My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

HELLO 2015!!!!!

There is a little Oscar dog sleeping in my lap... and an angry/jealous Little Trouble Kitty sleeping on top of my current cross-stitch project.
My parents are in Atlanta taking my brother and his fiance to the airport. Austin is upstairs watching the old lady dogs. The Christmas decorations and wrapping is boxed up until next year, except for the lights which I may not take down. Ever.
I left the little pink tree on top of my tv and redecorated it as a baby tree - pink tree, blue ribbon, little hearts and the two countdown chains meeting at the top.

We are ready to greet 2015 with open arms and big sloppy kisses. 2014 was not a BAD year, per se, although my pain increased and my mobility decreased, I have been surrounded by so much love and support that it's impossible to complain about my current state of affairs. The thing that nobody tells you about trials is that you don't have to suffer through them. You always have the opportunity to laugh through them.

I have been keeping a few secrets which, for me is like holding my breath. One of them is out of the bag now so I can blog freely about it. My brother Bryan (the one who lives in NY) had been with a girl for about a decade. She and I had many laughs together but she wasn't crazy about our family, as a whole. She and I emailed back and forth frequently, if not daily then certainly weekly. When I hurt my back she stopped talking to me. Just wrote me off and that was that.  Not everybody *gets* me and I'm ok with that. Ultimately, if my brother is happy, I am happy for him. He works very hard and deserves to have peace and happiness and harmony in his life. But...

Remember when I was in Florida and my life got completely derailed and we called my journey from that nightmare to this lovely place, "from Hell to Helen"?  (because I now live right near the town of Helen, Georgia). I don't know that Bryan would classify his journey *quite* the same way but he did go from that previous situation - whatever it's nature - to a lovely, wonderful lady named Helen. From fill in the blank to Helen.

Helen came with Bryan to spend Christmas with our family. Her first trip to Georgia! They had been planning a "party" for next June but weren't going to formalize things until she had the opportunity to meet his family and decide whether or not she wanted to join our merry little band. I was under strict orders not to discuss their romance or potential "party" on the blog and... honestly, it was not easy. I think I speak for the whole family when I say that we were quickly smitten by her and her mad baking skillz. To see her and Bryan together was like going from watching life in black and white to seeing it in color. I haven't seen him that happy since... well, since ever. They were very obviously meant to be together. He seemed more at ease than I've ever seen him. She carries herself with the kind of grace and confidence that only comes from being loved and in love. She also loves the color pink and is left-handed so.... #slamdunk in my book!

On Monday night we had gone out to eat to celebrate Jamie's birthday. Sitting in a restaurant is painful - plus over an hour of driving to get back and forth to the restaurant. It was much fun and I wouldn't have missed it for the world but I was definitely in a lot of pain yesterday as a result. I was curled up in my nest when Bryan and Helen came walking up from the dock where he had just PROPOSED!
I got to be the first person they told! I knew my strategic position in the Whine Cellar would come in handy at some point! The "party" scheduled for June can officially be called a wedding and I can officially say that I am getting a new sister! AND we get to travel to Connecticut and (I think... the itinerary is still being developed) New York as a family, including my favorite little redheads! They are working out the details to accommodate my issues - seating, etc - and although I'm sure it will be painful at times, I am so excited to be able to go!

It will be exciting to follow along with the planning. They have hired a wedding planner and will have a big wedding with all the trappings including a wedding announcement in the NY Times. I know that sounds random but I love reading the wedding announcements in the Times. You can access the Times online ten times a month without a subscription and I use all ten of mine every month reading the wedding announcements. SO of course I asked if they were going to do that and... it's a family tradition for her family so yes! She already has her dress and they've picked a band. It's close enough for Ryan and Sara to come although Austin and Tasha will be just a few weeks past having Cosette and Cody and Marquee will be too close to having Peanut for them to come. I'm hoping to meet up with a few blog readers if time permits and I would love to be able to take my nieces to the theatre!

me, today, no filters, no makeup
I've been blogging less in the past year or so but have a feeling with all the happy occasions that we have to look forward to in 2015 that you will be hearing more from me! Grandbaby in May, wedding in June, grandbaby in July. And also, for good or bad, better or worse, my disability case will be going before a judge this year and I know I'll have lots to say about that.

So here's to putting 2014 to bed and greeting 2015, as I said, with a bear hug and sloppy wet kisses!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Jamie's Tenth Birthday!!

I have eaten in a restaurant three times in 2014 - my birthday, when Uncle John and Aunt Gerri were visiting and tonight, for Jamie's birthday. Sitting hurts. The hurt lingers for days after the event. I have to really be choosy about when I want to sit. Milestone birthday of mini-me... good reason to sit.

I'm going to be posting more pictures on the blog, I think. It helps me keep those who are blog readers only in the loop and will give me blog fodder when I'm not feeling very articulate. And there's another reason. I have instagram but don't have a smart phone. You have to add pictures to instagram with a tablet or smartphone. Laptop = no good. I can't figure out how to transfer photos from my camera to the tablet other than clicking on them on the good old blog and saving them to the tablet. It's a clunky process and I'm sure there's someone out there smarter than me that could figure out a better way. And... I mean... I could upgrade to a smart phone but I use my phone so rarely that I can't justify that expense. So... yay! Pictures!

First... a painting my dad did for me for Christmas. It's the view looking out my sliding glass door. I think it's perfectly lovely and although I don't know much about art appreciation, I find this picture to be warm and peaceful. Do you see that in it? Just curious.

We went out for hibachi for Jamie's birthday and also as a postscript to the holidays. Here's my Jamie girl opening my gift to her. Significant details: the paper was the same paper we used to wrap the wedding present to "the other Amanda Gant" - my cousin Mandie. The ribbon around the gift was actually tape. Really cool sparkly tape. The bow was leftover from Christmas.
 And it is....
 CRACK! Or... a box of cherry poptarts. When the girls hang out here after school, inevitably Jamie will whisper to me, "do you have any poptarts?" and I'll say, "would your mama let you have poptarts today?" And usually we agree that her mom would be ok with it. The deal is that poptarts are more of a once a week splurge rather than an every day thing. I mostly stick to the mommy/daddy rules but ... I mean, I'm the aunt who always has glitter and gum and poptarts. It's our thing.
I got artsy w/this - Mawmaw and Bethy

Better one of Sarabeth and Mawmaw

 The nice hibachi chef. He was entertaining. The food was good. I brought a TON of leftovers home. Our waitress was also celebrating a birthday today - her 27th.
 Mesmerized by the fire.
Artsy edit of a photo of Pop, my brother Bryan and his lovely lady. We have enjoyed having them here so much and are looking forward to many happy occasions in the future with Helen. She fits in well. And she makes my brother very happy which makes US all happy.

 Special pineapple birthday boat.

 Pineapple boat came with lots of little umbrellas and doodads.
More fire!

More gifts! 

 It's TWILIGHT SPARKLE! (My Little Pony is big with this young lady!)
 Dad enjoying the gifts....

I miss a lot of special occasions because of pain but I'm glad this is one I was able to be a part of. My nieces are my touchstone. They make me feel needed. And loved. And special. I treasure the relationship we have. We came back to the house for a little My Little Pony/ Equestria Girl watching, wringing every drop out of merry-making that we possibly could!

2015 is going to include a lot of special - and sometimes challenging - moments. I pray that I will have the strength to be all that I should be for the people in my life.

And now... I'm tired. Love and hugs, y'all!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas 2014

Happy Day After Christmas!

I finished all the stocking tags... my crazy last-minute project.. and they were fabulous. Mom says we're making all new stockings next year. We're starting on it in April.

I finished all my sewing projects except the ones to be shipped. And they will be shipped, eventually. I took a few days off from sewing to interact with three-dimensional people and make merry. I pulled the thread back out this morning and put my needles in the pin cushion that Grandbaby Mama #1 got me. I'm going to blog a bit and then decide on my next project. I know that I have some baby projects to work on and a little something for my Aunt Ginger. All my efforts for Christmas were graciously accepted (expect maybe the sign that says, "this too shall pass" that I made for my dad's bathroom).
The pillows I made for my nieces included some verses. I did ALL of Psalm 23 for Jamie's because she said that was her favorite verse. Sarabeth said, "hey... that was MY favorite verse" I said, "I'm telling God you stole my verse!" Gant Girls, being Gants can jump right in such humor.

And while I'm talking about how funny we Gant Girls are... Jamie came to me and said, "HEY... in  your blog you said I was a chubby baby!". Seems that my not-quite-ten year old mini-me Googled her name and mine and found my blog. To put it in perspective... my first ever blog entry was done on the day she was born... her whole life has been blogged about, at least the parts that involved me. I told her she was too smart for her own good. Note to self: must be careful about what I blog! But the chubby baby comment was true. I can't take it back.

Forgive me for skipping around chronologically... but my mind is swirling with new memories trying to find order. My brother Bryan and his new love arrived on the 22nd. The fact that he has a new love was not permitted on the blog until she had come down and met us so that I didn't scare her off with my over-sharing. I will just say that I have never seen him as happy or with someone who fit him so well and we all are quite smitten by her and hope she will be around for a long, long time forever.

On the 23rd everyone scurried around finishing preparations for our family Christmas gathering on the 24th. Pop, Bryan, his sweetheart, me and my two favorite redheads went to Babyland General. Those of you who have been around the blog for long know that the "headquarters" of the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls originated here in our humble little county. There is a large "hospital" where babies can be adopted - for a steep price - or bought in the gift shop for much less. I've taken my nieces there many, many times and we always dream of being able to adopt one of the "real" babies that are born in the cabbage patch. Just this last Summer the girls asked me how we get one of the special dolls. I answered, "you get Uncle Bryan to come with you". And so we went with Uncle Bryan, not expecting anything more than picking out a baby in the gift shop. Instead, he told the girls they could have a "real baby" and we got to go through the whole process of a "planned pregnancy" and a "birth of twins" in the cabbage patch. They named their dolls "Elizabeth James" and "Cora Angela". It was as much a gift to me as the girls, just being able to share such a fun memory with them!

When we got back home Cody and Marquee had arrived. She is ten weeks pregnant today and y'all... she is so sick! It breaks my heart! She was a trooper and hung in there with us with frequent interruptions. I didn't understand until talking to her in person that there had been a tear in the gestational sack that the doctor thinks will heal up - but still making things stressful for the new mommy and daddy.

Tasha is now 21 weeks and she is feeling well except for a lot of back pain and exhaustion. She's not sleeping well. She also came over and spent the night on the 23rd so we had a full - and very happy - house. 

I have so much love and respect for these girls who are carrying my grandbabies. I still remember the stress and strain and exhaustion... and I hate to tell them that it lasts far past the birth...

We did our traditional Christmas Eve brunch/gift exchange. Doing it during the day on the 24th allows for those who have other family obligations to be able to carry those out without interruption. So far it's working pretty well. We had a great spread including sausage balls, ham, a deli tray, a ton of goodies that my brother had shipped in from Zabar's in NYC, pound cake, cookies... just tons of good stuff.

We opened lots and lots of gifts. And then... we all headed for the Whine Cellar so that I could open two special surprises: a mini-fridge and a microwave! I have my own mini-kitchen in the Whine Cellar! You just can't imagine how much this will help me... climbing stairs are the worst thing for my back. Being able to do most of my meals down here is just HUGE.
I'm so grateful for all the love from my family. I'm glad that Tasha is "one of us" now and we look forward to many happy times ahead. I'm happy that my brother has a life filled with love and excitement for the future. I'm grateful for the many memories we made this year and for the memories still to come. I'm especially grateful for the ones who have joined our family this year and the ones who will be with us next year. God is good.

I'm not even finished yet! My mom has wanted a paddle boat for the lake ever since we first saw this property and this Christmas she got one!

It's a four-seater and even has a cooler in it for long days fishing on the lake!

On Christmas Day we exchanged gifts with Bryan and his girl - a much smaller, quieter gathering. I got a scrumptious dark purple fleece jacket from LL Bean. I wore it out this morning when the temps were hovering around freezing and it was toasty warm. I hate wearing coats so this is a perfect gift for me. I got lots of tea and with my new microwave I can reheat my cuppa tea as often as I need. I'm totally set for the cold months ahead.

I spent a lot of time on Christmas Day just resting and recovering from the previous busy days. Today I'm feeling better but still moving slow. I always move slow. I did make a trip to the grocery store this morning to get things to fill my little fridge. I picked up lots of frozen / shelf stable stuff and hummus, yogurt, milk, butter.

So that was Christmas. We're still basking in the afterglow and enjoying the peace. I'll end this with a few extra pictures from this week (for those who don't follow me on Facebook). Love and hugs, y'all!

Me and my sweet Jamie - who is not chubby at all!
My granddoggie, Sammy.
Are we having a Mickey or a Minnie?
 Austin got coal in his stocking.
 Jamie's body, Sarabeth's legs... it was pretty funny!
 Tasha's gifts from me and Austin. It says, "Let her sleep for when she wakes, she will move mountains." Austin cut out the shape, I did the lettering and Pop painted the mountains. Pop also picked out some sweet gifts for Cosette.
 Sarabeth holding her mommy
I didn't bother with much glam on Christmas but I did manage a little makeup. Just a little.
 Part of the sampler I made for my brother's new lady. I knew she liked pink and collected cookbooks. It ended up being one of my favorite things I made this year and she loved it!
Austin's gift from his dad and stepmom made by my Jland friend, Nelishia. There is a tiny one with a pink bow for Cosette.
 Completing the "adoption" at Babyland General.
That's all for now, y'all!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas By The Numbers

Sorry folks... I know it's been 8 days since we last visited. I've been running my own little sweatshop in the Whine Cellar finishing my gifts.

There are 5 days before the fam celebrates Christmas. Well, technically there are six/seven depending on which activity we're talking about but as far as I'm concerned, there are five "work days" before Christmas.

I have nine pillows sewn and stuffed ready for me to sew the last few stitches.

I have two pillows that need a little somethin' somethin' before they're ready to sew and stuff.

I have five things to frame.

I have three batches of sausage balls to make.

I have one package to mail (BooBoo and Sara, just know... it's gonna be late but I'll make it up to you!)

I decided at practically the last minute that it would be awesome to have embroidered name tags on our stockings this year. When the first one took me an entire day to sew, I got a little nervous but ... as my friend Gina always reminds me, I'm a Taurus which means I'm stubborn. There are 8 done so far, 5 more to go to have tags with the names of those who will be with us for Christmas. I want to do a few more for those who will be with us in our hearts but not geographically. After Christmas I want to do those.

I made the front look good and my mom made the back look good. Left-handed people (like me) need a hand every now and then.

I had two nephews and two nieces here today. Cory and Matthew came down with their dad, my brother Michael and spent the night last night. Sarabeth and Jamie were here after school.

Grandbaby #1 is at 20 weeks and 2 days gestation - Cosette Camille

Grandbaby #2 is at 8 weeks, 6 days gestation - Baby Peanut Espericueta Sauls

Our next updates on the babies are scheduled for January 12 for Peanut and January 15th for Cosette. They were originally scheduled for the same day - 100 miles apart - but we were able to change Cosette's appointment so that I can be there for both.

That reminds me of a little story... when I was pregnant with my second child I was excited at the prospect of having two little ones at two different stages of life. Then Cody was born... we came home from the hospital and their dad had to run out to pick up a few necessities and both boys were crying... at the same time. The reality began to dawn that for the rest of my life I would have two kids who needed me - sometimes at the SAME TIME!

When we realized the appointments were for the same day I had a flashback to that moment. I mean, we're basically having twin cousins! The good news is that they each come with their own set of parents and another two sets of grandparents and it's not all on me. Thank the good Lord. The grandest thing about them is that, as my dad always says, I can give them BACK.

I started sewing a little after 8 this morning and stopped at a little after 5. My dad brought me down breakfast - eggs, grits, bacon, biscuit... and my mom brought me down dinner - beef stew. My hands have been busy but it's felt good to feel productive.

And it just keeps getting better.

Happy Friday Eve, Merry Christmas, love and hugs, y'all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

This Week

Although I've been a lousy conversationalist these past few months, I try to make sure to visit here at least once a week. So... hey! What's up? 

Yesterday my nieces spent the afternoon with me watching movies and making these really cool/fun/easy to assemble ornaments that Mawmaw bought them. There is a fine new dusting of glitter in the Whine Cellar. We're fancy.

Today Grandbaby Mama #1 came and hung out and helped me with a cross stitch project. Girlfriend is soooo slow but it was good to have another hand on the plow. 

I'm close to being finished sewing - there are four projects that each have about an hour or two worth of stitching to go. I'm cross stitching names for all of the stockings and got 2 1/2 names - out of thirteen - done today. I wish I had two more months left to sew instead of two weeks. We celebrate on December 24th. 

Tomorrow me, my mom and Grandbaby Mama #1 are making a Walmart run for pillow stuffing and frames for my finished projects. That's the next level of construction and then my little efforts will be ready to be wrapped and placed under the tree. One of the four we have here. 

Grandbaby Mama #2 has Princess Kate level morning sickness. She has been really, really sick and has already had an Urgent Care visit and an ER visit to replenish fluids. The baby is fine. She is notsomuch. They put her on a new nausea med and I think that's helping some. She's 7 weeks, 5 days pregnant. 

Grandbaby Mama #1 is 19 weeks, 1 day pregnant and she is doing really well except for some sciatica and some wardrobe problems. She felt a burst of cold air on her lower belly the other day and realized her shirts are having to cover a little bit more real estate these days. 

I've had a discouraging pain level since Thanksgiving. I was hurting for the first few days after Thanksgiving and attributed it to "sitting up" for a few hours then. I didn't cook, clean or participate in any way on Thanksgiving except for sitting in a normal dining room chair while we ate and sitting up on the couch afterwards. 

Do you watch The Little Couple? He's having problems due to herniated discs in his back, which is also part of my problem. The way his doctor explained things made the most sense of every explanation I've gotten in the past (almost) four years since my pain started. I can't quote him exactly but basically you have discs that get out of kilter and start pressing against your spinal cord. Over time, with repeated contact between disc and spinal cord, the damage increases. This is why certain positions create more pressure/discomfort than others. This is why sitting at the table  for one measly lunch puts me in excruciating pain for several days afterwards. This is why having two little ole bulging discs four years ago has made me almost home bound now. It's cumulative damage. 

So back up two paragraphs - I am having longer and longer episodes of pain in my back. The cumulative pain is not just in my spine - but also in my spirit. There are so few things I can do without repercussions. I thank God that He had already prepared a way for me for this time in my life. So much makes sense now, why relationships didn't work out, why I wasn't meant to be with this guy or that guy, why I went from social butterfly to homebody. This would be so, so much worse if I wasn't content to be at home or felt like I was a dead weight in a relationship. 

Anyways. There are still good days to be had and I take none of them for granted. I'm just painfully aware of the progression of this issue and beg God daily that my disability claim will be approved because I just can't imagine trying to consistently work. 

Hope you're all well and enjoying all the fun things that come with this season of the year... and I hope those of you who are dealing with grief and hurt and illness and a less than Norman Rockwell Christmas will find joy and comfort and peace. 

Pictures next time, I promise. 

Love and hugs, y'all! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

This Week So Far

 Just a few photos from this week thus far...

Monday I picked up Tasha and we made a run to Ingles to get a few things and then came home and decked the halls. Sorta. I've still got a lot of ornaments to hang but I ran out of steam.
 Tuesday my nieces came over and we made name tags for the TWO countdown chains I have for grandbabies.

Glitter was involved.

 Heavily involved.

Cosette - Grandbaby #1, is due 5/5/15
We're still leaning toward Camille as her middle name because Cosette Camille translates to "perfect little thing".

Grandbaby #2 is due 7/24/15
If she is a she her name will be Penelope Zoey Espericueta-Sauls

If he is a he his name will be Elijah Joel Espericueta-Sauls. Joel - like noel, not like Billy Joel. It's his maternal grandfather's name. The last name will be both Marquee and Cody's last names. They have been married since 2010 but Marquee kept her name.

Cosette's layette is feminine safari stuff - like pink giraffes and elephants and stuff. Super cute.
Elijah/Penelope's layette is Disney stuff. His first visit to Disney will be next October and we're hoping the whole family will be able to go along. I haven't been since I was 12! Cody and Marquee go at least once a year.
 Also this week... big fluffy Little Trouble Kitty takes over my lap and pushes the laptop to the side. He Who Must Be Cuddled gets rather jealous when I spend my time cross-stitching instead of paying attention to him. He's a big ole love sponge.

  My crazy girls! When they're here on Wednesday it's for a very short time because then Pop takes them to the library and to church for dinner and stuff.... but there's always time to squeeze in a bowl of extreme moosetracks ice cream. Today they watched about ten minutes of Space Jam (remember that one?). I wasn't sure they would have heard of it but they were full on going synchronized ice cream eating while singing along to the movie.

Including raising hands in the air and all that stuff. They are too, TOO cute together! I mean, yeah, there's a little "scoot over sister" and "let me hold the remote" and all that going on occasionally but they are just everything that I thought sisters should be. In a way I am sad that I missed out on having a sister... or being mom to girls... but honestly, I just feel like I'm living a bonus life right now having these two sisters who out of this whole big house full of potential red-head spoilers could be anywhere and yet they prefer to curl up in my Whine Cellar on my cozy bed with my remote control! I am blessed beyond measure.

The thought of having all this sweetness in my life and adding to it two new little babies just makes my heart overflow! 

I have this elephant in the room in the form of my disability case, the anxiety of waiting for a decision and feeling so very, very afraid that I'll be declined. ... trying to figure out how I ever would/could possibly be in a position of earning money again. It's heavy on my heart and it really causes me a lot of tears and anxiety. What will I do if I'm declined? How would I work? I'm still in pain from the sitting I did at Thanksgiving. I'm taking my dad to the eye doctor on Friday so I have to be careful about I do tomorrow. Jamie and Sarabeth have a play at church Sunday that I just about have to go to or be kicked out of the family which means I'm got to figure out a way to sit because this week even my reclined position isn't working well. I've got hip pain that words cannot describe. I don't want to miss a thing. God saw fit to put me here in this place where I get just as much sweet, little girl time as I can stand and I want to be there for them. It's hard to explain pain to young, healthy people. I'm already having anxiety about going on Sunday. I even asked if I could go to watch their final rehearsal... I'd be able to hit my reclined position. But I don't know if that's allowed. If it is... bonus for them... I can give them notes and get good pictures and maybe, if I'm not dealing with pain on Sunday I will have already seen the show. 

I don't know. I just mention it because I want to be transparent. Inevitably blog readers are interested in what you're going through because they know some one or ARE some one who is battling the same things. It's hard for me to appear in public, even in a church where the people I love in the world are loved because I have to either medicate the pain or mask the pain and both keep me distracted and distant and emotional and embarrassed. 

Anyways... just felt like sharing these few things! Hope your week is going well!
Love and hugs, y'all~!