Monday, December 31, 2007

She's Incredible, Too!

Emery saw the Disney movie, The Incredibles, so now he's quite taken with them. He'll show me the book and say, "Look, Nanny! The Incredibles!" Then he begins listing their names for me. But not one of them is named Aunt Leona. There should be one...because she is incredible, too. My dad's "baby sister" is 95 years old today. To say "95 years young" would be more accurate, but that phrase is overused. But seriously, this lady has not seemed to me to have aged any in the last 20 or 30 years!

Aunt Leona has been part of my life from the very beginning. She was there for my birth, baptism, birthdays, Confirmation, graduation, wedding, the birth of my children and she was even here in Georgia to see Savannah when she was born. Since there was nobody "blogging" while I was growing up, the stories she tells are the only way I have of knowing all the cute, adorable, sweet, charming things I did as a kid. Like making her swell with pride when I told her she made the very BEST hot chocolate. As she beamed and handed me a second cup, I told her, "My mom doesn't give me this because I get hives." !! And she tells of a Christmas when I was just a toddler and all I wanted for dinner was radishes. When she was babysitting my sister and me while my mom was in the hospital having my brother, I had pushed her to her limits one night. As she opened the bedroom door to tell me for the LAST time to be quiet and go to sleep, I must have seen the frustration on her fact because I told her, "You can't spank other people's children".

She lives in Illinois, but has gotten on a plane to come down here and spend Christmas with us the past several years...and she's here with us now. With the exception of bypass surgery 15 years ago (in the hospital recovering on her 80th birthday), which she came through with flying colors; she enjoys excellent health. And I do mean "enjoys". She lives her life to the fullest -- playing golf at least 3 or 4 times a week whenever the weather permits, going out to dinner with friends, having fun buying and scratching off lottery tickets, playing cards whenever she can get up a game, etc. Ever since the surgery she has been faithful in going to "rehab" at the hospital for her exercise program. When she's here she doesn't miss a beat. She gets on our health rider in the bedroom (we usually just use it to hang clothes on) and works out while watching Matlock or Murder She Wrote on the TV.

We're getting ready to have a very low-key birthday dinner here in about a half an hour. She really didn't want any fuss. My cousin wanted to have a big party for her in Illinois with other family members and friends, but Aunt Leona didn't want that. And I asked her today what kind of birthday cake she wanted. She asked if we still had some of those chocolate cupcakes left over from Jodi's birthday. When I said we did, she said, "That's fine. Those are really good." Last year we went to Jodi and Jeremy's because they were having a few folks over for New Year's Eve. As soon as Savannah found out it was her birthday, she took off the silver necklace she was wearing and the silver crown and said that Leona needed to wear them. So we're about to put some really good steaks on the grill, match them with twice-baked potatoes and a salad and maybe crack open a bottle of wine. I am going to all the trouble of thawing a frozen Boston Creme Pie for dessert. She did get a tickle out of getting about half a dozen or more birthday cards today from family and friends. A few of them had lottery tickets in them.
She just told me a little while ago that she doesn't feel any different at 95 than she did at 25...and I believe that's true.
Everybody should have an "Aunt Leona" in their life. Not everybody does. I'm glad I'm one of the lucky ones.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

I know I haven't posted in a while, but I took some Christmas pictures the "old fashioned way" -- you remember...with a camera -- and I had to wait to get them developed. Forgot how long that takes! So here's the low down on our holiday.

Christmas Eve was spent at my house again this year. Yeah! :) After Jess, Jerry, Emery and I went to Jessica's church, we put out some food and then started the mayhem. Jodi began by opening her birthday presents. Then before the rest of us started on the mountain of Christmas presents under the tree, Jeremy said he had something for Jodi and the kids. They had to sit with their eyes closed while he brought it in. Then they could open their eyes and see....a new puppy!!! So Stafford York (named for the UGA quarterback Matthew Stafford) got to be part of the rest of the festivities -- when he wasn't outside with Jodi for a potty break. We had a lot of fun and everybody got really nice gifts. Not a "return" in the bunch, I believe. The little ones were so excited and loved everything they got. Of course we all got them something that we thought would just thrill them...and then, as grown-ups do, we made them put them aside without playing with them so they could open something else. One of the cruelties of Christmas. But Savannah did get to ride her pink Unicorn from Aunt Jess and enjoyed clomping around in her Ruby Red Slippers like Dorothy's (from the Wizard of Oz) and Emery did enjoy trying on his Buzz Lightyear costume and felt he could then go "to infinity...and beyond!!" It's good to have that much stamina on Christmas eve. Along with the Ruby Red Slippers, I had also gotten Savannah a "deluxe Toto in a basket". I didn't know anything about Stafford at the time I got Toto...but they're just about the same size! Stafford is a "shit zoo". I may have the spelling wrong, but I'll check with Jodi after the first couple of weeks and see if she thinks that's an appropriate description.

The kids had decided that instead of a sit-down dinner this year, they'd like to have appetizers and nibbles and snack-type foods like we did one other year. So we had crockpot Mexican dip, Mellie's Sweet and Sour meatballs, strawberry -pretzel salad, crab spread hors d'oeurves, veggies with dip, a cheese ball, Chex mix, People Puppy Chow, fudge, birthday cupcakes, holiday punch and Grandma Mary's Eggnog. I could give you Grandma's recipe, but I'd need to see your ID.

Then on Christmas morning, we went over to Jodi and Jeremy's house to see what Santa brought and what was in the Christmas stockings. Then we came home for a while so they could all get their naps before going to the York's for Christmas dinner in the evening. Just to be "supportive", we all took naps, too. Jeremy's mom, Linda, was gracious enough to invite us to join them for their Christmas, too, so we went to her house for a traditional -- and very delicious -- Christmas dinner. She had ham and turkey with gravy, candied yams, green beans, cranberries, rolls, and her very wonderful dressing. I didn't grow up eating dressing the way it's made in the south and I'm not a big fan of cornbread. But I always have seconds of her cornbread dressing! She also had three desserts. I won't list them here, though, because every time I mention them I gain another pound! We had wonderfu time there, too.

I got my biggest wish for Christmas...good time spent with the family. I hope you all got your greatest wishes and gifts, too.

Now on to Aunt Leona's birthday on New Year's Eve!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Busy Little Elves

Santa's elves have been busy here at 20 Overlook Drive in the South Pole...getting ready for the big day. The other day Grandpa was in his workshop putting the finishing touches on the pantry shelves he built for the grandkids to put their play groceries on. Nanny was in the sewing room trying to make a sweat shirt and pants look like a Buzz Lightyear costume. We can only hope the kids will have as much fun playing with these things as we did making them!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

New Carols for '07

While many of our friends and relatives in places like Missouri, Iowa and Illinois are having ice and snow, we are having our continuing drought -- more than 20 inches below normal rainfall this year
(a record) -- and to add insult to injury, we've had record high temperatures the past week or so. The other morning they were playing "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" on the radio, and I was thinking, "Yeah? Well, I heard the BIRDS on Christmas Day!" The birds have been singing every morning and it sounds more like spring than winter. That got me to thinking about some other carols that might need to be amended for those of us in the southeast this Christmas. Like: "O Little Town of Death Valley", "No Well, No Well", "We Wish You a Rainy Christmas", "Thunder We've NOT Heard on High", "Rain Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy", "The 12 Drops of Christmas", "I'm Dreaming of a Wet Christmas", "Walking in a Summer Wonderland", "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Tucson", and "Chestnuts Roasting in a Forest Fire".

And if you want to ride in a one-horse open sleigh, I can pretty much assure you won't get wet, but you may want that sleigh to have air conditioning. I'm sorry if I sound grumpy...but I've baked the cookies, finished the shopping, and decked the halls. But it's getting really hard to get into the "feel" of Christmas with this weather!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Decking the Halls

Well, actually, the halls are about the only thing not decked. After all, you have to be able to walk somewhere! But I have been in the mood to decorate to the hilt this year. Last year I seemed to be behind on everything and every aspect of Christmas...from the shopping to the wrapping to the decorating to the parties...seemed to be hurry-up and I did not enjoy it very much. This year I was excited to decorate for several reasons. When I cleaned up after the holidays last year I took my time and went through everything and got ride of a lot of it. Things that never even got taken out of the boxes for the last several years got done away with. Then I bought some new things that I like very much. Especially for our recently remodeled kitchen and dining room. In the kitchen, for example, I got a cute snowman picture for the wall, a little old fashioned sock to hang on the pantry door and a sign over the door that reads "God Bless Us Every One". And besides the quilted poinsettia for the wall in the dining room, I got a tree to put on the sideboard and a beautiful angel, and found that was a great place for my corn husk manger.

I always like decorating the guest bathroom. I have a garland for in there that looks like it has icy crystals on it and I add some white, shabby chic ornaments. And I like this crackled snowman that stands in the corner of the vanity.
I decided to put our big tree up in the basement this year because there's more room when the presents start getting opened up. So the small table-top tree in the living room got spruced up (no pun intended) by "wearing" only red and gold ornaments and getting a few sprigs of red berries and icy-looking branches. It looks really nice.
Jerry asked me the other day if I realized we had put up 7 trees this year. I asked him what his point was. He never did say.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Kitchen Tradition

For the past 6 or 7 (?) years, the girls and I have made time in our busy pre-Christmas schedules to set aside a "Cookie Bake Day". This year that day was Monday. We take turns hauling things to each others' houses and this year it was at my house. That means I didn't have to lug all my ingredients and bakeware, but I did have to clean up! So it's a trade-off. We started a little after 10:00 in the morning and when I "hit the wall" at about 6:30 and was still facing another sink full of bowls, spatulas, and cookie sheets to wash (about the 4th sink-full of the day), my sweet husband volunteered to do them for me. The guys are always supportive of cookie day. But before I crashed, we made lots of wonderful goodies. The theme was set with Jessica's Christmas music from her I-pod playing on the radio and a festive bowl of red punch (Mellie's recipe) that Jodi made. With just enough help from the little ones, we managed to turn some ingredients (top left picture) into a wide array of yummy treats (bottom right picture)...including apricot fold-overs, chocolate covered peanuts, dipped pretzels, banana nut bread, truffles, Buckeyes, Haystacks, Fruitcake cookies, Raspberry thumbprints, Crescent cookies, peanut butter candy, dipped apricots and whatever the name is of the new one Jess made with almonds and Craisins coated in chocolate. When we told Emery "No, sir" as he was trying to steal another Buckeye from the edge of the table, he said, "But it's choc-co-lat. I like choc-co-lat." Amen to that, little Buddy! :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's How God Made Me

Yesterday Savannah casually observed, "You're kinda' old, Nanny." I said, "Really. What makes you think that?". She said, "Your clothes are old. And...that's why you wear glasses." "Oh", I said. Then I asked her, "Is that a bad thing?" She thought a minute, then with a sigh she said, "No. That's just how God made you."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Prayer List Update

We've been praying for strength and peace for Kaye as she struggled with her illness. That request has changed to praying for comfort for her family and friends as they grieve her loss. As the rest of us celebrate and remember the birth of the Christ child, Kaye will be among the hosts of heaven singing "Glory, glory, glory". Let's pray that her loved ones' faith and knowlede of the next life will give them solace and a peace that truly does pass understanding.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Party Girl

I haven't written all week because I've been busy getting organized...for the parties! I had three in a row this week. All fun, but my brain gets tired of trying to remember what I have to take to each place. I'm always sure I'm fogetting something.

Tuesday night was the regular, biweekly meeting of my quilting bee group; the "Batty Babes". That's usually a no-brainer. Just remember to show up on time and bring something to work on -- or not. But this week was Liz's birthday, so I had to remember to take her gift. (That's Liz on the left. Melisa is on the right, but I couldn't figure out how to crop her out of the photo, so she gets a free pose. I said...I'm still learning this stuff!) I also had to remember to take stuff to decorate the table for Thursday's party so I could give it to Ardis to get the table set up before I could get there after work. Things on that list included; chargers, plates, flatware, stemweare and a quilty Santa.

Wednesday night was our monthly applique class. We're working on Baltimore Album quilts (in progress). So that meant; do the homework from last month as well as prep the block for this month. We also decided that since we only get together once a month we would have a little Christmas party and gift exchange. So...remember to take the exchange gift.

Thursday night was the quilt guild Christmas party. Besides what I had already taken to give to Ardis, I had to remember to take a dish to pass, an ornament for the swap, my Secret Pal gift, and 3 fat quarters to play a game with.

Whew! I actually remembered to take everything. My dining room table was lined up with piles of things to take for each night. Next week I don't have anything going on in the evenings, and then the following week I have three in a row again...and then Christmas! Lots of fun!!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Time to Tally Up

Because I have so many projects going all the time (works in progress), sometimes I feel like I'm so far behind and never getting anything done. It's good to look back once in a while and take stock of what I have finished. So I looked back at my quilt calendar for this past year and here is what I did manage to get accomplished: 3 small shop and/or class samples, 3 wall hangings, 14 table runners, 2 table toppers, the family Christmas raffle quilt, 2 tote bags, 1 baby and 3 full/queen bed quilt tops (quilted by someone else) , and something else that I can't mention here because it's a Christmas present. I also did 3 quilt restorations, made 4 pillow cases, got 4 patterns into production, taught 5 classes (some of them are 6-weeks), and kept up with 2 block-of-the-month programs. So I guess I'm not really a "slug"'s just that my dreams exceed my clock and calendar.

Pictured here are (clockwise): A wall hanging I made for my dining room, a Christmas wall haning I made for another wall of the dining room, and this year's family Christmas raffle quilt (won by Savannah).