Out With The Old, In With The New Hodgepodge…

 It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone already!  There’s a lot of truth in the words of an old Kenny Chesney song, “Life goes faster than you think.  Don’t blink!”  Ain’t it the truth?!
It’s been another entertaining, yet informative, year of The Wednesday Hodgepodge.  Many thanks to our hostess, Joyce, for continuing to furnish such great questions!  Many thanks, as well, to those of you who’ve taken the time to visit my blog, and leave a comment here and there.  I appreciate you very much, and wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!
Since time is ticking away, faster than I think, I suppose I’d better get busy with this week’s questions:
1. Share a favorite moment from your Christmas holiday celebration.

I think the moment I enjoyed the most was visiting the homes of our grandchildren, early on Christmas morning, to see what they got for Christmas.  There’s just something magical about children and their new toys, on Christmas morning.  The excitement is unsurpassed!  I’m blessed to live close to most of our “grands”, so I was able to walk across the yard to visit one, then travel just down the road (walking distance) to see the others.

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Madison with her gifts

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Caden and Chase with their new bikes, opening the first gift

 2. What would you say has been the biggest news event during your life so far?

If you’re talking about the biggest national news event, without a doubt, it was the terrorist attacks of September 11th.  The assassination of President Kennedy was the other thing that popped into my mind.

3. The Pantone Color of the Year for 2015 is Marsala. What say you-like or no like? Would I find this color anywhere in your home or wardrobe? Will you add something in this shade to either?

I really like this color, and, yes, you will find some of this color throughout my home–in the drapes, throw pillows and the bedspread.  I have a pair of slacks that are almost this color, and I’d love to have more items.

4. Would you rather meet your ancestors or your great-grandchildren? Explain why.
I’d prefer to meet my great-grandchildren, so I could see what traits and characteristics have been passed down from Ed and me, through our children, and their children, as well.  It amazes me how that works!
5. Share one life lesson learned in 2014?
I finally learned to live and appreciate one day at a time, without looking too far ahead into the future!    Why? Because Ed’s job situation [at a local hospital] has been perilous, for quite some time, due to a lack of funds.  This year, all employees were forced to take a reduction in salary, and weren’t allowed to accrue any more vacation days. We’ve learned to appreciate each and every paycheck, even though it was somewhat smaller, and we learned to treat each paycheck as if it could be our last one.  We took full advantage of those ‘mandatory’ vacation days, that Ed was forced to take each month, and tried to make them ‘fun days’.

6. What was your best or favorite purchase made in 2014?

I’ll have to say that having a cover built over our front porch was money well spent in 2014.  It sure is nice to have that cover over our porch, especially when it’s raining outside!

7. What is one thing you’re looking forward to in the new year?
I’m looking forward to seeing the unstable situation at the hospital [where Ed works] resolved.  A privately owned company will be taking over management of the hospital on January 5th, with plans to try to make the hospital financially stable.  We already know that some employees are going to lose their jobs, due to this transition, we just don’t know who or when it will be.  We’re hoping for the best, and preparing for the worst. Either way, it will be a relief to finally get things resolved, and, hopefully, our hospital can remain open instead of having to close its doors.
Random:
I’m so far behind with blogging, it isn’t even funny!  So much to do, so little time, but I’ll get there, eventually.
Our Christmas was wonderful, and I fully intend to write a blog post about it, soon.  In the meantime, I’ll share our ‘Crazy Hat Christmas Photo’ of 2014!
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It was quite a hoot trying to get a family picture, of the twelve of us!  We have some hilarious out-takes:)  
P.S.  This photo is unedited, otherwise I would have cropped out all of the toys on the living room floor!  
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Published in: on December 31, 2014 at 9:02 am  Comments (8)  
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Memory Monday ~ More Christmas Memories…

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday

Ed and I just celebrated our forty-second Christmas as husband and wife.  On Christmas Day, we both agreed, we feel that we’ve never had a truly ‘bad’ Christmas during all those years.  What a blessing!  Today, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite Christmas memories from the past forty-two years, and linking them up over at Retired-not-Tired.  After all, it’s Memory Monday!  I’ll be back, later in the week, with some highlights of the Christmas of 2014, but for now, let’s step back in time–way back to the 70’s!

Of course, spending mine and Ed’s first Christmas as Mr. & Mrs. was awesome, but celebrating the first Christmas with our new baby daughter was even better!  I bought enough toys for ten children, even though our daughter, Brandy, wasn’t even quite three months old on her first Christmas!  I guess you can safely say that I spoiled her.

Then there was the following Christmas, when I ended up putting up three different trees, over a four-week period–all in the same room!  We put up our first live tree, then discovered–the hard way–that  a Buck Stove (wood burning heater) can quickly kill a live Christmas tree!  By the time we needed that third, and final tree, all of the pretty trees had already been cut.  Our tree cutting experience reminds me of a scene out of the movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  The tree we ended up with was bigger than our car, and would barely fit through the door of our house!

The year our daughter woke up and walked into the living room, while we were busy assembling ‘Santa’s Gifts’, was another memorable time.  I almost had a heart attack, right then and there!  Fortunately, Brandy was still very young, and was half asleep, too, so she didn’t realize what was happening.  Crisis averted, when I quickly herded her back to bed!

Another memorable Christmas involved a Barbie Dream House with about a million tiny pieces, each requiring a tiny sticker to be applied to each tiny piece.  That “Dream House” ended up being one of Ed’s biggest nightmares!  He stayed up almost all night Christmas Eve, working on it.  That was also the Christmas that I was pregnant with our oldest son, and the Christmas my parents decided to spend the night with us, so they could watch our daughter find her gifts from Santa.  There was a lot going on that year!

Then there was that Christmas when the children asked for a trampoline.  It’s always tricky trying to assemble a trampoline, in the dark, late at night!  Enter one ‘tipsy’ brother-in-law, who showed up to help assemble the trampoline, and it’s a recipe for disaster.  Things went pretty good until the ‘tipsy’ brother-in-law decided to try out the finished trampoline, and hit himself in the nose with his knee!  He went home with a bloody nose, and never even got into a fight!  That trampoline provided even more free entertainment, the following day, when my mama decided to jump on it, too!  Fun times.

For many years, our family would spend Christmas Eve with Ed’s family, then come home, put the children to bed, and spend the rest of the night putting toys together and arranging things around the Christmas tree.  As a result, Ed and I got very little sleep on Christmas Eve.  Because of this, we always had a rule that the children couldn’t get up before sunrise, on Christmas Day.  I suspect, sometimes, the children often got out of bed before sunrise to sneak a peek, then crawled back into their beds to wait for daybreak.  My suspicions were confirmed, one Christmas, when I heard My Pal 2, the talking robot, go off in the middle of the night!  The children didn’t know that My Pal 2 was motion activated, so imagine their surprise when the toy suddenly began talking, in the silence of the night!

Other favorite memories include the one and only year it snowed just before Christmas (1989), making travel treacherous, here in the south, but making things so much fun for the kids.  That same Christmas Day, Ed had to drive 55 miles, in the snow, to pick up his brother from the airport–the same brother who banged his nose while jumping on the trampoline!  While Ed was at the airport, he bought me a copy of Time magazine. I’d been searching for that particular copy of Time, with Tom Cruise featured on the cover, but had failed to find it.  I was thrilled when Ed presented me with the magazine, and it was my favorite Christmas gift, that year!

Last, but not least are all of the fun memories our family has had over the years with a huge pair of “Christmas Panties”!  Way back in the 80’s, my late father-in-law found a huge pair of pink ladies underwear in a dumpster, and brought them home to his wife as a joke.  Thus, the saga of the “Christmas Panties” was born!  Since then, every year, the gigantic pair of panties gets passed around to a different family member–either a man or a woman.  The recipient must keep the panties for an entire year, write a note to the next recipient, then pass the panties on, the following year.  Every note written, since the mid-eighties, is still attached to the top of the gift box!  Some of those notes are hilarious!

The years passed too quickly, and all-too-soon, our children grew up and ‘Santa’ no longer came to our house.  Our parents began passing away, one by one.  For many years, Christmas came and went, without the magic of ‘Santa’ in our house. Our house was filled with teenagers and adults.  As you can imagine, I was thrilled when some grandchildren finally began arriving, so we could experience the magic of ‘Santa’, once again!  Throw in the antics of “Buddy”, our granddaughter’s elf on the shelf, and we’re having lots of fun, again, watching new memories being made with our next generation!  The magic of Santa lives on…

A couple of years ago, I compiled a lot of our old Christmas pictures and made a Christmas memory montage.  It’s at the bottom of this post.  The pictures are in chronological order, beginning with mine and Ed’s first Christmases with our families, Christmases with our children, and ending with our oldest two grandchildren, at Christmas.  There’s Brandy with all of her toys on that first Christmas, Ed putting toys together, the trampoline that provided so much entertainment, the Christmas snow, and, yes, even some pictures of those pink Christmas panties!  Oh, how I do love a good Christmas memory!

Published in: on December 29, 2014 at 8:40 am  Comments (5)  
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Memory Monday ~ My Children

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday

Once again, today’s subject is one of my favorites!  I’m proud of the people all of my children have grown up to be, and, next to Ed, there’s nobody I’d rather post about–well, except for maybe ‘the grands’…

My husband, Ed, had joined the army shortly before we met, and left for duty not long afterward.  Due to this, he and I had a limited courtship, between army assignments, but it still didn’t take us long to realize we were meant to be together.  Once Ed got out of the army, and I graduated from high school, we immediately got married.  I guess you could say Ed and I married, then had our courtship afterward!

For the first five years of our marriage, Ed and I went to the movies, to concerts, dancing, out to eat,  on vacations, rode our motorcycle, and enjoyed going out in our boat.  We had a great time doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.  Having babies was the farthest thing on our minds.  In fact, both sets of parents had already given up hope of us having any grandchildren for them, when we finally decided to have a baby!

I became pregnant, with our first child, about five and a half years after our wedding day.  After six positive pregnancy tests, and a family practitioner who couldn’t figure out if I was pregnant or not, I was referred to an OB/GYN, and had an uneventful pregnancy.  Unfortunately, the labor and delivery wasn’t uneventful, but, none-the-less, our daughter made her way into the world, kicking and screaming– or should I say she was dragged out, with forceps, kicking and screaming?  She weighed eight pounds, we named her Brandy, and I was scared to death of her!

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Brandy, age 5 weeks

I’d never had much experience with babies, and was afraid to even change her diapers, at first.  It didn’t take me long to get over my fears, but then poor Brandy came down with colic, so it was a long first three months for both of us!  A baby swing is the only thing that saved our sanity.  The gentle rocking motion seemed to quiet our screaming daughter, until she finally outgrew the colic.

I always knew I wanted more than one child, because one is a lonely number.  (My brother left home when I was just eight, and I’d grown up alone and lonely.)  My only stipulation was to get one child out of diapers before giving birth to another.  Ed and I found out we were expecting our second child shortly before our daughter’s third birthday, and we were thrilled.

Our first son, Brett, was born in the wee hours of the Monday morning, following Mother’s Day.  His was my easiest birth of all.  My total labor, from the first pain until delivery was only five hours.  Brett was a good baby and a delightful toddler, who loved to sing.

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Brett, age 6 months

With two children, a girl and a boy, many thought our family was complete, but I wasn’t so sure.  I had plans in the back of my mind for a third child, to be born after the first two started to school, but you know what they say about best laid plans…

I found out I was pregnant with child number three, when Brett was just over two years old.  Ed and I had recently changed our healthcare coverage, and were in the ‘waiting period’ before becoming eligible for maternity benefits.  Surprise!  But what a delightful surprise our third child turned out to be!

Our second son, Brad, was born two weeks after his due date, weighing ten pounds, nine ounces!  I delivered him naturally, and thought I was going to die!  Labor took 21 hours, and the birth?  Well, I hate to even think about how the baby got stuck, halfway out of the birth canal, but all’s well that ends well, right?  When I looked over and saw Brad, I simply couldn’t believe that much baby had been in my belly, and exited through such a small opening!  My body hasn’t been the same since.

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Brad, age 6 months

With the arrival of a third child, our family quickly discovered that two’s company, but three is often a crowd.  Oldest son, Brett, didn’t take the arrival of his new baby brother well, at first.  A day or two after we brought Brad home from the hospital, Brett cried all night long!  Brett cried so long and so hard, Ed took him to the emergency room, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with him.  Although Brett loved his brother, the sunny personality Brett used to have, quickly disappeared, replaced by ‘middle child syndrome’, I suppose.  At our house, there was often an odd man out, during playtime, which usually became our daughter, once the boys got old enough to play together.

Daughter, Brandy, has always been a ‘mama’s girl’, while the boys tended to gravitate toward Ed.  Our boys always shared a bedroom, and became very close–even after Brett’s initial disturbing display of disapproval of the arrival of his new brother.  Brett quickly became the ring leader, with Brad happily playing whatever Brett chose to play.  Brandy would join in, whenever they would let her.

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Easter, 1988 (I think)

All of our children were good students, and did well all through school.  Both sons are gifted, and were honor graduates, without actually putting forth a whole lot of effort. Two of the three adolescents gave us little-to-no trouble as teenagers, but our oldest son often kept us on our toes!  Brett liked to bend the house rules–or claim he forgot them–and, therefore, caused us more than a few sleepless nights.  We’ll blame it on middle child syndrome.

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Brett’s 21st birthday

Of course, like most, all three children experienced different kinds of ‘growing pains’ as young adults.  Our daughter experienced a ton of heartbreak before finally finding ‘Mr. Right’ (including a broken engagement, amidst wedding preparations).  You could say, she went through a couple of toads before finally finding her prince.

Our oldest son, Brett, grew up among neighborhood friends, who later made unwise decisions and became bad influences on him. One particular boy chose the wrong path in life and, but for the grace of God, could have dragged Brett along with him.  It took Brett forever to realize that this boy was bad news!

Last, but not least, at different times, both sons went through this crazy transition period, when they dropped out of college, and didn’t want to do much of anything except hang around the house, eat, and sleep!  During these crazy transition periods, Ed’s mom gave both boys [at different times] a place to live until they got their lives back on track, ’cause this mama wasn’t having it!  Both sons eventually got back on track, earned college degrees, and found jobs!  Hallelujah!

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photo taken for Mother’s Day 2013

Our daughter, Brandy, briefly attended college, then worked in several business offices, before and after marriage.  At this time, Brandy is currently a stay-at-home wife, and home-schooling mom, no doubt the most important job she’ll ever have in life.  She has one daughter, Madison.

Oldest son, Brett, is a married father of two young sons, Caden and Chase, and currently works [with computers] at a large university.  Brett also spends much of his free time sharing the gospel with others, and continuing his education.

Our youngest, Brad, is married, lives in a nearby city (much to this mama’s dismay), and has a one-year-old son named Evan.  Brad earned a degree in accounting, but is currently working out of his field, installing and programing industrial heating/air conditioning controls.

Raising children wasn’t always easy, but I’m SO PROUD of (and thankful for) the up-standing, responsible adults our three children have grown up to become!  I’m thankful all have found loving, supportive spouses, and I’m especially thankful all have been blessed to experience the joys (and, sometimes, heartaches) of being parents themselves.  Praise the Lord!

***Linking this post up with others @ Retired-not-Tired for Judy’s Memory Monday meme.

Published in: on December 22, 2014 at 10:18 am  Comments (3)  
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The Christmas Countdown Hodgepodge…


Eight days and counting!  Are you ready for Christmas?  I’m about as ready as I’m going to get!  Since I’m finished with the shopping and decorating, I can finally relax a little.  There’s no better way to relax than by joining with friends for The Wednesday Hodgepodge!  Thanks, Joyce, for hosting the party 🙂

1. Time magazine has selected The Ebola Fighters as their person of the year for 2014. Do you agree, and if so who would you say is a close second? If you disagree with their choice, who do you think should have been chosen?

I agree.  I think the Ebola Fighters are a good choice.  I admire their compassion and bravery, but there’s no way I would do what they do!  As for a second choice, I simply don’t know.  There are many who do much with very little recognition.

2. This question comes to you courtesy of Susan who blogs over at Stew Mama Says. She knows we have a wedding happening any minute now, and she asks, ‘What’s your favorite-something old? something new? something borrowed? something blue in your home?  Be sure you hop over and say hi to Susan today!
Something old- It’s a tie between the ballerina clock that belonged to my parents, and Buster the cookie jar, that belonged to Ed’s parents. (Buster was a Christmas gift to them from my parents.)
Something new- a [personalized] painting of Santa Claus that’s hanging in the living room.  (Santa has all of our family’s names printed on his list.)
Something borrowed- I can’t think of a thing I have that’s borrowed!
Something blue- perhaps my trusty old blue housecoat?  I wear it every morning while I feed the cats and chickens.
3. Fudge-yay or nay? Your favorite flavor? Do you make it yourself? With nuts or without?
Yes, I do like fudge!  My favorite fudge is chocolate, has nuts in it, and comes from The Hansel and Gretel candy shop in Helen, Georgia.  Yes, I do make fudge, but mine sure doesn’t taste like the fudge that comes from my favorite candy shop!
4. December 17th is Wright Brothers Day, commemorating the first successful flights made by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  How old were you when you made your first flight? Do you like to fly? Have you ever been to Kitty Hawk or other parts of the North Carolina Outer Banks?
I’ve never flown, nor do I plan to.  I’ve never been to North Carolina either, but I wouldn’t mind visiting the Outer Banks.
5. Do the people in your family tend to follow a particular career path, and if so what’s the path?
There doesn’t seem to be a particular career path in our family, although we do have two family members who work in the medical profession, and two who are stay-at-home moms.
6. What is one thing you absolutely, positively must accomplish today?
I’m almost caught up with my Christmas preparations and house cleaning, so there isn’t anything that I have to accomplish today–unless it’s taking a nap!

7. This Christmas I hope everyone in our family is happy and healthy!  Three out of four of our grandchildren have been sick, recently!  Our grandsons had to post-pone their birthday party, last weekend, due to illness.

Random:

On Monday, our oldest grandchild, Madison, had her picture taken with Santa again.  Madison has had her picture taken with Santa every year since she was born, over eight years ago, and, believe me, some of those pictures were quite a challenge to get!

Monday’s ‘Santa’ was awesome!  He was jolly, but in a quiet way, and he had a great beard!  Madison is usually shy, but  she and Santa had quite a conversation going on!  The entire moment was a little bittersweet, knowing that it could possibly be Madison’s last time having her picture taken with Santa.  Our little Madison is growing up…  Where did time go?

Christmas 2009

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and…

Christmas 2014

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Published in: on December 17, 2014 at 8:26 am  Comments (12)  
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Memory Monday ~ My Husband

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday

Finally, a subject I can write about without absolutely no sadness or remorse!  If you’ve been reading my previous Monday posts, then you know that my childhood was less than perfect, and downright painful, at times.  However, all of that was before I met my future husband, Ed!

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Edward, as a baby, 1950

My husband, Edward, now known as “Ed” or just plain “E”, was the second born of five sons.  Ed’s older brother, Allen, and his younger brother, Dale, were both born shortly before and after him. Unfortunately, both of these brothers died from Cystic Fibrosis, and Ed doesn’t even remember them now.  Allen lived to be three, but little Dale barely made it past six months old.  For a while, after the death of his two brothers, Edward used to ask his mother if he was going to die, too.  I can’t begin to imagine the heartbreak Ed’s mom must have gone through, in those days!

Edward was a sickly, only child for several years, until, finally, another baby brother was born.  Fifteen months later, another baby brother was born, too.  Now, Ed’s mama really had her hands full!  She was an older mom, and depended on Ed to help her, quite a bit, which probably helped shape him into the husband and father he would later become.

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Edward and his family, 1960

As a child, Ed took piano lessons for many years.  He became an accomplished pianist, performing in many recitals and receiving several awards for his performances. I recently learned that Ed learned how to play the organ, as well!   Ed was the only one of his brothers to take any formal music lessons.

At age 17, Ed graduated from high school in 1967, and attended Georgia Southern College (years before it became a university), where he says he wasted his parents hard-earned money by not applying himself.  The following year, Ed attended Vocational-Technical College for a year, but failed to return the second year to complete the electronics course.  Instead, Ed and a friend of his, decided to join the army and see the world!  Ed and his friend signed up to go into the army, and attend x-ray school.  Soon the two found themselves immersed in the world of anatomy, physics, and techniques!

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Ed, with his younger brothers, 1969

Shortly after Ed signed up for the army, but before he and his friend were called to report for basic training, Ed and I were set up, on a blind date, by a mutual cousin.  Yes, I said “by a mutual cousin”.  Ed’s mama’s sister, married my daddy’s brother, and the couple had two children.  Susan, the oldest cousin, paired me up with Ed, so she could go out with his friend.  The four of us went on a double date to the drive-in.  Susan and Ed’s friend didn’t hit it off, but Ed and I sure did!  I was just three weeks shy of my fifteenth birthday, while Ed was three months short of his nineteenth, when we met.

When I first met Ed, he was working a summer job, of mowing grass at a nearby army post.  Ed was lean and tanned, and he quickly stole my heart.  What a gentleman he was!  Ed told me he’d recently joined the army and would be leaving for basic training, in just a few short weeks. By the time those few weeks rolled around, Ed and I were already in love, and committed to each other.  I told him I’d wait for him. Much of the rest of our courtship came in spurts, between Ed’s army assignments.

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Ed and me, taken shortly before he left for Okinawa, in 1970

 Ed completed his basic training on an army post about three hours from where we lived.  We didn’t see each other for the first three weeks of training, then the army let all of the new recruits go home for Christmas break! After the Christmas break, basic training quickly resumed, followed by four months of x-ray schooling at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas.  About three months after completing x-ray schooling, in Texas, Ed shipped out for an eighteen month tour of duty (which turned out to be twenty-one months) in Okinawa.  We’d been dating just over a year, by this point.  Ed gave me an engagement ring, and officially asked me to marry him, shortly before he left.

Ed’s friend, who joined the army with him, had gotten married that summer, and was taking his new wife along to Okinawa.  Oh, how I wanted to marry Ed and go along, too!  However, Ed pointed out that I needed to stay at home, and finish high school, while he finished his time in the army, then we could get married.  So, that’s exactly what we did.  Now, I know it was the right thing to do.

Ed returned home on May 30, 1972, just in time to attend my high school graduation!  He quickly landed a job, working as an x-ray technologist, in a big city hospital, about 55 miles away from our home town.  At first, Ed thought about moving to the city alone, and working for a while before we got married, but I had other ideas!  I was tired of waiting, and I told him so.  He agreed that we would get married.

Ed and I found a place to live, moved our things, and planned a wedding–all within three weeks! We got married on Sunday,  June 18th, on the birthday of the mutual cousin who introduced us.

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Our wedding day

I’ve heard many couples say that marriage is a struggle, and it takes a lot of work.  I’ve never felt that way while being married to Ed.  I do remember the first year of marriage was an adjustment, being away from home and everyone I knew, as well as trying to learn how to cook, but it was never a struggle.

Ed and I had lived in the big city for just over five years, when the urge struck us to move back to our hometown.  By then, we were thinking about starting our family, and we had no desire to raise a family in the city.  (We’d already been robbed twice!) We moved back home, to the family farm where Ed grew up, and we’ve been here every since.  Ed commuted back and forth to the city, over 115 miles per day, for almost two years, until he finally got a job closer to home.

Ed and I eventually became parents to three children, first a daughter, followed by two sons, all born three years apart.  Ed has always been a fantastic father, just as I knew he would be, from watching him with his younger brothers. He changed diapers on our first born before I did!

When the children were babies, Ed always helped feed them supper and give them baths.  As they got older, he helped each one with their homework, if needed, and tucked them into bed every night.  Our children will tell you, Ed was never too tired or too busy for them.

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Ed and family, Easter in the mid-eighties

As for being a good husband, I could have searched the world over and I’m positive I couldn’t have found a better man to share my life with!  Ed’s always been my friend, my lover, my soul mate, and, at times, even my care-taker.

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celebrating our 42nd anniversary, on St. Simon’s Island

When I became sick with rheumatoid arthritis, over twenty years ago, Ed may have felt like he got a little more than he bargained for, but he’s never let me down.  Ed’s been to the majority of my doctor’s appointments with me, gets my prescriptions filled every month, and has taken over the household duties, many times, during my bouts with this illness. I have been blessed beyond measure, and I thank God, very much, for my wonderful husband, Ed!

*I’m linking this post up, along with others, for Memory Monday, over at retired-not-tired.

Published in: on December 15, 2014 at 8:30 am  Comments (9)  
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A Holiday Hodgepodge…

Ho! Ho! Ho!  ‘Tis the season to join in The Hodgepodge, so let’s get started!  Anyone can join in the festivities by clicking the button at the top of this post, answering the questions, and linking up.  As always, thanks so much to Joyce, for providing the questions and hosting this fun meme.

1. What is one new holiday tradition you’d like to establish, or one you’ve established recently, say in the last year or two?

Almost five years ago, our family started the tradition of taking a ‘Crazy Christmas Hat’ family photo on Christmas Day!  I have a collection of crazy Christmas hats, so we each put one on and set the timer on the camera. This makes for some interesting pictures!

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 Crazy Hat Christmas Photo ~ 2009

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 Crazy Hat Christmas Photo ~ 2013

Note the changes in our family from the first photo until the last one.  We lost Ed’s mom, but gained two grandsons!

2. It’s the second week of December.

Have you sipped a cup of eggnog yet this month? No, and I don’t plan to.

Wrapped a gift? I haven’t wrapped any gifts, yet, but Ed has wrapped two.

Opened a gift? No

Kissed someone under the mistletoe?  Yes, last night!

Lit a candle?  Yes, several of them.

Eaten a Christmas cookie? Yes, some gingerbread men that my daughter and granddaughter made.

Seen Santa in person? Yes, at Wal-mart, last weekend!

Watched a Christmas movie or special? Yes, several of them!

Read scripture relating to the birth of Jesus? No, but I’ve listened to my granddaughter, Madison, recite some of it from memory. Does that count?

3. Do you think it’s better to be an adult or a child at Christmastime? Explain.

I think it’s better to be a child at Christmastime, especially one who still believes in Santa.  There’s nothing else that feels quite as magical as the anticipation of waiting for the arrival of Santa, on Christmas Eve, or as exciting as waking up and finding the gifts Santa left under the tree on Christmas morning!  My husband swears he once heard the pawing of the reindeer’s hoofs, on top of his house, when he was a little boy 🙂

4. It’s often said, ‘Good things come to those who wait’…agree or disagree? Why?

It’s always been my shopping experience if I wait to buy something, it’s usually gone when I return to get it.  This happened to me, again, just yesterday!  So, I disagree!  However, there have also been times when I’ll buy something, only to return to the store and find the item is now on sale…

5. What’s the last sweet thing you baked? Did you keep it, take it to a party/event, or give it away?

The last sweet thing I baked were pies.  I made a pecan pie and a coconut pie, and  I served them to my family at Thanksgiving.

6. This question comes to us courtesy of Jhona who blogs over at The Red House at the End of the Lane. Everyone hop over and say hi to Jhona this week! Here is her question… “I heard an actor talk about how he makes a conscious choice to talk to people in elevators. He chooses to connect, make eye contact, and converse. Do you talk to people/strangers when you’re in an elevator or any other place where you might have to wait together? Why or why not?”

I’ll talk to people if they initiate a conversation, otherwise, I usually don’t say anything other than hello.  I don’t talk a lot with strangers/people because I’m shy.

7. Are you on the naughty or nice list this year? What put you there?

I hope I’m on the nice list because I’ve tried to control my tongue more.  There’s still room for improvement, but I’m working on it.  Sometimes, I tend to say/do things without thinking, but don’t we all?  

My latest flub up was to re-post (and agree with) someone’s blog post link, concerning leggings, on my Facebook page.  Now my DIL’s are self-conscience about wearing leggings around me…  Actually, our son, Brad, being the jokester he is, actually made his wife buy a pair of leggings to wear to our house–just to see what I’d say!  Of course, I didn’t say a word.

If you’re curious, you can read the legging blog post HERE.  It’s somewhat amusing.

Random:

Here’s our granddaughter, Madison, reciting her recent memory verses, which happens to be Christmas scripture.  Way to go, Maddie!

Here’s our youngest grandson, Evan (and his mom), having a picture taken with Santa.  Evan wasn’t impressed!  Don’t ya’ just love watching a small child’s first reaction to Santa? Ha!  This is one of the few non-smiling pics we have of Evan.

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Published in: on December 10, 2014 at 8:10 am  Comments (9)  
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Memory Monday ~ My Christmas Memories

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday

When I saw today’s prompt for Memory Monday, I had a lot of mixed emotions.  For the past forty years, or so, Christmas with my husband, Ed, our children, and now our grandchildren, has been a happy and memorable time, but this wasn’t always the case when I was growing up.

You see, when people have ‘issues’, sometimes the holidays tend to make those issues worse.  You may recall, from my previous posts, that both of my parents had a problem with alcohol.  Often, they chose to drink during the holidays.  Need I say more?  More than a few family Christmases were spoiled by alcohol.

Hard times…

Due to alcoholism, and all of the problems it brings, money was often scarce for my parents during my early years of childhood.  At one point, they were deeply immersed in alcoholism and deeply in debt.  That year, I got a doll/layette set, (that I’m told daddy picked up from the grocery store, at the last-minute) and a little round suitcase (sort of like a hat box with a strap) filled with some Christmas candy and a little necklace.  I didn’t know it, at the time, but some of daddy’s co-workers had taken up donations to buy the little suitcase, candy, and necklace for me.  This would be the first of three “Hard Candy Christmases” for me and my family.  I have a brother, who is almost nine years older than me, but, strangely, I have no recollection of him on this particular Christmas.  We didn’t know it, at the time, but this would be the last Christmas our family would spend together in this house.

The next year, money was incredibly tight, even though mama had taken a job, too.  My parents had moved from Florida to Georgia, after losing their home to foreclosure.  My older brother had gotten married to his high school sweetheart.  My parents and I were living in a small rental home.  That year, I asked Santa for a Tiny Chatty Baby doll.  My brother’s wife (they’d only been married a couple of months) saved her S&H green stamps and got me a doll stroller to go along with my doll, even though I’m sure there were many things she needed for herself.  Unfortunately, that year, mama and daddy went to bed without putting out my Christmas presents, so I woke up, the next morning, to find nothing under the tree.  Sadly, I went back to bed.  A while later, I heard my parents scrambling around in the living room, and when I got up, for the second time, my gifts were beside the tree.  This is how I learned the truth about Santa.

By the next Christmas, my family was still struggling. By then, we had moved to another town, closer to daddy’s job.  Daddy was working at the Georgia State Prison.  The thing I remember most about this time was the fact that we had no car.  We relied on friends and neighbors (and our feet) for transportation.  For Christmas, that year, I got a Barbie doll, two Barbie outfits, and a doll crib, that daddy had asked a prisoner to make for me.  I was ten, and no longer played with baby dolls, but I really loved my Barbie and her new clothes!  In fact, I still have her, as well as the old doll crib.

Better times…

Thankfully, things were much better with my family, by the following Christmas.  I was in the sixth grade, when mama and daddy stopped drinking for several years.  Money was not in such short supply anymore, and we had a nice Christmas that year.    My brother and sister-in-law came from Florida to have Christmas with us, and brought me my first bicycle!  We had lots of gifts and good food to eat.  That particular Christmas is the best Christmas I can remember, as a child.

The next few Christmases were good, with the exception of the year my maternal granddaddy died, just a few days before Christmas.  I was in the ninth grade.  Mama took granddaddy’s passing hard, and barely got out of bed that Christmas Day. Most of our Christmas money had to be spent on new clothes to wear to the funeral, as well.

Somehow, we always managed to have a Christmas tree, in good times and in bad.  Most of the time, daddy would go to the woods and cut down a cedar tree.  Sometimes, we did this as a family, and that was always memorable.  We trimmed our tree with colored lights (the big ones, not the miniature ones), glass ornaments, garland, and, of course, icicles!  By the end of Christmas, those icicles would be all over the house!

When I was sixteen, on the first Christmas after Ed and I became engaged, he was deployed overseas.  For Christmas, Ed sent me a Japanese Geisha doll, along with a large glass case to keep it in. When my gift arrived from Okinawa, Japan, every piece of glass, for the case, was broken, except one!  Ed’s daddy had all of the glass replaced, and even put the case together for me!  Ed’s parents also bought a huge red and white stuffed dog, that I’d been admiring, and gave it to me for Christmas.  My future in-laws helped make Christmas more bearable for me, that year, in the absence of their son.

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Christmas 1970

Good times…

Christmas was good the last two years I lived at home, with my parents, because I landed a job and had my own spending money!  The first year, I worked as a gift wrapper in a small department store.  I had so much fun wrapping all of those gifts for everyone!  By the second Christmas, I’d been promoted to working as a sales person, at the same store.  I was amazed that so many people waited until an hour before closing, on Christmas Eve, to do their shopping!  The store manager actually had to turn people away and lock the door at closing time.

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Our first tree

By Christmas, 1972, I was an eighteen-year-old newlywed.  One of my all-time favorite Christmas memories is still the one of Ed and me shopping at K-mart for our first tree and all of its decorations!  We were so young and in love, and were thrilled to be finally spending our first Christmas together, in two years!  The fact that we were husband and wife made it all the better!  Some of those first tree decorations still hold a place of honor on our Christmas tree, today.  Every year, when I hang those ornaments, I can’t help but marvel at all of the wonderful Christmases they’ve presided over!  Forty-one Christmases and counting…  Oh the stories those ornaments could tell, if only they could speak!

Oh, and by the way, I have one lone Christmas ornament, that belonged to my parents when I was growing up–a tiny red glass pine cone.  Somehow it survived all of the moves, and hung on my parents’ tree for many, many years.  I hang it at the top of my Christmas tree, every year, as a reminder of years gone by.

*I’m linking my memories up with Judy @ Retired-Not-Tired.

Published in: on December 8, 2014 at 11:22 am  Comments (9)  
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200 Hodgepodges And Counting…

They say time flies when you’re having fun, so I must really be enjoying my life!  It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging for almost six years, and that I’ve joined in ‘The Hodgepodge’ for two hundred times!  I haven’t missed an edition yet.

I was one of the original participants.  I actually ‘met’ our hostess, Joyce, while doing a similar meme on another blog.  When that meme ended, I actually emailed Joyce and encouraged her to take up the meme and continue it.  Joyce did even better, she came up with a similar, but improved meme, and thus ‘The Hodgepodge’ was born!  The rest is history.

Joyce does such an amazing job each week, creating informative, and thought-provoking questions!  She’s also a gracious hostess, visiting the participants, and leaving a thoughtful comment for each one.  I say it every week, and I’ll say it again, “Thanks for all you do, Joyce.”  The Hodgepodge is so great because of your efforts.

I’m thankful for the old (and new) friends I’ve ‘met’ while participating in ‘The Hodgepodge’.  I look forward to reading your answers each week, and I follow many of you on a regular basis.  Many of you do the same for me.  In the words of an old song, Thank you for being a friend.  I look forward to our continued friendship in the days ahead!

All that being said, let’s get to today’s questions, along with my answers:

1. What is something in your life right now that feels a little ‘hodgepodge’?

My entire house feels, and looks, a LOT like a ‘hodgepodge!  At the moment, I have containers of Christmas decorations sitting in almost every room in the house.  My goal is to have the house decorated, and the boxes put away, by the end of the week.  We’ll see how it goes!

2. What does ‘peace on earth, goodwill to men’ mean to you?

All people, everywhere, should just get along and be nice to each other.  Just think of the problems that would solve!

3. Which edible treat you are most looking forward to sampling this December?

I always look forward to making Christmas candy for the family.  Fudge!  Buckeyes!  Peanut Brittle!  Divinity!   Be still my beating heart–candy is not on my list of acceptable foods to eat, but I’ll have to try a sample or two–and pay the price for it, later 😦

4. It’s that most wonderful time of the year…do you agree, and if so why is it so wonderful? If not, what would you say is the most wonderful time of the year?

Yes, I agree it’s the most wonderful time of the year, because it’s the time of the year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, most people seem to forget that Jesus is the reason for the season, myself included, at times.

I love all of the Christmas decorations, Christmas lights, Christmas music, Christmas movies, Christmas goodies, Christmas presents…  Well, I think you get the idea.

5. What was the last word you looked up in a dictionary (actual or online) and why?

I can’t recall a particular word, but I’m sure it had something to do with ‘The Hodgepodge’.  This meme often requires doing a little research!  (Keep us on our toes, Joyce!)  

6. Besides a Christmas tree, what is your favorite thing to decorate this time of year?

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Christmas 2012 – shelves filled with curios (and the village) in the background, along with our youngest son, Brad

I always look forward to unpacking all of my Christmas curios and decorating the shelves in our living room.  I’m also excited about being able to display my gingerbread village on top of Ed’s mom’s buffet, which is located in our pool room.  It’s the first time I’ve had a place to properly display the village, since we moved into this house.

7. Share one thing you’ve learned (about yourself, people, or anything at all) in the Wednesday Hodgepodge, or through blogging in general.

First of all, let me say that I’ve learned A LOT since I first started blogging!  It’s amazing how much you learn by reading the blogs of other people. We’re all different in many ways, but, yet, we’re the same.

The first thing that comes to mind, however, is learning how the weather is quite different in different parts of the USA. For instance, I’ve been wearing shorts and running the A/C while decorating for Christmas, while our hostess, Joyce (who lives just a few states up) had eight inches of snow on Thanksgiving!

The other striking thing I’ve learned is how certain foods are native to certain parts of the country.  Boiled peanuts anyone?  How about some grits?

Random:

Thanksgiving 2014 has come and gone in a blur. It was a good day, with all of the family present, except our daughter-in-law, Jennifer, who had to work.

I haven’t had time to write a proper post about the day, but here are a few things about Thanksgiving 2014 that stick out in my mind:

  • Grandson, Evan, came in wearing a shirt that read “I’m stuffed”.  How appropriate for Thanksgiving!
  • I didn’t take a single picture!  I have nothing left from the day except memories.  Our daughter-in-law, Christina, did take a couple of pics of the grandchildren, thank goodness!
  • I cooked part of the Thanksgiving Day meal, on Wednesday, which made preparation a lot easier on Thursday.  I will continue that tradition from now on!
  • One of the sweetest moments of Thanksgiving was over-hearing our two oldest grandsons, who are almost 6 and 3, sing the hymn When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder.  Unfortunately, they stopped when they realized I was listening.
  • I chuckled when grandson, Caden, got up from the table to replace his “girly fork”(his words, not mine) with a different kind of fork!  (We were using Ed’s mom’s fancy silverware.)
  • We began a new family tradition of having a brief devotion, then going around the table and letting each person tell what they’re most thankful for, before we eat.  This was our second year of this tradition, and it always produces some tears, as well as a little laughter!  Such precious moments.  I wish we’d started this tradition much sooner!
Published in: on December 3, 2014 at 8:31 am  Comments (12)  
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Memory Monday ~ Daddy

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday

Today I’m joining Judy at Retired-Not-Tired for Memory Monday.  Today’s prompt is My Daddy.

My daddy was one of seven children, six boys and only one girl. Unfortunately, one of the boys and the girl died early in life, leaving only five sons.  One particular thing I remember about the five brothers is they all had nicknames while growing up.  I’ve forgotten what some of the nicknames were, but one uncle was known as “Bully”, while another was known as “Bo Day”.  Daddy’s nickname was “Pretty Boy”, maybe because he liked to dress up and look nice.

My daddy’s father gave him a pocket watch on his eighteenth birthday because daddy hadn’t tried alcohol, up to that point. Unfortunately, after his father gave him that pocket watch, daddy decided to try alcohol, a few years later. What began as ‘social drinking’, eventually became full-blown alcoholism, a problem which plagued daddy throughout his life.

Daddy started out farming, but shortly after marrying mama, the two left country living behind, and moved to the big city of Jacksonville, Florida. Mama said she didn’t like the way daddy’s brothers took advantage of him, in the farming operation, so she encouraged him to quit, and make a new start.

For a while, in Florida, daddy was a traveling salesman, but I’m not sure what he sold, ’cause that was before my time.  Later, after I was born, daddy drove a Sunbeam bread truck for a living, and, years later, for a time, he even ran a gas station.

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Daddy, while living in Florida

In 1963, daddy and mama decided to move back to Georgia, and start over.  Their drinking had landed them in a financial disaster. Once back in Georgia, daddy held several more jobs, including managing a grocery store.

Now, Daddy had a ‘green thumb’ and could grow anything.  No matter where we lived, daddy usually had a small garden growing.  He was able to grow enough vegetables to fill our freezer, and, often, would sell the extra vegetables to local grocery stores.  The extra money often came in handy.

Daddy eventually became a guard at Georgia State Prison, where he worked until he retired, in 1988. Oh, the job-related stories daddy could tell!  The prisoners could (and did) make weapons out of anything!  A few of the prisoners were very talented, and put their talents to good use, making and selling all sorts of items.  One of the most unusual items I can remember was a picture frame made entirely out of match sticks!

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Daddy (cir. 1975) in his guard uniform

 The years passed, and mama and daddy were finally able to purchase another home.  The above picture was taken in front of that second home.  Mama and daddy spent fifteen years, together, in this home, before illness struck.

Unfortunately, daddy’s final years on earth were tough ones.  About the time he retired from working,  his health began to rapidly deteriorate, at age sixty-two.  First, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, followed by a nearly lethal battle with pneumonia.

The pneumonia was so bad, daddy stayed on a respirator, in ICU, for two months. Then, he also suffered more complications  caused by the pneumonia (a blood clot of the intestines, caused by a lack of oxygen), which kept him in the hospital for a total of four long months!  Daddy lost nearly one-half of his intestines to gangrene, before the doctors finally did exploratory surgery, and found the problem.

Daddy spent the final two years of his life shifting between hospitals and the nursing home.  He eventually died, after his long battle with illness, on May 16, 1991, about a month after he celebrated his 65th birthday.

I was grateful for the extra time I had with daddy, even though much of it was spent at his bedside. Daddy and I hadn’t always been close, while I was growing up, but we developed a good relationship during those final years.

Published in: on December 1, 2014 at 1:36 am  Comments (8)  
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