Holidays

Not Your Bitch

I’m my parent’s computer guru.

Let that sink in, y’all.

Me.  I can’t even turn on my TV to watch football without help from Landon.  In my defense, we have way too many damned remotes and I don’t watch TV but still.

Every summer when the kids and I go to Texas to see family, I install new virus software on both of my parent’s computers, run that shit because they won’t do it again until I’m home for Christmas, and clean up everything for them.

I’m also their personal 24/7 computer diagnostician.  They call me whenever they’re having problems with anything online, which includes Ebay and PayPal accounts and all online order making.  Yep.  They CALL me so I can get on my computer and order something online for them.

I know a lot of you can relate to this.  Technology and parents and all that stuff they seem to be so helpless about.  Here’s a great Amy Schumer sketch about that very thing.

I wish I had taped the last phone conversation my Dad and I had, trying to figure out via YouTube how to fix an issue with Mom’s computer.  It went something like this:

Me:  Okay, Dad.  Click on this video link to watch this tutorial showing you how to fix this.

One minute later.

Dad:  Click on that www thing?

Me:  Yes.  Click on that and it will take you right to the video.  The video shows your computer screen and takes you step by step through what you need to do to remove that from Mom’s computer.

One minute later.

Dad:  It opened another screen.

Me:  Yeah, that’s what it’s supposed to do.  Take you to YouTube.

Dad:  Okay.  All I see are two broads yapping their gums at each other.

Me:  Dad, that’s a commercial.  Hold tight and it’ll get to the tutorial, showing you what to do.

Dad:  Why are they making me watch two broads when I didn’t click on that?

Me:  It’s advertising, Dad.  It’s how they make money.  

Dad:  I clicked on it again to get the broads to shut up.

Me:  Dad, it’ll just start all over again.  They’re going to get their ad time.  

Dad:  I have to watch it to get to the video?

Me:  Yes, Dad.

Dad (mumbling very unhappily to himself while watching it):  Two old broads flapping their gums.  Drink your coffee and get on with it.

Now y’all know what’s wrong  awesome about me and where I get it from.

I went along with this line of thinking, that my parents would be lost without my assistance with all things technological until sometime last week.

For the last several years, right after Thanksgiving, my Mom puts money into a PayPal account.  She came up with the idea to do this.  I use that money to buy presents for my kids that are from her and my Dad.  The gifts get shipped straight to my parent’s house, Mom wraps them up in really beautiful paper with handmade bows and puts them around her tree.  She doesn’t have to leave her house, except to pick up the packages off the porch.

It is always a sight to see when we go home for Christmas to see all the presents around her gorgeously decorated tree.  It looks like she has been shopping with tender loving care and a whole shit load of time all year round.  My kids love her and my Dad to death and are always absolutely floored and thankful for all the gifts, having no clue (nor should they) that I did all the legwork.  Okay, finger work because it was online.  Whatever.

I was getting ready for Gracie’s Birthday party at our house last week so I did not have time to online shop.  Mom messaged me a couple more times, gently reminding me the money is in the account and ready to go.

I’ve also settled a recent Ebay dispute Mom had with a return.  It was ugly and the seller was a real douche bag even though the screw up was their fault.  It took several times of going back and forth between Ebay and PayPal, disputing and responding to the seller for a refund.  I did it because she asked me to and, you know, poor helpless Mom and that big, bad, confusing computer thingamajig and mega companies.

And in between the gentle reminders from Mom about the money and the dispute rebuttals, it hit me.

I’m my Mom’s bitch.

Computer illiterate?  Maybe.  Fucking brilliant?  YES!  This is the smartest woman I know.  I’m jealous.  She’s been playing me like Blue Oyster Cult plays the cowbell.

She transfers money to an account, I go online and buy shit with that money, send it straight to their door in Texas, she wraps it all up, and gets all the credit.   Every single damned bit.

You ever had to settle a dispute with an Ebay seller?  It’s a pain in the ass, especially when the seller is a lying sack of shit who sent you the wrong item and then lied about you returning it, even with proof of return from the Post Office.

After the initial realization that my Mom is actually the smartest woman alive and the awe wore off a bit, the feisty side of me fought back.  I think Mary Tyler Moore said it best:

mary

I’d like to continue this newly found streak of parental defiance but I’d better go.  My Mom’s calling and I have to give her UPS tracking numbers and a detailed spreadsheet of how I’ve spent her money.  She’ll also probably need a refill on that coffee, dry cleaning pickup, and I need to get those packages off her porch.

Have a good week, y’all.

Halloween 2015: Living Dead Girl

Halloween is 11 days away!  What the hell happened to September and October?  Ready or not, we leave for our annual Halloween trip to Orlando in 3 days, maybe 4 if we decide to put together some extra costume props.  Between costume anxiety, travel prep, a flu shot today, and a busy local Homecoming week for Landon, I feel like Rob Zombie’s “Living Dead Girl”.  So this will kind of be a Halloween free for all.  My brain is like a bag of crazy cats right now.  Or bag of crazy dicks.  Or whatever that saying is.  One of my three regular readers can let me know.

The kids and E revolted on me this year and said no makeup, they wanted “easy” costumes to wear to Disney World’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which we’ll attend the night of October 29th.  I don’t know what they all were bitching about because last year’s costumes were about as no fuss as you can get.

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Okay, 4 hours total of makeup and 7 inch monster boots might have been a bit much.  It still made the most epic Christmas card photo ever.

A few people know what we are dressing up as this year, most people don’t.  I’ll post a picture on Facebook and Twitter (again on October 29th), so be on the lookout for it.

I have extreme anxiety about this year’s costumes because I have gained some weight in the past year but it is what it is.  If you’re watching CNN late next week and hear about an arrest made at Walt Disney World, though, that will be me because if one little snot nosed Cheerio muncher asks “Mommy, why is (insert character name here) fat?”, I’m going to lose my shit.

I had to take my very form fitting costume into the Vietnamese tailors for a little fix last week.  You may recall how that went last year.  It went really well this year, meaning I didn’t get laughed at in a different language.  I guess “normal” costumes give you a lot more leeway with Vietnamese tailors than star spangled rock leotards do.

I’m trying to look past all the costume anxiety, frantic packing, and lack of sleep to just look forward to the events we’ll be attending.  This will be our 6th year attending both Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights (and it’s the 25th Anniversary, which will make it even more epic) and Disney World’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Halloween in Orlando is like nothing else and I’m not the only one who thinks so.  Horror Nights Orlando has been named the best Halloween event in the world the past 7 years by the people over at The Golden Ticket Awards.  Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is the perfect place to go if you have younger children.  It is also the only amusement park which allows costumes and that’s one of the reasons this party has become a tradition for us.  Here’s a little inside look at both of this year’s events.

I was telling E and Gracie that in the second room in the HHN 25 Years Of Mayhem And Monsters House, if you enter chanting “Bear! Bear! Bear!”, the infamous HHN bear would make an appearance.  Gracie thought for a moment and then said, “Like… a real bear?”  This is my National Honor Society student, y’all.  I told her, “Yeah, Universal got sick of crap being said about the house not being scary enough so they said ‘Oh, it isn’t scary enough?  Screw you, we’ll put a live bear in there.  See how you like that, suckers!’  Yes, I really said it like that because Gracie was in the room but y’all know what I really said in my head.

I hope your week is going well!  I’ll leave you with “Living Dead Girl”, which also happens to be one of my most favorite Halloween songs.

Father’s Day

I hope all of you had a wonderful Father’s Day, either celebrating your Dads, as being the Dad celebrated, or both.  Because I’d hate to speak for E (my sarcasm button doesn’t deactivate just because it’s Father’s Day, y’all), I just asked him if he had a good Father’s Day and he said yes.  Success!

I talked with my Dad on the phone earlier today.  I look forward to seeing him next month when the kids and I go to Texas for our annual summer visit.  In the meantime, he has a gift card to buy several new movies and I’ll take him to dinner when I’m there, hopefully.  He will undergo a test tomorrow to determine if his feeding tube can be removed.  The last several months have been really hard on him and my Mom also.  Please keep them in your prayers.

It seems that every year when I scroll through my Facebook feed on Father’s Day, I see more and more posts from friends who have lost their Dads and so wish he was still here to hug, talk to, and celebrate.  It’s heartbreaking and especially hits close to home this year as E lost his Dad this past December.

I was looking up a YouTube video for my weekly addition to the music blog I write for and a Butch Walker video showed up in my feed.  Butch is one of my favorite singers and songwriters.  He lost his Dad not quite two years ago and has been struggling with it since and it comes through in his songwriting.  The songs about his Dad are very good but I can’t listen to them more than once.  Maybe because it’s hard subject material and I can’t understand it.  I don’t want to face that hard subject material yet.  But some of you have been forced to face that very thing in the last few years.

Butch asked his fans to send him pictures of their precious Dads who have passed.  He put together this video set to his song “Father’s Day”.  I hope those of you who have lost your Dads get some comfort from it.  You’re not alone.  I hope those of us who still have our Dads with us are reminded that this time is precious and cannot be regained.

If you’d like to read my blog from last Father’s Day, you can find it here.  Here are a few pictures of my Dad and also E’s Dad.  Love to all of you today.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

If you missed my post from last week, go read it here.  I’ll wait.

Needless to say, I did not get Wolverine or any of my alternates as a Mother’s Day gift.  If I made good on my threats kept my promises, I’d currently have a potted plant, two handmade Mother’s Day cards, a box of Gigi’s cupcakes, a Sephora gift card and a pair of Anastasia tweezers up my twat.  To be fair to myself, I was considering shoving all that up my twat but the tweezers called my bluff.  I’m pretty sure E marched into Sephora and said “My wife has threatened to shove any Mother’s Day gifts that aren’t Hugh Jackman up her twat.  What item in the store would inflict the most pain being shoved up a twat?”.  Well played, E.  Well played.

It’s a good thing Wolverine or Star-Lord didn’t show up, anyway.  A migraine knocked me out of commission all afternoon and our dinner plans were derailed.  We’ll make them up next weekend.  What does matter is that I have two kids I have helped raise to the ages of 17 and 13 who love me, faults and all.

A long time ago, I told E not to buy me any more store bought cards.  They’re a waste of money for me.  You pay around $5 for a cheesy card with someone else’s words and feelings on it.  I told him I’d prefer a handwritten note instead.  It could be as short or as long as he wanted to make it.  I didn’t care, as long as it came from him.  He’s done that ever since and I’ve somehow managed to get the kids to do it also.  Landon made his at school and Gracie worked like the little Martha Stewart she is on hers last week here at home.  As usual, it’s the words, beautiful words, that touch me the most.  Not the gift card or the ridiculously expensive tweezers (which I really did need and has a story which I will post next week) but words.

Here’s what Landon had to say about me:

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I give him crap every time he asks me how old I am.  I’ll usually give him various answers but never my true age.  So, he said he wrote that I was 100 years old because he didn’t know.  I told him my true age so now he knows I’m 32.

Fine, I told him I’m 45.  Y’all are breaking my heart here.

Landon was correct that I love Harry Potter and eating Mexican food.  If you know me well, you got a laugh out of cooking being my super power.  I do cook.  I don’t enjoy cooking.  I do it to survive and to nourish my family but it’s not my “thing”.  But there are a few dishes that I make that Landon is just crazy about.  He loves my chicken and dumplings, crock pot chicken enchiladas, combo burritos, and homemade dressing.  If that counts as a super power, I’ll take it.  I noticed he wrote “pretty” twice.  I also really liked “brave, smart, silly, and sweet”.  I try to be those things and I’m glad he can see them in me.

I have a feeling that Gracie has my gift for words because inside her card were the most beautiful words a Mom could ever want to read on Mother’s Day.

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“To the best Mom,

Every day, there’s always a problem in our lives and you take care of those problems.  We always come to you for your help and advice.  You make us feel at home even when we are not.  You make rough times the best and the worst days some of the best days.  Your love and words will always be the best medicine for a heartache.  Thanks Mom!

Love, Gracie Girl.”

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If you’d like to read my blog post from last Mother’s Day you can find it here.  I hope all you Moms out there had a beautiful day.  Happy Mother’s Day, my friend!

Mother’s Day Gifts: You’re Doing It Wrong!

Well, I feel pretty stupid.  While I was in Texas last week for my Dad’s surgery, I took my Mom to lunch for an early Mother’s Day present.  She chose to eat lunch at Olive Garden.  Although the meal was delicious and our waiter was an absolute doll, I really fucked this one up.

Although it’s too late for a happy ending this Mother’s Day for my Mom, it is most certainly not too late for me.  E, you’ve been given notice.  Get on this shit STAT.  If I get a gold locket, I’ll put it up my twăt (sounded out with ă instead of ä, who fucking knew?).  Hell, if I get anything other than Wolverine, I’ll put all of it up my twăt in protest.

I know this may seem an unreasonable demand since we’re only four short days away from Mother’s Day.  I am nothing if not reasonable.  Should Wolverine be fully booked, these replacements will suffice (in this strict order):

  1. Star-Lord.  Tell him to bring the long red leather coat and the mask.  Don’t forget his Awesome Mix, Volume 1 & 2.    
  2. Thor.  WITH his hammer.  No, his other hammer.  Just tell him to bring all his damned hammers.  
  3. Bruce Banner.  Not Hulk because I actually like my twăt intact.  And not the Edward Norton bitch.  I want Mark Ruffalo.
  4. Tony Stark, not Iron Man because that’s just weird.  Fine, he can bring the mask just in case things get crazy.
  5. Bad Bucky from Captain America.  Tell him not to show up without that metal arm and the black mask.

Who said I was high maintenance?  See, I just gave you an easy to follow Mother’s Day buying guide.  You’re welcome.

Thank God And Learn To Keep Your Shirt On

I just ordered E not to make eye contact with me and to not speak to me unless spoken to.  Luckily, he laughed.

I sat down to start this blog about an hour ago and have had to get up multiple times to make another cup of coffee, find Landon an Alabama shirt to wear, get my headphones out of my computer bag, and make fun of Bo Wallace (known as Bro Ballace in my house) in the Ole Miss/TCU game on the TV right now.  Ignoring the TV is much harder than it used to be because I bought E surround sound for Christmas and it’s, well, distracting, especially when wonderful football sounds are emanating from it.

I always write when the kids are at school and E is at work or after everyone’s in bed for the night so this has been very difficult but here we go.  Martial law has been enforced in my house.  God be with them as I write this.

I haven’t written in a while because E’s Dad, Bob, died on December 12th.  Bob fell in October and broke his hip, leading to the discovery of advanced lung cancer.  E spent some quality time with his Dad during those last days, including watching Alabama win their 24th SEC Championship with him.  All of Bob’s family is from Alabama and one of his brothers was buried in his beloved Alabama Crocs.  We were at that funeral and I can vouch for that fact.

There are many great memories of Bob but these are mine.  He was a quiet man so when he talked, I knew to listen because what came out was usually pretty insightful.  He worked hard for his family, always.  He loved to garden and always had fresh produce either ready to be picked or growing when I first met E.  He loved to travel with his camper and he loved his demon cat McKenzie, who is immortalized in a huge picture in E’s parent’s bedroom to this day.  He loved his beer.  When we arrived in Arizona, we drove straight to my in-law’s house.  My nephew was watching Monday night football and drinking a Miller High Life, which was Bob’s beer of choice.  There was a new 30 pack in the kitchen.  I watched football and drank a Miller High Life in honor of Bob.   R.I.P., Bob.  Thank you for your hand in raising the man I have called my husband for the last 23 years.

Everything holiday related was accelerated, gift deliveries were missed because we were supposed to be here in Bama a week longer.  I was just outside on a Monday, putting up 1200 more Christmas lights to piss my neighbor off and by Friday, I was frantically packing for a funeral in Arizona and then immediate cold Texas Christmas.  I had sweet friends who stopped by to get very valuable presents off my front porch in Bama, stored the gifts I had with me in Dallas so they wouldn’t be stolen out of the truck at DFW airport, took concert tickets for me so they wouldn’t go to waste, and played the best ever last minute Santa on the phone to my kids.

As I look back on 2014, the overwhelming theme for me seems to be friends.  The good ones, the bad ones, the downright toxic ones, and how I should handle each of those categories.

I seem to have finally attained the ability this past year to simply walk away and that’s a good thing.  My zodiac sign, Capricorn, is wrong about my actual traits on so many levels that sometimes I’d swear I wasn’t born in January.  One of those Capricorn traits is the ability to walk away from a “bad” friend, emotionally and literally, without a thought or a backward glance.  I didn’t seem to acquire that ability until just this year and it’s actually quite freeing.

I can’t control other people’s behavior, as much as I have tried, but I can control mine.  I control my reactions, my decisions, who I keep in my life, who I need to lower expectations of in order to keep in my life, whose shitty behavior is worth putting up with, who contributes absolutely nothing to my life and is just an onlooker or judge, who influences me and makes me either feel fucking awesome about myself and everything in life, or who makes me feel worthless and full of doubts.

On the other side of the coin, I want my friends to hold me accountable.  Call me on my own bullshit.  Do it with love and call me a taint stain, but hold me accountable.  I don’t want “yes” friends because those aren’t true friends.  You can tell me anything with true affection and love and I can take it.  It will be hard and I’ll probably kick you in the crotch repeatedly and possibly shank you, but if it’s said with love, it will get through to my dense brain eventually.

I have no New Year’s resolutions.  I should have some, trust me.  I’m eating everything in sight like an alcoholic drinks the entire liquor cabinet after being mistakenly included in the text about their own intervention scheduled for the following night.  If you don’t hear from me for a few days, it’s because I am in a sugar coma somewhere in Birmingham.

Resolutions are pretty much bullshit anyway.  This year, I just vow to do better, on every level.  That’s all anyone can do.  Be a better significant other, mother, daughter, sister, friend, person.  I just want to be a better chick.  Period.

Happy New Year!  Thank you so much for reading my blog this year.  It still amazes me that anyone reads my shit.  I got my end of year stat report yesterday and it blew me away.  My counter at the bottom of each blog has been way off these past couple months and it bothered me, even though I knew it was wrong.  The end of year report confirmed that I’m not alone and that there are more than 7 people who read this shit.  I love you all and I wish you the very best in 2015.  Now, go do better.

You May Call Me Overlord

2015 update:  I bought just about every string of Christmas lights I could find on clearance last year to add to our outdoor display.  Shit just got real for this year, y’all.  

We live in a quiet neighborhood of mostly elderly people.  The only two houses within eyesight on our block with outdoor Christmas lights are ours and our next door neighbors, who I’ll refer to as “Bad Neighbors” in this post.  Bad Neighbors like to decorate with tacky dollar store shit, which is fine if you mix it in with actual real decorations that cost more than a buck, but that’s just about all they use.  I should add that those neighbors are in their 60s, which doesn’t imply tackiness necessarily, but the Granny Christmas Decoration slice is pretty much all they have on the Semi-Tasteful Christmas Decoration pie chart now.

Relations were okay between us and Bad Neighbors until about 18 months ago.  At least, as okay as they can be when we call Bad Neighbor Man “Creeper” because he would feel the sudden urge to exit their house to smoke in their driveway, which is about 5 feet from ours, at exactly the same time I drove into our driveway.  Every single time.  Things were as fine as they could be when Creeper made me feel weird with a couple of really off putting comments.  We got by and spoke when necessary.  That changed when a pine tree sliced off about 1/4 of our house 18 months ago.

We were away on a cruise for Spring Break when straight line winds made a huge pine tree part of our interior decor.  When we returned and it became clear to the Bad Neighbors that we were pretty much going to get half a brand new house out of the deal, things went bad.

The very first thing we had to do, before we had even hired a contractor, was to replace our mailbox.  It was blown away.  And by that, I mean it was nowhere to be found.  Bad Neighbors installed a brand new mailbox the very next day even though theirs was fine.  E asked them if we could run an extension cord to their house to run our alarm system until our electricity was cleared to be turned on again and Bad Neighbor Woman refused.  We were staying in a hotel, all our worldly possessions were in the house, there was still a huge slice in our roof and an outer wall was partially missing and she denied us a plug in.

That’s when I stopped speaking to Bad Neighbors.

Bad Neighbors bitched at the contractor and made nuisances of themselves on several occasions.  Insurance moved us into a rental house after a few weeks, conveniently right across the street from our damaged house.  That was awesome because we could keep close watch on the repairs and Bad Neighbors, who seemed to grow increasingly irritated with our renovations each day.

Bad Neighbors bitched about debris that wasn’t even on their property, they bitched about the yard, they bitched about the lawn guy accidentally running over a newspaper that didn’t even get into their yard and which he mostly picked up.  I took to leaving our doors open during the renovations as much as possible so they could see all the new, shiny, pretty things going in and blasted my stereo system while I was doing work on the house myself at every opportunity.  It’s safe to assume I didn’t play the Smooth Jazz shit we still hear from their house every Saturday night.  Slayer, Korn, Rage Against The Machine, and Marilyn Manson were played often that summer.  I think I even hate played some Limp Bizkit out of spite.

Bad Neighbors installed a privacy fence shortly before we moved back into our mostly new home complete with a much larger and nicer deck.  I took to sitting on the deck and talking badly about them very loudly every chance I got.  I still do.  They do not speak to me but have spoken to E a couple times over mail, etc.  I have a speech stored in my head and plan on delivering it if they ever do speak to me again.  I know this will shock you but the speech isn’t very Christian.

Now to the part where you may call me Overlord.  We have several huge pine trees in the front yard and we added lights to them this year, which we’ve never done before.  Bad Neighbors had already decorated their yard when we decorated ours.  Bad Neighbor Woman noticed our added decorations and was back in her yard at 10:00 on Saturday night, adding lights to their already tacky display.

Oh, it is fucking ON.

The kids are even in on this now.  We were finally finishing our Christmas tree last night (I’ve been sick, E has been out of town) and Landon said “Mom, close the blinds so she can’t copy our tree!”  I have taught them well.  So damned proud. Tearing up.

What is any rational woman left to do in this situation?  I’m not sure because I’ve never been called rational but I used every damned extension cord in the house, bought another one, and put up 1200 more lights in our yard this morning so Bad Neighbor Woman will be surprised when she returns home from work after dark tonight.  Is it safe?  Probably not.  Will it blow a circuit?  I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t.

Bad Neighbor Woman:  I have nothing but time on my hands.  I can do this shit all day long for the next three weeks.  Bring it.

And the rest of you may call me Overlord.

Sage Words On Thanksgiving (See What I Did There?)

Gracie and I made pumpkin pies together earlier tonight.  They’re cooling as I type this.  My cornbread and biscuits are in the oven now.  I will make them into dressing tomorrow.

My dressing recipe is a simple, no frills recipe that my Granny made every Thanksgiving and Christmas for her six children and eventually for all six of those children’s children.  She made it out of cornbread and biscuits.  Completely homemade.  I now use Bisquick and Corn Kits to cheat on my dressing.  If I use any other cornbread mix, it comes out too sweet.  It has to be Corn Kits.  I would feel bad but towards the end of Granny’s life, she firmly believed some shortcuts were okay.

Holidays were always spent at my Granny and Bud’s house.  My grandfather went by the nickname of “Bud”, even his kids called him that and when we grand kids started coming along, we did also.

All six of Granny and Bud’s children and their families would pile into their small house for holidays.  The smell of the house on a holiday was the most heavenly smell in the whole world.  We could barely squeeze around all the card tables set up in the already small kitchen and dining area, filled to the brim with so much good country food.

We kids would play raucous games of Spoons after lunch.  My uncles would doze on the couch until the Dallas Cowboys game came on the television, then they would start yelling angrily at Roger Staubach.  I knew to stay down and out of the way but that was my favorite place to be – in the middle of yelling men and football.

After Bud died, I would spend the night before Thanksgiving with Granny.  It was just us.  We would bake and talk and laugh.  One of her favorite things in the world was watching WWE wrestling so if that was on, we watched it.  This was back in the golden days of Rowdy Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan.  We tried to tell her it wasn’t real.  You didn’t make that mistake twice.

My Granny was getting on in years by that time, so my goal was to learn how to make her dressing.  I was her official taste tester and it didn’t go into the oven until I had given my approval.  I knew the distinction between not enough sage and too much sage.  I knew when it needed more salt, more pepper.  She would add ingredients as I said because she couldn’t really taste it anymore and after growing up with her dressing, I knew how it should taste.  During all those taste sessions, I learned how to make her dressing, which was such a simple recipe that it has never been written down.

Those Thanksgiving Eves were the most valuable gifts she gave to me, to this day.

We stay in Alabama for Thanksgiving every year so it’s just my small family.  There’s not the chaos of a big family to distract me so this is when I miss my Granny so badly it hurts my heart, even though she’s been gone for 15 years now.  I’ve felt her presence this week so strongly, I can’t even explain it.  That presence is special but this year, for some reason, I’ve felt pain over her death I haven’t felt in a long time, like a healed wound has been opened back up.

So I took to my Facebook account yesterday and asked friends what food it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without, besides turkey.  I told them they got bonus points for stories attached to the food.  I really wanted the memories and that’s what I got.  The stories that showed up in my status had me both laughing and crying.  There is no shortage of love and memories out there.

Jana:  My mother made scalloped pineapple. It was the most disgusting thing in the world, but my father circulated prior to dinner and insisted that we all take some and eat it, so as not to hurt her feelings. Mind you, we had this as far back as I remember. Two years ago, she says, I hope you all don’t mind, but I really hate scalloped pineapple so I am not making it anymore. Seriously? Our kids should have to suffer through that crap, since we had to!

Kari:  Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole. Bonus? The time my niece and daughter made it at my house for the entire family and somehow managed to bake a dryer sheet in it. It was the most outdoor fresh casserole ever made in the history of shitty food.

Cameron:  Grits Souffle. My Mom. Nuff said.

Brett:  Sweet potatoes and cherry and blueberry cheesecake, I miss having Thanksgiving at my Grandmother Costellos, who left this world four years ago.  I miss the way her house smelled on Thanksgiving, her big hugs, playing football with my uncles in the street and my siblings and I being younger and living in the same house.  My grandma was one of a kind, miss her daily, she always called me Brettzky.

Christina:  My grandmother was the best cook! Never used a recipe for anything. It was all in her head. I cooked with her a lot when I was young and can make from memory just about anything she made with one exception, her maple fudge. It was of the gods and the absolute best thing you ever put in your mouth and I can’t make it to save my life. The stingy old broad took it with her when she passed! I miss her so much.

Shawnda:  Dressing ( no stuffing here. We dress the bird, not stuff it. Lol) Cornbread base with some plain old white bread thrown in. My Granny’s recipe that was passed to my mom and her two sisters and then to me.

Deidre:  My mom said corn was all the pilgrims and Indians had to eat so we always had to start off with corn!  Of course we got to eat more, afterwards, but we had to do this ceremonial thing first and go around the table saying what we were thankful for! (We all hated this and laughed and had good jokes about it, but looking back now, I don’t know anyone else that ever did this, and what a memory now!)

Chanse: My thing for Thanksgiving is Giblet Gravy.  I must have it and cornbread dressing.  I remember one year my grandmother said she was only gonna fix cornstarch gravy, I replied if there is no giblet gravy grandma I will not be coming. She called my mom Thanksgiving morning and had my mother tell me she went and got Giblets and I could make my own as long as her oldest grandson was there, lol.  Memories indeed.

Derise: My mammaws cooking and watching the Cowboys on TV at least that’s how we do it in Texas

Cindy: Homemade cranberry sauce. The first time I made it alone, I had the heat up too high and the cranberries exploded all over the kitchen. I was laughing and crying at the same time.

Cody:  My Thanksgiving food memory is being in my parent’s kitchen the night before helping my Mom make dressing. I would be the taste tester for it and my Dad would cringe when I would eat the raw dressing. He swore up and down that I was going to get salmonella poisoning. Never got it and really enjoyed being the official taster tester. Miss those times so much.

Cherish:  My Dad’s ham is pork shank injected with butter and cajun seasonings.  Last year right as were were about to get the ham ready we discovered our injector to be missing with no time to go get another one. So we had to figure out another way. We used team work, I stabbed the ham and made a nice slit and held the slit open and my dad poured the butter mix into it and we did that several times all over the ham. haha

Gary:  Dressing!  While she was alive…..my Mom’s German Chocolate Cake was a holiday staple!

Laurie:  My Mimi’s dressing, which became my Aunt’s, and my Mom’s and Sister’s and now Gary’s! A family tradition!  This year we are going to start some new traditions, but I can’t say what they are or no one will show up!

Lee Ann:  Obviously, dressing evokes fond memories and each person makes it differently… Some with prozac and others with pot. Truth is we all call it “sage” and get along because it is Thanksgiving, and being pent up with family takes work and help.

Dressing was the clear cut winner for favorite Thanksgiving food, although broccoli cheese casserole had a couple mentions and good old pot got a nod from my funny yet realistic friend Lee Ann.

Thank you to all my friends who participated.  I laughed, I cried, and the best part is I don’t feel so alone missing my Granny.

There are gaping holes in every family left by loved ones no longer with us but those spaces are filled up a bit by the wonderful memories they left behind.  Their memories live on in that same food you ate as a small child that you now make for your children.  Maybe your loved one isn’t gone, you just can’t be together this holiday.  Call them and share one of your best memories with them.  I bet they’ll be surprised what is special to you and they’ll be touched you told them.  Honor lost loved ones by telling a story about them at the dinner table.

Celebrate life, give thanks, and love those who love you.  Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best…

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you know what my family dressed as for the Mickey’s Not So Haunted Halloween Party last night.  For the rest of you, and also because I suck at Twitter, here are the pictures from last night.

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I’ll do a full write up with all the details of this fabulous night next week after I sleep for two days straight.  It was an awesome night, I don’t even have words right now to sum it up.  We were stopped countless times by people wanting pictures with us.  We met some fantastic Kiss fans.  There are so many stories from the night, I hope to be able to put them into words for y’all next week.

Have a Happy Halloween, y’all!  Be safe out there.

This Is Halloween, The Finale

We made it to the end!  Well, maybe.  I can’t know for sure if you’re going to read the whole post but I’ll give you the benefit of doubt.  If you read till the end, there will be prizes and confetti and strippers.  Okay, that’s a lie.  I’m sorry.

Welcome to the last installment of This is Halloween.  This series has covered each year we have spent Halloween Week in Orlando.  Here’s the recap of 2013.  This was the 4th year we went to Universal and Disney World for all the Halloween festivities.

The following video of Halloween Horror Nights 2013 only covers the scare zones, not the houses.  And of course, I don’t expect you to watch a 10 minute video but you can fast forward through it to get a good feel of the theme for 2013.  If you’re a Walking Dead fan, you’ll love it.  2013 scare zones were all Walking Dead, all the time.  I don’t watch the show but I did recognize most of the iconic backdrops.

I did not go through any houses that year, something I really regret now.  At the time, though, I felt like shit.  I would find out the next day at the emergency clinic that I had bronchitis.  Not fun.

If I had it to do over again, I would go through two houses that year – American Werewolf In London and Cabin In The Woods.

I remember as a teenager thinking that American Werewolf was the best horror movie of all time and the special effects for 1981 were mind blowing.  Cabin In The Woods is my favorite modern horror movie.  One of my favorite movies of all time from any genre is Army of Darkness.  AoD bridged the distance between horror and comedy in a way I had never seen before.  Cabin wasn’t that campy but it had just enough humor to make you almost forget it was a pretty gnarly horror movie and in that way, it reminded me a lot of AoD.

There aren’t a lot of pictures from that night, as E and Landon split off to do the houses.  Gracie and I did our best to hide from the zombies on the streets and were mostly successful.  I mainly spent my time feeling up Lard Lad while Gracie took pictures.  That’s the kind of Mom I am.

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For Mickey’s Not So Haunted Halloween Party, we decided to tackle all new Harry Potter characters, except for Harry Potter, of course.  Landon was The Chosen One himself, Gracie made an awesome Luna Lovegood and could even talk exactly like her, E was Mad-Eye Moody, and I was Bellatrix Lestrange.  Again, not many pictures were taken because I had bronchitis and the antibiotics hadn’t kicked in yet.  It was still a great night.  E was the most popular character this time around and was stopped a few times by people asking to get a  picture with him.

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Did I mention I had bronchitis?  Because I did.  I’m a trooper like that.

Thank you for sharing these memories with me!  I will upload a picture of us in costume sometime in the late afternoon/early evening hours right here on the blog on October 30th so check back often that day.  Get your finger limbered up for the refresh button.  If you want to save your finger from refresh button fatigue, follow me and you’ll get an email message every time I post a blog.  Or, if you prefer, I can post my blog link to your Facebook wall every hour on the hour.  Your choice.  Personally, I’d just hit the damn little blue “Follow” button somewhere on this page and be done with it.

We’ve had a few snags this week in the costume prep department but I think it will still all come together in spectacular fashion.  Have a great weekend, y’all, and Happy Halloween Week!  Be safe out there.