Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My Memories

Friday, my grandmother went home to be with the Lord.  Obituary here  Spending these last few days looking at old pictures and family members I have not seen in years has brought up a lot of memories.  I wanted to put them here so I don't forget.  My Nan Nan (as we all called her) was a very unique and special lady.  She was independent, self reliant, and strong willed.  She wanted things done her way but her way.  I know she was pretty dynamic in her job and had a vibrant social life but the part I saw the most of was her homemaking.   Here is my unedited, unscripted memory bank dump.  (the pictures in the post are some of my more recent pictures . . . I didn't have time to scan some old ones that would match the text . . . )

Her old house-At her old house there was an oil lamp hanging right by the door that I was constantly getting in trouble for putting my hands in the oil dripping down the wires, also an old clock that never worked properly (because it wasn't "reset") but she would always set it up to work while we were there so we could see the bird come out.  The kitchen was HUGE and had old saloon doors leading into it.  I would often open those doors and come through them as if I was a star putting on a show.  The huge kitchen had a breakfast nook where the "kids table" was during big dinners.  The best part about that was that the desserts were often left in the kitchen until dinner was over and I could sneak some cookies early.  The carport was the site of one of my birthday parties (after going to a waterpark with a few select friends).  The piano was right outside the kitchen and Nan Nan (and my patient parents) would listen to my "concerts" and cheer as if they were the best things they had ever heard.  Then the formal dining room which doubled as an entry way and was the site of my first experiences with amazing cooking!  My mom was a good cook but I remember Nan Nan's feasts being the most food I ever saw at once.  Her living room always had a container of mints or candy to sneak and a bunch of breakable stuff to stay away from.  She had a mean dog named Brandy that might be the reason I don't like dogs to this day!  LOL  My dad's old bedroom had a cool closet which connected with the closet in the other room making a great secret passage way from one side of the house to the other.  The bathroom door ALWAYS stuck and you never wanted to lock it because you might get stuck in there!  Her master bedroom was HUGE and always full of beautiful clothes and coats. 

Nan Nan Week-a couple summers between when I was 9-14 or so I was allowed to spend a few days (maybe even a whole week) with Nan Nan by myself.  With three sisters this alone time was great!  Nan Nan always called me her princess and told me stories about "Princess Joanna" when I was a little girl.  As I got older when I would spend this week with her she would iron my clothes every day.  I thought this was very strange . . . she even ironed my underwear!!  When I asked her why she said that "when you look pretty underneath, you feel pretty on the outside too"  Looking good was important to her and I don't know if I ever saw her without her makeup and hair done in those early years when I was young.  She took me along with her daily routine during those weeks which I both loved and hated.  Sitting through an old lady water aerobics class and the locker room afterward was downright painful.  However, I really loved showing houses with her (she was a realtor).  Seeing the houses and hearing her "sell" the property no matter how much I knew she hated the decor she was "selling"  it was fascinating.    She always took me to my favorite waterpark during that week and it was the highlight of my trip.  She took me to the state capitol for a "private" tour several years.  She always put mayonnaise on my sandwich even though I hated mayonnaise--she did not understand how her granddaughter could not like mayonnaise.  She also insisted on coming into the dressing room with me when she had me try on clothes (which I HATED).  She did have a way of getting discounts on clothes and bought me lots of things I wanted though so I tolerated the invasion of my modesty. 

Christmas-Christmas was done so beautifully.  All the decorations matched, they were all done perfectly each year.  The kitchen was full of cakes, cookies, pies . . . I mean full of them the entire Christmas season.  She had stuff in the oven or on the counter all the time for someone.  She had a raised cake stand that ALWAYS had a cake or pie in it.  In fact, I often wondered if it was EVER empty.  You could always count on her having some fresh baked good in that cake stand when you visited.   She gave out huge tins of Christmas cookies every year and we would eat them all season long.  She bought gifts for everyone she knew I think and the tree was always full of gifts.  She didn't do things organized necessarily and she shopped all year long for Christmas so sometimes you would get a TON of gifts and sometimes you would get a few gifts and someone else would get a ton.  It was always a huge surprise who was the "favorite" that year.  Regardless of who got what we were all VERY spoiled by her generous gift giving.  Christmas dinner (even if done on a different day than Christmas) was a HUGE event (as every meal at her house was) and the food was always amazing.  We always had punch with meals . . . you could sneak out into the garage refrigerator and get a pop sometimes but every meal had a punch bowl full of punch. 

Canning-My grandmother had a HUGE garden between her old house and my great grandmothers house.  They gardened there for years and years even after she sold the house.  She canned all the things she grew and kept my parents pantry stocked with tomatoes, green beans and other things my entire childhood.  In fact, I don't remember us every buying beans from the store.  There would be 50 cans or more in the garage at any given time and we just had to go out and get one for dinner when we needed one.  When she got older and I did have store canned beans for the first time I remember that I didn't like them.  I had grown up with only Nan Nan beans my entire life.  She was always a little disappointed I think that I never wanted to learn this skill of canning.

Cake Eggs- This tradition of Nan Nans I DID learn and enjoyed (and still enjoy).  She worked at a bakery when she was first old enough to work and learned how to make these cake eggs.  When she found out the bakery was closing down years later she went and asked them for their old cake egg pans.  She had them sized to fit her home oven and made them every year for her family and friends.  I LOVE these silly eggs!  They take about 3 hours to make one batch start to finish but I love these messy little things.  For several years before she got sick she would come to my house every Easter (or I would go to hers) and make these eggs together.  The first time we made them together she brought the wrong recipe and we spent over 5 hours figuring it all out!  She was convinced it was because I had not bought name brand flour!  LOL  Anyway, this was a very special memory I have with her.  Her cake eggs and her making them with me all those years.

Ceramics-When I was really young Nan Nan was really into ceramics.  I remember her bringing Easter Ceramics to my girl scout troop (maybe my entire school class too, seems like I remember doing it twice with her) and teaching us all how to paint them.  I still have the little rabbit thing I painted that day.  That wasn't the only one I ever painted with her but I remember being so proud of that one because MY grandma had come to the troop to do it.

Chocolate-Then she got in a chocolate phase . . . the chocolates that were on a stick like a sucker?  She made those a lot when I was growing up.  A couple different years she made those for my birthday parties or a school party.  Her freezer was always full of those little chocolate wafers you could melt easily.  I would sneak those by the handful if they were open.  (Hmmm, I did a lot of sneaking . . . )  She even made all the party favors at my wedding with her chocolate molds.

Dating/Marriage-When Nan Nan first met Tim (freshmen year of college) she told me I should take a second look at that nice young man.  I told her he was not really "marriage" material.  She asked me why and when I didn't have a good answer she said she just thought he deserved a second look.  I'd be lying if I said her opinion made THAT huge a difference but it was interesting she did say that.  (she enjoyed reminding us both of that many times years after we got married that SHE got us together . . . she loved Tim!)  When we did get married she did give me this piece of advice.  Always use your good dishes for your family.  Don't save the china for company only.  Your husband is your most prized possession and needs to be treated as if he is that special . . . use the good stuff for him too . . . even if it's just the two of you at the table. 

Legacy-Although I never remember my Nan Nan being a deeply religious person I never doubted her salvation.  She didn't talk about God or anything the way my parents did, but she definitely wanted everyone in church and I knew she went to church.  She sang in the choir and was at every church function they offered.  At the funeral my mom gave a beautiful testimony of Nan Nans influence over her introduction to religion and church. As I looked at my family (mom, dad, four girls, husbands, and nine grandchildren) I realized that NanNan's influence over my parents was a key ingredient to this entire second and upcoming third generation (Lord Willing) of Christians-what a legacy.

These last five years of beating cancer but the weakness over her body that it left her, the frustration of not being able to do things for herself, her anger at not being able to live alone, her mind eventually giving in to the Alzheimer's has honestly left me with many many sad memories . . . I have so enjoyed looking through old pictures and going through her house and the renewed old memories it has given me.  Remembering all those fun times that will hopefully be the lasting memories in my mind.   I love you Nan Nan!  So happy that you are reunited with Ethon and Clinton and your Savior!  I will see you again, when my time comes--until then I guess I'd better go set the table for dinner . . . with my good dishes!

Friday, July 24, 2015

In Other News

Just in case you thought we were bored . . . .

Little Lady has been taking swimming lessons.  We are so proud of her, she can almost do a dive and can doggy paddle all the way across my parents pool INCLUDING coming up for a breath and going back under!  She has come a  LONG way this summer!

Andrew has been "protecting the house"
All of us at Kid Fest downtown . . .

Chick Fil A Dress like a cow day . . . free food for the entire family?  Yup, we would love to dress like cows!

Swimming at the local pool.  Little lady went down this slide at least 50 times the day we were there . . .    swam to the ladder by herself and back up she went!  So brave!  Andrew did it a bunch too but was too interested in hanging out with friends to spend much time there.  Chunky Monkey is way to brave for this momma and was constantly being told he had to stay with me.  He has done a complete 180 with water this summer!

Andrew, Little Lady and Daddy camped out in Grandma and Grandpas backyard.  The night before, Grandma had the kids each make their own pizzas. It was Little Lady's first time ever sleeping in a tent!  Although Andrew didn't make it all night (too much noise?) she LOVED it and was ready to do it again!!!  Chunky Monkey made everyone breakfast!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Marisa going away party

So my "baby" sister got a new job and moved to Florida.  Sad sad day for all of us.  She was our primary babysitter, Andrew's school teacher and just a fun person to have around . . . now she is spreading her wings in a new adventure in FL.  Before she left my parents threw her a going away party.  It was Mexican themed since she LOVES Mexican food . . . (ignore the fact that it was on July 4 . . . odd to be blaring Mariachi music and eating Mexican food on the 4th)!  LOL  It was a really fun party and my kids especially enjoyed that the older cousins were there to play with in the pool!

Surprise Marisa!!!!!! .. . . . .  Ironic the Diet Coke I found in the cooler . . . I think I will share it with my family!!  made me happy--both to have the chilled pop and that it said share with my family.

Pin the tail on the burrow of course . . . and my aunt made this really cool Sombrero cake!

Pinata time . . . money, candy and gum!!! 

The kids had a dancing number they played their instruments to and danced with some music for Marisa . . . they actually practiced this and to our surprise they did really well . . . especially Andrew!!!!

We miss you already Marisa!  Hope you are having an amazing time and that you find lots of new adventures to get into.  Hope to see you soon!!!  Love . . . . all of us!!!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

St. Marys Pool

The pool I used to work at is SOO cool now.  A mini waterpark with super low rates!  We took advantage of my sisters and their kids all being in town to go July 3.  The weather was a tiny bit overcast and chilly (doesn't that describe this entire summer?!?!?) so there were very few people there but we had a really nice time!  Poor Cherith, just like me when I was her age.  When she gets wet her super blond hair makes her look bald! 

Even little Lady made it to the top of these big slides this year!!  These are Tyler and Andrew going down.

 Andrew, strong enough to make it to the top of the climbing wall this year!!!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Beach 2015-Part 2

The Ocean- We were afraid the water temperature would be FREEZING but it was actually really refreshing.  We had only one rain and it was in the early hours of the morning well before any of us were interesting in going outside.  Since we have gotten back there have been shark attacks in the water less than 1/2 mile from our house!  Thankfully that didn't happen until AFTER we got back.  After Tim saw a sting ray by his feet and we saw some "dolphins" that we are "sure" aren't sharks . . . I didn't swim much . . . Andrew, Little Lady and the other older kid were in the water a LOT!  Both Little Lady and Andrew have become quite the fearless body boarders!!!  Chunky Monkey however, was pretty close to mommy-especially near the water.

Oldest to Youngest . . .

We got a little too brave with our sun canopy out at the beach (we left it out overnight so we didn't have to keep taking it up and down)  and that early morning squall that hit our house and the beach made it look like this . . . .

This raft has been on so many beach trips . . . Zach and Stephanie said this is it's last season . . . it kept deflating and is just worn .  . . we sure have had some fun memories on it though!
This pier was just close enough that it made a nice goal for an evening walk after dinner.  The kids loved making it so they could explore what treasures were underneath. 

 One evening we all played some games on the beach and had our first ever beach campfire . . .

Chunky Monkey was SO upset when the older kids started doing this to me . . . after about the third bucket load he started covering my head with his own and screaming . . . such a tender heart on that boy--he loves his momma!!!
Family Photos- We got some beautiful family photos while we were there . . . almost all of which I can not show you because of my little ones faces that are in there.  Here is a taste of what they WOULD look like . . . one of my parents and one of my sisters family.