Thanksgiving…

Thanksgiving…

My younger son and his precious family arrived on Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving in the midst of falling snow and a cold, cold wind.  I had not seen them for six long months and I was literally “bananas” waiting to grab my beautiful little granddaughters in my arms.  I was afraid my 15 month old granddaughter would not remember me (though we’ve talked on FaceTime).  I held her in my arms and she sweetly studied my face.  I smiled at her and said “it’s Grandmommy!” and she gave me an enormous smile which reached those beautiful blue eyes!  Needless to say, my heart melted.  I knelt down to embrace three year old granddaughter and planted kisses on her cheeks and sweet little head.  I kept saying “I’ve missed you so, so much!” and she said “I missed you too, Grandmommy!”  Again, my heart melted!

 

Thanksgiving at my daughter’s home was a wonderful time with two of my children, two of my other children (my son-in-love and daughter-in-love), six out of nine of my grandchildren, Doug and his sweet 95-year-old Mom and two granddogs, Kiana & Bernie!  There was a lot of laughter and a lot of really good food!  My daughter had purchased a 26 pound fresh turkey from a local farmer.  She brined it overnight before cooking it and the result was a moist, delicious turkey.  She prepared all the wonderful side dishes and three different pies which were excellent.  My daughter-in-love put together the large vegetable tray and made one of my favorites – a spinach-artichoke-garlic dip served with pita chips.  Delicious!  With Doug’s help, I made a cheese ball and baked dozens of different cookies the day before Thanksgiving because I knew once my little granddaughters arrived, I would just be playing!  Which I did!

A happy, blessed grandmother…

 

My daughter falling in love with her baby brother’s baby…

 

Doug and Mary, his sweet 95-year-old Mom, enjoying Thanksgiving with my family…

 

No better place to be than in the floor playing with my grandchildren!

 

In the midst of all the excitement and joy of being together, I had to pause and reflect for just a moment.  

I have so much to be thankful for and I truly am…

Sunday morning reflections…

Sunday morning reflections…

It’s was 56 degrees in Iowa this morning with bright sunshine and clear blue skies…reminding me that my favorite season is quickly approaching.  I’m under the weather this morning after several nights of much less than adequate sleep, so I will put the praise music on and enjoy a time of worship here in my porch rocking chair.

Yesterday afternoon, my friend and downstairs neighbor Susan and I ventured out in the beautiful weather for a few hours.  The goal wasn’t necessarily to purchase anything – although I did find a tiered stacking rack for the spices in my pantry and a couple of Autumn dish towels.  The goal was just to enjoy the afternoon.  Apparently, everyone else in West Des Moines had the same idea!

We ended up eating a late mid-afternoon meal at one of my favorite places – Famous Dave’s.  Memphis Barbecue was featured on the menu as well as Georgia Pulled Pork (which I had).  Having grown up in Memphis, I wondered how Dave knew so much about Southern barbecue.  Click the link and read his story!  Believe me, if Famous Dave’s were in Memphis, they would give Corky’s and the Rendezvous a run for their money!  Everything I’ve eaten there is delicious.

To be honest though, barbecue always makes me homesick for the South, since it’s a Southern “comfort food”.  In the featured photo above, I am having Corky’s barbecue at Penny’s house the Friday night after Thanksgiving in Memphis in 2012 with my niece Sharon and her husband Tommy.  I miss them and can’t wait to see them on October 1st when I fly into Memphis!

Kindred spirits…

Kindred spirits…

The past few months have been a challenge.  I’ve been through enough changes in my life that I scored quite high on the “stress level” meter.  I have fought to remain positive but, as you already know, that is sometimes beyond our reach.  When I first arrived in the Midwest six months ago, I spent two months living with my daughter and her precious family (my grandchildren thought they’d hit the jackpot!).  My belongings were stored floor to ceiling in her garage.  Not one word of complaint from her or my son-in-love, an amazing young man.

When the worst of the depression hit months ago, I spent four days in an out-patient “depression class” which lasted all day long.  (Remember I was a Psych nurse for ten years and believe in getting help when needed!) When my grandchildren asked where I went early each morning, my daughter simply said “she’s going to a depression class”.  Each night at dinner, I had tales about who had joined the class that day (no names or details of course).  One day, a beautiful young Sandra Bullock-look-alike joined the class.  The next day it was Al Pacino’s double!  On my last day, Dennis Hopper showed up (nevermind he had died by then).  There was laughter at the dinner table and my grandchildren were so happy that Grandmom “graduated first in her class from depression school”!  Their words – not mine!  Mainly, they were glad I was home again during the day.

When the time came for me to move into my own apartment/condo, my grandchildren weren’t so sure they wanted to part with me.  Thankfully, I’m only 14 minutes from them if I hit all the green lights just so.  They love coming over here.  They are my little kindred spirits.  They can read me like a book.  Especially my eight year granddaughter.  She searches my face for signs that I am fine.  I may think that I am hiding tears or sadness from them, but they are not to be fooled.  Thankfully, there are very few tears now and even though they don’t realize it – they remind me, once again, that I am strong.  I am thankful for my daughter who is the biggest kindred spirit of all.  I am thankful for the closeness and the memories we are making.

Spending time playing with grandchildren is the very best therapy in the world.  Anytime I am at my daughter’s or they are here, there is an abundance of laughter.  Laughter releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller, and makes anyone feel good…

candle

Operation Christmas Child…

Operation Christmas Child…

A couple of weeks ago our church was distributing boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  The boxes are to be filled and shipped to children all over the world through Samaritan’s Purse.  The church is large and there were stacks and stacks of boxes to fill.  My daughter took four – one for each of her children.  I took two.

This afternoon my daughter, her two youngest and I drove to Walmart where we proceeded to buy things to fill the boxes.  I decided to buy for two girls (ages 5-9).  My eight year old granddaughter loved helping make the decisions as to which barettes, which hairbrushes, art supplies, etc.  My three year old grandson was especially interested in what would be going into the boys’ boxes.  (My daughter was buying for two boys and two girls).

The boxes are packed and ready to take to church in the morning.  You’d be surprised just how much a “shoebox-size” box like this will hold.  I made my two boxes identical and each box holds:

a cute 25 piece animal puzzle

a small Disney Cinderella with an extra outfit

one box crayons

one package of ten pencils

one small pencil sharpener

one small art tablet

two multi-packages of adorable barrettes

one hairbrush

one package of two combs

one package of two children’s toothbrushes

one carton of Kids’ Crest toothpaste

one bar Dove soap

one bathcloth

A check for $7 to cover postage/shipping

my love and prayers for the child who will receive it…

There are boxes like this being packed all over this country…boxes that will travel across the world.  It amazes me that these two boxes will travel on a journey and end up in the precious hands of two little girls living far from me.  My love and prayers go with these boxes filled with things I hope they will like.  As I carefully filled the bright red and green boxes, I couldn’t help thinking about my own grandchildren.  Two of them are adopted – one from Peru and one from Africa.  We are so immensely blessed.

It isn’t too late to get involved in sending an Operation Christmas Child box of your own.  Just check the links above.

operationchristmaschild

Time traveling…

I’m amazed at how our senses can take us back to another time and another place…

The taste of a delicious, hot Southern biscuit reminds me of my Mama’s wonderful cooking. One bite of homemade banana pudding with the golden brown meringue, I close my eyes…forty six years pass…and I’m home again.

If I get even a slight whiff of the perfume “Windsong” by Prince Matchabelli or of the men’s cologne, “English Leather”, it’s 1966 all over again and I’m a young newlywed.

If I hear the song “Aldi-La”, it’s 1964 and I’m sitting in the coffee shop at Mississippi College (I think it was called “The Wigwam”) with my roommate, Linda, who had just broken up with her boyfriend and we are both in tears. If the old movie “A Man Called Peter” is playing on the classic movie channel, I think of a Saturday night in 1963 and a young man named Ross.

Sometimes our senses can even play tricks on us. Not long after my father passed away, I was shopping at the grocery store and saw an elderly gentleman who looked so much like my father, even down to the slight parkinsons tremor and the gait. I found myself closely following him for two or three aisles in the grocery store…it was almost like looking at my Daddy all over again. I managed to pull myself together long enough to park the shopping cart and left the store in tears.

Touch. What can I say? I’m a hugger. I come from a long line of huggers. The human spirit can only go so long without being touched…held…hugged. There have been dozens of studies on how many hugs a day a human needs. As a Registered Nurse, I spent many years taking care of patients and made sure I incorporated some form of touch besides the routine care…a pat on the back or arm…a reassuring hug. Perhaps this is also why the studies have attributed having a pet to a sense of well-being and an overall decrease in blood pressure.

Have you ever noticed how much we learn from our sense of touch? How many times have we seen something that we’d never seen before and our first response is to want to touch it. Ever notice the sign “Do Not Touch” in a museaum or exhibit?

I walk into a fabric store and my senses are overwhelmed with row after row of bolts of fabric…all different colors…patterns…textures. I’m also overwhelmed with memories of spending time growing up in the fabric store with my Mama. She was an excellent seamstress and made most of my clothes. We’d spend time together selecting a new pattern and find the fabric for it together. I did the same thing with my children…and, now, my daughter with hers. Mama had so many offers to sew for payment, but she reserved those talents for her family. She told me:  “I only sew for love”.  Years later, after I began the tedious work of sewing for my family, I understood and said the same thing to my family. Who knew that would come full circle as now I hear my daughter repeat the exact declaration as she works hard to sew for her family…

 

Originally published in My Southern Heart.  

I’m headed to the fabric store this morning for a super sale on patterns and it brought back memories of this past post.  Thought I’d share…

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