Thanksgiving Memories

I guest posted on November 10, 2013 over at Moms Are Frugal and I just wanted tore-share my Thanksgiving Memories again.

Leaves are a big part of my Thanksgiving memories as a kid.

 

Leaves

As a child I loved Christmas. What kid doesn’t, right? And it wasn’t just about Santa and the gifts either. The break from school and a joyous feeling of excitement in the air left me feeling jolly. Hey, I was a kid, I didn’t have all the extra work or financial burden to carry.
Thanksgiving? Not so much.

It was a boring day when I was a kid. We would go over the hills and through the woods to stay with my grandparents during Thanksgiving holiday.

First stop, my dad’s mom. She lived alone and was as poor as a church mouse, but boy could she wrap you in the biggest bear hugs EVER! She passed away when I was eleven.
She didn’t have indoor plumbing. Not a big deal to my brothers and me. We just took it for a grandma thing. She had a pump in the kitchen that would supply sulfur water from the cistern outside. This meant too, that she had an outhouse.
Waking up at her house on Thanksgiving morning to the aromas of breakfast cooking and the fixings of a Thanksgiving meal, with the parades on her black and white television playing in the background is a sweet memory I have.
We would all pitch in raking up leaves from the many Maple trees standing in her front yard. It seemed like a forest in my child’s mind, when it was, in fact, only four big, full trees standing tall. I remember too, the smell of burning leaves as we continued to rake and jump and rake some more until the yard was mostly clear.
We left her house on Friday morning and ventured just a few miles down the road to stay with my other grandparents on their farm. I loved visiting them. They seemed rich in comparison, even though they too had an outhouse. Theirs was a double seater, evidence to me they were loaded. In retrospect who would want one with two seats? I guess they came in handy with children. Got the job done quicker. The exception for them, however, was they did have running water in their house, as opposed to the pump.
I know I sound ancient, like Little House on the Prairie, and maybe at 53 I am but I have to tell you those are good memories.
My mom and grandmother would spend the day cooking once we arrived. My grandfather worked at the tobacco warehouse all through the holidays. My dad, brothers and uncle would go hunting at some point during the day, or something that resembled hunting, for they always came home empty handed with a story to tell. The meal was eaten in the evening after my grandfather returned home from work.
My grandma was a great cook and she loved her grandkids. She made sure we each had our favorite dish at every meal she served.
I was fortunate enough to have known all four of my grandparents, and two great grandmothers. My maternal grandparents have only been gone for eight years, so I was blessed to have them with me for so many years of my life.
Those festive holiday meals around the table were about more than just food. They were about conversation, sharing, laughing and making lasting memories. They were about family and love.
 As a child, those conversations often seemed long, boring and over my head.   What I wouldn’t give for another family meal around my grandmothers’ tables.

The Holidays

I really can’t believe the holidays are upon us again so quickly. Thanksgiving week is here. There is much to do during this holiday week. Throw in a four hour plumbing job in our  house tomorrow…it doesn’t get any better than this.

holidays, tis the season, Thanksgiving, Christmas, depression, family

Just the very thought of the holidays brings an overwhelming feeling of dread in the hearts of many. Our church just hosted a seminar dedicated to the difficult time for so many folks at this most wonderful time of the year. Bob Russell was one of the speakers for this event. I just read a post on his blog about the event and some of the words he shared. I want to share it with you.

When Holidays Aren’t Happy is the name of the post. This is how it starts: Recently I was asked to speak to several hundred people who openly admit they dread the holidays.  The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas isn’t the favorite for a lot of people.  I’ve read there is more alcohol consumption, more domestic fights, more arrests, more suicides and more people battling depression during the holidays than any other time of year.

Click the link above to read the entire article. Before you go read the rest of his post I would love to hear what you think about the holidays. Love, hate, indifferent, or all of the above.

Happy reading.

Group Therapy

Group therapy;  have you ever been a part of one such group? Today I am sharing a letter written to a group of addicts who are in an IOP (Intensive Outpatient therapy) program, by a woman who attended on family night at The Bradford. It was time to say her good-byes, however, she was speechless when the time came. She went home to reflect on the time spent with perfect strangers who had found a place in her heart.

group therapy, addictions, IOP, saying good-bye, leaving group therapy. The Help

Here is what she said:

I didn’t get the chance to say the things I wanted to say, the things that were in my heart on my last night of group therapy. I went home and wrote my thoughts down in hopes of getting this letter to the facilitator, for her to read to you. Greetings to you IOPers. It appears I  do have something to say to you after all. I was honored to listen to your thoughts, feelings and opinions during the seven weeks of family night. I appreciate the opportunity to get to know you in a small way as you each talked about your stuff.

Here’s the thing, during that seven week period, people showed up, but they never came back. You guys DID  come back, and you are still coming back, and that speaks volumes about who you are and where you want to go. Your dedication to recovery is admirable. I don’t know your futures-I don’t even know mine- but I do know mine includes a lifetime of discovering who I really am, and learning to relate in healthy ways.

I wish the same for you because y’all are “effing great”!

.

Peace.

I don’t know about you but I can identify with those words in that letter. Addictions, rotten childhood, abuses, divorce, job loss, none of those things are who we are; they are all just things that happen to us.

Don’t let those things define who you are either.

In the words of The Help: “You is kind. You is good. You is important.”

Therapy comes in many shapes and sizes. I wrote about another group here: Don’t Miss Out.

 

Shoes

Hello. My name is Laurie and I am a shoe-aholic. I am, it’s true. Yesterday I was in Target. I was there looking for a particular item having nothing to do with shoes. As I was leaving, however, I decided to swing by the shoe department and see what was new.

shoes. shoe-aholic, boots, closet, too many shoes, it's a shoe thing

And then it happened.

I saw the perfect pair of boots. It’s winter. It’s cold. Heck, there was snow on the ground. Although this pair of boots that I spied with my little eye aren’t really snow boots per se, they certainly looked like they could keep a pair of feet warm during this already too cold season. I frantically looked for my size and, AND…as luck would have it, I found it! Ah, destiny. It was meant to be.

When I got home I showed my daughter, who just so happens to work at Target, this awesome find I was most fortunate to stumble upon. She said to me: “Don’t you already have a pair of boots like that (looking at my feet which happened to be wearing a similar pair)? Wait, WHAT?!!! She clearly doesn’t understand the thing about shoes.

shoes. shoe-aholic, boots, closet, too many shoes, it's a shoe thing

Granted, the boots I was wearing did (slightly) resemble the pair I had just bought, but oh, the differences, let me count the ways.

I know I have a problem. Admitting it is the first step, right? I have more shoes/boots/sandals/flip-flops/casual and dress shoes than I can count (or practically store). I have shoes I don’t remember wearing. I have shoes I don’t remember buying. I have shoes I don’t understand why I needed or wanted.

shoes

Clearly there is a problem here.

I have admitted written about this problem before: Shoes, Glorious Shoes. You can click to read.

I come by my love of shoes honestly. My grandma; God rest her soul. It’s in my DNA. The women loved shoes. She even went the extra mile and had matching purses. Those things were more common and acceptable in those days, and even, dare I say, expected. Darn it all that I was born in a different era!

My younger brother also inherited the shoe thing. It is a shoe thing, and maybe you don’t understand either? Our youngest child, the boy who is 18, sort of gets it too.

I once had a friend who commented on why I had so many pairs of shoes. She said they all looked the same. Needless to say our friendship was never quite the same.

I have a problem, I will admit. I love shoes. I have shoes. I have too many shoes. I am a shoe-aholic.

But come on, aren’t they adorbs?

shoes. shoe-aholic, boots, closet, too many shoes, it's a shoe thing

It’s a shoe thing, you wouldn’t understand, or do you?

Focus

Focus is a life skill that many of us live without. I know I have in the past. What about you?

“My friend Joe Mathews shared a poignant story with me recently. His best friend’s wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given a short time to live. Joe said he watched in awe as Dan and his wife, Christine, began to live each day with tremendous clarity and love. When it was nearly the end Joe finally got up the courage to ask Christine the question: ‘What does it feel like to live each day knowing you are dying?’ She raised herself up on one arm, and then asked him, ‘Joe, what does it feel like to live each day pretending that you are not?”

“One of the most powerful questions for focusing is asking yourself: “What would I be doing with my time if I knew I had only six healthy months to live?” It  immediately causes you to recognize your priorities.”

Focus is the beginning of power.

focus, relationships, intentional living, focus

I read the above words from a book by Laurie Beth Jones. Focus is an amazing thing. Without it we can find that minutes, hours, years, or even a lifetime has gone by while we are still trying to figure out what we want to be when we grow up.

2014 is coming to an end. That’s a sure bet. And before you know it 2015 will be half over. How is it we take so many things for granted? Time being one of the biggest things. Relationships too, but I’ve written about that a few times already. I bet I will again. ;)

My husband had a small stroke a few weeks ago. That changes everything. Well, it does and it doesn’t. It helped to solidify for me that life can change in an instant. I have a different perspective on a few issues I’m currently working through, and his stroke has aided in looking at things in a different light. Not that it changed anything. It didn’t. But life does changes, sometimes for the better, and sometimes not. Having focus and keeping it is a good way to conduct the everyday things.

To focus can be a challenge, especially when things get difficult, but to do so brings clarity of mind, which leads to peace. I don’t know about you, but if I have an option, I will always choose peace over chaos in my life and relationships.

I don’t mean that in a flippant or morbid way. I mean it in a focused way, an intentional living way.

What’s stopping you from finding your purpose and staying focused and living your life intentionally?

 

 

Crock Pot Chocolate Pudding Cake

I tried something I’ve never done before, I used the crock pot to make a cake, a chocolate pudding cake. I use a crock pot quite often these days. It comes in handy when I since I am away for longer periods of time with work and such. I have found a few recipes that I use again and again, all the while trying new recipes I find along the way. I have never, however, tried a dessert recipe.

Crock Pot Recipe

The crock pot chocolate pudding cake recipe turned out well. It was very moist and had a great flavor. This is one crock pot recipe I will definitely try again.

Cake, Crock pot recipe, Chocolate Pudding Cake recipe, cake in crock pot

Chocolate Pudding Cake

Makes 10-12 servings

18 1/2 oz. pkg chocolate cake mix

3.9-oz. pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix

2 cups (16 oz.) sour cream

4 eggs

1 cup oil

1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

whipped cream, or ice cream, optional

1. Combine cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, eggs, water, and oil in electric mixer bowl. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips.

2. Pour into greased crock pot. Cover and cook on Low 6-7 hours, or on High 3-4 hours, or until toothpick inserted near center comes out with moist crumbs.

3. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

 

 

 

Relationships, Always and Forever

When our kids were young and growing up, I remember telling them on more than one occasion  how important relationship are, always and forever.

In fact, oftentimes when they were presented with a difficult decision or an issue that was a bit overwhelming to handle, I would ask them, “What is the most important thing?” And they always knew the answer, relationships.

I still feel this way, for what other thing can last an entire lifetime? .

I’ve written before on Relationships. You can click the link and see what I was saying in June of 2009.

I’m still learning about relationships, and most importantly, about how I interact in the many relationships I am in or have been a part of from childhood and beyond. I find it all very interesting, and painful too, for it can sometimes be grievous, learning about ourselves, the innermost parts, the parts we keep hidden and buried deep, for to take them out to examine them requires determination and a willingness to take a look at what we find and decide what to do with the treasures unearthed.

Relationships, children, family, friends, looking deep, personal relationships, interacting

Yep, I said treasures. They are treasures, when all is said and done, for

This is actually not at all where I was going with this post but I think I’ll continue in this vein.

If you are like me and you have ventured down the road of relationships and the importance thereof, then it’s my guess that you have encountered, face-to-face, the very essence of who you are. You may have decided you didn’t like what you found and tucked those things safely back in their hiding place,  for safe-keeping,  or perhaps for another day when you are more able and willing to not only take a peek, but to make some changes to aid in a healthier relationship with your family and friends.

And that’s okay.

You may have had a different experience, however. Maybe you were thrown into a situation that required more than you thought you had inside yourself, and you are right, but there is good news. You don’t have to examine these things that cause such feelings of pain all alone.

That’s why you need a higher power and a friend or two that will sit with you as you sort through the closet of emotions you have kept locked away for most of your adult life.

I hope you have them all.

 

The SITS Girls-What Do You Want to Get From Blogging?

Last week I had a post on The SITS Girls website entitled What Do You Want to Get From Blogging? Here is how the post starts: I have met a lot of bloggers in the past four years. That’s when I first began my blogging journey. I have heard lots of reasons why people do what they do in their online corner of the world. My reasons are different today than when I first started, but what hasn’t changed is my love of blogging.

SITS Girls, blogging, guest post, blog tips, blogs, things you get from blogging, reasons to blog

Credit The SITS Girls

 Click the link above and come back and leave your reason for blogging. What do you want to get from blogging?

 

Florida in the Fall

So this is Florida in the fall. There are flowers in bloom, and not just the fall variety. In fact, I saw no mums at all. The Azaleas are blooming again. The trees are of the palm and pine variety, however, there are a few deciduous trees that are barely changing colors.

Florida, neighborhood, walking

I took a walk around my friend’s neighborhood while she ran a few errands. I’m definitely not in Kentucky anymore.

Florida, neighborhood, walking, travel, traveling

I should totally live here. Why you ask? Because there are palm trees in the yard, and it’s warm in November, and there’s an ocean right down the road.

flowers, Florida, neighborhood, walking, travel, traveling

See, pretty flowers still in bloom!

ponte verda, Florida, neighborhood, walking, travel, traveling

And a ride down a palm tree lined road in Ponte Verda. No leaves changing colors. Just lots of lush green vegetation with flowers galore.

Jax Beaches, Florida, neighborhood, walking, travel, traveling

And a walk on the beach. Would I miss the fall season with the trees making a brilliant show of color as winter slowly creeps in? I think I might get used to it.

So this is what fall looks like in Florida.

Traveling

I took a break from real life this week and am visiting my friend in Florida. It was a nice, albeit long drive down. I think I clocked about 800+ miles. It seemed quieter this time around, lonelier for me as I drove. I had plenty of time to reflect, think, meditate and pray and that’s what I did. I think the drive back on Friday will be a little more peaceful for me. I usually enjoy that alone chunk of time but I have a few serious issues to ponder presently.

Florida, visiting a friend, long drives, alone time

The morning sky always does something to me. I only see it when I’m traveling, as a general rule. I’m not out and about that early and the surrounding houses and trees block my view when I’m at home.

Nashville, TN, Florida,Florida, visiting a friend, long drives, alone time

I ran into a little morning commute traffic in Nashville, TN. Hey, Discovering Franklin, I thought of you while passing through~

Nicajack Lake, Nashville, TN, Florida,Florida, visiting a friend, long drives, alone time

This is always a stunning view on the drive south: Nickajack Lake. I probably shouldn’t be taking pictures while driving, but at least I wasn’t texting! Too much car and fence in this photo. The fence actually obstructs the view but I think it’s there for safety reasons.  Click the link above for stunning photos of the area.

Atlanta, Nickajack Lake, Nashville, TN, Florida,Florida, visiting a friend, long drives, alone time

Atlanta is always a fun and challenging drive, a mile marker of sorts. It’s a half way point, though I think it is actually a little over that mark.I know this stretch pretty well by now. I just breezed through on the way down. Hope my return trip through Atlanta goes as smoothly!

cotton, Georgia, Nickajack Lake, Nashville, TN, Florida,Florida, visiting a friend, long drives, alone time

Again, not the best photo as I am driving but I loved the cotton fields I drove by in Georgia. I always thought of Alabama as home of the cotton. This reminds me of a science experiment back in our homeschool days, growing a cotton plant, except that experiment was one my friend did and I never got around to. :) It’s just the way it goes.

Jacksonville, moon, Nickajack Lake, Nashville, TN, Florida,Florida, visiting a friend, long drives, alone time

Blurry I know but the moon in the sky was nice as I neared Jacksonville, Florida, the end of my journey until I return home on Friday.

The drive had come to an end I was happy to have arrived safe and sound, unwind a relax a bit while catching up with my friend.

Do you ever travel alone? How do you pass the time when you travel?