Y’all Can Decorate The Christmas Tree Now!

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and text

Since Thanksgiving, I have been a Christmas tornado. I’ve decorated the house and I’ve pretty much gotten all of my shopping done. What happened? This is not like me!

I usually wait until I’m at least in the month of December and take my time. I don’t know. I can’t explain it.

It’s amazing, too, because I’m in a new house in a new place.  We’ve only been in our new house in our new state for 3 months now and the fact that I can get all that done before December starts is pretty amazing – at least to me.

We were in our last home for over 20 years and in the same area for over 30. When you live in one place that long you create trails, patterns, and ruts. You don’t even have to think about how to get to a friend’s house or a store, it’s automatic. It’s nice, I kind of like that longevity. So, coming to this new place we’re having to pioneer it all over again. I have to find trails, watering holes, scout out the good places to shop and eat.

Not only that, but I can’t resort to my old holiday decorating routine. I had to get creative. That meant I had to use my mind, too, haha! When I was packing to move, I remember going through all of my holiday decor and throwing out a lot because it was worn out and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to use it in our new house, because at the time of packing I didn’t know what my house would be like.

But I did it: decorated and shopped all in record time.

Do I sound whiny? I don’t mean to. I’m just thinking that there might be someone out there in cyber world who needs someone to affirm them and say relocating to a totally different place while in your late 50’s is exciting but not easy.

It’s the little things: our doctor of many years, our friends close by, a mechanic we can trust, a neighbor we can call on, having a favorite shopping area or a familiar restaurant and having a memory for every place we pass by is gone. I looked forward to seeing the guy who played Santa every year in the grocery store. And the horrible decorations our town put on the lamp posts that looked like cobras. And our neighbor whose yard looked like Santa threw up all over it. Red and green stuff you couldn’t recognize. I could depend on them. They made the holidays for me.

Now, I have to find new places, new people, new crazies to help me get in the holiday spirit. Where are you?

With all my decorating and shopping done, I guess I have time to seek them out.

Have a great day. As Andy says, “Y’all can decorate the Christmas tree now!” A friend of mine posted that on her Facebook and I had to share.

Peace,

Jill

Advertisements

Costume Success, Rosie, and a Crockpot Macaroni & Cheese Recipe

IMG_2914.JPG

So, the “Max” costume was a success! There were a few things, technically, that I was worried about and the crown I made was too small but the knit one I bought fit. He wasn’t interested in the crown anyway, so it was all fine.

His uncle took the photo above, which I was happy about because I couldn’t get him to stay still long enough to get a photo. He was too busy running around growling and showing his threatening claws and was just totally absorbed in being “King of the Wild Things.” This Grandma’s heart was happy!

We had a great weekend with the kids. The 4-hour drive was such a relief. I hope it stays a relief when our memories of a 13-hour drive fade.

The kids had a big, busy weekend at their church. If I haven’t told you, both of my kids started a church together along with some friends and others with like-minded hearts. So, my daughter is the worship leader, her husband is the pastor, my son is the assistant pastor and leader of the media-ops team, and his wife is over the children’s ministry. So, every Sunday, they are ALL busy!

We went up there to attend the big Sunday and to help if we could. So, we babysat and fed them. I cooked chili Saturday night after they had a day of setting up (they meet in a school so they have to set up and break down each week). Then I did a crockpot, cook ahead meal for Sunday after church.

As a mom, it still gives me pleasure to feed them and know that they are getting enough sleep, haha! As a kid, even though I didn’t get them very often, I remember Sunday-after-church- lunches lovingly made by my “adopted” grandmother, Rosie. Going to her house after church and eating what she cooked are some of my very best memories!  I want to give my Grandboys a similar experience.

rosie and tommy kitchen.jpg

This is Rosie and Tommy in their kitchen where many a fine Sunday dinners were eaten. 

I want to tell you a Rosie story. Rosie was the mother of my sister’s husband. Even though she wasn’t technically my grandmother, but rather the grandmother of my nephews, she drew me in and loved me. I remember her as a big, jolly woman. I heard stories that she could snap on you and put you in your place but she never turned that on me. She was married to Tommy but their marriage was not the first one for either of them. So, they created a family with her kids, his kids and then they had a couple of their own. The age span of the kids was pretty big. Rosie was a mother for a long time and she had it down! On Sundays after church, she would fry chicken, make potato salad and biscuits. She’d have a pot of some kind of bean, she’d open a can of corn and there was always a cake and a pie on the Hoosier (I just learned today that’s what the cabinet is called, haha!)

I remember fighting with my nephews over who would get to sit on the red metal stepstool at the table. And I also remember being so hungry and so annoying and running in and out of the back door letting the flies into the kitchen just to see how much longer till lunch was ready. I would watch as she would put the chicken on a platter and carefully sculpt the potato salad into a lovely golden mound onto another platter and sprinkle it with paprika. My nephew thought it was cinnamon! Then she would pile the biscuits on a plate and spoon the can of corn into a bowl.

I remember watching the people start crowding into the tiny mill house. You never knew who would show up. I never really knew all of my brother-in-law’s siblings but I could tell they were Rosie’s children, they all sort of looked like her in the eyes.

The more people who crammed into the house, the hungrier I got and the more worried I became thinking that there wouldn’t be enough food. And I just had to have some potato salad! I just knew that ONE can of corn wasn’t going to feed the multitudes.

Tommy would say grace over the food and we’d all dig in. And it never failed, NEVER, that everyone ate as much as they wanted and she never ran out of food. NEVER! It really was like Jesus and the loaves and fishes. It had to be a miracle that she could feed a crowd of hungry adults and scores of children on one frying chicken and a can of corn.

I sure did love and admire Rosie. I would like to share the same kind of love and food with my family that she did with hers.

Maybe a little of that happened this weekend.

Let me share what I made with you because everyone really enjoyed it and maybe you can use it:  For Sunday lunch I wanted to make The Pioneer Woman’s Pot Luck Meatballs, but when I got there and saw the time constraint, I just bought some frozen Swedish Meatballs and made the PW’s gravy. I put the meatballs in the crockpot, quickly made the gravy and moved on. It’s a good, quick gravy recipe.

Image result for pioneer woman potluck meatballs

I also made The Pioneer Woman’s Layered Salad. Delish!!

Image result for pioneer woman layered salad

Green beans and rolls.

I also made my sister-in-law’s crockpot Macaroni and Cheese: Here’s the recipe, it’s one of the best mac and cheese recipes!

CrockPot Macaroni & Cheese

Ingredients:

8oz. macaroni, cooked according to package

3c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated

2 eggs

1 large can evaporated milk

1 1/2 c. regular whole milk

1 stick of butter, melted

Directions: Cook macaroni and drain. Put macaroni in the slow cooker that has been sprayed with PAM. Add cheese. Add melted butter. Beat eggs with both milks and add to macaroni mixture. Stir all together well and cook on low for 3-4 hours.

IMG_2886.JPGIMG_2893.JPGIMG_2897.JPG

We also had Blueberry Delight for dessert.

Everyone ate as much as they wanted. And there was enough.

Peace,

Jill

 

Time Traveling

IMG_8274

I’m still new to this grandparenting gig. I’ve only been at it for a little over a year now.

So, these feelings and experiences, which are probably old hat to you veteran grandparents out there are still fresh to me.

My 2nd grandboy, Manny, sometimes looks just like his dad, my son, so much so that it’s freaky. It’s like I have my little boy back for a few seconds or minutes.

And not only that sort of thing but I find that old feelings I had as a young mother wash over me in a wave.

For example, my son arrived on Thanksgiving Day from a trip to Peru where he hiked the Inca Trail. My son is 30 years old. Not my little boy anymore. But when he got to my house, had eaten a good meal and fell asleep on the sofa, the old feeling of peace and contentment that I had as a young mother after my kids were fed, bathed and asleep washed over me. For a moment, he was that little boy safe, warm and comfortable in my care. Tears in my eyes from a warm heart.

Having these grandkids is making me feel like a time traveler jumping back and forth from being a mom to being a grandmom. So weird sometimes.

Peace,

Jill

JFK Haunts Me

JFK-In-Limousine-At-Love-Field-11-22-63

Just when JFK fades from my memory and I’m not thinking about him, somebody has to pull him back. Now, it’s those hidden files that were supposedly released but then taken back to be released in April. Those files have spawned a flurry of new documentaries and conspiracy theories.

I’m a nervous wreck changing the channels because I never know when I’m going to come across footage of that depressing black limo turning onto the street that led to Dealy Plaza and then the horrifying “crimson burst.”

I was almost one and half years old when JFK was killed. Coming from a family that loves a good conspiracy theory, my home was filled with years of discussion about his assassination. And I can’t help but get sucked into them.

I get the reasons why it was such a tragic event. I get why it impacted America so. I understand how horrible and tragic and sad it was.

I also understand why we can’t leave it alone – because we don’t know.

And it’s for all those reasons why JFK haunts me.

I wish, for goodness sake, we could find out who killed him so he can literally Rest In Peace.

His death is one of those moments that people remember exactly where they were when they got the news. I suppose I was sitting in either my mother or my sister’s lap when I heard the news.

Where were you?

Peace,

Jill

My Halloween Life

beth-teutschmann-154958

As a kid I LOVED Halloween! I’m an actor at heart and having a whole holiday devoted to dressing and pretending to be someone else was just the best! In the 70’s it was a community experience. Everyone was involved. Your respect could go up or down based on the quality of your costume. Candy was king! My Dad was cheap and was always trying to give out apples or walnuts – I was humiliated. Not to mention angry at having to pick up all the apples and walnuts that got dumped in our yard the next day.

When my kids were really little, we dressed them up every year and they were so cute and we’d take them to the mall to get candy. That was during the period where freaks were putting razor blades and poison in Halloween treats. So, the mall would xray the candy for you and when we got home we went through it piece by piece inspecting it for tampering. Kinda took the fun out of the candy part. But the kids were still cute toddling around in their costumes.

Then we moved into a neighborhood with lots of kids and it became a community experience again. Gangs of kids roaming the neighborhood, laughing and getting their sugar high. I never gave out fruit or nuts, just so you know.

Then we got involved in a church that thought Halloween was evil. And so we participated in alternative celebrations. It was fine and good, but being in such an active neighborhood I always felt like I was letting the kids down. I don’t think my stand against the evils of Halloween did anything except just hurt the neighborhood kid’s feelings, actually.

But then as the kids got older, Halloween was just not a big deal anymore. And then when the kids flew the coop, we just became a candy stop and not part of the main activity.

But through the years even that has disappeared. I think over the past two years I’ve had a total of 3 trick or treaters. I understand. We are more aware of the dangers, more suspicious of our neighbors. It’s just the way it is now.

I miss the “glory days of Halloween” when the costume was important and candy was king. I miss helping the kids with their costumes and spending way too much money on good candy.

Now I’m just that weird old lady at the end of the street sitting in her dark house watching old horror movies eating a bowl of candy all by herself. That’s pretty scary.

mummy

But you know, I’ll have that bowl of candy by the door, just in case.

Happy Halloween! Muhahaha!

~Jill

What To Get A 30 Year Old For Their Birthday?

My son just turned 30 this month and I just started feeling substantially older, haha!

He’s also a new father and while we are spending a lot of time, money and energy spoiling the new guy, I wanted my son to know we still think he’s special, too!

He lives 5 states away and we wouldn’t be able to be with him this year, so whatever we got him would have to be sent.

So, what do you get a man to celebrate a milestone birthday and your not a Rockefeller?

30 Gifts! 

IMG_3013

It seems extravagant and outrageous and that’s the perfect thing to celebrate 30 years!

He’s 30 years old and a new father and I’ve noticed that he’s been more interested in reminiscing about his childhood lately. So, going back in time was a pretty good idea I thought. I sat down and listed 30 things that reminded me of my son from his first word, to his love of reptiles to his upcoming trip to Peru. I listed things he loved as a kid to things he needed for his trip in 2 months. I combined memories with current events so I was recognizing his whole life.

Then I looked at the list and considered what I could get that would represent those memories or events. I thought of things that might be meaningful. For example, my son loved Steve Irwin as a kid and so I ordered a patch from the Australia Zoo. He had a pet duck that he loved as a kid and while I’m not going to get him a real duck, I got a little toy one. He also played basketball and loved soccer, so I got him a basketball and soccer ball neither of which he owns right now and he’s got a growing son and those items will be necessary for his sports equipment arsenal. (You see the Grandma heart is strong in this one! I’m still thinking about my grandson while celebrating his father. I can’t help it!)

And, of course I loved my son as a kid, but I think it’s important to recognize the man he is now, so, I got him a few things he’ll need for his upcoming trip to Peru. His wife is always helpful in putting together a Pinterest board for  holidays with gift ideas and links to items. (She’s cool like that, and I tell you about it.) So, I was able to choose some items that he’ll need.

So, I bought 30 gifts ranging from a little plastic snake to an inflatable camping pillow. Wrapped them all, which was no small chore I’ll tell you, and put a number on each one.

IMG_3015

I also included a handwritten tag on each gift that said why I chose that particular item. For example, I got a sketch book and attached a tag that said, “Because we have always been so amazed and proud of your artistic abilities!” I got a little plastic frog and put a tag that said, “Because of my refrigerator.” We all laughed when he opened it because we remembered the time he caught a box full of tree frogs and put them all over my refrigerator like magnets and I didn’t notice until he pointed them out to me. I thought it was funny until one jumped on me!

I packed it and shipped it with a note that said, “Don’t open until we can FaceTime with you.” I wanted to enjoy watching his face as he opened each item. I’m just that kind of Mom. So they called when they had some time and we were able to share the fun with them! (I LOVE FaceTime!)

So, the box was filled with fun memories and items he could use today. And as it turned out, the 9 month old loved the basketball and crawls around the house pushing it ahead of him! Win-win!

Peace,

Jill

 

 

Throwing Rocks

felix-russell-saw-103048

When I was teaching the kids loved for me to tell stories about myself, my childhood or tell them about what I thought heaven was like. I didn’t mind stopping a lesson to tell a story because in my opinion our lives are not made up of atoms or equations but of stories.

Yesterday I shared about how I met God on the beach and as I was talking to one of my friends online about it I offered to tell her about how I met my best friend, who happens to be her sister. So, here it is, J.

Most of my childhood stories begin with this sentence: My mother died when I was 3. The reason is because that event impacted my life in so many ways. And, this story, too starts the same way.

My mother died when I was 3. I was raised by my father who was a very silent man. My best friend named him “Stoneface” which she never called him to his face. My dad was a Navy man. “Yes, sir!” was the proper response anytime he called my name or asked me a question.

When I was in 5th grade the city I lived in decided to desegregate our schools. That meant that I couldn’t go to the school that was within walking distance from my house, I had to be bused across town to a school in a black neighborhood.

I’ll never forget riding the bus to school that first day of 5th grade. Black families lined the streets and some people threw rocks at our bus. I did not feel welcomed.

Me and a skinny, annoying white girl named Angel who wore dresses everyday, smelled like Play-doh and nervously picked a wart on her knee all day long were the only white kids in our class. I did not feel we were a good representation of our people which made me embarrassed for all white people in America. And even though there were only 2 scrawny white girls in the whole class, the teacher, an elegant, tall, mocha-skinned queen, gave the class a lecture on the proper way to address black people.I knew the lesson was just for Angel and me. I listened with my whole being while Angel nervously picked her wart.

Needless to say, that year was not a happy one. There was tension all over the city. There was tension in my school and in my class. I couldn’t talk to my father about it because, one, he didn’t like to talk and, two, because whenever the subject of busing would come up he’d fly into a cussing rage. He used all the inappropriate names that my teacher told us not to.

One day, feeling particularly lonely and depressed about the whole state of affairs, I got off my school bus and began to walk home. I noticed a girl I had never seen before walking on the other side of the road. I wondered who she was but I just didn’t feel particularly friendly so I kept my head down and plodded along.

Almost home, I heard the familiar, screeching call of my arch nemesis. I’ll call her A (you can assign any name you want to her, I can think of a few choice ones that start with A). She was my arch nemesis because when I first moved into the neighborhood she decided she’d be the boss of me. And because I didn’t have any other friends I had to play with her. She had a whole playroom with a real dollhouse and a Barbie townhouse with working elevator. She also had a Malibu Barbie while I only had Barbie’s awkward friend, Francie who drove Barbie’s RV. Francie eventually got her leg chewed off by my dad’s dog, Alex and so that made her even more marginalized. A always pointed out that my toys were not as good as hers and I should be thankful that she let me play at her house at all.

Well, A, screeched at me to “Come over to my house right now!” I mumbled a response that I didn’t want to or something like that. That sent A into a rage and she started marching toward me on the sidewalk with her finger pointed at me like I’d seen her mother do to her.

A continued to berate me as she approached and as I continued to refuse to do what she wanted, her scoldings became more and more biting and cruel until finally she said,

“Why should I even play with you, you don’t even have a mother!”

Everything got quiet and then suddenly I heard a voice from across the street, “Hey! You leave her alone!”

I looked and I saw that unfamiliar girl coming across the street toward A. She bent down and picked up some rocks and threw them at A as she said, “That was mean! You can’t say things like that! You better go home before I hit you in the head!”

Well, A, being the superior, stubborn girl she was, gave it right back to her. “You can’t tell me what to do! I’ll tell my parents!”

The girl continued to throw rocks at A and yell at her until A finally retreated, terrified into her father’s car. The girl put her fist into the hood of the car and walked over to me, put her arm around my shoulder.

We walked to 7-Eleven, got some Now-or-laters, ate them in the park and we were best friends from then on out.

We had some of the best times. My friend was the type of person who collected strays. Stray people, stray animals like Barney the “corn face dog.” She loved the hurting back to life. She made us, the strays, laugh like life was good. She would feed us and tuck us into safe beds with clean feet. Music and laughter surrounded her.

Looking back, she was probably hurting as much or more than I was but she never told me or talked about it. She was always cheerful around me. She was strong and brave and even as a kid she knew how to help and clean and cook and make gravy for the biscuits her mom, Pearl, would make for us. I thought she could do anything.

She saved my life and I’m thankful that she came to my rescue.

That’s my story.

Peace,

Jill