldest son and his family and it was worth it!  We had a wonderful visit – just wish it could have been longer.

 

Baking cookies with my two year old granddaughter!

Next year my youngest granddaughter will be baking cookies with us!

 

Now it is time to catch up with reading my favorite blogs as well!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

ThanksgivingI received this precious Thanksgiving greeting card years ago from my firstborn’s firstborn.  It traveled all the way from Peru where my son was a missionary doctor.  He and his family lived and worked among the Quechua Indians for almost seven years.  They are back in the states now, thankfully for this grandmother.  The photo above was taken in the Sacsayhuaman ruins in Cusco, Peru, when I visited them.

I will spend ten hours tomorrow in a mini-van with my daughter and her family…seven of us…PLUS Kiana, the Hungarian Vizla!  We are traveling to Kentucky where I will spend a wonderful week with my son and his precious family.  My daughter and her family will travel an hour farther to spend Thanksgiving with my son-in-law’s family.  I can’t wait to see them all!  There is a pan full of “party mix” in the oven for the road trip and I’ve been stirring it every 15 minutes.  It smells delicious!  Why does riding in a car for so long make you hungry?!  ;-)  I have so much I’d like to do with my three beautiful granddaughters in Kentucky.  We’ll have to work hard to get it all done in a week!

On December 4, I will fly from Kentucky to Dallas for ten sweet days with my youngest and his family.  With a two year old granddaughter and a three-month-old granddaughter, I will be in grandmother-heaven!  I was visiting with my two year old granddaughter the other day on Skype and mentioned that I couldn’t wait to play with her.  She promptly picked up her Dad’s iPad and carried me into the playroom with her…setting “me” down in the little chair beside her!  I was playing with her!  I loved it…

Wishing each of you a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving with your family and friends.  May you have safe travels and make wonderful memories that will last a lifetime…

Autumn days…

Autumn days…

The weather has turned cool here at last.  The trees are finally wearing their Autumn shades of gold, crimson, deep ruby and russet orange. It is time to drag out the sweaters and place a warmer blanket on the bed.  My favorite time of year, Autumn makes me happy.  It brings back memories of harvest festivals of years gone by…apple picking…apple dumplings…homemade apple pies.

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My daughter purchased two bushels of apples, and tomorrow I will help her turn those apples into delicious apple butter!  Years ago, when we lived in Indiana, my sisters and my niece Sharon came for a visit.  We traveled to Nashville, Brown County, Indiana.  It’s a wonderful little town with quaint shops, resident artists and wonderful food.  There, at the Nashville House Dining Room in the historic Brown County Inn, I had some of the best oven baked apple butter I have ever tasted.  I came home and tried to duplicate it and actually came close.  Now, years later, they actually share the recipe here!

Tonight, I will go with my daughter and her family to “The Great Pumpkin Party” at church…just as we did last year.  The large church is equipped all over (indoors) with all sorts of fun events for children – including different “jumping” houses and games.  There are also pony rides outside.  They love it and it is so much fun!

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My thanks to those of you who’ve stuck with me through this “postless” last month.  Excuses?  I’ve been traveling and spending time with precious grandchildren – both near and far.  These days, I am also traveling back in time as I spend hours working, once again, on my family history.  Yesterday, I found myself missing Dot, my late oldest sister and the one who dreamed of being able to trace our ancestors as far back as possible.  We were actually “stuck” on Mama’s maternal grandmother, Mary Frances Cooper.  I wrote for her death certicate.  Fifteen years ago – that was how you had to do it.  There were a few clues but also the wrong first initial of her father.  The information about her was being given over the telephones of yesteryear.  Her father’s first name was Vincent.  My Dad was listed as the informant and gave the individual asking for the information the letter “V”.  Over the phone, “V” can sound like “B” and that’s what they wrote down!  In the old days, they used a lot of initials for first names and that can throw a curve.

Yesterday, I finally traced Mary Frances Cooper’s family all the way back to her immigrant ancestor and my 6th great-grandfather, William Cooper, who was born in 1669 in Warwickshire, England!  He immigrated to America and arrived in Virginia with his wife Elizabeth Lawrence in 1718!  The find was so bittersweet…for I wanted to share it with Dot.  I hope she knows.  There are more branches of this family tree to complete now.

I’m rather surprised to say that THIS is my one-hundredth post!  I’m looking forward to sharing more of my Sweet Journey Home and I thank you for following along with me…

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Precious days…

Precious days…

 I flew back to the Midwest last Saturday after nine precious days in Dallas. 
There is absolutely nothing in this world like meeting a new grandchild for the very first time. 
Pure joy…
Sweetness personified! 

 
 Newborns like to sleep a lot, but when she was awake, those gorgeous blue eyes looked right into mine.
Sometimes she smiled at me.
Be still, my heart. 
So precious and beautiful…
 
 
 
 
Two days after I arrived, we celebrated her big sister’s second birthday!
With Minnie Mouse!
I can’t believe how fast she has grown and how smart she is – of course!
So precious and beautiful…
 
 

 

We had a wonderful, BUSY, fun nine days and I miss them all already!

I miss my granddog Bernie too!  ;-)

 

 
 
Pure joy…

Pure joy…

Yesterday was a day of pure joy and thanksgiving as my newest grandchild made her way into this world…with mom and daughter doing fine.  She was born at 10:34 a.m. weighing a healthy 7 pounds, 14 ounces and with enough hair to know there may be some strawberry blonde for this sweet baby too…just like her big sister and her Dad.   

My son called me on “Facetime” from the hospital in order for me to “meet” her in “real-time”.  I talked softly to my beautiful brand new granddaughter and watched closely as she peacefully slept and moved her little hands.  Sweetness personified. 

I will fly to Dallas on September 5 to meet her in person and hold her in my arms.  I will be there to celebrate her big sister’s second birthday!  What fun that will be!

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 I couldn’t help but reminisce a bit and remember when my son was born…just a little over 33 years ago.  Here he is in the hospital with his dad not long after he was born.  Notice the strawberry blonde hair even then.  Sweet memories.  I love this circle of life and the incredible joy of being a grandmother!

 

 

The sixth day of August…

The sixth day of August…

There are some days in life that are just bittersweet…today is one of those days.

On a sweet note, today is Cindy’s birthday.  She is my sister Gerry’s firstborn.  Cindy is beautiful with a heart of gold…just like her late Mom.  She has an ever ready smile and a wonderful sense of humor.  We are always laughing when we’re all together.  An amazing pianist and wonderful teacher, she must bless the hearts of the students at the college where she teaches.  No doubt, she blesses the hearts of our entire family…just as she blesses mine.  Happy Birthday, Cindy!  I love you.  Wish I could be there to celebrate with all of you!

Love this photo from about 1957.  Cindy was almost 5 and I was 12.  (Guessing at the year and ages here.)

Apparently, I’d propped her up in the car window!  I was a really good baby sitter!

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Sadly, today also marks the ninth anniversary of my beautiful sister Dot’s death.  She fought a courageous battle against AML (Acute Myloid Leukemia) but Heaven needed her.  She had such strength and optimism.  She believed in FAMILY more than anyone I have ever known.  Dot remembered special days with a card, a note or a call.  She organized family reunions and made sure that we all got together.  She had a gift for staying in touch.  Dot had the burden/privilege of being the oldest…maybe that comes with the territory.  As I shared in the previous post, searching for our family roots was Dot’s inspiration and I will honor her by finishing it.  She would like that.  

How I would love to answer the phone and hear her quip one more time, “Hello!  What’s going on besides the rent?” with that smile in her voice.  I miss her every single day…but I will see her in Heaven.

 I love this picture of my sister when she was about 21 years old. 

A mystery in Scotland…

A mystery in Scotland…

I wonder if the same thing that makes me wish I’d been an FBI agent is the same deep thing that makes me love a mystery?  Finding clues, sorting them out and solving a mystery is more than just a challenge – it’s actually intriguing.  This time, I’m talking about searching out clues in my family history.  Years ago, my late sister Dot had the dream of finding our ancestors.  I joined her in the exciting search.  It didn’t take a whole lot of imagination to know that with the last name of McGregor, our ancestors had come from Scotland.

We began the journey back through the years and enlisted the help of our other two sisters.  The four of us traveled to the archives of Mississippi and various other libraries.  We wrote many letters requesting information from archives in several states.  Amidst the laughter on each trip we’d take, we discovered answers – in birth records, death records, marriage records, old newspaper clippings and family Bibles.  You would have thought we’d won the lottery when we “proved” a date or name.  There are three large rubbermaid containers stacked next to my chest in my bedroom…filled with several years worth of hard work.  I purposely did not put them in the storeroom for a good reason:  they’re there to remind me that I must finish this family history.  When the snow starts to fall in a few months, I will rejoin Ancestry.com and begin the journey back through time once again.

Several years ago, my husband and I were traveling through North Carolina where my immigrant ancestor, Rev. William McGregor, had lived almost 300 years ago now.  There at the foot of Fall Mountain, he built a homestead – complete with a sturdy log house and outbuildings.  He established a large apple orchard.  He “preached in the meeting houses of America”…which had been his reason for coming to America in the first place.   He sold his home and land to Dr. Kron, the first physician of North Carolina.  The house has been rebuilt as an exact replica and is in Morrow Mountain State Park in Stanly County, North Carolina. 

It was somehow humbling, yet awe-inspiring, to stand on the land of my ancestor, a Baptist preacher from Scotland (there weren’t a lot of Baptists in Scotland at that time).   I stood on the porch of his home and wondered where the answers lie.  So many of the actual records burned in fires over the years according to the archives there in Stanly County.  There are hundreds of his descendants who are searching – as I am.  Supposedly, Rev. William McGregor was born in Ossian’s Glen, Scotland.  Other records indicate he came from the Isle of Skye. 

The mystery lies in Scotland but there is much to prove here first.  This is just part of the mystery that I will be working on this Winter, when the snow begins to fall…

 

Below:  The front of Rev. William McGregor’s house in Morrow Mountain State Park, Stanly County, NC…

 

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Below:  The  back of Rev. William McGregor’s log house in Stanly County, NC 

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 Below:  The back door of Rev. William McGregor’s house…wmmcgregor3

Mama and the pizza…

Mama and the pizza…

A little Friday “flashback”…originally printed in My Southern Heart…the Stories

It was the late 1950′s. We were living in the small house on Victor Drive with the sunny windows and the knotty pine dining room with two built-in corner china cabinets.

It was a time of early rock and roll, dancing and pizza. Our first introduction to pizza was from George, a big, strong, dark-haired cajun planter from Louisiana. All these years later, and I remember George Broussard like it was yesterday. He was Glenda’s boyfriend and Glenda was Dot’s best friend. So we all spent a lot of time together in that little house on Victor Drive.

George had a booming voice and a great laugh. His conversation was sprinkled with a few cajun words here and there, and he loved to kid Mama. One weekend, he brought a large, filled-to-the-brim pizza over for lunch. We’d never even seen a pizza. I have to admit, at first glance, I had my doubts. All these years later, I’ve had the best Chicago pizza in downtown Chicago…so I’d have to say I know good pizza. I don’t know where George got it, but that was some pizza! Mama took one look at it and had her doubts too. It, obviously, wasn’t Southern vegetables and cornbread. She almost didn’t try it, but she did…and she fell in love with George’s pizza. The best I recall all these years later, I’d say it was a thin-crust, SUPREME pizza and it was, indeed, delicious.

Quite frequently after that, George would arrive with Glenda on his arm and toting another gift for Mama…a pizza supreme. I’m not sure George ever knew that Mama became a serious pizza fan after that. She would make it from scratch from time to time; but when she was in a hurry, she’d resort to Chef Boyardee.  Not too sure George would have approved of that…

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Added note:  Memories are a funny thing.  I wrote this post a few years ago and, since then, I’ve been trying to pinpoint the year(s) more accurately.  It could have been the early sixties, because I remember that George and Glenda gave me a pair of really nice charcoal gray pants from the Clothes Horse on Poplar Avenue for graduation in 1963!  Just don’t ask me what I did yesterday!

 To find the recipe for the delicious King Arthur flour pizza pictured above, go here.

The first day of August…

The first day of August…

The first day of August is a day to celebrate…and remember.  Today is my beautiful sister Gerry’s birthday.  No doubt, she is celebrating in Heaven with my family who have gone before…but I miss her.  I miss her sweet Southern voice and that forever smile.  I know I will see her again in Heaven.

gerryaugust1961 Gerry

 

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Today is my sweet daughter-in-love’s birthday…my younger son’s wife.  She has the same kind, all-encompassing and loving spirit that my sister Gerry had.  I was with her and my newborn granddaughter when I received the call that Gerry had lost her battle with ALS.  The tears rolled down her face as she listened to my conversation on the phone and felt my pain.  She is a wonderful wife and amazing mother to my 22-month-old granddaughter.  She is due to deliver their second daughter any day now.  I can’t wait!  Happy Birthday, sweetheart!

Photo below:  their wedding.  I was surprised and touched to see the blue cotton plaid handkerchief tied around her bouquet at the wedding.  It had belonged to my Dad…

 

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The first day of August is my precious daughter and sweet son-in-love’s wedding anniversary.  Today marks 21 years together and a life filled with four wonderful children and joy.  I’m blessed to be this amazing young man’s “other mother”!  He has been there for me over the years – especially this past one – and I am so thankful for him.  Happy Anniversary!  Tonight, I will “babysit” (read have a lot of fun) my four granchildren as the two of them go out for dinner.  I’m looking forward to it!

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Dreaming…

Dreaming…

Last night, I dreamed I went on a cruise with my high school class of 1963.  The fun part was that everyone was there.  The scary part was that I could not find the dining room – anywhere! 

Granted, I’ve had enough psychology within my educational endeavors to know this probably stemmed from the fact that I have been trying (rather unsuccessfully) to D-I-E-T.  I have a hard time even saying the word.  So, I go to sleep and dream about all the wonderful food on board ship that I cannot seem to find.  How sad is that?!

Well, really and truly, the sad part is that I was alone on the cruise.  Woke up feeling a wee bit depressed and hungry!  ;-)

 

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