Friday, July 21, 2017

Who Doesn't Love Jewelry?

     I have always loved and had an appreciation of jewelry. My grandmother (my dad's mom) always had on at least earrings.  She was so beautiful and so stylish and she would at least have on a nice pair of hoops even on vacation, at the pool, and even at the beach. My mom and aunt had given her a beautiful collection of pieces through the years. Christmas presents would be jewelry and her birthday was May 10th so she always got something really special for her birthday/Mother's Day.

     She passed away 6 weeks before my youngest was born. It will be 19 years in October and I have missed her every day of every year. She, like my other grandmother, lived right here and didn't miss a ball game or school function, or anything me, my sister, brother, and cousins did. She and my grandfather divorced when I was really little so she would always be at our house or my aunt or uncles. She would eat dinner at a different house each night and jump in the car and go with whoever was going on a trip.

     She was so classy, but so much fun at the same time. I never really thought about her being a "single mom" and I certainly had no idea my life would be like her adult life.  A big difference was my grandfather lived near us and he was always around. They got along and there was never the awkwardness in most situations, including mine. We would go on vacation with her, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and not only would she go, but many times my grandfather and his wife would go also. That's such a great way and so much better for all involved, if you can have that situation. She never wanted her kids or grandkids to have to choose, but she was also a very smart lady and I think she knew she would miss out on some things if there was any other kind of arrangement. My grandfather always showed her respect and was thankful she made it easy. We lost my grandfather 8 years ago and I miss him so much too.

This is an old high school picture of Betty.  I always thought she looked like a beautiful movie star. This was always one of my favorite.

My grandfather, Tom Ed, on the swing with my dad behind him. This was a little over 18 years ago. Tom Ed is talking to my son, Shane, on the swing at his 3rd birthday party. Our cousin, Taylor, who looks a lot like our grandfather is swinging next to Shane. He would get right on a kid's level and just talk to them. Everyone loved him!

     My grandfather and I always had a thing between us about red birds. I was the first grandchild on both sides. It has been a tradition in my family to have kids very young so I grew up with young grandparents as well as very young parents.  I called my father's parents by their names. They were in their mid 30's when I was born and they didn't think they were old enough to be called by typical grandparent nicknames. I call my mom's parents Nana and Papa and always thought it was fun to call my other grandparents by their names, Betty and Tom Ed.

     Tom Ed would always call me in the winter if he saw a red bird. His mom had always told him if you see a red bird in the winter, here in the south, it means snow. I am sure it is one of those old wive's tales or what people went by before the likes of Al Roker and Ginger Zee!

     Before so much climate change and wacky weather it would always snow within a day or two after seeing a red bird when I was growing up. As I got older and we had more weather sources (I was going to say reliable, but honestly, those old ways are sometimes the most reliable), we would still call each other if we saw one.

     Not long after he passed away, we all noticed something. He passed away in December and that next Spring we had what I would like to believe was a sign from him. My parents and I are still on the same street, but at the time my brother and sister and their families were here too.  Our houses all lined up and one morning we saw a huge flock of red birds. We see black birds a lot and other kinds. The black birds will come in many and cover the yard, but I have never and still haven't seen as many red birds as we did that day.  The young kids even noticed it.

     I love and miss both Betty and Tom Ed dearly. They were a huge part of my life and I know how blessed I was having both of them as long as I did. I will save my message from Betty for another post, but I will just say they both wanted to let us know they are better than ok and one day we will see each other again.

     I have a strong faith because of both of them.  Tom Ed read his Bible everyday and Betty sang in the church choir, played the piano, and did the chidren's choir when I was little. They made who I am in many ways, but giving me such a strong faith is what I appreciate most.

     I wish I would have started making jewelry before Betty passed away.  Tom Ed loved buying jewelry for the women in the family.  Both of them never missed a chance to let me know they were proud of me, but I think they would have been very proud of my pieces also.  So much more goes into them than just metal and beads.

     I love making all pieces, but the ones I make with crosses are by far my favorite. I just listed this necklace and it made me think about a lot of things while I was making it.

You can find this in my Etsy shop.



Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thankful Thursday #2

What did you and friends hide from your parents?

     As I am typing this, a Friends rerun is on. I think anyone who knows me knows how important family is to me, but you can't underestimate true friendship. My kids don't see their dad or whole side of that family. My side has always been there for them, but God has placed people along the way who have been so good to them and have shown them loyalty and friendship in so many ways. It's nice when people are "there for you" when they aren't obligated or don't have to be.

     For my Thankful Thursday #2, I am thankful for friends, especially those of my kids. They all three have very special people around them. My youngest who just graduated was blessed with some really great guys in his class he has been friends with for years. He's friends with their whole families.

     I guess I didn't realize, being a girl, just what boys get into. My older son played football in high school.  He was a three year starter and his team won state all three years! Needless to say, he didn't have much time to get into shenanigans. By the weekend, he was too tired and sore to do anything.

     My younger son has a whole different personality. He likes to be a little more daring and God knew what He was doing making him my third because if he had been first I might have been fearful of having anymore.

     I don't know if I will ever know what all he and his friends have done, but I have gotten hints along the way.  His best friend played football and left a couple of weeks ago to go to college on his scholarship playing football. These two guys are like brothers.

     They have been trying to fit things in and seeing what all they could do from January until the end of school knowing they wouldn't have all summer. Oh, and my son has a steady girlfriend since December and it has cut into their time. I absolutely love her, though, and she keeps him from being such a daredevil.

     My son, Stratton, and his friend left early on a Saturday a few months ago and went to the zoo and were gone all day. I really didn't think much of it, they were a little quiet when they got back but dumb me thought maybe they were just tired.  My boys' rooms are upstairs and I don't go up there often because of my back and well, they are boys, and it can be gross and I just don't want to know.

     About a week and a half later, Stratton says he needs to tell me something.  I will be honest, sometimes I ask how important it really is that I absolutely have to know. These two guys ditched the zoo that day and found a pet store and bought a bearded dragon lizard. I love my little fur babies, but I do not like any reptiles. ( is it amphibians?) I don't like anything with a long tail.  My doggies have pretty little white tails that look like flowy, feather pens. Until they get too matted and the groomer has to shave it, THEN, they can look a little rat-like. But, their faces are so cute.

     This "thing" had been in my house for over a week without me knowing.  They had joint custody and were sharing time with it.  Whoever sold them this thing told these two fools it can learn to smile and come to you. ????? When he said that I told him I wasn't sure if he needed a car, not for punishment, but that if he believed that I wasn't sure he had enough sense to drive one.

     Finding out he had it didn't compare to finding out it had been in my house without me knowing. Just when I thought I had gotten used to the idea I hear the lady who helps me clean scream. I didn't know it was "our week" and forgot to warn her.

     Oh, and then there's the name that only two 18 year old boys could come up with. I will just say it's short for Richard.  I finally told all of my family in case they came over unannounced.

     You can't even begin to make up the humor and questions my grandmother (Nana) had asking about, uhmmm, Richard.  I don't think she asked Stratton a single question without adding his pet's name. It was fun, though, seeing my mom and uncle get so tickled when Nana asked so very seriously and attentively, "How big is (Richard)?"

     And, NO, she didn't say Richard!

He's on top of the rock. The sweet lady who helps me only saw the tail and thought he was a snake.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mia and Maggie

     We got our sweet, little dogs groomed yesterday. I always wanted pets growing up, but I had terrible allergies and went through allergy shots for years at the pediatrician.

     My daughter had begged me for years to have a dog.  All of her friends had at least one and she wanted one. I told her for years it was me or a dog, I couldn't live in the house with one and when she would take too long to answer I always changed the subject. My niece had also been at my sister to get one.

     My sister's kids have the allergy issues too so she found out about a breed of maltipoos that are hypo allergenic. My daughter, Sydney, went with my sister's family to a breeder to look at puppies of this kind three years ago. They thought it would satisfy them, but then they really wanted one. I decided to take them back to just look again.

     I saw my daughter and my niece with them.  They had picked just the one they wanted. This niece, Skylar, is my oldest niece and she is my namesake (her middle name is April) and I am her godmother. There's a very special relationship there and I took one look at these two special girls with their picks and before I knew what I had done I put down a deposit and was bringing them back the next day to get their new friends.

     Our new family member was Mia. She was the runt of the litter and had, well still does, anxiety. She would shake and throw up and get nervous over anything. I have had some health issues and back surgeries so I have been working from home and always with her. This dog that was supposed to be my daughter's was soon sitting with me during the day and sleeping by my bed at night.  Eventually, she ended up sleeping next to me.

     When we would leave just to go to dinner or run errands, she would start shaking when she saw me put on my shoes. I didn't leave her overnight, just for a little bit at the time, but she knew when I was not just walking outside for a minute. We decided to go back to the same place a year and 1/2 ago and get another dog so she wouldn't be lonely when we left and we thought it would help with her anxiety. Mia being so little, we wanted a dog that wouldn't get bigger than her so we got a maltipoo teacup. This teacup dog fit in the palm of my hand. She quickly grew and now has Mia by a pound.

This is not long after we got Maggie and she was still so little.

     It has worked out great, though. They are so close and are just so much fun. I got Maggie so I could leave Mia, but now I don't want to leave either of them and they both sleep with me!

They just sit together all day. This was about a year ago after we had Maggie fixed. Poor thing. They both hate bows. They work and work to get them out. They were groomed right before having her fixed and with the inflatable ring Maggie was stuck with hers.

     Being divorced and my kids older and gone all the time, they are just the best company. They follow me everywhere and know when I don't feel well. The kids call the dogs my favorite kids, but I told them it's simple, they don't talk back!

     They are the best little security guards, they hear everything.  I had a lumbar fusion last year and this is a picture I took of them. They wouldn't let me get up without them going everywhere with me. Mia is the one closest to my chair.  She would leave that little leg hanging off ready to jump up if I even thought about getting up!

I just love these little girls!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Let Me Explain

I need to apologize.  Or, I need to at least clarify.

     My last post I talked about my grandparents and technology. For starters, I love them very much. I would never do or say anything to hurt their feelings. We lost my dad's parents so I know how blessed I am to be 46 and still have grandparents. The main reason I wanted to clarify is because I am not in much of a different category than them.

     My kids don't go anywhere without their phones. They might as well be a part of their bodies they are so "attached" to them. As far as they are concerned, the world has always had cell phones. They laugh at me when I tell them about getting a car phone when I was in high school. My grandmother gave it to me for my graduation. I was going to school a whole 25 miles from home and being the oldest grandchild, I needed it.  They laugh because when I call it a car phone that's what it was. It's such a crazy idea to them that it was mounted in my car and I didn't take it everywhere with me.

     Computers weren't mobile then either. They weren't a necessity. A friend of mine graduated 3 years before me and I remember my parents trying to figure out what to get him for his graduation. Our families had been very close, his dad was our pharmacist, and they wanted to get him something special. He was going away to college a whole 45 miles away. They went all out and got him the best model they could find of a.............. typewriter. My kids will never have to experience the aggravation of typing the wrong letter, having to paint over the mistake, waiting for it to dry, then typing the correct letter, sometimes two or three times if you got a little crazy and thick with the white out. This typewriter my parents were so proud of was better than that.  It came with correction tape! Yep, it had the convenience of correction ribbon fixing your mistake which looked much better.  Of course we still had to actually go to class and turn in our paper because it was the only way to get it to the teacher.

     It does make one wonder if many of us had ADD or if we didn't have it because we didn't have anything done "instantly."  We did things the long and hard way and it didn't leave much time for our attention to wander. Seriously, we don't have to go to the mall if we don't want to. We don't have to wait days for our order, we can get it in hours. We don't write letters to far away friends and family.  We don't even have to go to the bank or write checks for bills. We have direct deposit and bill pay online. I don't even have to call in take out at most places. I love this one because there isn't as much room for the person on the other end of the phone to misunderstand me. If they get the order wrong, I have the email confirmation so it isn't he said/she said. Banking online has been something I am a little afraid of. I worry about all that information anyone can get to.

     Then again, thieves have it easy too.  They don't even have to reach into your pocket, they can just stand next to you and copy everything on that all so wonderful cell phone.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thankful Thursday #1

     I have a really great, smart, sweet, and fun friend who is not only a great mom and grandmother, but she is an educator also. She has years of experience as a principal and was even assistant superintendent of our city schools. She's simply amazing. Her personality fills the room. I babysat her kids and her brother's kids when I was in high school. Our families have been friends for years and her father delivered me, my sister, and brother. I cannot say how much I love this whole family.

   Her being her, during her battle with very aggressive ovarian cancer and a relapse, she had so many wonderful words of wisdom, but one phrase stayed with me. "There's always something to be thankful for."  No matter how dark your day is, there is one blessing no matter how hard you may have to look for it. (She is doing well after a very intense battle.)

     I am calling this Thankful Thursday because I am thankful for so many things. Most of them, I have no control over. Being a parent has never been easy. From the earliest of generations, they have had obstacles and concerns. At the time, they are crucial. In hindsight, they seem a little less dramatic.

     When my kids were little, childproofing was a big thing. I say "big thing" because earlier generations didn't have these handy little things to keep their children (and themselves) out of doors, drawers, and electric outlets. I was scared to death at least one of my chidlren would stick a fork in an outlet I overlooked or had forgotten to replace the plastic insert (that I needed a fork or other sharp object to pull it off). I probably should have wondered why they might have had a fork in the first place.

     My brother and sister's kids are younger than mine and my sister's kids are 6, 8, 10, 13, and 15. My brother's are 8 and 14 year old twin boys. The are facing issues I didn't have to worry about.

     This brings me to Thankful Thursday #1:

Cellphones and not having to decide if my young kids should have them.

     We had flip phones and pagers and earlier relics of mobile phones (some were also walkie talkies which were fun), but the thought of wondering if my kids needed one never entered my mind. There was no social media, no phones at the table, no texting.  My kids are in college, not 90.  This wasn't that many years ago. By the time they were in high school I had to think about it, but not before.

     My grandparents are 81 and 85. They are on Facebook and have a cell phone and even text. I am not saying they know how to use it all correctly, but they have it. My grandmother butt dialed me one day and I still have the message on voicemail. Evidently, they couldn't find their car and she's who I inherited my back issues from (I have had 4 surgeries and two fusions) and she was tired of walking. I think I also inherited from her adding in cuss words when I have been walking a long distance and really need to sit down. I don't know, the bad words seem to take the sting out of each step. I could hear her saying, "I don't know, shit, maybe over there, shit, no it isn't, well shit." I don't know how well they were communicating with each other because my grandfather has selective hearing. He selects when and when not to have his hearing aid on. What I was getting to was they are amazed at technology. No other generation has seen such strides in such a short time. I also inherited her ability to go off on a tangent while trying to make a point.

     I am so thankful I didn't have to make the decisions about phones my sister and brother are having to make. The older kids do have them, but mainly for communication and safety. My brother's oldest is Type 1 diabetic so they have to have communication at all times with him. There are just so many safety issues that parents don't know what is the right decision.

     Cyberbullying really makes me mad. It was bad enough, but now kids can bully and not even have to do it face to face. There are predators just looking to connect with young kids. There are a lot of factors and I think parents have a really hard time with this one. I believe it depends on each individual child when they are ready or might need one.

     And, sometimes it is easier making the decision when to get one for our kids than when to get one for our parents and grandparents!

     My sweet grandparents. My Papa and Sydney share the same birthday. Her first birthday he wrote in the card that she was the best birthday gift he had ever gotten!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What Calendar?

     It feels so strange. I am used to checking the calendar and thinking the date can't be right because summer is going too fast. The kids just got out for summer break and I have three weeks a couple of weeks who am I kidding I am the mom who would rush around the last week couple of days getting picked over school supplies and clothes. It would sneak up on me, but I also learned the earlier we got clothes and supplies the better chance they would be used and/or misplaced by the first day of school. I would always be getting things together until late the night before the first day. It was ok, I was always bummed about the end of summer no routine and nervous for them so I wouldn't sleep much anyway.

     I am looking at the date and it doesn't matter. My youngest graduated from high school in May and I no longer have kids in "reguar" school. I have three in college. They are 18, 21, and 23. When you are having babies you are thinking about having them close together while you are in the bottles, potty training, and child proofing everything stage. You don't think about all of them learning to drive close to the same time, dealing with boyfriends/girlfriends at the same time, or having all three in  paying for three in college at the same time.

     It feels strange, but so great at the same time. They are all living at home still. I would like to think it is because I am this amazing mom they can't bear to leave, but they are so close to my sister and brother and their families as well as my parents that they just didn't want to go away to school. My daughter is the oldest and never liked being away from home. My older son was a three year starter for our high school football team (they won state all three of those years!) and he had great opportunities to play football but he was burnt out. It also has a lot to do with the fact that my dad (who is not only an amazing grandfather, but he has also had to step in and be their dad because theirs is not around) battled Hodgkins Lymphoma twice. The first time was when my daughter was about to start college and he was in treatment, relapsed, and thankfully got into remission after a stem cell transplant, all during those years my son was playing football.  He said he missed out on so much being here he didn't want to be away and never see family. My youngest is the one I thought might want to go somewhere, but with the other two here, he didn't want to leave. He went on vacation with a friend for a week during the summer the last two years and while he had a blast, he got homesick. He would never admit it, though. I am proud of my kids for many things but their faith and relationship with God is what I am proud of most. Secondly, their love and appreciation of family. They only have my side so they don't take for granted family and how blessed we are.

     In a way, this summer vacation won't end....for a while. Until they get married or decide it's time to move out. My daughter is in summer classes so she is still in a bit of a school routine, but nothing like "regular" school.

     We are trying to figure out boundaries. They are legally adults, but I am still their parent. I will be honest, my most stupid mistakes were between the ages of 18-21 so they aren't out of the woods yet. All three do their own laundry and they all work out and have their own diets so they also feed themselves. Except for the kitchen being a wreck most of the time, I would call this successful parenting!

     I am loving it. I don't have to miss them. They are in and out all day, but when I turn on the alarm system at night, they are all in. I finally get to take time for myself.

This is different, but I like it.  I do miss football, though.

Monday, July 10, 2017

It's Your Birthday! (woot, woot)

     I love my mom. Her whole life revolves around my dad and her kids and grandkids. She is a natural caregiver. She takes care of my grandparents (her mom and dad). They live right here near all of us and even though they are independent and aren't in an assisted living home, she still takes them to their doctor appointments and everything else they need.  My dad has had Hodgkins Lymphoma twice and, thank the good Lord, he has been in remission for three years after a stem cell transplant. There's no doubt he wouldn't have survived it without her.

     My beautiful mom, Angela, and my beautiful daughter, Sydney. This was on a trip last month. Sydney is the oldest of all of the grandchildren and she and my mom have always had a very special bond. I finished college after Sydney was born and she stayed with my mom.

     Mom shares her birthday with my sister's husband. Our families have been friends forever and we grew up with him and his brother. My sister, Amanda, and her husband, Harrison, were childhood sweethearts. I don't think he can remember a birthday without sharing it with my mom. Well, we joke and call Amanda and Harrison Ross and Rachel because they did have a couple of short "breaks" before they got married so he might have had a couple of birthdays without my mom.

       This was last year's celebration.

My grandparents are beside my mom.

This is Harrison who has been like a dad to my kids. They are so close to him and my brother, Ty.

     I will always see my mom as this.

      It was in around 1981, I was about 10, and she's always been so pretty. I grew up going to Daytona Beach every summer for vacation and this picture was taken while she was listening to my dad's brother sing with the band in the lounge. Wherever we stayed he always ended up singing with the lounge band and to this day he knows my favorite request. "Stormy Monday." Nobody can sing that song like him!

     We were always at the beach on her birthday. We would be there for the 4th and stay through her birthday. She's probably had more birthdays there than home. One year we got one the planes that fly over with the advertising messages to fly back and forth near us with a birthday message for her on the banner. She was so surprised!

     Happy Birthday to my sweet Mama. She spends every day of the year taking care of everyone else, but today we take care of her!

     This was about 5 years ago, but one of my favorite pictures!

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Well, hello, y'all!


     Hello!  My name is April and I am a born and raised southern girl. I am a single mom to three great kiddos and the best things in life are God, family, and a cold glass of sweet tea. The next thing on this list is time with my "sisters."  I have one younger sister and sister-in-law.  (I don't consider my sister's husband or my brother's wife "in-laws.")
     I am blessed with a 23 year old daughter and three nieces.  My oldest niece is 13 and she is my namesake.  My other two nieces are 7.  They are two weeks apart and best friends as well as cousins. My sister and my brother's wife had miscarriages before getting pregnant with these two and sharing being pregnant together and having them so close together was just such a sweet thing and made them even closer than they already were. I have an amazing mom and grandmother. Those are my "sisters." They are the girls I love being with and now we can't forget the sweet guys. I have to mention my two sons who are 18 and 21, my eight nephews, my wonderful dad, brother, brother-in-law, and grandfather.
     Life is hard. Women today have families, jobs, and it would have been nice to have had more hours added into the day as we have had more and more responsibilities placed on us.  Men are expected to help out much more than in older generations, but when the house is a mess, as well as the kids, everyone still looks at the wife. That hasn't changed.
     We live in a world where women can be so hard on each other and we need to stand together now more than ever. Thankfully, with social media, we are able to share information and find many resources that weren't there just a few years ago when my kids were little.

     You newer moms amaze me. I was a stay at home mom for years.  I see women with full time careers, young kids, and you keep everything going and balanced.  I have to admit, I am not the best housekeeper.  It is clean.  I am a germaphobe, but I am not one of those who can't go to sleep with dishes in the sink! As Scarlet O'Hara said, "Tomorrow is another day" and I can lysol the sink in the a.m.!
     I went through a divorce 9 1/2  years ago. It was hard, but the marriage was harder. That's for another post, but it was one of those situations where I didn't have a choice. I wasn't being a good mom keeping my kids in the environment we were in. I raised my kids and was responsible for them in every way without their dad at all, but I had my family, friends, and a list of people God put in our lives who have been there for them and a positive influence when the one person who was supposed to be there no matter what wasn't.
     I wish I would have had social media and the many ways to communicate with other women when my kids were little. Women aren't always good to each other, but with social media, I see women reaching out, encouraging, and helping each other everyday.
     It's not a perfect world so we shouldn't expect to be perfect people. We just need to be good to ourselves and each other. And a big 'ol glass of sweet tea always helps! ( Or vino! ;) )

I love making jewelry.  I made it locally over the past few years, but now that my kids are older, I am able to devote more time to my projects. Click on the roses icon to go to my Etsy shop.