My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Last Weekend in September

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. Her brother John and his wife Gerri are in town from Florida. John is the youngest brother. There were four boys in a row and then three girls in a row. My mom is the middle girl. Anyways... John and Gerri are here for the week, staying in the house of a friend of theirs? Or something? I'm not sure. They're not staying with us. They came over yesterday and then we went to Wendell's for lunch. Wendell's is sort of a meat and three type place. Everyone except for me and Pop had liver and onions. :shudder: I had fried chicken and Pop had grilled chicken. The food was good. The company was great. The stress on my back was unbearable.

Afterwards we visited the little thrift store next to the restaurant where I picked up this amazing picnic basket for only $5!  I knew it was perfect for a sewing basket so that I could organize my embroidery supplies. Sidebar: whenever I type the word "picnic basket" in my head I hear Yogi Bear's voice saying "pick-a-nick basket". Anybody else have that problem? Gerri found a great deal on some dishes and made arrangements to go back and pick them up later this week when they've been packed for travel back to Florida.

During lunch Uncle John entertained with stories about mom's early childhood when they lived in Cohutta, Georgia. Cohutta is near Dalton, Georgia, in the far northwest corner of the state. It was (and still is) primarily rural and poor. Their house - my mom's first home - didn't have electricity or running water. The barn and the chicken house had water and electricity but their home didn't. They used well water to drink until a cat fell in the well and ... well, contaminated it. Then they finally piped running water into the house. Can you imagine having seven kids without running water and electricity? Ironically, the year they got electricity was the year that the last child was born. Apparently they found something else to do at night.

All was well with the grandbaby at the doctor on Wednesday. They did not do an ultrasound, she goes back for that next Thursday and I'm taking her! I've heard this thing on the internet about how the placement of the placenta in early pregnancy is an indication of the sex. I mean, I know that's probably as much of an Old Wives Tale as the peeing in drano thing or the swinging wedding ring or how you carry... but I'm still going to take note of it, if possible.

I'm so proud of Tasha because she has gone back to work! I've been there... I know how hard it is to work in early pregnancy. I also know that she wants to give this baby the best life possible, which was always my motivation. Every job I ever worked was to provide for my kids, especially those last few months that I worked full time while Austin was finishing high school. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to just give up... how many days I came home in extreme agony... but I had to give him that stability for his last few months of school. Thanks to help from family, we didn't have to move out when I lost my job which would have been devastating.  I hope that seeing Tasha work hard to provide for their baby will be inspiration to Austin to do everything he can to find a job. There are a lot of places hiring.

Going out to lunch yesterday was painful. I wanted to push myself because we don't see Uncle John that often, just like I pushed myself last weekend when Grandma was here and the result was the same. I was in such horrendous pain by the time we got home - after a little detour through Helen - that I was pouring sweat and sick to my stomach. Today my spine feels like it's on fire and in a vice. I'm having muscle spasms and my legs feel like they're made of lead. It's crazy. I was out and about for just a little over two hours and not all of that time was sitting. Two hours of activity takes me out of commission for days. That's just ... frustrating.

Mom and Dad went this morning to watch my niece Jamie cheer. I sent along the camera and Sarabeth took a bunch of pictures for me. Jamie is the one with red hair, in case you can't spot her.

And now my parents are at a Sunday School social and I'm dog-sitting while watching the Florida State game. I've been a Gator fan ever since the Darby era. I mean, I lived in Florida at the height of the Tebow reign and it was great to be a Florida Gator. At least it was then. I'm not a fair weather fan but I did promise my children to change my allegiance whenever they gave me a grandchild. Even though Austin knows nothing about football, the older boys insist that a grandchild is a grandchild and they have invoked the Grandchild Clause. I'm told a FSU sweatshirt is in the works. I'm watching FSU vs. NC State. And trying my best to pull for the right team. I figure it's the least I can do. Go Noles. 

I guess that's about it for now. Can you stand a few more Jamie pictures? I love my sweet girl!

she's spotting in this one

Happy Weekend, y'all!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

More Grandma Musings

My 90 year old grandma spent the past weekend with us and I took not ONE single picture. I can't believe it.

It was my dad's birthday Sunday and my mom's birthday is this coming up Friday so we had a cookout with my brother and sister-in-law and my sister-in-law's mom (who adores my grandma) and, of course, my nieces and Austin and his baby mama.

We had a great time but I got a real big reminder of why I don't sit ever, anywhere. Still, this morning, three days later, my lower back is so tender that I can't get comfortable in any position, in any chair anywhere. Sunday I could hardly move. Yesterday was a tiny bit better and this morning I said, "to hell with it" and went to Walmart. Had to get out of the house and the change of scenery was good.

It's such a beautiful time of year up here in the mountains! Only a few trees have started changing colors but the air has that hint of crispness that makes you believe that the hot, miserable days of Summer are over.

At Walmart (back tracking a bit, sorry) I wandered through the baby section. It's been many-a-year since I had any babies around and the stuff has changed quite a bit. I wouldn't allow myself to look at clothes because I don't want to dream about pink & ruffles if I'm going to have another baby to dress in blue. Not that I wouldn't love a baby boy - I'm good at raising boys - but I would adore a little Cosette!

My niece Jamie said to me Saturday night that she didn't want me to be a grandma because I'm her Aunt Heather. She said this to me with my face in her hands - so precious! I told her that I'd always be her Aunt Heather but now I'd have a baby cousin for her to love. I got a big grin for that. I didn't tell her it would actually be a first cousin- once removed because that would be too confusing.

I just think about a little girl at our church who was ten when Austin was born (the age Jamie will be when baby gets here).  Cody was in the hospital when Austin was just a few weeks old and Joy's family was one of the many who took care of my itty bitty brand new baby during that time. I think he was more bonded to Joy than me for awhile! Joy LOVED Austin and toted him around like he was her own living baby doll. She now has a house full of her own babies. Time goes by so fast.

I still can't really wrap my head around it. I mean, I have grown children, I knew it was possible. It has been weird, having been a young mom - having babies before all of my friends - it has been weird to watch friend after friend after friend become a grandma before me. And now it's weird that I'm joining their sorority!

They have their first doctor appointment tomorrow and hopefully we'll get some ultrasound pictures.

I have been working like I'm in a sweatshop trying to get Christmas gifts sewn. I took a break over Friday and Saturday to make a bookmark for my dad. I have this book of patterns for bookmarks that my mom found and there was a saying in it that we had heard in a church conference when I was a young teen. It's based on Judges 3:31. The three points from that sermon were,
1. Start where you are
2 Use what you have
3 Do what you can.
How many sermons do you remember from when you were 13 or 14? It was the first sermon I had ever heard from a black preacher and he was so passionate that it really impressed on my heart. Since I had the lettering on the pattern already, I just had to adapt the border to something fitting. Dad led the worship service at the Presbyterian church this week (shhh! don't tell the Baptists!) and he used it in his message, so it was worth the effort.

I've  been wearing out Pinterest finding cross stitch patterns. There are SO many out there! I'm working on one that is perfect for a family member but it's in Spanish. It's a little tricky to figure out the colors in Spanish but ... at least the pattern was free!

Did you watch The Roosevelts documentary series that was on PBS last week? I found it fascinating. One thing I didn't know was that Warm Springs, Georgia (where FDR's Little White House is located) was formerly known as Bullochville until 1924. This is interesting to me because my great-grandmother was a Bulloch and they came from that area so I'm certain it must have been named after one of my ancestors. I haven't been able to pull anything up on the internet - but I'm still working on it. Grandma also enjoyed the series and did not know about Bullochville either.

It's been mild enough for us to cut off the air conditioning which means that it's warm enough in the Whine Cellar that I can put away the long sleeve shirts and fleece sleep pants that I've lived in all Summer. When the a/c is on it's FREEZING down here! I'd rather - much, much rather - be cold than hot so I'm not complaining. It's just been weird all Summer to have to take off my sweaters and thick socks before going outside.

AND I guess that's about all I have to say today. Hope you're all well. Love and hugs everybody!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Are There Introverted Grandmas?

I'm really not sociable. I mean, I try to be friendly and involved with my grandbaby's Baby Mama while her and Austin are here but after a couple of hours I just want to not talk. I realize from a totally logical perspective that pain has made me an introvert and ALL introverts need time alone but I am trying hard to not be that way. I think grandmas are supposed to be extroverts.

The thing is that I've realized that boy mamas aren't usually as "involved" in the grandkids' lives... ok, truthfully... I just know that growing up we didn't spend as much time with my dad's mom as my mom's mom... and I know that my kids have had almost no contact at all with their dad's mom and I worry that as a paternal grandmother that I'll not have the same opportunities in my grandkids' lives, what with me not getting out much and all. I logically understand that with my dad's mom she worked full-time and then when she retired she moved to Florida and then she re-married and moved to North Carolina so - you know, distance - but I live a distance away from 2/3 of my kids. And with my kids' grandmom she was/is really not mentally stable and then married a crack dealer who kidnapped and beat up his mother-in-law (true story) and that she never really made an effort to see my kids, save a once a year Christmas letter but still... ok, I have nothing in common with her but still, dad's mom = distant.

And I've got to be honest... I *hope* that Austin's sweet loyalty will make him a good dad but I know that he's got a long way to go before he's what I would call a provider. I mean... I was a teen mom but my first thought was... "omg I need a job so that I have health insurance and can afford diapers and formula" and these kids' reality is medicaid and WIC and sleeping all day. I had Duchess Kate level morning sickness - constant puking - and I worked full time because my baby needed to have health insurance.

That's another thing about my kids' other grandmother... when I married my kids' dad (at 17) my three little brothers still lived at home in a house with one bathroom and so we started out marriage living with his mom. She was on disability (painful irony) and my baby daddy was still in high school so I was the only one in the house who was working but she had a CHORE LIST for me to complete every day after working full-time, spending two hours commuting back and forth to work and puking my guts up every day. She also expected us - and by "us" I mean "me" because I was the only one working - to pay 2/3 of the household bills because we were 2/3 of the household. So... long story short, we didn't last long with her and I honestly never forgot how she treated me at that really, really difficult time in my life. We never bonded over picking out a crib or buying baby clothes or coming up with a name. No, what I remember most about my babies' "other" grandmother was her best friend calling me while I was IN LABOR to harass me about including my mother-in-law in the birth.

I know it's all freakishly modern to have natural childbirth with half the family watching but I was a "me and the daddy only" type birth-er and I let the doctor be there for two births but the third was just some random nurse we grabbed at the last minute because they didn't believe that I was really in labor. (For the record - I don't joke about such things). Anyways... back to last paragraph... I politely but in no uncertain terms told the best friend where she could shove it because I was busy trying to shove a kid out. Back then I wasn't as tactful as I am now, maturity and all.

Anyways... so I have major fears about being allowed to play a role in the lives of my future grandchildren because my past experience with bonding and paternal grandmothers isn't all that great. I mean, then there's my sister-in-law who has basically banned our entire family from seeing her kids for - long story but it should have been over long ago. Then there's my brother in Chattanooga who is a Jehovah's Witness but other than birthday and holiday bonding he has worked hard to have us be a part of his kids' lives but it's awkward because, you know, holidays and stuff...  and then, of course, there's my older brother whose two little girls are very, very much a treasured part of our lives.

Major fears about being allowed to play a role... major fears of my son doing something that gets us all banned from the baby's life... which leaves me really trying hard to bond with my grandbaby's Baby Mama.

And here's the thing: I'm just not that sociable. I've always been the "let me just stay out of your way" kind of mother to my adult children. I'm not one who has expectations about obligatory phone calls once a week or attending certain holiday events. I'm just not. I want my kids around me when they want to be around me and not a second more. That whole "stay out of the way" thing has worked fairly well so far. (except on Cody and Marquee's wedding night when they had to drive three hours round trip to meet up with me on a really rainy night because I had the keys to the reception venue in my purse...  sad, sad memories of them eating Waffle House in the car waiting for me to meet them).  I have never, ever, not one single time interfered in my grown childrens' lives (correct me if I'm wrong, y'all). I give opinions only when expressly asked for an opinion and then I preface it with, "well, do you want my opinion?" and if the answer is no, I shove it back in like two hours of pushing that ended up in a forceps delivery, child number one, thank you very much.

But grandbaby's Baby Mama IS sociable and wants to talk about all kinds of things that, oh my word!, I'm tickled pink (or blue?) to be included in... from what to expect when you're expecting to baby names (so far it's Cosette Raquel or Hayden James, both highly, HIGHLY subject to change) to gender reveal parties (back in my day that was aka "birth") to showers to ... everything. And I so very much want to bond with her and be supportive and encouraging and let's be honest... fill in the gaps that my sweetly earnest but very naive grown child may leave but I am SO UNSOCIABLE that I encouraged them to spend this evening back at her house so she could "be more comfortable" before my paternal grandma comes to spend the weekend with us because... although I know that it is an incredible gift that my almost 91 year old grandmother is still with us... it's also really, really exhausting for me to be sociable all weekend.

I know that all of this is just a big long string of run-on paragraphs and what I should be focusing on is how blessed we are to have five living generations, even if that means I have to actually interact with the non-furry, three dimensional people for a little while. If you take anything from this let it be that people who are in pain a lot are not unsociable because they don't love you or want to see you... it's just that the "surviving" part of life has become much more difficult than it should be.

And ... cat pictures... just because.... waiting for nummies is so funny!

Remind me to tell you later about the snake in the kitchen.

Happy Friday-Eve!

Sunday, September 14, 2014


I took another fall last night so on top of the evil gut pain that has been fierce over the past few days, every muscle in my back is hurting and my left hip (where I landed on the foot rest of the recliner) is crazy sore. I really hurt all over and it's incredibly distracting.

But there's this whole grandchild thing that I've got to discuss with y'all. I'm going to be a grandma. It's surreal. I had starting processing the idea a month ago when Cody and Marquee stayed with us. They shared that they are planning to start working on a family after their Disney vacation in October. It excites me that they want a baby and - having been married four years - they're in a good place for one. The only downside for me is that they're a hundred miles away and I don't see them often. They see her family several times a week so I knew I would always be "the other grandmother" and that bums me out.

So I had been processing the idea of an Espericueta-Sauls baby (he/she will have both last names) and then Austin and Tasha sit me down Friday evening and tell me that she's pregnant. They're as close as could be, geographically but they are so very much not ready for a baby. Neither has a job. We had JUST met that day with the two ladies responsible for Austin's case with the Vocational Rehab center and there are just so many things... so many ways he's struggling. He's loyal and loving to a fault but there are just so many dots that don't connect for him. SO I get the exact opposite of the Cody/Marquee baby - a baby who is around almost every day but born to parents who are soooo not ready.

I'm excited but have so many concerns. And the exacerbated pain situation today is a big ole' reminder that I'm not healthy and I can never be the kind of grandparent I would want to be. I can't afford to spoil them financially. I have entire weeks that fly by where it's all I can do to get up in the morning and put on clean clothes and run a brush through my hair. Even with my nieces... we have a blast together for a few hours and then I'm wiped out!

On the plus side... Tasha is a sweet girl and we are close. When she's here visiting Austin she spends more time hanging out with me in my living room than she does with Austin. (And sidenote: to show you how well my Cody knows me - when I told him that Tasha hangs out in the living room with me he laughed - because he knows that I'm terribly unsociable and not a fan of "hanging out" with anybody, anywhere!) She is a sweet girl and she understands Austin and his issues and is incredibly patient with him. Her parents are very supportive of her and very excited about being grandparents. She has invited me to go along on any doctor visits and... I know that I will be bonded with this baby as long as she and Austin don't part ways.

You know that feeling you have as a parent? That feeling of wanting to make as good a life as possible for them? It's even worse as a grandparent because you have no control over what happens.

But... if Cody and Marquee decide to go ahead and start a family, I could have two grandbabies born in the same year - Irish Cousins! Or something. And it's the knowledge of all the good things in life still ahead that help me push through days (and weeks) like I've had lately. It might hurt to get there but the path ahead is worth sticking around to see.

And the sweetest thing... if Austin and Tasha have a girl, they want to name her Cosette - as in Les Miserables. Doesn't that just melt your heart?

Anyways. That's what's happening here. Happy Sunday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I'm sitting here watching The Five and trying to see straight. I've been spending too much time with my cross stitch and my vision is crazy blurry because of it. Please forgive any typos. I'm going to have to cut back and/or take a break for a day or so from the cross-stitch because eye strain is no JOKE! I've been working on a penguin for Austin (he doesn't read here so he won't know) and some things that are similarly colored for my other kids/daughter-in-law. I've just been staring at black and white thread on white fabric for too long lately.

How cute is my niece, Jamie? This is what she wore to school today. She stopped by here for just a few minutes between school/library/church this afternoon and I had to get a picture. I didn't pose her, by the way, this just comes naturally. It's funny because as a second born child in a family of first borns, I see so much of me and her Aunt Mimi (my sister-in-law's sister) in Jamie. It's like God said, "this family needs a little more sparkle" and then came Jamie.

The other day she was working on a visual example of a distributive property - I had to google "distributive property" and watch a video on it to understand. Khan Academy has it in their sixth grade math section and she's only in fourth grade. This may be part of that whole "common core" phenomenon or it just may be that she's advanced. At any rate... a distributive property is like if you have the equation a(b + c) = a x b + a x c. She had to make a poster demonstrating this property without using numbers or letters... so like using monkeys and bananas and (whatever) in place of the a(b + c). So monkey(banana + cake) = monkey x banana + monkey x cake. Seriously. I could barely understand it enough to explain it to my dad because he was going to help her with the printer (two flights up from my Whine Cellar). Her vision for her project included glitter. Lots of glitter.

This common core thing is why I'm doing a little bit every day on Khan Academy, even the really basic stuff. Life is so complicated with smart phones and clouds and all these things that have just gone beyond my level of understanding. I figure if I go through all the lessons on Khan Academy that I'll be behind on a few less things. Right now I'm working on the Declaration of Independence and third grade math. You forget so much over the years, even for someone like me who reads a lot and watches a lot of PBS and C-Span.

I'm not interested in Obama's speech tonight. I think he had no business as President. I think he has no clue what he's doing and I think he's not the least bit interested in doing the right thing for this country. He's a narcissist - and trust me, I know a narcissist when I see one, having been briefly married to one. I'm just hoping his little dog and pony show doesn't interrupt Big Brother and I pray that God is watching over this country because our golfer-in-chief sure isn't.

Anyways. I'm just enjoying a very quite evening. Austin and his girlfriend spent a couple of days here and I love 'em but when my pain level is up, I can only tolerate so much personal interaction. Girlfriend prefers to hang out with me in my living room while Austin watches tv/plays x-box. I'm glad she enjoys my company but when I'm hurting it takes all of my energy to just deal with the pain and the last thing I want to do is be congenial. No Miss Congeniality award for me.

Speaking of which... my favorite blog writer, Grace at has a cousin who is in the Miss America pageant this weekend. She's Miss Idaho, the one who got some notoriety for being diabetic and competing with an insulin pump. So I'm like... two degrees of separation from someone in the Miss America pageant which makes me infinitely more interested in it.

And... that's about it. Hope your week is going well. Love and hugs, y'all!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Another Week In Review

This week went by really fast which is weird, considering I did basically the same things this week that I do every week - cross-stitch, Big Brother watching/reading and my AM/PM web surfing/Khan Academy. Plus love a few kitties and doggies. And eat.

This is what our freezer looked like the other night:

I think we have a Luigi's Italian Ice and Ice Cream addiction. That freezer does not exactly scream, "healthy diet" but it does make me happy. You can't tell but there are some frozen chocolate covered bananas in there (semi healthy) and my Luigi's cups are only 100 calories each. The ice cream, on the other hand... who knows... but I hardly ever eat ice cream because I don't want to have to scoop it out. True story. My effort to avoid all efforts is endless.

This week has been a roller coaster painwise - much, much back pain one day and breathtaking evil gut pain one day and a bearable day here and there but I have had sinus headaches every single day for the past week. Every. single. day. The good news is that the sinus junk is moving from my head to my chest. The bad news is that it's settling in my chest. I've been listening to my whistling wheezes all afternoon. A few times I thought the cat was crying but no, it was me breathing. I don't really feel short of breath, I just feel stuff moving around.

I have completed three whole cross-stitch projects in the past week. THREE! I can't show you because they are all three Christmas gifts (which, hey, family members and friends, I'm doing cross-stitched stuff for Christmas, sorry if that ruins the surprise but if you have any special requests, let me know!) My mom has been so crafty for so long that she had a stockpile of embroidery stuff that I could upcycle by printing patterns off of the interwebs and using the extra fabric and thread she had laying around the house. It gives me something to do that makes me feel productive and allows me to give a little bit of myself to the people I love and... it fits my budget. Mom bought me a pack of 105 colors of thread for like, ten bucks and I've just been rockin' and rollin'! You would not believe how many patterns are available for free on the internet!

In other news.... I'm bummed about the death of Joan Rivers. My first memory of her was the book she wrote about her pregnancy with Melissa which I read when I was... probably eight or nine years old. I was the kid who could read really early who read a lot of stuff that was too mature for my age. I read Helter Skelter when I was in grade school. I remember reading Jaws in 3rd grade and having to make a book cover to cover up the naked woman swimming on the cover while reading it in class. I also read the Amityville Horror book when I was super young. It's a wonder I wasn't completely warped, given the reading material at my disposal. On the other hand, I also read the Encyclopedia (the whole thing) and a lot of classics and history books and stuff. I read anything and everything. But back to Joan... it makes me sad to think that *maybe* if her surgery had been done in a hospital setting instead of a surgical center, she would probably have been fine. Maybe. I mean, just based on what we know now. It feels like it shouldn't have happened this way.

I'm also really concerned about this whole ISIS terrorist group... more concerned that we have a leader who is more concerned with political correctness than he is with keeping our nation safe. He's honestly, in my opinion, the worst president ever. I watch a lot of news and I really worry about the future. Anyways.

I was looking at this picture of my son's girlfriend holding a cat and it got Little Kitty's attention and he was all offended at the cat in my computer. I don't know if you can tell... but he's really bothered. He's been really clingy the past few days, bless his heart.

My parents went to the Y this morning and came back with a Pumpkin Spice Latte for me so... if you're keeping score that's two PSL's for me so far this year!

Anyways... the cat is crowding me and making it hard to type. Just wanted to check in and share the love. Love. Shared. And hugs. Happy Weekend!