Monday, November 16, 2009

In Honor of my Grandmother

Well, these past few days have been especially difficult for me. Last Thursday at 6:45am, my mother called to tell me that my beloved grandmother had passed away. My grandma Della was 87 years old, in a nursing home and was in the final stages of alzheimers. I have to agree with those that think it is a blessing that the Lord took her now. Regardless, that does not make it any easier when I think of all the memories she left me with.

Some of my fondest memories are those with grandma Della in them. I can remember back to the summers when I would get to spend the night at her house. She and my grandfather would take me to the park where we could ride the train, the carosel and the little mini metal cars. Then the next morning, there would always be a walk to the donut shop just down the street where I always got donut-holes and grandma always got her cake donuts to go with her morning coffee.

As I got older, my brother and I would spend hours sitting at grandma's dining room table playing an array of different card games. Games such as SkipBo, Uno and Dallas. For those of you not familiar with the game of Dallas - it is a card game designed after the famous soap-opera "Dallas." Grandma was quite competitive during those many games - and so were my brother and I. We could literally sit there all afternoon and play those games.

Not long after those years, came my teenage years. Things got a lot busier for me and I wasn't able to spend as much time sitting at grandma's playing cards. Instead stock shows, band, work and boys took up the majority of my time. However, I would still find some time to stop by and talk with grandma. We would just talk about things going at school, work and of course my boyfriends. It was during these years that my grandmother and I became confidants and friends.

Like most mother-daughter relationships, during my teenage years my mother and I did not see eye-to-eye. Well, grandma Della was who I would go and tell everything too. She would often tell me that she had no idea why my mother was being the way she was. lol. And then, she would tell me stories from when she and her mother went through similiar situations. She would also tell me stories about my mother as a teenager. I learned a lot about how my grandmother was when she was younger during these talks. I learned that she and I shared many personality traits. Most importantly, during these years I came to recognize and appreciate how much my grandmother loved me.

When I went to college, grandma Della and I would keep in touch by writing lengthy letters to each other. Not just here and there, but often weekly. During my sophomore year in college, my grandfather passed away unexpectedly. The suddenness of it all caused my grandmother to have mini-strokes and sped up the Alzheimers process. She soon had to be moved to an apartment complex for senior citizens and shortly after that we began having to have a nurse come out and make sure she was taking her medications. It got so bad that within a year and a half after my grandfather passed away, that we had to put her in a nursing home. By this time, my grandmother was unable to continue writing letters to me - however, I continued to write to her.

As time went on, the trips to visit grandma at the nursing home became harder because Alzheimers made it difficult, and eventually impossible, for her to have a normal conversation with us. That's really when I began to lose the grandmother I had known. Although there were times when I would see that familiar sparkle in her eyes showing a hint of laughter. She eventually had to be moved from the general nursing home to the Alzheimers unit when the disease got to bad. By this time, she didn't remember who I was, which was hard - but although she couldn't remember who I was you could tell that she knew I was someone close. The few times I brought my son out with me to visit, she always wanted to hold him - and back when he was first born, and she held him he just layed in her arms and smiled at her while she tried to sing lullabies to him.

My grandmother was an important part of my life and she will be missed dearly. I am sad that my son and future children will never know her as I did, but all I can do is tell them as much about her as possible. And one day, when I become a grandmother myself, I can strive to create the lasting wonderful memories with my grandchildren that my grandmother helped create with me. It is a blessing that God did not leave her to suffer with Alzheimers long, just 6 years, and I know that one day I will see her again. Until then, she will remain in my heart full of memories.

Monday, November 9, 2009

1 Thing to Help Manage the Holiday Stress!

It's November and the holidays are just around the corner. The holidays are so much fun, but they can bring on a lot of stress in our lives if we aren't careful. Why? Because at this time of year, demands start coming in from everywhere! Your kiddos will have multiple parties, plays, sports events and many other things expected of them at school. Which means you will have numerous things to prepare for whether it's just attending the event or baking cookies for everyone in the class. If that isn't enough, you also have to get your Christmas shopping done, attend various parties of your own, find time to prepare for family gatherings and dinners and continue your normal day-to-day activities!

While we're in the midst of it all, we find ourselves being stretched to the limit and wondering, who has time for this? The truth is nobody does! While there is no way to completely eliminate the holiday stress because there will always be school events, holiday parties and extended family to deal with, I have discovered that if I do one thing, I will have more time to concentrate on all the other stuff.

What is it? Dusting off the crock-pot and making a home for it on my kitchen least for the next 3 months! The crock-pot is an amazing invention and though I hate the space it takes to store it for most of the year, I absolutely LOVE it at this time of the year. There are so many recipes out there specifically designed for your slow cooker, all you have to do is find them and put it to use! I promise that you will love freeing up the time you would normally spend preparing dinner. Some of my favorite dishes to cook in it are: Gumbo, BBQ Pork Chops and a yummy Southwestern Chicken dish!

This morning I broke out the crock-pot and am trying my hand at Potato Soup! Judging from the smell wafting throughout my house, I haven't messed it up yet. I have included the recipe below if Potato Soup sounds good to you!

3.5 lbs. potatoes, peeled & cut into cubes
1/2 C. chopped yellow and/or red sweet pepper
minced garlic to taste
1/2 t. ground black pepper
4.5 C. chicken broth
1/2 C. whipping cream or half-and-half
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 C. thinly sliced green onions - optional

1. Combine potatoes, sweet pepper, garlic and black pepper in a 4-6 quart slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
3. Mash potatoes slightly with a potato masher. Stir in whipping cream, cheddar cheese and onions. Serve! Makes 8 servings

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Amazon Prime to the Christmas Shopping Rescue!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween weekend! My little man is 2 years old and he was the most adorable Frankenstein you will ever see! Although he still didn't quite grasp the trick-or-treating part, his daddy and I had a blast taking him around to visit this year!

I love this time of year when Fall is officially here! Although it is by far one of the busier seasons, I just love the cooler air and the hustle and bustle of the crowds preparing for the upcoming holidays! I have discovered an amazing secret to help me with my holiday shopping. I actually discovered it by accident last year, and it literally saved me hundreds of dollars in taxes for my Christmas gifts.

If you haven't tried out Amazon Prime - it is simply amazing. I buy a lot of books from and I was offered the opportunity to try Amazon Prime out for free for 30 days. This amazing tool offered by Amazon gives you the option to buy a product form Amazon's own store for a set amount, but you get your item in 2 days for free! No shipping costs or taxes!

Well, last year my plan was to order a few books and cancel Amazon Prime before I got charged for a full year's worth of this program. Naturally, I log in a day late and have already been charged $75 dollars for an entire year! My dear hubby was a little upset with me over it, so I decided to get my use out of it for Christmas.

Amazon has a large selection of products ranging from books to clothing to camping accessories. So, about 80% of my Christmas shopping last year was done online with the click of a button. And 2 days later, I had the item in my hands! I am not exaggerating when I tell you I save literally hundreds utilizing this service. And to think it was all by accident! I actually have paid to renew my Amazon Prime account for another year - and yes, I plan on doing the majority of my Christmas shopping online again this year with! If you haven't tried this out - now is the time to do it. The free trial is the best if it's being offered. Just be sure to call and cancel BEFORE it expires!

Happy Shopping Everyone!