Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thanksgiving with Mom

My mother did holidays like no one else I’ve ever encountered. She went beyond what most people would consider reasonable, and it made for magical experiences. My father, up at 3am, still wrapping presents on Christmas Eve after the partying might not call it all magical, but the special holiday memories are with us all. When the grandchildren came along, the holidays just got bigger.
In November 2012, my mother had been fighting pancreatic cancer for two years and received the news that no more treatment could be done. She was in Houston with my brother and his wife where she was being treated and it was time to go back home to MS. My dad was going to drive her, but she was very weak, could not walk without assistance, and had oxygen. My dad also does not walk well, and the eight hour trip was going to be difficult, so I offered to fly in from CA to drive with them.

I arrived in Houston four days before Thanksgiving. By the time we left the next morning for MS, my brother and his son decided that they would then come to MS in a couple of days to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. My dad said that we would go to the local grocery store where they cook the whole meal for you and just pick up a pre-cooked meal. This all sounded very unlike any Thanksgiving that we had ever had, but good to me with the weary and sad group that we were.
Safe and sound back home in MS, my mom settled into the chair in the family room that she would remain in until she passed away. Then she started handing out jobs. My niece and nephew would make appetizers, my dad would make his traditional turkey and stuffing, and my sister and I would make sides and pies. She had us check her overstuffed pantry and 3 refrigerators for items that we already had and made this list to purchase. I told her that we already had 6 lbs. of butter, but she said that we needed more. Below is most of the first page of the list. I only remember, because I took a picture of it. There was more on the bottom and back.

Dark Karo syrup
Dark brown sugar
Rollout pie crusts NOT in TINS
Apples-Granny Smith, Gala
Large bag russet potatoes
Large bag onions
Celery hearts
Bag mixed vegetables
Sweet potatoes
Bag of Vidalia onions
Fruit salad stuff


Milk products-
Refrigerated creamer Ted- Vanilla
2 quarts, ½ and ½
3 quarts whipping cream
Velveeta (for queso)
Gruyere cheese large piece
Blue cheese good kind out of specialty case
Large chunk of Swiss cheese
Pack of 8 oz cream cheese

Turkey Butterball-fresh if possible
Little frozen meatballs

V-8 juice
Chicken Broth

We called hospice and they offered to come in immediately, but she told everyone that we needed to have Thanksgiving first. So, we went shopping and started cooking. She sat in her chair and wrote recipes, or told us where to find the recipes. When we were cooking, she called us over occasionally to make sure we remembered important details or we ran over to her to check where certain dishes or ingredients were and that we were doing things correctly. As long as my mother was alive, she was going to make sure that this was up to her holiday standards. We made 5 pumpkin pies (the recipe makes 2 1/2, but that is never enough, so we always double it!), apple pies, pecan pie, sweet potatoes, and prepped other items the night before.
On Thanksgiving Day, we all worked together to create an incredible  and huge meal starting with appetizers of artichoke dip, queso, Vidalia onion dip, blue cheese, mini meatballs in barbeque sauce, veggies, baguettes, and other dippers. Around 4:00, ten of us, including my mother, sat down to our traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes (forgotten in the oven, but made it to the table at the end), creamed onions, asparagus casserole, fruit salad, and rolls. My father and mother said grace. We were so very thankful to be together for what we knew was her final Thanksgiving. We were all surrounded by people we loved and who loved us dearly.

For dessert and many meals after, we had pie, lots of pie.  There was almost a pie per person. Three weeks later, she passed away. I often think of that meal that was supposed to be purchased ready to eat from the store, but turned into a two day cooking adventure involving anyone around who was willing to help.  This was life with my mom. She always wanted the best for everyone around her, told us all what we needed to do (whether we wanted to hear it or not), produced a surplus of everything, and created memorable experiences filled with family and love.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Happy 2014

I haven't blogged in years, but thought I'd update with a picture. We are all older, wiser, and remain overly dramatic.
This may be a rotten picture, but you see, I lost my camera two years ago and never replaced it. Now I just use my cell phone which takes bad pictures and I can't really see the screen. This is the sort of mom I've become. We remain very busy and learn everyday, but I no longer take the time to document it. I hope everyone's memories are decent. I know mine isn't, but I can make out the vague cell phone pictures to remind me. I can't post the funny things the kids do anymore because they are growing up and think I already embarrass them enough just by being me. I did get rid of a jacket I was wearing the other day when one of them asked if I was wearing a costume, and later the other asked if it was from the 80's. That is all.

Monday, June 14, 2010

End of the School Year!

Lydia's 3rd grade class has had a whirlwind of events. As things are still a bit crazy with me finishing up in my classroom and the kids in their last week of school, I'm just going to post some photos.

Battle of the Books winners:

Read Across America winners. Lydia is in the middle

Project Recycle Runway:

I also had the end of the year Drama Production that we put on at my school. It is a lot of work, but the kids and parents love it, so it is well worth it. Ryan is well, but I haven't been able to take pictures of his most recent school events, which have been mostly field trips. So, sorry, no pictures of Ryan this time. He is a slugger in baseball. Catching...not so much his thing, yet.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Queen of the Laundry

My mother is queen of many things, but if I had to pick one household thing, this would be it. Here is my mother in her kingdom, or queendom as it may be. Look at this, she even looks like she enjoys it. If you want your clothes to look good, even 15 years later when they are out of style, then my mom is the laundress for you. Everything neat and the same color and size as when you bought it. I do not have the patience to do laundry as well as my mother. I would say I don't have the time, but even when she was much busier than I am, she was still the queen of laundry. I currently have about as many clothes ready to wash as my mom has in this picture. I'll try to force a smile on my face that matches hers and attempt to be princess.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Here is a link to Legoland's Sealife Aquarium documentary on Ryan's 1st grade beach trash project.

Beach Trash

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Trash-A Whale of a Problem!

The first grade classes at Ryan's elementary school have been collecting trash at the beach since the beginning of the school year. They have been learning about the impact of trash and pollution to our oceans and animals. It has been a wonderful experience that culminated in a program put on by the First Graders singing whale songs and unveiling "Little Gray." Little Gray is a whale created by the kids and a local artist made with all of the trash the kids collected. Little Gray will soon live at Legoland's Sea Life Aquarium. This was an amazing project!

Lydia's Brownie Troop participated in Thinking Day. Thanks to the help and donations of Uncle Phil and Aunt Martha, the troop created a fabulous display about Malaysia. The girls had a great time, and learned about many different countries. I am the Troop leader this year, but it is really the work of many moms coming together. Thank you to all the helpers this year that are making it a very special experience for our girls.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Happy New Year!

Here are the picture highlights of our year since Ryan's birthday. Our trampoline has added lots of fun and excitement. We don't have to make the kids play in the street as often, we can now have them try to knock their teeth out on the trampoline.

Below is a picture of Ryan's Thanksgiving Pow Wow. The Native American head dresses on Ryan and a friend were supplied by Aunt Connie and Ryan was very excited and proud.

Lydia was Molly in Annie. She was wonderful, of course. I saw the show 4 times. My mom came out and went 3 times, and Joel and Ryan also went multiple times. She had so much fun, and cried when it was over.

We also celebrated Christmas with my Mom, which was wonderful. Joel did a Lifetime movie, Amish Grace. Doesn't he look great with his fellow cast members? He even drove the horse and buggy. I used to love the Lifetime channel. It was a staple for me in the 90's. Ahh, the days of hanging out with a Lifetime movie. Looks like we all have something to look forward to in Amish Grace!

Christmas was very relaxing and fun, too. All of Marguerite's sons (my cousins) and family came out. It was great to see them. Everyone came over Christmas Eve, and then Christmas itself was quiet, peaceful, and glorious. I even took a nap. Lydia was up at 3am, announced to us that Santa came and we had 3 more hours to sleep. Below is a picture of the kids putting out their reindeer food made with oatmeal and glitter.

Any New Year's resolutions? Well, I'm back to getting up at 6:15 instead of 6:30, so I can be on time in the morning. As I watched my gas tank in the car go down to zero, I thought should I resolve to be one of those people who get gas when the light goes on with 25 miles to go? I think not yet. I'll continue to let it go to zero before I get gas. I can even go up to 3 miles after it hits zero. I'll start this year by resolving to not chance those 3 miles and definitely not try 5. I also need to walk our crazy dog more, oh, and floss EVERY day. Well, let's see how it goes! Happy 2010 to everyone!