Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hail Mary of a Baby

I went to St. Mary's school growing up. We have all gone our separate ways as we tend to do. Thanks to Facebook, several of us have reconnected. About a month ago, our sixth grade teacher died from breast cancer. Mary Glenn, who just delivered a beautiful bouncing baby boy, sent out a message and within a week almost $500 was raised in the name of Mrs. Boblett & our appreciation for her.

Shannon got married. She lives up north and works for America's Test Kitchen-- this is me, very jealous.

Some are now lawyers. One is an eye doctor. A few have dropped off the face of the earth.

Charlie is a police officer- a dangerous place to be in Augusta as we have lost two officers in as many months. Stay safe, friend. We pray for your welfare often.

Several of us have had children.

One in particular is Holly.

Holly was always very shy. She was born on Christmas day & presented to her parents in a stocking. A STOCKING! How sweet is that? Her name- Holly, very appropriate. Holly and Amy were (and still are) the very best of friends. If you have any advice on how to maintain that kind of relationship for almost 30 years, I am all ears.

Holly had a baby out in Arizona. The little bitty thing came too early. Kathy, her mom, was on the next flight. After a month in the NICU and a few weeks closing doors, Kathy & Holly packed up her little home, her little Peyton and headed back to God's country where the love of her family, her church, and her friends could help in more ways than one.

Two days ago, it was discovered that Peyton has a tumor on her liver with prompt surgery today. She is not even six months old yet & is already on her second trip to the hospital.

My thoughts and my prayers are with them today. Count your blessings; I am counting mine. Say your prayers and toss one out there for the Hail Mary of a baby. She's a fighter. But, even the best of fighters can use a hand every once and a while.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Recycling Christmas Cards

So, I did it. I cut up your Christmas cards. I didn't throw them out (well, I did throw some of them out... sorry. She got confused. Please don't axe us off the list for next year!)


I cut out the pictures and taped them to the freezer for LMC to see and enjoy. Her first pick was "Mama Bits. Mama Bits, right dere!" 


Then, of course, she saw An-Ew & JJ.


Before spotting Caleb & Miss Jessica (she wasn't sure who the third was. She asked if it was Santa Clause. Sorry, Justin.)


Where's Riley Roo? Responded with a finger on the handsome boy in the yellow shirt. 


"And remember, Matthew? Your gentleman caller?" Ohhhh.... and a finger goes straight to him.


Mr. Chip? 


Ms. Ellen? 


Andrew? (not to be confused with An-Ew or Udder An-Ew) 


Oh dear, she is quite the fan. Give it a whirl, your's will love it!

I get it.

People get really creeped out when I say that LMC & I are off for a fun-filled day at Arlington... Cemetery. They really do, I get the "wide-eyed-not-going-to-say-anything" look with a slight nod of the head, before they turn, run, and hunt for a rosary.



I get it. Hanging out in a graveyard is creepy. And weird. Even my SIL said today, "What is it with you and graveyards? Do you just like hanging out there?"




Yep. I really do. It makes me very humbled to see the rows upon rows of patriots and their families who said that their life was worth laying down to protect us and what we believe in. 

It gives LMC a chance to stretch her legs on this dreary, rainy day and I get to tell her things about those that came before her. Robert E. Lee's house, for example and what kind of gentleman he was. It's a 3-D history lesson of our patriotic past within four walls and surrounded by the many that risked their life.


Sometimes though, you see something like this: 



And you ask the marine walking by who died.


And he will say Major McKinney. 


Major McKinney, who enlisted in 1941, served 20 years for his nation and retired after earning the Silver Star in Italy and receiving both a Bronze Star & the Purple Heart. (thank you, Google)


I quietly followed the funeral around- from a distance- and was both in awe and admiration for this stranger and what he did.


Both awe and admiration for the marines and military who honored him in such a dignified and deserving way.

Awe and admiration for his family that sacrificed alongside him- not in the trenches, but at home- without him. Having spent my fifth Christmas without my husband, I get it. It's lonely.


I get it.  I get why taps makes people cry and why rainy, dreary days are great for funerals. And sunny days. And cold days. I get why, even when you know death is coming to a loved one as a blessing, you still cry.


As I turned to leave, I realized that the casket was being drawn to Maj. McKinney's final resting place and the family was following under umbrellas and wearing black. Limousines were behind the family, slowing making their way among the twists and turns.


In the distance, away from the family, Marines waited for their part of the three-volley salute (Thank you, Wikipedia) for this 91 year old man. 


So, I get it. I get why people get creeped out when I say I'm spending the morning at the graveyard, or that when I say I am visiting my "Great-grand-father's half brother, wife, and daughter" that they are surprised when the trio has been residing six feet under for the better part of 50 years. I get it. Be creeped out. It's okay. Because, this morning- LMC & I were surrounded by patriots and were safe. Probably one of the safest places one can be.

I get it. I just hope that one day, you will get it, too.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Ribbons

Ribbons go in her hair and are promptly plucked with her pudgy little finger. Unless you call them crowns, then there is a little chance that you can get away with just one...


Or, even two for that matter. Nope, she is definitely not in the "Less is more" category...


LMC went so far as to ask for "gwa-sses, Ma-Mee" and, thus, we have the pink ribbon around her eyes. Not to mention "Neck-wace, Ma-Mee. Neck-wace, pwease." Hence the purple around her neck (safe, I know)- not to be confused with the coordinating purple on her head. It's behind the red one.


She is a fan.


I am a fan, too. The explosion of giggles that erupted were too much for me to contain. Two year olds are like that-- they are too much to contain, sometimes in a good way... sometimes in a not-so-good way. Either way, they are wonderful tiny humans who put everything into the "more is more."


Suddenly, the ribbons were realized to be too much... I know, right? What was she thinking. So, she opted for "one crown, like Ma-Mee." (Did you think I could get away without a crown? Drats for being BEHIND the camera)


And then it was unwrapping my own precious present all over again- pink ribbon and all. Oh, I love my daughter- and daughters, in general.


What is the obsession with kids and putting Christmas stockings on their feet? I remember doing it. Dad has a patch on his stocking from when he did it as a "little fella" and put a hole in it. It's so cute and totally untaught.



Okay, that's it. I promise. No more blogs today. Probably not even any tomorrow either. As soon as Husband gets home with the car, LMC & I are out to see the crowds and the chaos.

I was definitely surprised


I mean, If I had woken up with my head sewn to the carpet, could not have been more surprised.

Starting off, LMC gave me my first blue box:


It was little, but it held big pearl earrings. Surely, that was it. That was my "big" present...

That tricky Husband. That tricky, tricky Husband who is always so thoughtful and loving... (see my earrings?)


I changed clothes just so I could wear my new jewels for the rest of the evening. This morning, Husband is at work- on call again and I am wearing my lovely addition with my jeans. I might just wear them everyday.

LMC got into the spirit of things after throwing an atrocious fit about her dress. "I NO WEAR SANTA. NO DRESS! NO DRESS!"It got tot the point where Husband took her up to the roof with the dress around her neck for her to, literally, cool off for a minute. "I COLD! NO DRESS!" It took her a few minutes, but she was in the spirit soon enough!




Once she figured out how to open presents... every present was her present!


Merry Christmas, y'all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

More Tomorrow

Right now, Ralphie is opening his Red Ryder BB gun and we-- as a family-- are beyond happy.

This has been the very best Christmas and I am lucky, so very lucky, to have this family as my family.

And I am lucky for friends.

Several months ago, I asked my friend to help me with Husband's Christmas present. And help she did.

WOW. Please, see how talented she is:


And Husband did not fail either-- not only did I receive my first blue box... I received my first TWO blue boxes.


this have been a lovely day.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Revealing my secrets

My grandfather taught me how to make sausage balls when I was running around barefoot. At tea parties with my dolls, I would serve them.


With Christmas around the corner, sausage balls were on today's docket before LMC & I headed out to see the trains at the botanical gardens


Sausage Balls are the one thing that I am constantly trying something different with--


grated onion, no grated onion, dash of Tabasco, a little more Tabasco, garlic powder, rolling in parmesan cheese before cooking, and any combination therein. These have been stored in the fridge, on top of the fridge, on the counter & in any passer-bys tummy. 


I even mess with the name, sometimes they are called Sausage Balls, Sausage Tartlets, Cheesy Goodness, and even just plain Sausage-Cheese things. For LMC, they get all sorts of names- depending on what her obsession is at the moment. Mostly, she just calls them "MORE?"



Aren't they lovely? I have been experimenting with the "food" setting on my camera & it brings out more of the oranges- which I am not crazy about, but the aperture sure is cool. I have already started looking around at things I can snap for my one-a-day blog starting January 1.

Sausage Balls, compliments of my Grandfather & adapted for the gluten free me.

1 pound of sausage (I love mixing hot & mild), fried and drained
About 2 cups of shredded sharp cheese (more if you are a cheese lover... like I am)
1 1/2 cups Pamela's Products bread mix
2 eggs

(if GF does not sound appealing to you, then go with 1 cup of Bisquick and 1 egg)

combine everything and roll into large walnut size balls. Cook at 350 for about 15 minutes. Remove and flip over on pan to cool off so the bottom does not burn.

Just a note-- PPBM makes these a little sweeter, so next time I will use just the hot sausage.


There was enough goody left over to make a small loaf of bread, which is always good on these very cold mornings. Well, not this morning- the high was 63 today. But, it was still yummy.

Sausage-Cheese bread

There was about a cup left of the above mixture. I added 1/3 cup of milk, 3/4 cup of Pamela's Products Bread mix, and a third egg. 
Mixed and poured into a well-lubed small loaf pan. 
LET IT SIT FOR AT LEAST 15 MINUTES before sprinkling with some shredded cheese. 
Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Little Debutante


Way back in the day, I debbed in Augusta. Complete with the white dress and matching long gloves. Several years before debbing, I was in a Cotillion- different white dress. Same white gloves.

Debbing & Cotillions do not a person make, but they certainly add character and charm to one's personal resume. Recently, LMC & I have been working on her curtsy; a girl cannot learn too soon in my opinion. The right foot is extended behind the left while the front knee is bent to help balance the dipping body and lowering of the lady's face. Slowly, a gracious hand is extended. My cousin, Tara, taught me how to curtsey. She is the quintessential person to teach anyone how to make this ancient and feminine gesture . Her sister had the advice of "remember to take off your gloves before slugging back your long neck." Man, I love those girls.

So, I've been teaching LMC about poise and just to add a little panache, we say "Enchant√®...."  LMC's petite curtsy mostly involves kicking her right leg behind her and saying "ON-SHON-TAY" at the top of her lung's before running off again.

Today, while in the carseat, she kicked off her "Twell-Isss Princess shoes" and pulled off her socks before replacing said princess shoes and putting her socks where they belong- on her hands. Getting up to the apartment, she bowed and held her skirt while saying "On-shon-tay" to me.

Having a daughter is so cool.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

They Played Taps

“On behalf of a grateful nation....” The bronze star, purple heart wearing man handed a perfectly folded triangle of a flag to my eldest aunt, her second time on the receiving end. She sat on the far right, with her son’s hand on her shoulder. Her sisters, in descending order, sat to her left. On the second row, it cast a perfect snapshot for me- their backs to me with husbands- a husband comforting a sister on each side. In the background, a silver casket that held the source of such love, such frustration, and such  emotion.

Slowly, very slowly, the bugler that was out of sight started the 24 notes that comprise Taps. Only moments before I looked at my SIL & said, “How in the hell did we forget the Kleenex?” Husband passed me two. 
Having held it together for too long, I pushed my sunglasses to the top of my head and whispered softly to myself, “Holy Mackerel” before the water works set in. I openly sobbed along with my brother and cousins. I was shaking. So much so, that Martha put her hand on my back and Husband touched my knee. I prayed for my pain to end at this  time of loss, as he is no longer confined, no longer limited. 
The world is thick with irony- in the Catholic section of Park Hill cemetery, there is an aisle that runs halfway through, dividing the left side from the right. The sidewalk ends at a marble cross of Jesus with the “INRI” found at the top. Three rows back, the Spanos- who were the Italians that made their own wine- were seated side by side- having been buried years before. The Cobais’ are there, and so are so many other legends of people that I have heard about from my mother’s childhood. At the very front of this outdoor space, I picture a church- an altar- and my Millie & my Big Dad are on the front pew, with five spots next to them. 
He was a remarkable man who lived a simple life. I will miss him terribly. 
Terribly.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Let him rest in peace.

This is the first year in my 31 years that my grandfather did not call and sing me happy birthday. Every birthday of everyone deemed close, family or otherwise, had their birthday written in his small penmanship on his Catholic diocese fundraiser calendar as a reminder for a phone call. Upon picking up the phone, he starts, "Happy Birthday to you.... Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl. I love you." The way he said "love" was so genteel- the "La" lasting longer than the "ove."

Since moving to the Blue Goose, he does not have his calendar, nor does he know what day it is. Sometimes, he would ask Mom, "Doesn't ___ have a birthday around now?" And, sure as the wind, she would respond, "Yes, indeed. You've still got it, Daddy. It's tomorrow." (Even if it was last week) She would give him the phone and he would call.

Today is Tellis' birthday. How clearly I remember her actual Birth Day- I was pregnant with Poppy, had a broken foot & was laying in bed next to Husband in anticipation of our newest addition. It was crisp and sunny. Husband helped me down the stairs and to the hospital on his way to work.

Today, I was cleaning LMC's closet in anticipation of her friends coming over this evening for the moms to consume schnog and the children to put handprints on ornaments instead of on walls. I was picking out the dress for LMC to wear for her first Christmas pageant. Green corduroy with a white monogram or the blue smocked Christmas dress that was Tellis'? Decisions.

The phone rang.

And, as always, in a moment life changes.

Mom, PETF, The Rock of all that I have ever seen was crying. Her father had just passed.

The greatest generation, the greatest of them all, my grandfather who taught me how to make pound cake and sausage balls- who filled up my gas tank in college- he is gone.

I called Tellis and said, "It seems that there is a new tradition in order & let me be the one to sing to you for him, Happy Birthday"

"Happy Birthday to you.... Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl. I La-ove you."

He is with his wife, his Millie Girl. He is with his son, Fuzzy Mike. He is with his sisters and brother, Patrick. He is with his precious mother, Granny Brennan, and his father he barely knew, having passed when he was quite young.

He is not in pain. He is no longer ancient and confined to a walker with a broken hip. Millie is greeting him warmly and they are finally reunited in that little house on Trinity Drive. In my opinion, he has a head full of hair. Because death does not separate us eternally, just temporally until The One says it is our time and brings us back together again.

He would not want us to be sad. He told my brother a few weeks ago that he "has his wings clipped on and he's ready to go."

Rest well, Big Dad. You were the only grandfather I ever knew & am lucky to have known you this long. Thank you for my courageous mother and her wonderful sisters. Thank you for my cousins and thank you for being the Patriarch of this Brennan family. You left a legacy of love and faith.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's beginning to look...

and feel (finally)... a lot like Christmas around the Cagle household. 

Husband let Wife go a little wild on the Christmas tree this year... I think next year, which will be last year allowed at wacky Christmas trees, I am going to get one of those lime green tinsel numbers from Target and see what kind of damage I can do with it. 



So, I filled a large glass vase with ornaments (and foil balls, to help fill in the gaps- shh) and stuffed lighted tree branches and lime green swirlies in the top. This seemed too short, but LMC's table covered in white with a fuchsia polka dot tablecloth did the trick.






Our boxes and packages have all been lovingly wrapped by yours truly during nap time in craft paper with various color ribbons and sweet little tags left over from last year. 




It's tacky, there is no denying this fact- the tree, not the gifts. But, I love it. It's full of color and joy. LMC walks by it and says, "Ohhh, so pretty, Ma-Mee. So, so pretty."


What's not to love about craft paper at Christmas? Besides that fact that it costs about $4 for a million square feet, I can use it year round and it has a crispness that makes me smile. The ribbons and stickers are a little extravagant- but the gifts will be wrapped under the tree much longer than they will be unwrapped.


I might just pour myself a glass of eggnog come 5:30, patting myself on the back for a job well done. Our stockings are hung (still saying "Husband" and "Wife") on the kitchen hoosier cabinet and I am planning my Christmas feast for three.

LMC thinks it should involve chicken nuggets, Husband thinks beef tenderloin, and I am leaning towards shrimp creole. While I am the bread cooker, Husband is the bread winner- so his vote counts twice (too bad LMC's vote can only be interpreted by Wife, so it looks like we are at a stalemate. Chicken nuggets it is!)

Merry Christmas! And, already thinking ahead to the New Year-- I have my resolution. Well, two resolutions, really.

(1) I'm going to be better about flossing.
(2) I started a second and separate blog: www.onceaday2012.blogspot.com ... I am either going to blog every day and/or take a picture and post it every day as to help me learn about this amazingly cool camera Husband & LMC gave me for my birthday that I am just not sure how to use. It will do you no good to go now, but after the new year... there will be one a day, every day, for 365 days.

Thoughts on O-A-D-2k12?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Highlights

Don't worry, I won't bore you with ALL 1,479 photos- but wanted to send out some fun ones of my sweet family.


That's Ford, just hanging around. Andrew (not to be confused with AN-EW) is in the middle & LMC on the right





Only at Disney can your daughter go to "The Show" in her jambes and drink chocolate milk

And only at Disney, will they cut your child's food for you.


This tuxedo turns into......

Pirate gear when Husband is your father! ARGHHH, Matey!

SIL teaching Ford about photography

Brother shaking his tail feather for LMC

LMC shaking her tail feather for Brother


Tellis & LMC at "en garde" stance... sort of

14 takes and this is the closet thing we have to the three of them sitting together AND smiling

Brother & SIL

Watch out! Tellis is armed and ready.



Watching fireworks and eating ice cream-- makes for happy memories for any daddy's girl.

Front of the boat-- the wind had picked up just a little bit...