Thursday, November 30, 2023

A Bunch of Randomness Before Christmas

 Well, let's let the brain roll...

The USDA planting zones changed. They have made my little coastal zone 9a instead of 8b. I am not sure I agree, and I am sure my lemon tree would not agree. I do know the actual coast doesn't get as low as the inland areas, but I am just not sure about 9a. I have to research it more and the nerd in me will do so over Christmas break. It has been chilly this week. Miles, Gus and I have had to wait until about 10:30 instead of 9:00 to do our morning stroll. I am not a cold weather fan and I know I must look like I live at the North Pole going out for the walk. 

But as you can see, living on the coast has its advantages. I am in that no freeze zone. Suits me just fine!

In other local news, the next picture explained why Tyler and Lindsay's garbage was strewn all over the road one morning this week.

Yep, that is a bear strolling on the sidewalk of the neighbor's right across the street. That is actually common around here. Living near the reservation and it being North Florida those guys are very common. Tyler will have to wait until daylight to take the garbage out for a while.

Well, let's get the Iron Bowl stuff over with. What a horrible ending for us Auburn people! Actually, I am very proud of Auburn for staying in the thick of it until the end. I account some of that to home field advantage. Jordan Hare is special. I am excited about our new coach and if those little people who have big money can keep their paws off of Auburn, we could have some good years going forward. That is if NIL and the transfer portal hasn't ruined college football already. Nothing stays the same. We count on that. I am super hopeful that Beau Nix of Oregon wins the Heisman.  We did not go to Auburn as Jeff has had a couple of rough weeks. More on that later. Lindsay and Tyler and the boys did go and had a wonderfully relaxing weekend until the end of the game. I didn't tell you how I did after that game, did I? Well, I must say it took about an hour of walking around the house and trying to distract myself to soothe the downfall. If I am at home for the game instead of Auburn I usually decorate the tree, but I had actually done that Friday night. Boy, do I wish I had waited. Decorating the tree has helped more than a few of those losses. If you think I am are right! I did grow up across that state line and it is a different kind of game. Not one I am sure I like, but....

This was cute though....

I am sure he caught the glimpse of one of his parents. They had been hyped all day and had planned to go to Toomer's Corner if we won.

Palmer is just the cutest right now. They went to one of the favorite spots to eat. It has been there since Jeff and I went to school. 

Miles said it all. Actually, he just wanted to go outside and play.

I got a new coffee mug to drink my coffee and hot chocolate for this season. The mug and a spool of ribbon are the only new things I bought for decorating.  The mug was just too cute to pass by.

Tomorrow is December and I am in shock as to where this year has gone. I suppose that comes with age, but I also think daily life is a little more speedy with the advent of technology. I have a full calendar of events. Be it going to a play for Tucker, parades, church events, friends gathering and lots of doctor appointments. Mother has 4 on the books right now. Two for the 2 different orthopedic doctors she is seeing and 2 for the pain doctor. She has the nerve ablation procedure on Monday. I am praying it will give her some relief so she can enjoy Christmas. It is supposed to help with pain for 4-6 months. 

It's busy and that means we have to work a little bit harder to make sure we have the important stuff in priority. Faith and Family first. 

The house is decorated and I have pictures of it except for the kitchen. I can't keep it clean long enough to take a picture. Imagine that! I might just have to take one with real life, won't I?
I really just want to go bake some cookies and I am going to soon no matter what else has to wait on me to do it.

That is about it here...just trying to squeeze in some reading and stitching and cookie baking amongst all the things. Other than worrying about Mom and Jeff I am all good and looking forward to the Christmas season. I love the lights of the tree. They really help with the darkness of this time of year. 

Jeff has had a rough 2 weeks. Looking forward to getting him home in a few weeks. He has had a pinched nerve in his neck /upper back. That has not helped all the other going on. Today he seemed a wee bit better, so I am hoping that is getting better. He got some steroids and muscle relaxers for that. The kidney stone has passed or lodged somewhere since he is not having that issue anymore. 

That is it for this week.

Tis the season to be jolly... 
 and grateful.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Thanksgiving 2023

 My heart is very full tonight with great love and thankfulness for family and fellowship.

I would be fibbing if I didn't say my heart is also full of concern, but I feel the need to record the blessings and the things I am thankful for -before I move on from this day. I already sat down and poured some of my heart into my paper journal while sitting with the "Pilgrims and Indians." I decided a few weeks ago that paper journaling was going to be necessary going forth, so I have taken to pouring my heart out in it once again. 

I am so grateful for the gift of family. I worked very hard the past 2 days working to make the home special and the food special and that all around good feelings for my family. I sense change is coming again. I felt it in December between Christmas and New Year's Eve of 2021 and it did... yes, it did. I was determined to make this one special. The Lord blessed me with more energy than I knew I had and I KNOW it was from HIM. I have cooked special dishes, kept Thanksgiving decor in place in spite of everywhere I looked Christmas coming out. 

Kristan made me feel so good about that decision. She and I agree that people should do what they want as many have good reasons for putting it out early, but for us it seems like Christmas will be cheated if we put it too soon. I know that topic is a hot button these days and I quite frankly don't care what people do. Truth be known, if I didn't have family coming I might give in and put the lights up too. 

Today was a chance to celebrate the things to be thankful for. Our family has taken a lot of hits this last 2 years and we are feeling it for certain, but giving thanks is important. Just when you think you have a sad story you hear a worse one from a friend. We must choose to live and give thanks for the good found in each day. 

I brought Mother over on Wednesday to spend most of the day overseeing the passing of the torch ---the torch being cooking her dressing. I am not convinced she thought I could do it, but I told her she could only oversee and tell me what I was doing wrong. It went well and I think she is convinced I can now pass on her legacy at my ripe old age of 63. I do plan to write it all out so that it can be followed by more than just her telling one what to do. I really knew I could do it. After all, I have watched her do it for years, but I think she needed to feel useful this year. 

The remainder of the post is going to photo heavy, but they tell the story.
I am going back to give thanks all week. 
Let's start with Sunday. 

Look at my sweet boys in large group at church. Palmer is now old enough to come out to the big room for the singing and Bible story. He spotted Tucker right away and went to stand by his big brother.

I love that my kids know how important bringing the kids to church is. I am so grateful for my parents raising me in church so that I might have a great Lord and Savior to guide me through life. I could write for hours about that topic alone, but I will move on.

On Monday, I got to go with my kids and grandsons to the Armament Museum. There have been many trips and photos of this place here along the way, but Katie was out of town visiting her bestie and Tyler was at work. Lindsay and Paul Allen were both off and Mama got to spend time with her kiddos. 

You mamas know what I mean when you see your adult kids enjoying spending time together and conversing. It is a warm fuzzy!!!

Miles decided early on he wanted to walk, then Palmer decided he wanted to walk. As little as they are, they walked pretty much all the way around the museum looking at the planes. My boys all love planes. Since, we live near so many air and army bases it is no wonder planes are a huge part of the skies here.

I got to hold hands...

and watch them take care of each other.

An all around fun day. I don't know if the boys enjoyed the picture taking, but they had fun.

Mimi loved every minute of that morning. She felt compelled to buy them a rocket which was a huge hit with the older 2 when they got home.

Miles was still walking!

Lindsay has taught the boys to say cheese when taking pictures. We thought we were done with the pictures and then Palmer wasn't following and kept saying something. It was finally determined he was saying, "More cheese." Obviously, he didn't feel we had captured him correctly so Lindsay had to go take one more of him with his rocket.

Be still my heart!

Tuesday was cleaning day and preparing the house for the family. Here are the family photos that I try and pull off each time we get together. Kristan and I agree again on something, pictures are important BUT she and I feel like the least photogenic of the bunch. Mother however, is the most photogenic. I had her at 2 doctor appointments this week and quite frankly was worried about her spending the day here today with so many, but pain pills did their job today and she looks amazing in these photos. Truth is....I really worry...well let's try and keep this post positive.

My heart is in that photo below. Oh how richly blessed I am to have these people in my life. 

We have been hit hard with the news of Jeff's diagnosis. Not just me, but the kids too. They have been so concerned and so helpful. Paul Allen was over early doing all the turkey stuff before they had to go to Katie's family's house. We moved our feast until 2:00, so they could come back and enjoy us later. Lindsay is working behind the scenes at work to make all the retirement stuff go smoothly and has put together a small reception for Jeff (he doesn't know). She feels it is important he knows how much he means to the district staff (Jeff is like the secret peacemaker there) and the principals at all the schools. He is basically their evaluator and a mentor to so many of them. We are praying that things will be better when he is retired. To make matters hard to see that this week he has a kidney stone and something like a pinched nerve in his upper back. All that has made for someone who hasn't felt well at all on his week off from work. It has been hard to know if the fatigue he has felt was all of that or the Parkinson's. Time will tell and yes, we are scared

His last day of work is December 21st.

Next up is Jeff's sister's family. Donna pictured front row left is not feeling all that well either. She is 12 years older than Jeff and they only have the one daughter. Kristan. Al, her husband has no siblings that had children and so as I have said before, that leaves Kristan, Lindsay, and Paul Allen as a small set of cousins. Kristan is 10 years older than Lindsay but these 3 are very close. We lived across the street from Donna until after Kristan left for college so they got to watch her grow up. Kristan's husband Torrey is on the right with his mom. His parents have done Thanksgiving with our family since they married. Torrey's dad passed away a couple of weeks before last Thanksgiving. Miss Judy was looking a little more herself this year. 

And then we have our younger generation. The twins are getting so big. 14 now....teens. Not sure how that happened so fast.

That is a wrap on Thanksgiving. Lindsay and Tyler went full on Christmas at their house today before heading to the feast:) 

Lindsay sent me this picture after they got home tonight. 

I am going full on Christmas too now. 
The tree is up. I had to buy it because all the good ones would be gone from the place I like to buy from.

I love a tree that has a few imperfections (not too many). I like for it to look real!

I am going to do a couple of things different this year. I only had to buy one thing of ribbon for my idea to happen. Stay tuned. I will share all of it. 

From C.S. Lewis....
Courage isn't the absence of fear but acting despite it. In fact, you would not need courage if you did not have fear. 

Friday, November 17, 2023

All the Fall Feels

 I thought I might better get a post up of my fall pictures before Thanksgiving week arrives and I sure enough don't have time to post.  
The owl above was out a little earlier int the pine tree than he usually arrives. In fact, all three grand boys were over yesterday and Mother when he made his entrance. Mother spotted him from the couch. He didn't seem at all disturbed by us looking at him. He usually arrives with nightfall and hoots away out there, but for some reason he came early and sat there a long time. Lindsay even got this picture through the deck slats. There is just so much fun to watch in nature. I was walking Gus earlier today and just loved seeing the birds. One female cardinal didn't seem at all disturbed by Gus when she was perched in the shrubs and he came close. I view all of these sightings as blessings.

Last weekend, well actually on Thursday before Veteran's Day, Jeff and I slipped away to Auburn for a long weekend. I left Paul Allen in charge of Mother, and this time she actually let me go without  talking about going to her sister's house. It was overcast in Auburn all weekend, but the trees were so pretty. They usually peak around Thanksgiving up there, but I loved seeing all the fall color. 

I had the best time noticing all the different oaks, maples, and elms all around the neighborhood and town.
I crunched through leaves in the yard to my heart's delight.

We ate out Friday night with our good friends and watched the ballgame with them on Saturday. It was quiet in Auburn as they were playing in Arkansas. Overall, just a nice weekend for Jeff and me. I take what I can get.

Life is truly so busy that a regular day of keeping Miles and not having to go anywhere is as good as it gets these days. I don't have any days to myself anymore. It is the season I am in and I make do. Mother got a test injection this week and will have another the first Monday of December which will last for 4-6 months for pain. Keeping my chin up with her is the hardest. 

Not knowing what the days going forward hold is not the easiest, but it is remembering life can be hard, and my  faith will sustain me. 
I do my best to notice all the good and count it as a blessing just like seeing birds on my walk. Pity parties never make you feel better. They must be short in length. 

This little munchkin along with the other 2 keeps Mimi's chin up. Miles liked the mall kid's area. This picture is just too cute not to share. He visited there with his parents while we were in Auburn last weekend.

While in Auburn, I did a little relaxing in the bedroom reading this little gem of a book that I leave up there. I relaxed and stared at my lovely birds and flowers stitches. 

Gus might have decided I had been sitting too long. Anyway, the book made me want to reread the series of books about Mitford. I must admit I didn't like them at first. I think my life was too busy to really slow down enough to read them. When I did finally settle into read them since retiring from teaching, I really liked them. Father Tim was such a wonderful character.

Other than the daily chores, lots of doctor appointments and all the stuff most everyone does in life, I have been trying to get a handle on photographs. I knew I already had a problem with mine, but when I brought more albums than you want to even know...maybe close to 50 from Mother's house, I knew I was in trouble.

It has been completely overwhelming and quite frankly still is. These 2 boxes are ones I pulled out of albums because there isn't enough room for them. I pulled them out and labeled them with dividers by season and year.  They are basically the same ones I have in my albums, so there is now one set for Lindsay and one set for Paul Allen. These 2 boxes contain about 20 years of just our family. Then Mother was the keeper of history for her entire family. I have been going through and have many set aside to give to her siblings, but she wants to see them first, so....

Lindsay's bedroom is still overflowing. I give up until after the new year. 

I will admit it is all driving me a little bonkers.

I am still in Thanksgiving/ fall mode here. We will celebrate Thanksgiving here with everyone home. Not one drop of Christmas is anywhere yet. I am thankful that it is a bit earlier this year so I don't have to feel rushed. I wish people didn't rush things so much these days, but I know I am in the minority on that these days. I will be ready to put it up after the turkey is cleared away. I might even cave in to all of it if I didn't have the festivities at my house and I like for Thanksgiving to look like Thanksgiving.

We may go to Auburn for the Iron Bowl weekend. It is in Auburn this year, but we don't have tickets. We are all just taking about going up. Not sure yet. If I do, then Christmas boxes won't come out until the Monday after all that hullabaloo. 

I did restart my Florida sampler on smaller count linen and in the center of the sampler rather than the side. I had miscalculated the amount of edging and I didn't want to stress and I started thinking about how large it would be on 28 count. I am liking my change to 36 count summer khaki. I am making many color changes in this sampler as well.

I have my December ornament almost finished. Just need to find a color ribbon to make a bow. I will share soon. I started the reindeer ornament again for myself this time. More to share soon.

My eye surgery is behind me and now I am just doing the drops as anyone who has had this done knows all about:)

I love Thanksgiving and try to embrace it with all the gusto I can. I love that I spend time being grateful and then move in to the Christmas season. 
Happy Thanksgiving,

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Making the Most of Time

I did not intend to be away from the blog so long, but my stage of life dictates my comings and goings. I shall not linger on all that, but try to pump out some good stuff here.

Stitching Time

My stitching time has just been so limited lately for a few reasons. 

~Sometimes you can just run into problems that take away motivation.

~I am trying out lots of new light situations and even sitting arrangements for evening stitching which was brought on by my lamp breaking and quite honestly my sight... I will talk more about that later.

~And the fact that the amount of light this time of year puts me in a funk physically and a wee bit mentally. I am a light person. When it starts getting dark earlier, I feel like a bear who just needs to hibernate. I will find myself drifting over to the couch to just lay down for a minute to rest and then I am just completely out. I am trying to fight it hard so as to not sleep away to many precious hours that could be spent reading or stitching.

OK, so where am I in my stitching world. I have stitched all of my 12 ornaments for the stitch along...I have not fully finished them, but they are stitched.  I hope to fully finish the last one next week. Lindsay is using most of them as gifting in her work place. I think I will need to do that reindeer with the cardinal again for myself.

For November, I did a quickie.

For December's, I stitched a coastal themed one that I have stitched before. I will share next time. I have enjoyed stitching these. I don't think I will commit to 12 again next year as it is time to stitch Miles's Advent calendar that I stitched Tucker and Palmer a couple of years back. 

For other stitching, I have run into some troubles which I partially blame on eyesight and just my mind these days. I have to restart my Florida sampler. I am waiting on my new linen to arrive. Since I am restarting (thankfully,  I wasn't far along) I am using a lighter 36 count linen. I think my color selections of floss will work better and the size will be much better for framing. I have to say I like the pattern, but I am changing almost every color of floss. When I pull the chosen floss out to stitch it just doesn't mesh with my view of the real item. Maybe that is the flaw in choosing a sampler based on your actual geographical location in life.  Also, the pattern symbols are just stinking hard to see. Could be my failing eyes. Who knows? 

Speaking of eyes, I had said I was waiting until January to do the second eye. I have changed my mind due to more than one reason which I won't bore you with. I have no idea how it is all going to work out, but I feel a strong need to get it behind me. I have my second eye surgery on Tuesday of next week, so that will further interrupt my stitching time. Something to look forward to in 2024. As for the eye surgery, I don't think this cataract surgery thingie is life changing. Yes, I can see better but not as much as I would like. Manmade lenses don't work like God given original lenses. However, my eyes are failing me, so I am just going forward with the decision and hoping it will all work out.  40 count stitching may be over for me. I am feeling that way now anyway, so the surgery is not going to be the reason. 

Reading Time

I have read some lately. I don't always share my books, but I think I will this time. I read, no listened to Under the Bayou Moon, by Valerie Fraser Luesse. It was an enjoyable listen. The one thing that stood out to me was the author's description of the Louisiana bayous. It was obvious she had great love for the area. I relate to that as I love my bay and bayou...

Speaking of my bayou and bay, we went out for a boat ride Sunday afternoon.  It was a glorious day. We saw 3 bald eagles circling some hopping fish. I don't think I have ever seen the likes of that. One was clearly a bald eagle and the other 2 were younger without the white head. IT was quite a sight. Earlier in the week I saw 2 ospreys putting on a show for me right out back. One kept landing in the pine tree outside the kitchen window and making some wild noises. I think they were mating. Lovely views which I am unable to photograph because I am challenged in photography.

My second book was the new book by Erin Napier called Heirloom Rooms. I had forgotten I preordered it. I am a complete sucker for a decorating book. I liked it but I would not run out and buy it if you are a decorating book nerd like me. The material to read is the best part of the book here. She takes you on a real life journey about REAL homes, not staged looks. I did enjoy the pictures of the real homes. Fun to see them as they really are with drink glasses and used blankets strewn instead of all signs of life put away from sight. I enjoyed it but I probably could have read a library copy and been good with that. It was good and made me think.

My third book as of late was John Grisham's book, The Exchange. It was billed as the sequel to The Firm which is on my list of favorite reads. I read it before children during post planning of the school year. Someone left in the teacher's lounge in the take if you like reads. I took it home and started and spent late nights of post planning finishing it because I couldn't lay it down. The new book picks up with Abby and Mitch in 2006. I was sad I purchased it, not sad I read it, but quite frankly I don't think you can write a sequel to The Firm. The Exchange is an ok read by Grisham. I haven't read many of his lately and it was just ok for me. I had no trouble reading it or wanting to finish it, but it is not great. Check it out at the library and save the money.

Grands Time

I know everyone is past Halloween, but here are my little boys all enjoying their time in their neighborhoods.

Tucker and Palmer ready to go.

Palmer actually wore the Marshall outfit to another even, but decided on the astronaut outfit for the evening. I think it might have had to do with his teachers at daycare commenting on how cute he was in earlier in the day.

Are they not just adorable driving down the sidewalk/

Miles was a banana...and he was eating on a banana. There is a church 2 blocks down from them so they just went to the trunk or treating there to make it a wee bit easier. His favorite thing was glow sticks.

It seems I always share sunrises. Jeff and I went over to a little park on the other side of the bay to see the sunset one evening. It wasn't all that spectacular, but beautiful nonetheless.

I have to say I have listened to the most wonderful message series at my church that was so timely for us. Three parts that caused me to listen multiple times to each one. He is meeting us in our difficulties. 

Hebrews 4:16 

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

The last line of the closing prayer on the last part of the series really caught Jeff's attention.

"Help us remember we are not the owners of our lives, but the stewards of our time."

I am looking forward to the coming holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. I truly love Thanksgiving and going into December having focused on my blessings with Thanksgiving first. The weather has been just about perfect for about a month here and I have soaked it up. I have sat on my deck and strolled around the neighborhood. I have not been all that productive with chores outside, but I am just loving the time outside. Nature really does soothe my soul. Now, this time change and lack of light make me have to be out there even more during the day.

I have taken a break from Instagram with my daughter. We decided to fast from it for a month. I have a few more days to go. I know when I go back I am going to be unfollowing a few. During this time I knew exactly which things I have missed and things I haven't. Stitchy friends, decorators of homey homes, and joy filled focus on Jesus...

The world is a mess, but I try to focus on what I can do each day. I pray for our nation and for our children and grandchildren. That is all I can do. I remind myself often of the C.S Lewis quote from another time in history when the world was a mess.

Let us do sensible things and cherish the time we have with family and friends.