My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth....


 This is the look I've been sporting since the Friday before Thanksgiving. I call it my Hillbilly Chic style. Paired with a baggy t-shirt advertising beer and some overalls - or perhaps just an old bath robe... it's the look every woman in Appalachia is wearing to special events this Holiday season.

As much as I enjoyed learning to talk without moving my top lip so as not to reveal my imperfections... it's really nice to not have to be so self-conscious because am I an animated person. I've had to force myself to be very restrained lately and I've hated it! It didn't hurt but it was rough up against my lips.

The really great news is that by changing to this dentist I am saving over $7000 - seven THOUSAND dollars off the entire treatment plan. Now I know that my absurd reluctance / anxiety to return to the original dentist was God guiding me to a much more affordable situation. I practically skipped out of his office today. Both dentists were genuinely nice guys. Both offices are lovely and convenient to our house. But that huge price difference is something I can't ignore. I am now very excited about finishing up the rest of my dental work in the coming year. I'll be offering up lots of toothy smiles on all my social media next year!

Here's the after:

 In this picture I still had a bit of swelling from the numbing meds so I took another one to share with you. Please forgive my vanity but I am just so RELIEVED to have this tooth fixed!

So... enough about me... I wanted to share a few pictures from my niece Jamie's Beauty and the Beast - afterwards because, you know, flash photography in the show and all that. I snagged these off Facebook because I'm sneaky like that.

Jorjanne, Jamie and Sarabeth
These three girls are among the finest, most intelligent, most talented and more importantly - have the biggest heart for the Lord in our little neck of the woods. They are going to change lives, mark my words! While their physical beauty is impressive... the beauty of their spirits is even more attractive and charming. I'm so proud I can claim even a tiny role in their lives!

Sarabeth, Haili and Jamie.
Haili played Belle (if the yellow dress didn't give it away) and she is also a woman after God's heart. I've been blessed to watch her grow in wisdom and grace and am so inspired by her! What a great role model for my nieces!

Last photo... these folks are my people... my big brother, the wife he married 22 years ago this Friday... and the beautiful family they have created. Remember, there was not another girl born into our family from the time I was born until Sarabeth was born 34 years later. I treasure these ladies, both the young ones for giving me the opportunity to have little girls to love on and the older one for being the sister I always wanted. And my brother is pretty alright himself. Definitely in my top two favorite brothers of all time! *wink*

Also, in case you missed it yesterday... Austin got a job yesterday! He starts Orientation and Training this weekend. He will be working for a pizza chain - Marcos Pizza - that is the first of that brand that we've had up here. He will be working inside the store but they are hopeful that he will be licensed soon and able to also deliver. Praying for much success for him in this new job and that things will work out exactly in God's perfect timing as far as driving... etc.

It's been a great week so far! Happy Wednesday! Love and hugs, y'all!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Behind the Scenes of Oliver and Cosette's Visit To Their Great-Great-Grandma

I wanted to share a few photos with you... some of these - almost all of them, actually - have been on my Facebook but I thought it would be fun to share the "behind the scenes" of some of them.

First off... this sassy miss... performing all over the place. This photo is when she was in a Christmas program at church... then she sang with the adult choir at the lighting of the big tree in Helen... then she performed in a community production of Beauty and the Beast... which I ended up not being able to see. Due to other commitments there were really only two performances that would have worked for me. Both days were higher than average pain levels and I've long since learned that if I am in pain that I might as well not be there because I am in such a fog of pain that nothing, no matter how wonderful, can break through.

I fell in the cat room last week while holding Cosy. I landed on a really rough homemade cat tree with lots of sharp angles, flat on my back while suspending Cosy in mid-air so that she didn't make contact with anything. She was fine. I screwed up a whole new part of my spine so that I'm having a painful numbness in my arms... all the way to my finger tips. I pushed through the pain to be able to take the babies to see my grandma on Saturday but that was the straw that broke this camel's back. By Sunday, my last chance to see Beauty and the Beast, I was miserable. Plus... and this is the bigger reason... my dad really wanted to see the show with my mom. He had already seen it once but really wanted to see it again so he could share the experience with my mom. Somebody needed to stay with the dog so I volunteered and I'm so glad they got to go together. I know every moment together is precious to them and I want them to have the opportunity to share as much life together as they can.

I am so proud of Jamie. At 11 years old (12 this month!) she is fearless. She follows her dreams. She loves performing and she's good at it. It was a huge commitment to perform in Beauty and the Beast but she did everything she needed to do to make it work (including suffering through Pop's lame jokes while he drove her from her school in Habersham County to the school in White County where they held rehearsal... ha!)  Sarabeth made the school basketball team this year after trying twice before and not making it. I remember the disappointment and frustration when I didn't make the cheerleading team at school for my 8th grade year but I wanted it so bad that I swallowed my pride and tried again for 9th grade and made it. I think when you have to work a little harder for something, it makes it more precious to you when it happens. Despite being really sick around Thanksgiving, she pushed through and played as soon as the doctor cleared her, even when I'm sure she still didn't feel great. . I love having a beautiful tiny miss in our lives now but these two were my first baby girls and I am LOVING watching them grow into two amazing young women. I am so blessed to share their lives! (Actually... my cousin Christie who was born the day before my 13th birthday was probably my first baby girl but you get the point).

I shared a lot of photos on Facebook from our visit to see my grandmother last Saturday but these are a few that have a back story that makes them more precious to me...

in this one Oliver is looking at some toys that Grandma has on her window sill. What you don't know is that Austin had fussed at Cosy earlier about touching the toys and Cosy is a RULE FOLLOWER! If her daddy says no... she minds him. She's got a bit of OCD going on and she really takes "no-no's" to heart. Austin is pointing at her because of the way she is holding her hands close to her and studying what Oliver is doing.

Then here... when Oliver's mommy got on to him and made him move away from the window... Cosy is still holding her hands close to her because she is NOT TOUCHING the toys. She's looking at her dad to see what he is going to say to Oliver since he touched the toys.

We joke that throughout their lives Cosy is going to be the voice of reason for Oliver... "you shouldn't do that..." "I don't think that's a good idea... " You can already see it starting with them!

Oliver has learned his body parts. He is checking out Cosy's hand...

and her hair....

she is looking at me. She's not irritated with him. She is pretty passive and tolerant and generally will let him do whatever as long as it doesn't involve touching a toy that she's particularly possessive of - mainly anything from Frozen.

While we were at lunch Oliver was feeding her broccoli. He calls her "baby" and she calls him "Ol".

This picture ... I love so much that I had it blown up to a large sized black and white.

She's not angry... angry with Cosy involves whining, tears, drama, sometimes laying on the floor face down in protest... she lets you know when she is unhappy with a situation. So even though she looks like, "make it stop"... she really wasn't bothered. She was just letting Ol be Ol.

And Oliver is looking at his mom to see if he is going to get in trouble. He's a curious little fella. They both are just amazed that there is another person around who is their size. I can't wait to add my brother's baby - Finn, who is going to be right around 10 months old while they're here - to the mix. Finn is bigger than my babies and just beginning to be mobile. Finn LOVES bigger kids. I think we have lots of adorable moments ahead this Christmas! Finn doesn't have a social media presence so I'm going to have to be careful about angles but I will share whatever pictures I can of the three musketeers.

I think these shots were before the all the other photos I've shared in this post. You can see that she is voluntarily in his space. It almost looks like she is holding his arm to keep him from touching the toys on the windowsill but I'm not entirely sure that was the case. But you can definitely tell that she doesn't mind him being near here, even if she looks a bit "over it" in the picture of his finger in her ear.

See her hands? She is in full on "Keep my hands to myself" mode. She isn't one hundred percent compliant in every little thing... and her dad isn't necessarily strict with her but there are a few things he doesn't allow. #1 rule is nothing goes in the mouth but food and the pacifier. That rule is so deeply ingrained in her little spirit that I can whisper to her, "what does daddy say" if she starts to put something in her mouth and she stops.

We are working on teaching her to share. The other day she got possessive with something and Austin took it away from her for a few minutes. When he gave it back she played a few minutes and then voluntarily gave it back to her dad without any prompting from him. We praised her and told her that was "good sharing". She's an only child and she's not around other kids much, other than in the church nursery and there aren't many kids there. She knows the word "mine" quite well!

This was also pretty cute. Austin changed Cosy out of her pretty party dress because it has a lot of crinoline and is not conducive to comfy napping in a car seat. We had an hour and a half drive back home so we were hoping that she would get some good napping time in. While she's getting changed on Grandma's bed Oliver is exploring the room. Nosy Cosy in the background is fascinated with what he's doing.

I have no idea why she's pointing to him. I probably said something like "where's Oliver" or... I don't know. I was in a good deal of pain as we had the long drive down and had gone to lunch which - I've been eating out a lot more than I did last year but it still stinking hurts every single time. I still end up taking most of my food home and having it later when I can be in my comfy nest. The pain from sitting makes me sick to my stomach and sometimes a little dizzy. We couldn't spend as much time as we would have all liked with Grandma because Pop was in a show that night at church and Cody and Marquee had other commitments too. But we had been trying ever since Oliver was born to get both babies together with Grandma and he's 16 months... so, seriously, I was just glad we were finally able to make it happen, even if it was a short visit. Also... my grandma is awesome but having two toddlers in her space has to be stressful!

This is Oliver pointing to Cosy which is why I think I must have asked something goofy like, "where is Cosy". Can't remember. Pain fog and all that.
I love this picture because... you know how usually if there are five generations living the oldest person is usually in a hospital bed or a wheelchair or looking like they're knocking on death's door. Not my grandma. She's standing there helping to restrain our spunky little Oliver! (Marquee was there just in case grandma needed a hand). Fun fact - Oliver has TWO great-great-grandmothers living! One on each side of the family!

This photo is precious to me for many reasons. I love that we ended up with Austin and Cosy matching and Cody and Oliver matching. I wanted the babies to both be in Christmas-y colors but the dad's matching with their babies was all them! Also... I have some good looking sons, don't I?

I posted two other pictures on Facebook of this little interaction between Cosette and her great-great-grandma... but this was also sweet because Cosy was genuinely interested in what Grandma was doing. Cosy loves to sit and look at pictures in photo albums. I prepared her for going to see "Our Leta" by showing her pictures of grandma. I used "Our Leta" with Cosy instead of "grandma" because Tasha's mom is Grandma to her and Cosy will rarely but sometimes want to see Mama/Grandma/Grandpa if we talk about them. It's only happened a few times but I didn't want to be in Woodstock - an hour and a half from home - and her decide she needed mama. Our practice has always been that if she wants her mama, we get her to her mama. We've done it that way so that Cosy doesn't worry about leaving mama because she knows that she can go back to mama whenever she wants. Cosy is always happy to go with us... and she is always happy to go back home. There are never tears during transition and it is important to me that she never has separation anxiety with any of us. I want her to be excited to be going wherever she is going. For that reason we didn't want to risk a "I want grandma" moment. I explained this all to my grandmother and she was fine with us calling her "Our Leta".

There are so many photos that I DIDN'T get... I didn't take any pictures at lunch - we went to O'Charleys. I just wanted to focus all my attention on visiting with everyone. I didn't take any pictures of Cosy interacting with the folks who live at grandma's Assisted Living place although there were many opportunities! Bring a toddler in a fancy dress into a nursing home and trust me... you will become the center of attention! Cosy is used to it and will smile and charm whomever is paying attention to her. She won't let anyone else hold her (and I'm ok with that!) but she will play up to a crowd. I also missed getting a picture when the babies kissed goodbye - melt my heart! Cosy has been warming up to Uncle Cody verrrrrrrrry slowly and finally - 19 months later - she voluntarily gave him a kiss. Still won't let him hold her... but that was a milestone moment for our family.

One last photo to share for those who aren't following the dozen other social media platforms I use (exaggerating... slightly)... this was Cosette's visit to Santa last Tuesday.

Hope you're all having a great week so far! Stay warm! Love and hugs, y'all!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

My Wish List / Gift Ideas For Women

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth...
Ok, I'm only missing half of one but I HATE the way I look right now. I'm not a vain person. That's a lie. I'm vain enough that I put on eyeliner and mascara to drive my dad to the eye doctor this morning so I am a little vain. There's enough Southern Belle in me to never leave the house without at least a little lip gloss although I will admit to not being AS concerned about wearing makeup as I was in my younger/hoping to find Prince Charming days. I'm an animated person and it's impossible for me to talk and not show that gaping hole in my front tooth. This is one time I am looking forward to going to the dentist because I want my tooth fixed SO BAD! Since this is meant to be an actual wish list / gift guide... so you can make donations for my "two front teeth" with the Associates of Family Dentistry in Cleveland, Georgia. LOL! Just kidding... I've got this. December 14th is my day to get "my two front teeth".

Now for the more reasonable requests/suggestions...

Number one favorite gift for me to receive is CANDLES! Always a win in my Nest. I love fresh, green scents like balsam and fir and evergreen. I am currently burning "mahogany balsam" from Bath and Body Works and it's very nice. I don't like syrupy sweet scents, anything to do with baked goods and things of that sort gives me a headache but I did have a lovely "warm apple pie" candle from Walmart last week that I really enjoyed. Our normal practice is to smell ALL THE CANDLES when we're at Walmart with Cosy. She's very particular about what scent can go in the cart with us and gives a definitive "no" head shake when what she's smelling isn't up to her standards. She's also mastered the concepts of "hot" and "don't touch" but if she's here I don't put the lit candles on my hearth, just in case. Toddlers are like mini drunk people and tend to be highly flammable. I'm also very paranoid of fire so... very careful with it.

Number Two on my wish list is any kind of food gift basket. Shari's Berries are uh-mazing, I got them for Mother's Day once. I love the Edible Arrangements (even though I'm allergic to pineapple) and I'm keen on having one of those Hickory Farm's sausage and cheese combos any time of year but especially at Christmas time. Home made goodies are even better but I'm not connected enough with folks to actually receive those since I don't work. Sometimes a treat or two will make it's way into our Christmas brunch and I am grateful for every bite of fudge or divinity that comes my way. My New York sister-in-law has provided us with a spread from Zabar's in NYC the past few years and ... I have no idea of the cost but that is a fabulous gift for your Christmas Brunch. And for later in the day when you don't feel like making lunch. And for dinner. And for a late night snack. Seriously, there is no wrong time for bagels. I have come to associate Christmas with bagels now. Food for Christmas is the bomb-diggity.

3. Although I am not a big jewelry wearer, I am always happy to receive sterling silver jewelry. I'm not one of those ladies that has the big jewelry wardrobe with matching earrings and statement necklaces for every outfit. I'm the kind of jewelry wearer who keeps my jewelry on all the time and I only wear sterling silver because... that's what I've been able to afford. It fits my low-key/ low-maintenance style. I recently ordered the stackable Lisa Leonard rings with Oliver and Cosette's names on them (shared a few blogs back) and can't wait for them to get here! I wouldn't mind having rings with my kid's names as well. I also have a lovely charm bracelet that my parents got and would love to have additions for that. I know jewelry can be a very personal thing, taste-wise so maybe do a little detective work before making a big investment. For me... I like things that have some sort of sentimental meaning.

4. This might go in the food category but... I love getting tea as a gift. Right now I'm loving the Sleepytime Vanilla tea but I've always loved mint teas, chai tea, chamomile... most things except for things that have ginger in them. I also love tea "accessories" such as interesting types of honey, coffee mugs... and I collect teacups and teapots. The more unique the better!

5. This year I'm redoing my bathroom in a mermaid theme so I've asked for mermaid themed bathroom things. I think going on any special theme or collectable for the women in your life is always an appreciated gift... to a point. My mom has too many angels but I still like to get them for her if I find one that is unique or particularly special. (I'm not getting her any this year though... she asked for something very specific so that is what I got her!)

6. I may be alone in this but I am always happy to get new photo frames. I really need to do some big prints of my favorite phots of my grandkids to add to my very barren walls in my living room. I also really enjoy getting framed photos. Again, the more unique the better. We are such a digital society now that we don't do actual physical photos much but I still love them. I bought a ton of Cosy's Santa pictures and have had so much fun sharing them! I forgot how nice it is to say, "here, stick a picture of this adorable baby on your refrigerator!". I also love refrigerator magnets because my granddaughter loves refrigerator magnets. Having framed photos and photos on the fridge has been a good way to teach Cosy the names of family members she doesn't see as often. She even pointed to a picture of Ryan yesterday and said, "Booboo?" Which... she has seen him maybe half a dozen times in her short life time... so that was exciting (for me).

7. Last on my Christmas wish list... and maybe a risky one for you to purchase for others... is clothes. I think my style is really easy to shop for because I love hoodies, leggings, long sleeved shirts... anything that says Nana, anything with Florida State on it... but I'm at a size that's hard to shop for because if you buy something way too big it's like... "do you think I'm THAT big?" but if you buy something too small it's like... "geez... I've got to admit that I'm even bigger than they think". It's also risky to buy clothes because your style may not be their style. However... the clothing items I've gotten in the past few years have been awesome... a beautiful purple jacket from my sister-in-law... a great plush robe (that I picked out for myself) from my parents... I've gotten lots of fuzzy socks which I love and honestly, I don't think you can have too many of. Basically, like with the jewelry, do a little detective work and think about their style. My niece likes a certain type of t-shirts so, although I would be super hesitant to buy clothing for teenagers normally, I was able to find the brand she likes and pick a color she likes and I think she's going to really enjoy what I got her. For myself... with hoodies... the bigger the better. With leggings... go for the plus size... and for any clothes, have a gift receipt available just in case. Or, if you know of a shop/website that your lady likes to frequent, give her a gift certificate for that particular place.

So there you have my Christmas wish list / gift ideas for this year. It never hurts to just ask, "what do you want?". Some people are great - like my Cody who sent me an Amazon wish list which I followed exactly. Some people are vague so you have to get creative. Most of the people in my life have everything they want and need. I try to give gifts that someone might not buy themselves... or something that I know they use a lot (like me with candles and for instance, I got my grandma stationary because she does a lot of written correspondence - don't spoil the surprise for her, though!). Think about the person's lifestyle and hobbies... buying me fancy clothes would be a waste because I don't go anywhere that I have to dress up... buying me travel accessories would be pointless because I never go anywhere but for my sister-in-law who travels for work all the time, travel things are great! Don't be afraid of the staples - gloves, pajama pants for example but keep in mind the age and expectation of the recipient. For me, though, it's the thought that counts. It's not just a cliche. The fact that someone purchased something with me in mind and went to the trouble to get it to me means a lot. I'm not a material girl and I'm not the least bit greedy but everyone likes to feel important. I had a lot of Christmas as a single mom where there was nothing for me to open on Christmas morning and that's hard. Fortunately I've had a lot more Christmases where I've been blessed beyond measure.

Please keep our family in your prayers as my aunt is laid to rest tomorrow. After a long discussion with my mom today I realized that the best way for me to help her get through this time was to stay home and watch her dog Oscar. She was going to take him with us but that is a lot of time in the car for a little dog...a lot of stress for a dog who doesn't take well to strangers... and it's going to be really cold. I feel like I'm honoring my aunt the most by making sure her sister can be there without distraction tomorrow. She wouldn't leave Oscar that long with anyone else. So thank you in advance for keeping my parents in your prayers as they travel tomorrow and please pray for my cousins who are facing their first Christmas without mom. Love and hugs!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Weekly Update

SO now I'm apparently a weekly blogger... and I'm ok with that. I do daily updates on Snapchat but this has been a bit of a season of introverting for me. I do more "pondering" than communicating lately. Just a season of life I'm going through at the time, feeling all the feels. Here are a few highlights/things I can remember from the past week.

The bronchitis is getting better, I think. I'm on day 9 of antibiotics and still coughing but not as bad. This is what bronchitis does in my body... sets up camp and refuses to leave. This is why I have a COPD diagnosis, although I'm obviously not walking around with a tank of oxygen or experiencing symptoms that many with COPD have.

My doctor suspects that the undetermined autoimmune disorder is a disease called sarcoidosis. There's a lot of info out there about it but the first symptom is granulomas in the lungs. Mine were discovered 7 or 8 years ago. I have an appointment with a rheumatologist in January to follow up on it. I'm not really sure I want to see this doctor because his practice does not like to see patients with a fibromyalgia diagnosis. They were rather rude about it over the phone when I was scheduling my appointment. They aren't even treating me for fibro... I see the pain doctor for that. And it's quite likely that the symptoms that have been attributed to fibro are from sarcoidosis instead. I don't know. Just nuts. A new diagnosis probably won't change my quality of life but it will give my medical team a better idea of complications to watch for.

Austin is still not working. He's discouraged. He's applied so many places, places that have help wanted signs and then they tell him they aren't hiring. I don't know what is happening. I'm afraid that Ingles is saying negative things about him when they are contacted to verify his work history. Please continue to pray for him as he wants to work - needs to work - and it's just so hard to find something in this small town.

We had so many adorable Cosy moments last week! One blessing of Austin being out of work is that he has been able to spend a lot of time with Cosy. She's 19 months old now and just soaking up knowledge like a sponge. Last week she was trying to learn to work the zipper on her Sofia the First purse that she got for her birthday. She got so frustrated that she threw it to the side and crossed her arms and pouted in protest! It was hilarious. I took her into my lap and put my hands on her hands and we zipped and unzipped over and over again until she fell asleep. When she woke up the first thing she did was zip and unzip that same purse and she could do it! She is talking a lot more - although she is still more of a point and whine communicator. We are constantly trying to get her to say things and she is good to attempt. She loves shopping... I mean LOVES it! She loves makeup and jewelry and shoe shopping and clothes shopping and, of course, toy shopping. She loves "Maw" and gets excited when we pull into the driveway because she knows she's going to see her. I'm always exhausted when we take her home but I feel so blessed to have her spend so much time with us.

I got busy on Saturday and wrapped lots of presents. My favorite thing that I've gotten for the babies is Leapfrog's My Pal Violet and My Pal Scout. They spell and say the kids' name along with their favorite food, color and animal and lots of other things. When I went to program Cosette's name it was not in their database. They can spell her name but not say it. Oliver's name, of course, was in there. It's a much better interactive toy when it says their name. I tried Cosy and Cosette and neither one was there. I didn't think to do her middle name - Camille - and that IS in there so I'll reprogram it later. It's wrapped but it's just in a homemade gift bag so it's easy to pull it out and re-wrap it. I would rather use her first name but it's better with her middle name than no name. Maybe if I buy another of this type toy I should get it in France? Oui? Anyways... I found these for $15 at Walmart back in the Summer and when I went online to find one for my nephew Finn on Saturday (because I love them soooo much!) they were $30 on Amazon. Then I decided it might be better to get him something similar but not identical so there is no confusion. We are just entering the "mine" stage with the grandbabies. If you want the My Pal Scout or Violet toy, do a bit of online research. Target has it for $13 this morning and it's $42 at Walmart online. So... huge price difference! It's worth $42, for sure, because it really does a lot but if you can find it cheaper, why pay more? Anyways... end of toy talk for today.

We had a really rainy day yesterday. We had planned to go see my niece Jamie in Beauty and the Beast but the cold damp weather ramped my arthritis into high gear. I could not move. Every step was agony. Sitting in a chair in the high school auditorium would have been absolutely impossible, especially since I couldn't take pain meds and drive. It makes me nervous because this is going to be a busy week and the next practical day for us to go is next Sunday, closing day. Friday is my Aunt's graveside service and Saturday we're taking the babies to see my grandma. Both involve a long time in the car which is misery for me but... Lord willing, I'll be able to get it all in.

My mom's sister Linda, the baby of the family, passed away on Friday. She had been really depressed since her husband had died in 2013 and truly just gave up the will to live. She was diabetic and wasn't taking care of herself and it was just so heartbreaking to see her health decline over the past few months. She asked my mom not to come and see her during those last weeks and it was so hard for her but mom honored her wishes. She also didn't want a funeral, just a graveside service so that is what we will do. Friday the high temperature is forecast to be in the low 40's which is really cold for Georgia. We want to take the babies because it is a rare opportunity to be with family but we're not sure that we will take Cosy because of the cold. There is a building in the cemetery where Austin could take Cosy to keep warm during the service if he had to. We are hoping that we will have some gathering as a family before or after so that we can spend some time together. There is a viewing Thursday evening but that would be impossible for us to do - for me to do anyways - and we can't keep Cosy out that late.

I wanted to write a whole blog post about Linda and I may do that later this week. Right now it's all so raw, one of those things that hits too deep to share at the moment. My mom's brother David passed a year or two ago but I barely knew him and had only seen him once or twice in my adult years. When Uncle Charles (Linda's husband) passed away in 2013, it was sad but he had suffered so terribly with cancer that we wanted him to be at peace. Linda was a huge part of my childhood, a huge part of my kids' childhood - as she owned a daycare that Austin went to in the Summer and her grandson Devyn was Austin's "best cousin". Losing her is the first loss of a relative that will truly impact our day to day lives so I'm still processing the emotions but I do want to share some special memories of her.

All that being said, our house is decorated for Christmas. My mom is embracing the season this year. She was in so much pain from the pancreatic cancer last year and we truly don't know what the next year will bring for her health so we are eager to make merry as much as we can this year. I have sparsely decorated my tree because of the cats and the toddlers but it's still lovely. I have finished my shopping except for Ryan and Austin and have wrapped most things. I ordered a big shipment of stocking stuffers from Oriental Trading yesterday. (had a little problem with the shipping charges so I had to call their customer service and they were wonderful, just wanted to make note of that!). On Tuesday I have a doctor's appointment in Gainesville so we're taking Cosette to see "Ho-Ho"... which will probably be a picture of Austin holding a screaming Cosette as close to HoHo as possible but I'm looking forward to buying the biggest package of photos they sell so as to have photos to share with the special people in her life. My brother and sister-in-law are coming to spend Christmas in Georgia and I canNOT wait to see my nephew Finn! So... despite our sadness over losing Aunt Linda, we are celebrating this year in a big way and I know she would have wanted that.

I guess that's enough catching up for now. I'll be posting on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram as we go through our busy week ahead. If you want to see what's going on the FB is linked in the sidebar. My Snapchat handle is HGant5 and my Instagram is HeatherNancine. I'm on social media every day even though I'm not blogging every day. I'm out there, people! Hope you have a wonderful week and that your December is merry and bright! Love and hugs to all of you!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Catch Up Monday

SOOO much to catch up on! First... right before Cosette left with her mama on Thanksgiving I realized that I didn't have any pictures of me and all my descendants together... ever. So we hustled this together and my sister-in-law Angie was good to take photos for us. I look sick and the babies are distracted but this is us - me and mine. It's surreal to think that had I not lived... these people wouldn't have lived... it makes me feel quite maternal and like my life has had meaning and purpose. All I ever wanted to be was a mother and I'm so grateful to be THEIR mother and now THEIR Nana and I love each and every person in this photo with all of my heart. They are my heart. They are what matters in the world to me. I feel like my sons are my pride and my grandchildren are my joy... and a reward for the hard work I did for all those years as a single mom... and continue to do, of course because it's still hard work!

When we last left this story... I had gone from migraine to strep and now, confirmed yesterday,  to bronchitis. In the middle of all of that I broke a tooth from coughing which is stupid crazy and looks horrible but I'm going to have to cancel my dentist appointment this morning because I canNOT stop coughing and the new antibiotics are doing a number on me. I won't say which number but it is definitely not conducive to sitting patiently in a dental chair.

I wasn't going to go to the doctor yesterday because honestly, I'm just so tired and I had already been to Urgent Care once and sat for hours without being seen (because I gave up and left). I prayed about it and asked God to guide me to know if I should go. A few minutes later I got up and there was a refrigerator magnet on my table from Urgent Care. I don't even remember having it and I sure don't know how it got on my table but I took it as a sign. I called the number on the magnet and they said there was no one waiting so I took off, still in my pjs. I went straight in, was in and out quickly and the pharmacy even had my meds ready in the time it took me to drive from the Urgent Care to the pharmacy. Coincidence? Maybe. I feel like God guided me to be there and opened all the doors to make it happen quickly, as I needed it to be.

As I mentioned earlier, we had mediation on the 15th to get a final custody agreement in place for Cosette. For now we have Cosy on Tuesdays, Fridays and every other Saturday. We also had her Thanksgiving so we ended up having her Thursday, Friday and Saturday WHILE I was dealing with bronchitis. When I say "we" have her, truly, Austin is very hands on and with her almost every minute (except when smoking, yuck) but I am always also right there with her because I just can't NOT be. We try not to keep her cooped up at home so I've been all over town spreading my germs... you're welcome, White County. We had a great time with her and yesterday morning it felt weird not to go pick her up.

Actually, the doctor said yesterday that he saw a whole lot of people with strep around the time I was in with strep... and now is seeing a lot of those same people with bronchitis. He said that likely I had both when I came in with strep but the symptoms didn't show up for bronchitis until later. Because my lungs have a bunch of scar tissue in them (granulomas) it's really hard for me to shake bronchitis. I'm just praying that this doesn't stretch into a three month deal like usual. I just want to be well. So far Cosy doesn't have any symptoms of bronchitis. Hopefully she's tough enough to battle past.

I have been living on Halls cough drops, alka seltzer severe congestion meds - which my doctor had me change to mucinex - and can't be without kleenex because there is all sorts of stuff being coughed up or dripping out of my nose. I'm just a big juicy bag of germs. I am drinking a lot and trying to eat healthy but I've lost five pounds between the time I went in for strep and the time I went in for bronchitis so it's definitely affecting me.

On Wednesday Ryan and Sara came down (over?) from Myrtle Beach and spent two nights with us - Wednesday and Thursday night. Cosette is still not sure about Ryan's beard. She's shy with men anyways but bearded men are especially suspect. But she LOVES their dog Luke and he was so good to let her pet him and hug him and she was in "oof" heaven. She can't pet our dog Oscar because he's unpredictable when it comes to nipping and she LOVES dogs. She also loves cats but you can tell that dogs are her favorite. We had a great time with Ryan and Sara - even if I did make them suffer through a Downton Abbey Marathon. My kids were ready to stage an intervention. They sleep in my room - which I basically use as a dressing room / walk in closet since I can't sleep in a bed because of my back. The cleaning lady had made up the bed for them so my hostessing duties were minimal - which is good because I was feeling right poorly.

Austin is STILL not working. He's applied so many places. I don't know if his follow up is not good or what the deal is but it's costing me a fortune because life goes on and he needs stuff.  My parents have always been so generous to me so I gladly step in to do my part because I can, therefore I should. I promised Tasha that I would never let her go without child support as long as I had money to share. That was such a hard part of single parenting for me - that child support was never a guarantee. I don't want my grandchildren to have to go through the same hardships my children did and so I pay, while I can. I also pretty much buy everything that Cosy asks for because... she's just so durn cute.

When we were in Walmart on Saturday she found this little seat. Her mom had bought one for her on Black Friday for $20. They were in a bin still marked $20 but the actual price at the cash register was $35. The problem was that Cosette loved it SOOOO much that she wouldn't even let us put it on the conveyor to be rung up. She wanted her dad to put it on the floor so she could sit in it and he had to rip the price tag off for them to scan. When you want something so bad that you can't even bear to be away from it long enough to ring it up... well, you should get it. It folds out to be a little bed. Someone saw us carrying it around in the store and said her kids had one when they were little and they were so cute to curl up together on it. I would love for Cosy and Oliver to cuddle up together but Cosy has a real issue with not sharing her Frozen things with Oliver. She isn't crazy about sharing any toys (we're working on it) but will melt down if Oliver gets her Frozen things. "There is a BOY touching my things". You can see it in her face. Anyways... I just loved her camping out in the check out line with her couch. Not afraid to make a scene... that's my girl.

Oddly though, she didn't mind sharing her plate with Oliver on Thanksgiving. He had his own plate but had more fun eating from hers and she just let him. She had noticed the table set at 9am and wanted to sit at the table then. She was READY! Finally when people showed up and there was food everywhere she got hold of a paper plate and walked around wanting us to put food on it. For it to only be her second Thanksgiving she really got the idea of it all! She is such a little timid thing and is so afraid of strangers. On Friday and Saturday every time a car would go past on the road by the house she would run to the nearest adult and want to be picked up. She was OVER having people around and Nana the Introvert totally understands. I feel that way too sometimes.

Besides the Halls cough drops and the tissues, things I'm loving lately are holiday scented candles, the Fisher Price Nativity Set I bought for the babies and I splurged and bought myself stacking rings with the babies' names on them from Lisa Leonard. I have wanted these rings forever and honestly... would love to have them with my sons names too but the price was prohibitive. This weekend they are 25% off so I got the two with the babies names. I love sterling silver and wear a lot of silver rings and although it was a splurge... I know I'll enjoy these for a long time. Some time in the future I'll buy the ones with Ryan, Cody and Austin on them. Some time after Austin is working again and I've paid to fix my teeth and all that.

I'm sure there is plenty more I've forgotten from the past few weeks of my blogging sabbatical but I guess this is enough for now! At some point we need to discuss the Gilmore Girls revival because... wow. Hope you have a great week! Love and hugs, y'all!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Mayflower Ancestors

Happy Thanksgiving! I am still alive, still coughing but feeling some better, at least at the moment. We'll have a house full of people today and I'm just gonna do what I can do and hope everyone understands the whole - not being well thing. My eldest arrived last night with a box of face masks for me. HA! So maybe I'll keep one on to keep others from being infected and also to hide that very embarrassing chipped front tooth. Right now my plan is to get through today and if I still have a "productive" cough tomorrow, I'll go to Urgent Care. Get through today. 

My Uncle Bill posted this yesterday about our Mayflower ancestors. He's done a lot of extensive genealogy work and I've... well, I've looked at a lot... so I consider his research probably more accurate than mine. This is the list of Mayflower ancestors from my mom's side of the family: 

Our family now has six ancestors who arrived in America on the Mayflower and landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. The first was Richard Warren (1578-1628) who came over and his family joined him about three years later. The second was Francis Cooke (1583-1663) whose family joined him later. The others were members of the Stephen Hopkins family which consisted of Stephen (1581-1644), his wife and two children (both of which are ancestors in their own right) and the only child born on the voyage and was appropriately named Oceanus. He died at an early age and was too young to have descendents. Richard Warren has two descendents, FDR and U.S. Grant who were presidents The Winslow who arrived on the Mayflower is not an ancestor although his brother who arrived at a later time is. Information for the Thanksgiving season

And below is a post I prepared three Thanksgivings ago... showing the possible/potential Mayflower ancestors from both sides of the family. You'll see our results differ a bit... and that's fine. For me it's more about the anecdotal interest more than trying to sign up for any special Mayflower Descendent group or anything. I love the thought that my ancestors were involved in historical events so it's all just fun to think about. 


All My Mayflower Ancestors

As always, I preface this entry by saying that I am sort of a genealogical novice. Most of my research is via and although there are always sources referenced, I am not individually confirming these sources. At best, I have a rich ancestry consisting of many Mayflower ancestors. At worst, these are great anecdotes of early Americans. Either way, the stories are worth telling.

I've been working on my family tree since May 2012. I currently have over 11,000 people listed in my tree. I am periodically combing through the branches looking for duplicates - and there are many - William may be listed as Guillame in some places and that sort of thing. I've also tried to expand past direct ancestors and descendants in cases where it may help me discover ancestors more easily. I love reading about the lives of my 12x great-grandparents but I am as easily entertained by stories about a 12 great-aunt or cousin 12 times removed. We're all kin.

Studying genealogy has given me a strong sense of my heritage but it has also made me realize that we are all related in one sense or another. I have a couple dozen first and second cousins that the wonderful world wide web has given me the ability to know - whereas I might otherwise have only seen them at funerals and reunions. I consider it a huge blessing to make these connections. The more I know about my ancestors, the more I understand myself. The more I know about my living relatives, the more colorful life becomes.

These are the Mayflower passengers that I have been able to determine as possible ancestors.

John Alden - Priscilla Mullins are my 12x Great-Grandparents
Their daughter was Ruth Mullins.
Her daughter was Hannah Bass.
Her son was Joseph Adams (this is where a kinship with President John Adams and John Quincy Adams comes in to play)
His son was Benjamin Adams.
His daughter was Mary Adams.
Her daughter was Abigail Susannah Caudill.
Her son was Wells Pennington.
His daughter was Tabitha Pennington.
Her son was Samuel Pennington.
His son was John Pennington
His son was William Judson Pennington.
His son was Clarence B. Pennington.
And his daughter was my Mama.

Priscilla's parents were William Mullins - Alice Mullins, my 13x Great-Grandparents. A shoemaker by trade, it is believed that William had some trouble in England which made him willing to take the journey to the New World. All of the family, except Priscilla died in during the first Winter in Plymouth, including her brother Joseph Mullins. He would have been my 13x Great Uncle, I think? Priscilla was left an orphan in a New World at 18 years old. It's no surprise that she soon married John Alden, the Mayflower's cooper who decided to remain in Plymouth rather than return with the ship. (A cooper is responsible for the barrels and casks on a ship. I had to look it up.)

The romance of Priscilla and John Alden is memorialized in the poem, "The Courtship of Miles Standish" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. She was called "the loveliest maiden of Plymouth". They went on to have 11 children and help found the town of Duxbury.

Orson Wells, Marilyn Monroe, President John Adams, President John Quincy Adams, Dick Van Dyke, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow all also descend from the this couple. Of all of the Mayflower ancestry, this is the one I'm least sure of.

Stephen Hopkins - Constance Hopkins - Giles Hopkins - Damaris Hopkins - Oceanus Hopkins

Stephen Hopkins is my 10x Great-Grandfather.
His daughter Constance is my 9x Great-Grandmother.
Her daughter was Mary Snow
Her son was Elisha Paine
His daughter was Abigail Paine
Her son was Aaron Cleveland
His son was John Cleveland
His daughter was Caroline Amelia Cleveland
Her son was William Cleveland Ward
His son was Charles Pelham Ward
His daughter was Leta May Ward Gant Harris
Her son was my Pop.

Giles, Damaris and Oceanus Hopkins would be 10x Great/Grand Uncles and Aunt. Oceanus was the baby born during the journey. Damaris and Oceanus died not long after their arrival in Plymouth. Constance's mother had died in England many years before the Mayflower voyage. By the time they left England Stephen had remarried and Oceanus and Damaris descend from the second wife who is not my ancestor.

Stephen Hopkins had made the journey to the New World at least once before the Mayflower crossing. He was shipwrecked on Bermuda and led a mutiny that almost cost him his life. He escaped only to end up in Jamestown at a time when all the inhabitants were starving. He returned to England. It is widely believed that Stephen was the basis for Shakespeare's character Stephano in the The Tempest.

Constance married Nicholas Snow who came to Plymouth aboard the ship, The Anne, in 1623. They had a large family and there are many, many descendants of this line.

Other ancestors of the Hopkins family are Sarah Palin, Ashley Judd, Norman Rockwell.

John Howland - Elizabeth Tilley are my 10x Great-Grandparents.
Their daughter is Desire Howland.
Her daughter was Desire Gorham.
Her son was Samuel Hawes.
His son was Isaac Hawes.
His son was ALSO Isaac Hawes.
His son was Peyton Hawes.
His son was Moseley Peyton Hawes.
His daughter was Rosa Bertha Hawes.
Her son was Charles Pelham Ward.
His daughter was Leta May Ward Gant Harris.
Her son was my Pop.

John Howland has the distinction of being the Pilgrim that fell overboard. He was rescued and went on to be one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact despite making the journey as an indentured servant. He was indentured to John Carver who died over the first Winter, securing Howland's freedom.

Elizabeth's parents were also on the Mayflower. John and Joan Tilley, my 11x Great-Grandparents, perished during the first Winter.

John Tilley's brother, Ed Tilley and his wife Agnes Cooper Tilley also died that first Winter, leaving behind their adopted relative, Humility Cooper, who, I believe would not have been blood kin to me.

Alec Baldwin, Humphrey Bogart, President George H. W. Bush, President George W. Bush, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Sarah Palin and Ralph Waldo Emerson are among the people who descended from John and Elizabeth Howland.

Out of all my presumed Mayflower ancestors, only the Tilley family was part of the original congregation from Leiden, Holland. John Howland was a servant of the John Carver family, who were in the congregation.  It is possible that Howland subscribed to the same religious beliefs as the Carvers. Stephen Hopkins was recruited by the London Merchant Adventurers as was William Mullins. John Alden was the ship's cooper. Therefore I can say that I descend from Mayflower passengers but I can't really say that I descend from the "Pilgrims" other than the Tilley line.


I had precious little sleep last night between my needy cats, the persistent cough and Ryan and Sara's arrival. I'm excited about today even though I don't feel well. I'm just so grateful to have our family and friends gathered together today that I can just overlook feeling icky. Hope your day is full of great food and all the things that make your life better. Love and *distant hugs*!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What I've Been Doing Instead of Blogging

I. Am. So. Sick. Sicker than I can remember in blogging times. It's like every disease known to man has decided to inflict themselves on me all at the same time. It started on November 11th with a migraine. I was functional some days but from Friday to Wednesday (the 16th) the headache never really went away. By the time I was at my Drs for my regular three month checkup on Wednesday the 16th (yes, they see me every three months even at the primary care doctor - things that make you realize I'm a special snowflake) my head was killing me. After an exam done in the dark - he offered a toradol shot so I thought, "sure, what could it hurt?" Two hours later I had the most god-awful pain in my upper gut... and started looking up "side effects of toradol". Yep. That's one of them. Then my throat started killing me... swallowing broken glass type killing me.. I woke up on Thursday and it was still awful. I found out there's mono in the family right now so... yikes... I call back and my doctor can't see me but tells me to go to Urgent Care. I didn't feel well enough for driving myself and sitting for hours at Urgent Care so I decide to wait and see what happens. Friday we got Cosette who had been running little fevers off and on for the past day or so. My throat is still killing me... she spikes a fever and we can't get it down the usual ways with her (tylenol and letting her wear just a diaper) so we decide to take her to Urgent Care. I decide since I'm there anyway and her parents are both there with her (we picked up Tasha on the way to the dr) I'll go ahead and get checked out. They send us back together which, turned out to be a good thing. They swabbed my throat (which is really uncomfortable) and assessed her symptoms compared to mine and since my strep test was positive, they diagnosed us both with strep throat. I requested a shot instead of oral antibiotics because it just works better that way with me. If they hadn't had me there to swab my throat, they would have swabbed her too which is miserable. I was glad I could take the pain for her. We went to the pharmacy to get her antibiotic and then took her and her mama home. We still had about another hour and a half of "our time" with her but you're talking about a sick baby with a fever who really needed her mama at that moment... and a Nana who is too sick to get back out and drive folks home after just getting home from an afternoon at the doctor. 

By the time we got home I was dealing with ungodly sinus pressure - so bad that I had to lean over the sink with hot compresses on my sinuses to loosen things up just to breathe. Just breathing through my throat was painful because of the strep and... I was starting to have drainage in my throat too. Once the snot started, the migraine started letting up after one week of non-stop migraining. But this new issue... the snot fountain I created... was a whole new world of misery. By Saturday it was in my chest. By Sunday I was struggling to breathe.. pain in my chest... coughing up scary colored phlegm. Sunday night (in the middle of the night) I was packing my bags because I knew I was going to end up in the hospital. I called my dr first thing on Monday morning (yesterday) and never got a call back. I love my doctor but his office staff sometimes can be a little slow. My parents had afternoon appointments and I knew I was never going to be well enough to drive that day so I went ahead and rode to the doctor with them hoping I could be seen in Urgent Care while they were at their appointments. I sat there for two hours and there were still three people ahead of me when my parents got through. I was over it. I didn't want my mom to be exposed to sick people any longer than necessary and I just wanted to go back home and suffer in my own space. My mom had talked to the doctor while they were back and he said the shot they gave me would work for pneumonia or bronchitis if I had either of those - if they were bacterial so that made me feel a little better. If they're viral... I'm just screwed. I'm not sitting in another doctors office waiting room this week. I'm over it. 

I got home and about two hours later started with an upset stomach. When you move slow anyways... and you're moving slower because you're sick... and your bathroom is not that far away but far enough...and your insides are exploding from your body... it's not pretty. That lasted most of last night... up until an hour or so ago. Mess up - clean up. Mess up - clean up. Mess up - dream fondly of my own premature demise - clean up. Times like this is great to be single because you don't have anyone else to see you at your lowest... but it's also really frustrating because I would love some sprite and I'm out of cough drops and the alka selzer severe congestion stuff and there's nobody to run out and get that stuff for me today since Austin still doesn't drive, my mom quit driving and Pop's got stuff to do today. 

Somewhere in the middle of all of this - around Friday night - my front tooth broke. I have this nasty, hillbilly looking missing quarter of my front tooth and I can't do a thing about it until next week. It is humiliating. Honestly, right now... I'm about as humiliated as you can be. I feel awful. I can't breathe. We had to pass up on our visitation with Cosette today  because we can't have her in the house with all of this going on. I don't know who gave whom the strep but either way... she doesn't need anything else on top of strep and we definitely don't want her to catch bronchitis/pneumonia or whatever else is lurking in my lungs and we DEFINITELY don't want her to catch the upset stomach (which, to be fair, may be a delayed reaction to the antibiotic in my system because it is strong). 

Thanksgiving is in two days. I've got two days to get myself pulled together. Thank heavens the cleaning lady changed the sheets on the bed in my unused bedroom on Friday so I don't have to spread any germs doing that. I'll give the bathroom a good final scrub down on Wednesday night since Ryan and Sara will be staying down here on Thursday night. I'm trying to stay away from my mom as much as I can. I'm drinking a lot. Up until yesterday my appetite was still pretty good. Last night that went South, along with everything in my body. But I'm drinking 2 or 3 beverages at a time to keep hydrated. I'm sleeping tons. I've been asleep more than awake for the past three days. Since Cosette's parents mutually decided that it was best to keep Cosy away from Typhoid Nana that gives me two more days of precious rest. 

I feel bad for falling off the earth blogging wise but it just has been impossible to focus enough to write words. I'm still not up to my usual level of communication but it's better today. 

Other than being a migraining, mucus generator riddled with strep last week... we had our mediation over Cosette's custody and things went really well. The idea is for us to share custody as we can mutually agree but if we don't agree, our default plan is for her to be with us Tuesdays, Fridays and every other Saturday. In six months we start transitioning to overnights with Cosy but Tasha and Austin both agree that won't happen until we're certain that she can and will sleep here. Lately she hasn't been napping as well with us. We made some adjustments to child support until Austin goes back to work - he's still not working - that's a whole 'nother post that I'm not ready to write. All in all, the mediation went well and I think we all feel encouraged that we can give Cosette a good, stable life that includes a lot of people who love her. 

Anyways... not proofreading this so please overlook any typos, things out of context, incomplete thoughts, etc. Please pray for me to be well very soon. I've had so many Christmas seasons wrecked by respiratory illness and I really don't this to be another one. I want to be well SO bad! Thanks! Love and (no hugs so as not to spread my crud). 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

November Favorites

Buongiorno Amici! It's a cool, rainy Sunday here in North Georgia. We need the rain SO BAD because of the wildfires burning around here. The smoke has gotten better this weekend, thankfully, and now that we have some rain I'm hopeful that the fires will be completely put out.

I have spent my weekend (so far) trying to recooperate from a very fun week with Cosette and Austin and other family members who have visited us. ALWAYS good to spend time with the three dimensional people... yet sadly, always takes awhile to recover. Yesterday I had a "turn off the lights-get out the ice pack-overdose on advil" kind of migraine which also made me miserable. My nieces came over for awhile and we talked about Christmas and caught up on their very exciting and active lives and it was a wonderful distraction.

I thought it was time to once again share some of the things that are making life better for me lately on the odd chance that they might make your life better too! Hope you enjoy and I hope you will share some of your favorites with me!

1. Not because it's the most important but... it does improve my quality of life in some ways... I'm loving grain free cat food. I don't actually eat it myself - in case that wasn't clear - I feed it to my three cats. Side note - I just found out on Friday that Little Kitty is a girl. All this time - I've had him her since July 2011 - I thought he was a boy but in fact HE is a SHE! My cousin was working for a vet and got him her to be a barn cat for their property. He she was too clingy and cuddly to be an outdoor working cat and I needed a comfort animal so she gave him her to me. How did I miss the detail that it was a lady cat and not a boy? I have no idea! My friend brought her up here on the day that our house was struck by lightning and we had to send her right back to my mom's house for a few days until I found a place to live so maybe that little detail was lost in the multiple details I was having to sort out at that time, who knows? But my cousin was in on the surgery to remove Little Kitty's ovaries so she is 100% certain that HE is a SHE. Mind blown! Now back to the cat food issue. I have been reluctant to buy the pricier high protein food for the cats because it is more expensive but after finally getting fed up with the constant bouts of cat vomit - cleaning cat vomit is vomit inducing for myself - I bit the bullet and splurged. Once they started eating the zero grain food they started eating significantly LESS food  so... my actual food expense has decreased and the vomitting has nearly ceased, other than a hairball here  and there. Two of the kitties are overweight so eating less has to be better for them. Less vomit, cheaper... that's a win in my book! Rachael Ray's Nutrish brand is one of my favorites for them.

2. Something I have been eating consistently and really loving is toast made with pumpernickel bread and good butter. I get the bread from Walmart (since we've been shopping Ingles less since Austin no longer works there). The butter I love most is the President butter which is slightly more expensive than the store brands but totally worth it for the taste. I never buy margarine - I won't touch the stuff. I also don't feed it to Cosy when she's with me. I am strongly opposed to margarine, like, I could be an anti-margarine activist, I'm that much against it. Butter is much better for you and it tastes better, especially if you use a better brand. Buy better butter. That's my campaign slogan. ANYWAYS... I've always loved darker breads. Pumpernickel, especially from Walmart is - I'm sure - not my healthiest option. I'll work on that. But for now... pumpernickel toast with better butter for the win!

3. Since yesterday was on of THOSE migraines, I resorted to a tried and true non medicinal pain reliever - my clay ice pack. The clay stays cold longer than the traditional ice pack... it molds to whatever it's cooling much better than anything else I've tried... it doesn't get soggy or make anything the least bit wet. I think they can be heated as well but I've only ever used it cold.

4. For the past few years I've been unable to really drink coffee because of my tachycardia. Every now and then I try again and my heart races so much it makes me miserable. I do drink both hot and iced tea. I drink hot cider. And lately I've been enjoying a hybrid k-cup cappuccino with a packet of hot chocolate mix. I'm using a brand of k-cups from Walmart - Grove Square - and it's cheaper than most other k-cups on the market and really tasty. I think I mentioned this before... I also use a chai tea k-cup with the packs of powdered hot cider mix. I use a big mug and make the equivalent of about a cup and a half of liquid.

5. Last year by this time all of my Christmas shopping was mostly done. I've moved more slowly this year for a lot of reasons... one, I feel like money is flying out of my bank account like it's grown wings lately between my expenses and Austin's expenses and my splurging on things for the babies. Also... life just isn't as "merry" this year. My pain is worse, my mom's illness, the custody case, my aunt's illness, Austin being out of work... so many things to drag us down. But the truth is that Christmas is coming and I don't want to be a Scrooge this year so I have started - just in the past week or so - my Christmas shopping. I found a lot of great unique gifts online at Miles Kimball. Most people in my life have everything they need and most everything they want so it's hard to buy gifts. I don't always trust my taste because I'm definitely... different... Miles Kimball sells a lot of personalized gifts and honestly, gave me a lot of good ideas for some of the harder to buy for people in my life. I'm also trying to remember to use eBates for cash back but I'm such a newbie that I forget half the time. I buy a LOT of things from Amazon and I've been shopping at Walmart a lot more this year because Cosy likes to walk around Walmart.

6. This time of year just makes me want to keep candles burning all day long. It makes things feel cozier and it keeps things smelling fresher since we've got the windows closed now. My favorite scents are things that are pine / woodsy / green. I don't like sweet smells like vanilla or baked goods but I do love fruity smells. The Better Homes and Gardens candles from Walmart burn nicely but of course my favorite candles are from Yankee Candle. Walmart does have a Yankee Candle version that they sell but I think they aren't as strongly scented as either the official Yankee Candles from their store or the Better Homes and Gardens ones. By the way, this post is not sponsored by Walmart but it should be.

7. Ok... last one because I've been working on this post forever and you're probably tired of reading it by now! My favorite treat right now is the butter cookies that come in the little round tins. No matter what brand you buy or how cheap they are they ALWAYS taste good! Austin hates them because everyone always keeps the tins to keep sewing stuff or other random trinkets in. You come across them and think "yay! cookies!" and it's a bunch of thread. But when they really do have cookies in them... SO YUMMY!

Honorable mentions for this post are my big fuzzy robe that I got last Christmas. I use it more as a wearable blanket because it's intentionally oversized and SO warm... my memory foam padding in my big recliner nest... my new fuzzy slippers... and my still under construction Mermaid themed bathroom that now has a new light fixture thanks to Cody and Austin!

Tomorrow my eldest turns thirty! I'm officially old. Not sure if I'll get a Reasons to Love Monday post out since I've been sort of hit and miss lately with the blog-spiration so I wanted to go ahead and mention his upcoming birthday. Hope your weekend has been wonderful and that you all have a great week ahead! Love and hugs, y'all!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Filter Friday

Happy Friday, Friends! Has this been the longest week of YOUR life too? Well. I'm about go back to some hardcore introverting because I'm just over it all. I'm over people being rude. I'm not willing to put my thoughts here because I know I will get slammed from one side or the other and frankly, I don't have the emotional stamina to deal with it all. So if I'm not posting a lot on Facebook, that's why. 

In the meantime, I have been posting little daily recaps on Snapchat. I'm there as HGant5, if you want to connect with me there. Right now that's my favorite corner of social media. I'm also using Instagram a lot for photos but I do link them to Facebook as well. I'm on Instagram as HeatherNancine. I might blog... but usually when I'm feeling introvert-y I find it hard to blog. I have thought about starting to do videos on YouTube but I've got a loooooot to learn about editing videos before I do that so ... we'll see. 

So here's what is happening over the next few days:

We're under thick smoke from forest fires here right now. The air quality is awful. My eyes are constantly burning, my throat is burning, I feel like I'm choking on the smoke and it's not supposed to get better for a few days. It seeps in the house regardless of whether or not the windows are closed. We played out on the porch with Cosy yesterday because it was just as bad inside as it was outside. It's still really dark outside so I don't know if it's eased any overnight. Usually it gets worse overnight as the warm air dissipates. Pray for rain, that's all I know to do.

I have an appointment with my primary care doctor today. I see him every three months to follow up on some of the chronic things happening with me, things like the scar tissue in my lungs, high blood pressure, liver damage, auto-immune stuff and just a general overall review of what's happening in my life. 

Austin goes back to the grocery store AGAIN to follow up on whether or not they're going to hire him. I'm a little frustrated with them dragging him along - I mean, let him bag groceries or stock or something until the meat job is open. He's got another lead on something in construction but those jobs tend to be so inconsistent. I don't know. He needs to go to work somewhere and I piss him off every time I say anything so... fun times. 

We go to mediation - finally - next week. This will be to come to a final agreement on things like long term custody, when overnight visits start (we all agree she's not ready for that yet), holidays - which are still a bone of contention - as I mentioned earlier this week, and all those various odds and ends. The hope is that we can put together a custody agreement that is ready for the judge to sign. This week we had Cosy on Tuesday and yesterday and will have her for a little while today maybe. We are supposed to have some family members come up to visit and if they do, I'll run pick up the Princess to come visit. 

Nana's tired. I need a few days of nothing to be able to rest up. Right now every step is agony. I can't move my arms without wincing. My niece Jamie sent me a text last night saying that her director for Beauty and the Beast loved the costume I made her. She was like, "My aunt made it" and he said, "Does she do this kind of stuff?" and she was like, "Yeah!!" and he said, "could she do more? (emoji) (emoji)(emoji)" 

LOL... that was a direct quote. I love texting with my nieces! 

So I got his email address and am going to contact him and see what he needs and do what I can to help. I can build costumes but I don't sew - I stitch. I'm good with knowing what modern day pieces can be modified to be historically accurate and I'm good at thrift store shopping. That was always my real value as a costumer - being a frugal history geek with a little imagination. So there's that. 

One fun little Cosy story and then I'm gonna get busy on my morning stuff since I have a 7:30 doctor's appointment. What was I thinking making an appointment that early? Anyways... We were doing a little Christmas shopping at Walmart yesterday morning and she saw a picture of Santa and said, "HO HO!". I was like... "what did she just say?" She rarely will repeat herself but then we saw a Walmart employee with a long white beard and she pointed to him and said, "HO HO!" He heard her and came over and said, "Have you been a good little girl?" and she just grinned from ear to ear. So OF COURSE I had to take her to the Christmas department and she pointed out all the ho-ho's and all the Anna's and Elsa's from Frozen and the "Fi" - Sofia the First. She was just chatting up a storm. I posted a lot of pictures on Facebook yesterday of our day with her. Mostly she colored with markers on her big poster board (great idea, by the way, for little ones learning to color because it's a huge surface and they don't color off of the paper as much) or with chalk on the top of Mawmaw's coffee table since we covered it with chalk paint. 

Ok. That's it. Pictures in this blog are from my Snapchat. I love FILTERS! Have a great weekend, y'all! Love and hugs! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What Grandma Said

A few days ago I was looking back over some older blogs I found these gems that I wanted to share. I found this list of thoughts in my Grandma's bible. She passed away in 1998 and I asked then for one of her bibles. It was six or seven years later before I found this list of thoughts jotted down on a little bit of note paper. I always felt like she brought it to my attention right when I needed it most. Although she passed away 18 years ago, her wisdom is still relevant and maybe even more relevant today!

  • Your best friend is he who brings out the best that is within you.
  • Every human heart has an unseen battlefield where the good and the bad are fighting it out
  • Without the Holy Spirit, the Christian witness is powerless
  • Real goodness is a trait of character which only comes through the indwelling spirit
  • God never gives power to a person who will not use it
  • People are attracted to Christ by the lives of those who profess Him
  • The highest purpose of prayer is to turn our attention toward God, to get God into our minds and; into our thinking
  • God is as near to you as the air you breathe, not way out yonder somewhere
  • Prayer is coming to God with open minds saying, "God reveal to me what you want me to do".
  • Many times God reveals His will to us one step at a time, as you take that step then you can see the next one.
  • We cannot prove God by argument but we can make our own lives an argument for God
  • When we lose hope, we lose God
  • I believe that Christ rose from the dead, this resurrection is my assurance that there is life for me beyond the grave. "Because I live, " he said, "ye shall also live".
  • I know someone will carry my body and bury it in the ground. There it will decay but because I know Christ, that will not be the end of me. I shall live after death.
  • A friend is one who comes in when the world goes out.
  • If asked to, God will soften harshness in people
  • Religion is both love for God and love for man. It involves the fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man
  • If a man would not help his son or daughter when he or she was needed it and was in trouble, then he was not a worthy father
  • There have been many, many people in whose heart our Lord stilled the storm after some great sorrow or hurt or disappointment. He is still working His miracles.
  • I cannot forgive my sins. I cannot blot them out. My only hope is the mercy of God.
  • With God's help, we can face any temptation and overcome it.
  • Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not. (Augustine)
  • It is important that we know what we believe
  • God is stronger than satan, goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, righteousness is stronger than sin
  • Day by day we gather the harvest of yesterday and we are sowing for the harvest of the future
  • If you have a problem, plant a seed
  • a missionary is not necessarily one who crosses the sea, but one who sees the cross
  • Suffering accepted and used may prove to be the best fruit of your life.
  • God's grace does not always explain nor remove the thorn, but it is always sufficient to overcome
  • He who cannot let go cannot hang on.
Many people are upset about the election. I pounded out a post listing  my reasons for voting how I did and then decided I would hold that blog entry for myself. The truth is that those who really know me already know what matters most to me. I went back eight years ago to see how I responded to Obama's election and remembered that the day after that election I went to a funeral for my 9 year old stepson's 35 year old mama. It was six weeks after people almost attended mine. Although I felt Obama was wrong for America - and I still maintain that he was and continues to be - I had been confronted with actual life and death so closely in the time leading up to that election that the election was the last thing on my mind that day. I won't say that Trump being elected isn't a matter of life and death. The truth is that there are people who are no longer alive because of Obama's decisions as President and Hillary's decisions as Secretary of State. Those offices are important and they do result in life and death decisions. I prayerfully made a choice that I believe will allow for the least potential for loss of life and the greatest potential for good health and prosperity for everyone. Only God knows for sure just as only God can judge the content of the heart. I'm trusting God to provide for us in this time of uncertainty just as I have trusted Him for the past eight years. My life has not been easy but He has been faithful. I believe He will continue to be faithful.

Happier blogging ahead tomorrow... love and hugs to everyone, black and white - red and blue... and all shades in between.