My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

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. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Catching Up... My Stressful Weekend

I'm not intentionally NOT blogging. Life just keeps happening. I am giving little (probably not little enough) updates on Snapchat about my day but... for me to say everything on my mind in ten seconds or less? NOT. Happening!

So let's review, shall we?

Friday: I got an early text (around 6am) from Tasha wanting help with Cosy. Tasha hadn't slept and wanted a break. Austin had a 30 minute "try-out" with the grocery store where he's hoping to get hired so he and Pop went by and picked up Cosy on their way back. We kept her until a little after 12. I spent the rest of the day resting. We had a blast with her but it wore me out. I have been taking care of Austin's daily financial needs (food when we don't have a "family meal", snacks, cigarettes, etc) and it's really adding up. I've also paid for a root canal and filling for him in the past month and have to pay for mediation on the 15th and... other things have happened that have hit my account and I'm watching my little nest egg dwindle and it's making me very nervous. It's all I have in the world. I don't have a car that runs. I live in my parents' house and if I was not able to live here I don't get enough from disability to afford a box under a bridge somewhere. It's very angst inducing for me. So... Austin decided that he would close Cosette's savings account, use the money until he gets a job - he finds out on Wednesday - and then immediately replace it. Obviously, Tasha and her parents were unhappy with his decision as they have contributed to the account. Tasha felt like she should have gotten some of the money if he was going to take it... although, he sees it as a loan from the account and will immediately replace it (trust me, immediately, even if it comes from me). It was a long, ugly discussion between them and started to unravel the fragile peace between them. Tasha asked for child support early - Austin is paid through the 18th. The next payment, since he isn't working, would come 100% from me or not at all. If he gets the job he's trying to get he's going to make less money and... since the custody agreement is not finalized, we will request an amount that meets his financial ability in the final agreement. I was a mom who didn't get child support sometimes and most times I didn't get all the court said I should. I'm committed that as long as I have the money, I will make sure Cosette gets what she needs. It's a sort of unknown quantity at the moment. I mean, I feel bad if Tasha doesn't have what she needs to get diapers, etc. At the same time... I was a single working mom. I had to make it work no matter what my kids' dad did - or many times, didn't do. If it was up to Austin, he wouldn't be able to pay her anything right now. I'm sure our lawyer would say to pay her weekly until the new amount is determined. It's... stressful.

Saturday: Cody and Marquee came up. I wanted Cosy to be there with Oliver as they are just now starting to play together and it is my favorite thing in the world to see the two of them together. I had hoped to get pictures of them in these little matching outfits I had bought. Cody and Marquee refused to let me put it on Oliver because it wasn't his "style". More about that later. Tasha wanted to come with Cosy - she has in the past and it's been ok. But this was the first time she and Austin had been together other than pick ups as he is usually working on Saturdays. Things did not go well. I'm afraid we took a few steps back and my nerves just can't handle it on top of the "mom's illness" and "aunt Linda's illness" and "my own illness" and "my friend has non-hodgkins lymphoma worry" and "will austin get a job before he drains my bank account worry" stresses. It's all just TOO. Much! Playing with the babies was amazing. I posted a lot of pictures on Facebook and I may share a few here but probably not in this blog. It really did hurt my feelings that Cody and Marquee refused to let Oliver wear the outfit I bought. He's 15 months old.  Would wearing a shirt with a little applique animal playing peekaboo destroy any fashion sense he might ever have? Scar him for life? I don't get it. On top of that... Austin got a text from Tasha saying that she had been "lenient" about letting us have Cosy. Well... yes, she has been flexible about the day of the week we get her, based on when Austin was off work at first and then after that, based on when Tasha asked us to get her. I've had Cosy several times for Tasha to rest and I don't mind that. But it's not her being "lenient" to us. It's us working together to help put Cosy in the best environment possible - instead of being with a sleepy mommy, instead of Tasha being tired and burned out - we step in when she asks. I thought it was co-parenting. Apparently it's not. Now Austin doesn't want us to have Cosy any day other than Thursday as was put down in the judges order. *sigh* And honestly... the whole argument is over Tasha wanting to be able to be with our family over the holidays which ... Austin is uncomfortable with. In his mind... she is still the woman who took his daughter from him for two months and made us spend LOTS of money for a lawyer to help get her back in our lives. I'm fine with Tasha being there. Austin isn't. Is it fair to make holidays miserable for Austin? What will happen? We go to mediation next week. Do any of you have past experience with spending holidays together with exes? I'm curious. The few times my kids' dad was around on holidays it was uncomfortable for me. At this point... I'm neutral on him. If he's around, fine. We don't interact... but that's with 16 years of time having passed.

Sunday: Not much sleep Saturday night. I'm either having a flare or coming down with a cold or it could be the nearby forest fires but my nose is running, my eyes are running, I'm coughing and... ugh. I worked on Jamie's costume for about four hours and watched most of the Netflix mini-series, "the Crown" about Queen Elizabeth's reign. Pain level: high. Stress level: lower, mostly because I did what I needed to do to NOT focus on anything stress inducing. Then I had nightmares all night last night and finally gave up sleeping around 4am to make them stop. It was all the same... people coming and taking Cosette from us. The fear is still so real. It's still my deepest, most painful memory and every bit of loving her more makes that fear greater. That's why I'm so determined to have her build bonds with not just me and Austin but all of us, Oliver, Cody and Marquee, Ryan and Sara... my parents. I want her to know on whatever level she understands now, how much she is loved, how precious she is to us all. That she always, ALWAYS can count on us. That she is ONE of US. It's important for me to keep the bond with Tasha so that I can be there for her and help her be the best mother she can be. So she can see what it is in me, in our family, that makes us special/different. So she can understand her own daughter because she comes from us, too. She is part Sauls, Gant, Pennington, Ward, Ray, Jackson, Bullock...

AND NOW it's Monday and the wall-to-wall, every moment coverage of the election has started. Hillary will win. In a different, not so personal blog post, I'm going to share my predictions from 8 years ago so you can see that I know of which I speak... this is not the right direction for us to take. Obamacare is wrong and must be changed, it is hurting the people it was intended to help.

The cat just hit the keyboard and closed my blog. I thought I had lost this whole whiny blog post and maybe it would have been better if I had. Anyways... that's what's happened, at least part of what's happened over the last few days. I have a blog reader who is many years wiser who I confide in and she can tell you... the stuff I don't blog about is always far more bizarre but... I do try to blog *my story* as life occurs to me and I try to leave out the peripheral stuff that others might not enjoy me sharing. If you are praying people, this is a good week to pray. For our nation, for our family, for Austin to get a job THIS WEEK, for us to be able to continue to co-parent Cosette in a loving, cooperative environment, that hearts will be softened and changed wherever God intends. And I will pray that you all have a great week! Love and hugs!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Good, The Bad and The Adorable

Looking at cars outside of Huddle House
It's Thursday and I haven't blogged since Monday. Most of yesterday I thought it was Tuesday and I thought... well, I just blogged yesterday so if I miss a day, no big deal. At some point I realized it was Wednesday... it's almost embarrassing to tell you how late in the day that was... but it was around dinner time when Pop didn't start cooking dinner because he was AT CHURCH because, duh, it was Wednesday. So that's how this week has been.

Pain wise this has been a tough week. I hurt every day and I know that's just my normal but this week it has bothered me more and been more frustrating than usual. I can't say that the pain is worse, necessarily, just that I'm not coping as well as I usually do. I know that people sometimes give up when they get to this point... when the dealing with it becomes too much... and there is just too much good in my life for me to give up. So I just keep focusing on things that make life good... half price chocolate on the day after Halloween... shopping for Christmas presents... wasting a lot of time doing things that I want to do and doing fewer things that I need to do. Conversely, yesterday when the pain was really pissing me off, I waited until my pain meds reached their peak efficiency and then I went all out for about twenty minutes picking things up and tidying up and restoring some tiny bit of order to my space because it made me feel like I had control over SOMETHING. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Coping With Pain 101 - do what makes you happy, do what makes you feel like you have some control over your life.

I like making lists in my blog so I'm going to give you a list of good things that have happened this week and bad things that have happened.... my week in bullet points. Here goes. I'll start with bad things.

  • My friend has non-hodgkins lymphoma. We once worked together and we have gone through the disability process together and she has a very serious disease and it's just crap. I'm sad but I think I'm more angry. Cancer sucks. 
  • I broke my front tooth. It's like... my worst nightmare... ugly right up front in the middle of my mouth tooth chipped off... when I just paid all that money to fix Austin's front tooth that chipped. It makes me mad that it will cost money to fix it. It makes me mad that it will hurt to fix it. My mom and I both had a tiny overlap in our front teeth and the part that broke off was that overlap. I'm mad that we don't match any more and I don't think she's going to want to break hers so we match. 
  • It's too hot for this time of year. I want to be in big, cozy sweatshirts and it's too hot. I'm tired of sweating. Cool off, already. 
  • Politics. Seriously. OVER IT. 
  • Stupidly frustrating back pain that makes life so stinking unfair. I want to do what I want to do and I can't. 
  • My aunt is sick and it's hard to explain exactly but she has just given up. She's the baby of my mom's siblings. She is the sibling I am most like - she has three boys, we have a similar (lack) of housekeeping skills. She has diabetes and it's not under control. She hurt her back and she just basically has stopped wanting to live and it makes me sad and mad and... afraid that my future will be like that. My mom would normally be the first one there taking care of her and making her want to fight but my mom is not well enough to do that.  
  • Our pizza delivery was late last night. It took over an hour. I know that's not a big deal in the scope of things but it wasn't a good thing. It was funny, however, as I was FaceTiming with Oliver when the deliver girl got here and I had her say hello to Oliver. She asked, "Is that Austin's baby?" I said... no, his nephew. Small town. 
  • Austin not working is getting expensive for me. I simply do not have the ability to not give my children what they want or need because for all of their lives I have not had the ability to give them what they wanted or needed. Spending money on them is what makes me happy but I'm growing particularly and acutely aware of the limitations of my ability to continue spending. 

Now some good things.

  • Half price chocolate week. 
  • Tuesday with Cosy was one of the best days we've ever had with her. She was all kinds of adorable. I posted a video of her in Walmart trying to get me to put something in the cart that she picked out and I was trying to get her to say what it was and she finally got frustrated and yelled, "NANA!" And I sort of got it on video. SO FUNNY! I'm posting some pictures from that day in today's blog.  
  • Austin has a very good possibility of getting a job that he really wants with a small grocery store in town that is owned by a good man and would provide him the opportunity to do what he wants to do - working towards being able to be a butcher. We stopped by last week and the guy said... there's a situation that I think is not going to work out and I think I'm going to need you, can you check back with me every couple of days until I get that sorted out... (not quoting because I'm paraphrasing) and so Austin has done that. When Austin was there yesterday something was sort of blowing up and he asked Austin to come back today so we are going back today and praying so hard that he gets this job. 
  • Oliver is coming for a visit on Saturday! His parents are coming too! 
  • I'm enjoying the fact that Hillary is being exposed for some of the things she has done that are crooked. She's going to end up winning and that aggravates me for many reasons but I'm glad that her, and the people around her who are in that "basket of deplorables" - it swings both ways - are being exposed for their lying, cheating ways. Maybe that's mean. I know Trump lives in a glass house and... well, there's glass in mine too so I'm not going to toss a lot of stones but the truth is... the Clintons have lied their way into office and taken advantage of their positions in ways that really burn my buns. I'm enjoying their dose of karma, that's all I'm saying. 
  • The Cubs won the World Series! I didn't sleep well last night so I watched a lot of replays and celebration. I'm happy for Cubs fans because breaking a hundred year old curse is a big deal!

Now some adorable things.
 This girl cracks me up. She has to walk when we're in Walmart and she randomly drops things into the cart. Like twine. Because she knows what twine is and has a need for it? 

We let her pick one toy. The decision process is funny as heck. Does she need a toy vacuum? Who knows...

Why... does she have interest in this new upcoming Disney movie and how did she understand that the book and the character were the same thing?

Wearing Pop's name tag. When I asked her who she was she looked at it and said, "Pop". She also saw a car that looked like Pop's pulling into the driveway and smiled and said, "Pop". She won't let him hold her but she wants him around.

My mom's cellphone rang and the normally very quiet baby girl hollars, "HEY"... like, "HEY... your phone is ringing"

Breakfast at Huddle House. She's a diva. She watches every person who is in the restaurant, waiting for them to say hello to her. If they don't... she is disappointed. If they do, she acts all shy and embarrassed. Every new person that walks in... she stares until they acknowledge her presence.

Putting chapstick on dad.

Making dad wear funny hats gives her much joy.

Glam time with Nana. One bow is not enough. Also... Princess Anna's hair was getting on Cosy's nerves so she was pulling it out.

So that's my week. Now on to my Italian lesson for the day. Happy Thursday... if it is, in fact Thursday. I just can't be sure. Love and hugs, y'all!