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Monday, December 31, 2012

From Our Family to Yours

Several years ago I abandoned scrap booking for blogging. I had spent hours and hours and hours, plus tons of money on scrape booking every second of our lives, only to have it washed away in a flood. I was heartbroken.  When I discovered blogging, I found I could use it as a journal, a therapist and photo album. Ooh-la-la, solving a plethora of needs all in one big swoop!  I didn't like the journaling part of scrape booking because I have such bipolar handwriting.  Now at the end of the year I have my blog printed in a hardback book, saving myself both time and money. PLUS, I can give a copy to my Mother for Christmas, since she  swears  I never tell her anything that's going on, and because I never have a clue what to get her :-)  So I am multi-tasking on so many levels, IT IS mind-boggling. When I did scrape book I used to put all of the graduation pictures and Christmas card photos in my scrape books. This is the first year that I thought to do that with the blog.Next year I'll include the graduation pictures, so I can look back and see how much you've grown over the blog:-) Our family is so blessed by the many friends who have wrapped their arms around us, loved us, played with us, prayed with and just been a HUGE part of our lives and hearts. I can't imagine what life would be like without you in it. So from our family to yours may you have a very blessed New Year and thank each and every one of you for all of the memories.

Mark Russel with his wife Laura, and children Jared, Trevor and Brandon. Mike and Mark grew up together, then traveled together racing Motocross. Oh the stories they tell.

Chuck and Karen Dunlap, with their children Stephanie, Jacob and Chloe'. We've gone to church with them for around 17 years. I used to help Karen in the kitchen on Wednesday nights when she cooked for the youth and Mike and I were on the Praise Team with Chuck for years. I also have the pleasure of working with Chuck, although he is all the way over on the other side of the building.

Crystal Sorrell with her daughter Lauren. We go to church with them as well as other fun things. P.S. I've always thought Crystal looked like Rita Wilson (Tom Hanks wife), only a lot prettier, then I found out that Crystal hates it when people say that. So, if you ever meet her don't mention the "Rita" thing....

A.J. Myers with his wife Dedra and their children Breighlee and Hayes. A.J. started working with me when he Graduated some college in OKC (can't remember the name, some low-level college), He was our baby Engineer and I had just gotten comfortable enough to harass him (not in a lawsuit kinda way). The whole department was living vicariously through him as he got married and started having kids, then he decided he wanted to be closer to his friends and family (like what are we, chopped liver?) and moved back to OKC. Now we're all sad and lonely without him and his little crew and all we have left are not so young, not as fun Engineers :-(

These are our dear friends Alan and Linette Simpson, with their son Jared with his Kelleigh and their daughter Caris. Their son Jody with his wife Sara. Also, their daughter Jenny who is the same age as my son Caleb. Linette and I became close when we were both pregnant with our youngest. We have raised our kids together, gone on vacations together and watched our kids leave the nest one by one. Our life paths have paralleled for 20 years. We have made so many memories with this family and I hope we have many more memories to come.

This beautiful family is Shane and Krista Harper, with their children Adam and Morgan. We went to church together for many years, worked on the praise team together and then we had the pleasure of working with Morgan on the youth praise team. We don't get to see them as much as we used to, but our hearts are never far away and the memories we have made together will last a lifetime. We love this family!
This is Caleb's girlfriend, Sarah Torrez. When I first met her all I could say was... "You are so pretty!" She makes my baby boy happy and trust me, he can be a tough nut to crack. She is holding Morph the Cat. I flew all the way to California to pick up Morph the Cat.  After a few months we both decided he was more Sarah's cat than mine and now they are both happy little campers. We love you both Sarah!

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things.....

These are a few of my favorite things....

Playing in the ocean and feeling the waves bubble and swirl around my ankles.

The mountains; it makes me feel like I could just reach up and touch the face of God

The little creases on the hands and wrist of wee ones; their chubby little ankles, elbows and toes.

AND SNOW.... Big white fluffy flakes falling outside my office window. Oh how I wish I could go for a walk right now.

Dog Shaming 101

Occasionally Sailor will peruse the mail just to see if someone has sent her a greeting card or something. Maybe she is worried she has run her credit cards up. The other night as I was turning out the light to tuck in for the evening when my husband said.... "I didn't want to ruin our evening so I didn't tell you earlier, but Sailor ate the CD the photographer gave us of our family photo shoot. Maybe it's not a big deal, maybe you can get her to give you another one." Really?! Sure enough when I went downstairs the next morning the CD the had the minimal amount of damage any CD has when it's been chewed on by a horse. A part of
me wanted to hang a dog shaming sign around her neck and make her stand on the median of Hwy 81 during lunch hour traffic, but something tells me she wouldn't care, much less feel any shame. Lucky for her I had immediately downloaded the CD onto our computer, onto my Facebook and onto my Walgreens account. I'm pretty certain I have back up for my back up.  She's a lucky lucky duck because dog shaming can be brutal, I've seen the pictures, I know.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Grandma's Button and Pins a Memory No One Wanted

Christmas is a time of giving and a time of remembering. I have memories of endless Christmas Eves playing hide the thimble with rowdy cousins, memories of waiting waiting waiting for Santa to appear so the opening of the gifts could begin. Every Christmas my Aunt G.G. (Golden Goddess, Gripy Gut, depending on her mood) would send my Grandpa a box of See's candy. See's candy was my favorite candy of all time, as well as my cousin's favorite. When Grandpa got his box of candy, he would hide it in the house so all the grand kids wouldn't eat it all. My cousin and I knew he had some so we would quietly ask him where it was hidden. Initially he would act like he didn't hear us or couldn't make out what we were asking, but with a little persistence he would finally give up the secret with instructions we could only have one piece. We would run to the hiding place with me secretly praying there was a "hairy" chocolate among the bunch. In case you're wondering, I called the ones with chocolate sprinkles the hairy ones (it wasn't anything gross). We would pick out our one piece of chocolate, put the box back in it's hiding place and walk away with just a tad of a smirk.... We would be back.  When we were at Grandma's and Grandpa's I usually stayed with my cousin. She was older, more level headed, but I had a way of bringing her down to my young level like no one else could. In fact I believe I still hold that unique place in her life.  She lived across the garden from Grandma, and it always tugged at my heart that Grandma really knew her. I wasn't jealous, I just remember wondering what it would be like for Grandma to know the secret places in my heart like she knew my cousin. There were a few times though when I would spend the night with Grandma. Grandma wasn't a well woman. Of course after giving birth to 9 kids, who would be. She had sugarbeitis (my word for diabetes) which my imaginary friend also suffered from. I remember she always looked like she was 9 months pregnant but was tiny everywhere else. I guess her stomach got so used to protruding with child, it didn't see the need in going back to it's original state, and really who could blame it. She had silver hair that she wore in a bun, well it wasn't really a bun but kind of a bun, not sure what you would call it. When I spent the night with her, she would sit at her dressing table and carefully take the silver pins out of her hair. I was always intrigued with how long her hair was. It hung down her back, almost to her waist. When she got it untucked, she would hand me the brush and I would gently brush her long beautiful hair. I was in complete awe. Would I ever have hair like hers? I didn't think so. Other than her being sick, the memory that sticks out the most in my mind, is her sitting at her dressing table with her hair flowing over her shoulders and down her back (yea, I'm typing through the tears as we speak).  When Grandma died, the family, which was many, began to change and it has never the same again. Last weekend I went to visit my Red Aunt and my cousin. My Aunt is now living in an assisted living home. When she was moved her stuff was either sold in an estate sale or given to relatives. She had taken care of Grandma and would have had any of the items that wasn't sold after my grandparents died.  I was sitting on the couch talking to my cousin and she pulled out a bag. She had found just a couple of items of Grandma's in her mother's belongings that she thought I might like to have. She pulled out an old jar filled to the brim with buttons. It was Grandma's button jar. The label was scuffed with time, but I immediately knew what it was and a huge lump formed in my throat. Then she pulled out a cup filled with the silver little hair pins Grandma used to put her hair up with and larger pins that were still wrapped in the newspaper wrapping when she bought them.... The lump only got bigger. These were two things that everyone going through Grandmother's belongs had looked past as if they had no value; but they had a tremendous amount of value to me. The things we believe are valuable here on earth varies from person to person; to me nothing is as valuable as those seemingly insignificant memories of watching Grandma at her dressing table taking down her hair, or a jar where she kept every little button that fell off of a dress because a Sharecropper's wife couldn't just go out and buy a new dress when a button fell off or something needed mending.  These items were a precious gift from my childhood. I came home, moved aside a knick knack that truly had no value and gently placed the jar of buttons on the shelf next old photographs from a time far far away.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Joy a Christmas Carol Brings and What Mr. Smarty Pants Needs to Understand

A friend of ours had an awesome idea a couple of weeks ago. He thought it would be fun if we all got together and went Christmas caroling. I vaguely remember caroling with the church when I was young. I haven't heard of anyone caroling in years, probably because our society is so busy, it's hard to get enough people together to go caroling and because families are always on the go and aren't home as much. Well, maybe they are, but it doesn't seem like it. I hear people talking about their schedules and I swear it seems they have every second of every day scheduled to the hilt and beyond. As luck has it, we were all free for the evening he chose to carol, except one couple who were battling the flu. Each couple chose a carol, printed the lyrics and chose a friend or family member's house to carol. I immediately knew what carol I wanted to sing.... I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas. When I told him (with much excitement) the carol I had chosen, he gave
 me a typical deadpan male look. He thought I was kidding, but I wasn't kidding, that was the song I wanted to sing. Then he informed me in what I felt was kind of a  superior kinda way, that we couldn't sing it because.... "It's not a carol"  Says who?! Is there a criteria of what constitutes a carol and what doesn't? Will the Christmas carol police arrest us if we vary from Away in the Manger and sing something with a little more pep that will bring absolute joy and laughter to both the carolers and the carolee's? The rebel in me just wanted to sing it just that much more and see exactly what would
happen if we went against tradition. So the carolers gathered Sunday night with lyrics in hand and gave the carols a quick run through.... Talented we are not, but what we lacked in talent we made up for with spirit of cheer and goodwill. Each family had checked to make sure the carolee's would be home without telling them why we needed to know. We would arrive at our selected destination, ring the doorbell and when they answered announce that we had come to carol them. We sang two carols per house, the pre-selected carol of choice and silent night.  Each and every carolee seemed surprised and delighted (although they may have just been cutting us some slack because they felt sorry for the talent we lacked). All of the carols were traditional Christmas songs except for mine of course. When we got to my friends house, she came out on the porch and gave me a hug and looked behind me at the menagerie and asked.... "Jaquetta Jane what are y'all doing?" There was a little hysteria in her voice as I'm sure she thought we were just going to invade her house without warning. I told her we were going to carol her and I stepped back with the group to begin our song. She had tons of questions, as I knew she would, but I just assured her we would visit later and I'd explain in detail how this all came together. We began to sing I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas and finished with Silent Night. She said..... "Oh Jaquetta Jane, you made me cry!" Bingo! I knew she would. My husband was a little concerned that the singing of I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas could bring someone to tears, but what do you expect, that's just how much joy that songs projects. I do believe we've begun another group tradition which means we have many more memories to make and share.  Maybe you'll be the lucky carolee next year :-)

PS: I Wikipedia'd it and this is how they define a Christmas carol Mr. Smarty Pants...

Christmas carol (also called a noël) is a carol (song or hymn) whose lyrics are on the theme of Christmas or the winter season in general and which are traditionally sung in the period before Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas in a Thimble

I traveled to Ada to visit one of my Aunt's today. It was the first time I've been there in a while and just driving through town brought back a lot of memories. As we turned down the dirt road that lead to my Grandparents house,  I got kind of choked up. A lot of my childhood was spent on that dirt road. The first time I ever remember sweat running down my brow and into my eyes was in the garden while  picking green beans with Grandma.  A typical Christmas at Grandma's was noisy. The house was tiny and the wee ones were many. Not all of my cousins were as well-mannered and refined (chuckle chuckle) as my brother and I were required to be.  Running, screaming, giggling was not encouraged (and barely tolerated) especially when all the kids came together. With just the adults, the house was busting at the seams, throwing a bunch of sugar hyped cousins together made it sheer mayhem.  The aunts were constantly telling us to keep it down.... Apparently we were "making Grandma a nervous wreck", but truth be told, it wasn't Grandma doing the complaining. The actual nervous wrecks shall remain unnamed, but we know who they are. When the noise (or nerves) reached a critical point, we all knew what was going to happen. Grandpa had a tiny room off of the kitchen the size of a bathroom stall in a convenience store.  It contained a twin bed, a dresser, and grandma's sewing machine. The room didn't have an actual door, it had a plastic accordion door.  The aunts would round up all the cousins from the wee ones to the teenagers, all of whom were hyped up on sugar and Christmas excitement and tell us to keep it down so Grandma wouldn't get upset.  One of the Aunts would pull the door closed while whispering threats of punishment to come if we didn't keep it down.  Keeping it down was a gross misuse around our group, several of whom thought keeping it down meant grabbing a sibling or some other unfortunate soul and having one cousin hold em while the other beat the dog out of them.  Before the door closed, an Aunt would reach in with a thimble in the palm of her hand and say.... "Here, y'all play hide the thimble very quietly until we tell you to stop." We probably weren't, but it seems like we would be stuck in that room for hours on end. Someone always ended up getting hurt or something would be broken, and of course there was always a crybaby amongst. It was like a special ward for the criminally insane which just happened to be children of nervous adults.  But when I think of my Childhood Christmas', I always go back to playing hide the thimble in the tiniest bedroom ever made with a bunch of rowdy boys and a few girls. That's my childhood memory, not in a nutshell, but in a thimble, and it always cracks me up.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Poinsettia Killer Extraordinaire

Three white Poinsettias 
Sitting side by each
To bring within the office walls
The Christmas cheer to all and each
Each white Poinsettia 
Had a tale to tell
About the tender care twas given
To keep their beauty well
The first sad Poinsettia
Had no leaves to show
No bright and cheery petals
Above the big red bow
Obvious neglect
Had taken quiet a toll
Upon the sad Poinsettia
With only stalks to show
The second white Poinsettia 
Was perkier by far
Than the first sad Poinsettia
That was very battle scared 
Although it's petals drooped a little 
Like a sad puppy's ear
And the edges were quiet faded
And offered little cheer
It still retained some life
Though not a happy soul
The owner could stand proud
She didn't kill it cold
The third White Poinsettia
Still quite robust
Sat upon the window sill
  Stout and vigorous
The one who gently cared for it
 Could finally rest with ease
Although she'd broken lots of things
It still had all it's leaves
 She wouldn't hold the title
Of killer extraordinaire
That title now belonged
To the one who was so fair
The one who sat on Santa's lap
In a Christmas pose
Although she looked quite happy
I guarantee you Santa knows
The carnage left behind
Upon that window sill
The very sad Poinsettia
Her hand had ruthlessly killed

2012 Poinsettia Killer

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dreams Come True

31 years ago today I took the first step down the aisle to an amazing journey. December 1981 was a cold one. On the 19th the temperature was 3 degrees with the windchill dipping well below 0. While most people scurried around preparing for Christmas, I scurried around preparing for a wedding. After 6 months of long distance dating, my fiance' and I tired of driving back and forth between Tulsa and Duncan, paying enormous long distance phone charges and just not being able to spend time together. We had spent hours talking about our dreams and our future. Every second that ticked by, was a second we could have spent making those dreams come true. Shortly after parting at Thanksgiving, we decided not to wait until the new year to get married. The wedding was quickly moved to December 19th, which gave me 2 weeks to plan and put it all into action. Christmas is
a bad time to plan a wedding, and looking back I wish I would have taken Daddy's offer to elope. Like most girls, I dreamed of standing at an altar, veiled in white with the train of my gown flowing down the aisle behind me. Short of that vision, I just wanted the ceremony over, the photos taken, and the rice thrown, so we could begin our happily ever after. The journey has been amazing. Not every step has been easy. Not every twist and turn of the path was planned, but every step has been taken together, for better or worse, through thick and thin. Thanks to amazing grace, we are  31 years and Three kids into our happily ever after. we have seen many of our dreams realized and are in the process of dreaming new dreams for chapter 2 of our story.  I can't imagine the 2nd half being more amazing, but life has taught me not to put limits on dreams, because they really can come true.

Friday, December 14, 2012

This is Not My Plant.... Week 2

This is not my plant
Today is week two the Poinsettia wars in the office. Monday morning I arrived to find my Poinsettia sitting pretty in fine fashion. Whew! That's two weekends in a row. Midweek a co-worker brought her sad Poinsettia to lounge in my window as it
This is not my plant
was looking mighty peaked. It's weird because last year her Poinsettia lived a reasonable length of time before giving up the ghost. Later in the afternoon, another co-worker (AKA Poinsettia killer of last year) brought her plant to sun in the window. Her plant wasn't remarkably decrepit, but had lost a considerable amount of it's blush. I hate to make any rush to judgement, but it looks like we may have a new title holder this year. Time will tell.

This is my plant

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happy Birthday to a Big Ole Broad

Happy 5th Birthday to my big Sailor Girl. I hate to give her body issues, but she is turning into a big ole broad and I mean that in the literal sense.  Regardless of how big she continues to get, she is still the best lap dog around.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Week 1 of Poinsettia Wars

S: Week 1
Last year one of our bosses gave each of us a beautiful Poinsettia for our desk. They were lively and gorgeous and within a week mine was completely dead as well as another co-worker's. Meanwhile, another co-worker's plant lived well into the summer and actually thrived as if on some sort of weird poinsettia steroid. The only reason it's not still on her desk is because we were so humiliated by the flagrant flaunting of it, that I think she got to feeling a little guilty. Well, maybe not, but she should have. Anyway, not only do I have a reputation for being the cause of every mechanical failure within our office walls, but now the two of us who couldn't maintain our plants, are known as the poinsettia killers. Not exactly the reputation we strive to achieve (at least I have one thing I can over-achieve). Yes, you would have thought he would have learned from the carnage of last year and just given the two of us
J: Week 1
(The Poinsettia Killers) a candy bar, or a cup of Starbucks coffee, something that required no attention or skills. No, he arrived Monday with Poinsettias in hand (and I'm almost sure I heard snarky mutterings about people who kill things). This go around, both of us want to be the last poinsettia standing and will go to great lengths to maintain the health of our plants. It's going is an all out Poinsettia war!

The Pickling of Ones Own Self

I have a penchant for getting myself into a pickle... Without even trying. It's probably due to the mischievous streak in me that's a mile wide. It has always caused me trouble even when I try my darnedest to
keep it tamped down. I'll go for a while, keeping everything closely in check, then it just seems to bubble out of me like a carbonated water bottle that's been shaken at the most inopportune time. It's common for me to worry myself sick about something I've done or something I've said in jest. I have the pleasure of working for one of my best friends husband. When I applied for the job, I had some reservations about working with a close friend. His wife and I are a lot alike in the fact that she also has a mischievous streak and unfortunately (for him) he has been on the receiving end of a lot of our... Well, our shaken water bottle mishaps, if you will. That being said, I really wanted to maintain a professional demeanor at work. A couple of weeks after I started, I made a tiny joke (at his expense)in front of a co-
worker. Afterwards he pulled me aside and informed me that was a boundary that should not be breached. I took my rebuke and rebuked myself for the rest of the day, went home and cried all evening then showed up in his office first thing the next morning to sincerely apologize for my unprofessional manner. He looked up from his desk with complete bumfuzzlement. I expected him to accept my apology, but instead he just chuckled.
What the heck? I'm trying to apologize and he's laughing at me. That's when he tells me he was just joking when he reprimanded me and that afterwards he had forgotten the incident and assumed I had too. Little did he know I had spent the entire evening crying my eyes out. Needless to say, he hasn't gotten many apologies from me since. Onward..... Last weekend was the annual banquet at work. The theme was Bedlam. The drum line for a local school entertained us and ultimately there was a dance off between 5 OSU fans and 5 OU fans, which included not only my boss, but his boss. Nothing is as entertaining as seeing your bosses step outside their usual no muss, no fuss selves. Before
running things through my wisdom checker, I uploaded a video of the dance-off to my Youtube account and posted it on Facebook. I've sat on pins and needles ever since. This afternoon I got a call from a co-worker who wanted to know if I could email the video to the owner of the company. Okay, wisdom checker activated and serious pause given to this request. I might be able to squeak past a minor infraction with my boss, but I wasn't sure I could squeak by with posting a video of "The Boss". My co-worker assured me he had requested she have me email him the video link. I emailed him the link with MUCH hesitation, now I'm just waiting to see if I'm in a pickle or just mildly puckered.... Yeah, that probably did come out right, which just reiterates my ability to find myself in a self-induced pinch. I'm sure you get the drift......