Thursday, November 21, 2013

G is for... Wait for it....


G is for ... GOOD FOOD!

Yes, people.  Good food, as in, holiday favorites.

I bet many of you have Pinterest boards dedicated to good food, or at the very least, a recipe file of family favorites that you can't wait to create every November.   What is it about this time of year that makes us crave certain foods?  I'm not sure, but I do know that Thanksgiving and Christmas would not be the same without my favorite good foods, like...

  • Cornbread dressing
  • Pink Stuff (Don't ask me what it is, but it is delicious.)
  • Green bean casserole
  • Chocolate pie
  • Banana pudding
And that list doesn't even account for the "goodie foods" that make the holidays so special.  You know...goodies like Amish Friendship Bread, Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies, Fudge, Chess squares, and cookies, cookies, and more cookies.

I've got a couple of new recipes I want to try this year:  Candace's Oreo Bark, chocolate drizzled popcorn, and Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake.  


Now that I'm really thinking about it, maybe G stands for Goodies.

Spoken like a true sweet tooth.  :)

F is for Family Memories, Part 2


Now that you've had a chance to read about some of my memories of my dad's family, I am back to share about my mom's family.  (If you missed it, you can Read Part 1 here.)

What is that old saying about daughters and sons?  I can't remember it, but it relates to a son marrying and gravitating to his wife's family, while a daughter stays in the fold.  I think there is some truth to that.  While I have many, many great memories of my dad's family, my memories of my mom's family, especially as a very young child, are stronger. (Not better, mind you.)  That may be based on the fact that my Grandma was my babysitter when my mom worked, or it could be from the many weekends I spent sleeping over at my Grandma's house.

Or...it could be due to the smaller family size--mom had three siblings versus my dad's large family of nine kids.

Maybe it was due to my Grandma spending many years as a single parent--her bond with her children was very tight.  Her kids were (and are) very close, too.

For whatever reason, I have wonderful memories of my great-grandparents, grandparents,  aunts, uncles, and cousins.

My great-grandma was a broad shouldered, soft-spoken, quilting, preserving, God honoring, sweetheart of a homemaker.  She was made of strong faith.  She blessed every meal and ended every prayer with "Blessed be the Jews for Jesus' sake"  and I can hear her soft, strong voice even now.  Granny (or Ma) nearly always wore an apron with tissues tucked into the pocket. (I have one of her aprons!)  She was ready to cook a meal at a moment's notice--fried chicken was her specialty.  Ma had long white hair down past her waist.  She wore it in two braids wrapped around her head.

Ma and Jodie lived in the country in 'the big house', which really isn't as big now as it was back then.  That house was the site of many family gatherings over the years.  There was farmland out back, sunflowers waving in the wind, and warnings to us kids to stay away from the cistern.  When I was really young, I thought Grandma was saying SISTER and wondered why there was a sister down in that well hole.  Heh heh.

We held many Sunday dinners, Easter egg hunts, and Christmas get-togethers in that house.  My Uncle Jerry would hide those eggs over and over.  He wanted every kid to have a chance at that prize egg.  Looking back, I think he was a bigger kid than  we realized.  Under his watchful eye, we hunted those eggs, popped firecrackers, swam in the creek, and played family-sized baseball games.  He was hands-on.

My Aunt Jenny always lived far away, it seemed.  It was a treat when they came to visit.  In reality, she never lived more than a few hours away.  I'm not sure why we didn't visit more.  To this day, I have fond memories of her visits.

My Grandma was a dark-haired, blue-eyed beauty.  She was a work horse with a high tolerance for pain, both emotional and physical.  She held tight to many a family secret (this family takes the prize for secrecy!)  Grandma took care of us, all of us, and a little piece of a lot of people died when she passed away in 1998.  What I would give for another day with my grandma...

And that's about all I can say about that.

Christmas was always at Ma's house while she was alive.  The whole family gathered for a traditional turkey dinner on Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Day we gathered again, all of us cousins bringing our Santa treasures to show and tell.  The silver foil tree glimmered with bright colored glass ornaments.  There were gifts for everyone and every year, Ma and Jodie would have a special bag for each family member.  Those brown paper lunch bags held fruits-apples, oranges, and tangelos; nuts-pecans and walnuts; candies--usually peppermint sticks; and a shiny silver dollar for the kids.  I'm not sure why I loved that bag so.  I think that gift represented what Ma and Jodie saw as a traditional gift, and even though a 'real' present was always under the tree, that annual bag of basic treats is one of my most treasured Christmas memories.

The flood of memories is strong right now:

Buying Jodie chocolate covered cherries every Christmas, breaking the wishbone under the table with Jodie or my Uncle Barry, riding to town every Saturday in my grandparents' Dodge Dart, walking to Mr. Roy's store and buying a 10 cent Coke.  (The store is still there in Edith, TN  Now it is Dave Moore's Grocery.  Dave was a teen-aged stock boy back then!), kicking through the bottle caps in the store parking lot, Granddaddy and his buddies watching wrestling on television, riding bikes with my Uncle Barry who is only 3 years older than me, Sunday dinners at Grandma's with my cousins, Uncle Parks' famous cherry dump cake, Aunt Charlie's chickens, talking with my Aunt Jenny (we could always talk for EVER)...

Mom's family memories are much more 'everyday' events and ordinary happenings.  I miss the way it was and the people who are gone.  Even so, there is nothing ordinary about the love of this family.



Saturday, November 16, 2013

F is for FAMILY MEMORIES, Part 1...

 Blogging Through the Alphabet 

Can you believe it is already mid-November??  I sure wish time moved as slow now as it did when I was a kid.  Alas, 'tis true....the older you get, the faster times moves.  November makes me think about past holidays and family memories.  So many of those memories are good, good memories, yes, but sad thoughts flow because that time of life has ended.  I decided to record some of my family memories to preserve them here.  My parents' families were NOTHING alike.  I'll start with my dad's family.

My daddy had a huge family.  He had eight siblings and I had many, many cousins, but none my age.  The closest to me is about eight years older and five years younger.  My grandmother was a tiny master seamstress and gardener, poodle-loving, snuff-dipping dynamo.  She was a tough little woman and quiet, reserved, I think.  She passed away when I was fifteen, so my memories may be different from those of my older cousins.  

Her house was crowded, rowdy, and loud during family celebrations.  It was drop-dead quiet at other times. She sewed. She made a lot of my clothes. She had a ceramic cookie jar that was white, barrel-shaped, and had all sorts of cookies on the outside of the jar.  I have one just like it that I found at a yard sale.  She crocheted.  She even taught my dad to crochet when he was a boy.  She could plant a stick and make it flourish.  Her yard was filled with flower beds and planters.

At Christmas, even when we drew names for gift giving, there were always tons of gifts.  There were always crazy gag gifts, too.  Those gifts brought roars of laughter.  I never really saw most of these gifts because I was usually hiding in my grandmother's bedroom with my mom.  I was terrified I would get one of those embarrassing gifts and I think my mom was, too.  

I can hear my daddy laughing...

I know we had lots of food; there were lots of us.  For some reason, I don't remember food at all.  I think my grandmother was a good cook and a good baker, making lots of cakes and pies.  I honestly don't remember, though.  Food was not the focus.  I remember the tiny tree, a million presents, and lots of loud talk and laughter.  I remember people, faces of those I still love deeply, who have long been gone from this earth.  I see smiles and bright, mischievous eyes so clearly that it is hard to believe so much time has past without them.  

One year, Santa came to Mama Barham's Christmas.  I sat on his lap, mesmerized, so proud to know that Santa wore the same after shave as my daddy.  My daddy must have been a smart man, right?  

I was not only shy, but also....naive.

My Aunt Ruby sat front and center every year with her pocket book and baby doll clutched tightly to her chest.  She always received a new pocketbook and baby doll for Christmas and made much ado when her siblings offered her old things back once the new was firmly in place.  Aunt Ruby was what you would call 'special needs'.  She lived in a home away from her family for most of her life.  Her siblings loved her dearly and made sure she remained ingrained in the family fold until her death.  I remember traveling with my daddy and my Aunt Tiny to bring Aunt Ruby home for visits.  To be honest, I was scared of her as a child.  I was afraid I would do something wrong and upset her.  I guess a part of me was afraid for her, too.  Funny that I would have children with 'special needs'. I thank God that my children have the benefit of medical technology and treatments that Aunt Ruby never acquired.  I can't imagine being separated from my children due to their special needs.  

That must have been torture for my daddy's family.

When I write about family, it opens a floodgate of random memories that take me back in time:

The KC & The Sunshine Band album I received from cousin Ricky one Christmas, Uncle Harry Lee's auction barn, piggy back rides from Dianne because I was afraid of the ditch, the outhouse, dodging chicken poo in the back yard, climbing the mimosa tree, tiger lilies by the back porch, cousin Charlotte's floppy hippie hat, sleepovers with Aunt Nelle (watching Midnight Special), Texas with Aunt JoAnn and LeighAnn (guppies in the kitchen aquarium and peanut butter and onion sandwiches!), watching my parents play Rook with Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Martha, hanging out with Aunt Tiny and Chad (baby blue Pinto, coffee for the adults--lots of coffee and talk)...

See what I mean??

A virtual flood of family memories.  

Stay tuned for Part 2-Mom's family. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

D and E are for...Diapers and....Ewww!

 Blogging Through the Alphabet 

I totally forgot to post my D post last week!  So...genius that I am, I've combined my D and E posts this week and as you will soon see, my D and E go hand-in-hand.  (Better than on your hands, and trust me.  That happens waayyy too often!)

D and E stand for DIAPERS AND...EWW.

Lots and lots of diapers!  Lots and lots of Eww!

Having given birth to six amazing kids, I have seen more than my fair share of diapers (and eww).   With the exception of the first two who were just 19 months apart, all of my kids are 3 to nearly five years apart.  I spread my diapering days over a period of twenty years, one at a time and back-to-back, if you include my late trainers and Pull Ups.  That's a lot of Eww!

I never had two in diapers at the same time.

Until now.

My girl and her three young sons are a part of our household.  When I say young sons, I mean really young.  Three boys under 18 months, two being twin infants.  I change diapers (and eww), dodging wriggly bodies, kicking legs, and unexpected pee fountains all. day. long.

Bob and weave is my mantra.

I could probably line my small town's Main Street with the dirty diapers (and eww) these three boys produce on a daily basis.  I'm certain one whiff of that diaper pail dumpster would deter any bad man or varmint.

Seriously, managing the diaper eww is another story.

But... Aren't they sweet??

Febreze is my best friend.

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