Friday, December 25, 2015

Family Holiday Traditions

As I have written before, this holiday season isn't one of my favorites for a variety of reasons.   I think it is all of expectations, etc. that go along with the season.    However, we do have some family traditions that mean a lot to me.    Every Christmas Eve we spend with our Phoenix cousins at Yaya's house.   Every year there are more kids as the families grow.   Yaya makes her incredible enchiladas and I have always brought tamales from Douglas and I didn't this year.   Will make sure that changes for next year!  

We always do a white elephant exchange with the adults and it is fun!!   The little kids even enjoy it and the laughter.  I love spending time with my cousins as they are not only family, but friends!    I have a special bond with Cecilia and always have.  She is like my sister.

As Teresa continues to decline both physically and mentally, I wonder if this could be here last Christmas.   She is such a trouper and would never miss anything.  She works so hard to be "alert' at family get togethers.   It usually exhausts her.   I hate watching this decline, but I am so thankful to have her in my life still.    What a blessing for all of us!!!

Today we will be having prime rib here at my house with Judy and her family.  I just finished making beer bread--one red and one green!  I have been experimenting with using different kinds of beer and it is amazing the differences depending on the beer.  

This year baby Colton will be joining us.   Of course, I will miss Patrick, but he will be here in a few days.

I love fixing the prime rib dinner.  It has always been one of my favorites and it will be nice to spend quality time with just our families and one very close friend!

The best part for me is that I have now officially written more blog posts in 2015 than in any previous year.  My writer's block is gone!!!   And I am so happy to be back home in Gilbert with family and friends!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Monday, December 21, 2015

December Doings

December has been a busy month for "fun" with good friends and wonderful family.  I didn't realize how much I missed my many friends while I was gone the past five years.  And I am blessed to have another wonderful circle of friends that I made while I was in Douglas.   I miss many of them, too.

My administrators friends, who were so incredible while I was in Douglas, are truly amazing.   We get together often for a movie, lunch, or an overnight and out of town time.   We had lunch recently to celebrate Jill's birthday.  Had a great lunch at the Biltmore.  It is such a beautiful hotel and is always decorated so well for the holidays.

Later that same day, I went to another birthday celebration for my friend (and former teacher for me).   There was a very nice happy hour in her honor and it is always fun to get together with this group of friends.

A tradition that was started while I was gone with some of the Gilbert El friends was "Breakfast in the Barn" at Shannon U's barn.   Everyone brought a breakfast dish and a gift to exchanged.  It was really fun and I am so glad to be a part of this tradition now!!   

At one of the earlier times together, several people suggested I have a party.  I have a great party house with my bar, Shenanigan's, in the basement with a pool table and karaoke.   My outside has a great patio with a bar to sit and a fire pit to keep the whole outside warm.  And the pool always looks so nice with the lights on.  We can regulate the color of the lights so we had red and green for my BAH HUMBUG party.   I have never really enjoyed the holiday season--not sure why.  I think it is all of the expectations and I don't particularly like to decorate.  So at my BH party, I told everyone that the only thing that they would see that was red and green was my red and green chili meat.   I invited former teachers and staff from Gilbert El, people I taught with over 26 years ago and former administrators.  What a great turn out!!!  We had red and green chili meat, fresh beans, and homemade salsa.    Everything was a hit and there were so many people here and I know they had a great time as I got a lot of positive responses.  As a matter of fact, I was "told" that this was going to have to be a new tradition!!!!

Then we had Kerri's traditional bean burro party for her fourth graders. I made beans and salsa and a lot of her parents showed up.   The best part--I think every student she had who is now in 5th and 6th grades came for bean burros.   And of course a lot of staff members were there.  There was some green chili meat left so I took it for the adults.  It was a hit!

Today I am going with some friends for a "pub crawl" in downtown Gilbert.  Should be interesting!!!

Have I mentioned how much I am enjoying being back in Gilbert and being retired????????????????????????????

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Memories Brought on by Senses

I wrote in a previous post about how the sense of smelling flowers triggered memories of my grandmother's funeral in 1957.  It is amazing how different senses can trigger memories.

I have a FitBit and have been doing a lot of walking and stepping.  I have incredible Bose headphones that I wear and have 2300 plus songs on my iPod that I listen to when exercising.   I have it on shuffle so different songs come up and I never know which one will come up next.

This morning several songs brought back memories of people who have meant a lot to me.  "Abilene" reminds me of my friend, Jane Campbell.   We were teachers together at Patterson and she was my son's first grade teacher.   She was a great lady and  a great teacher and was a very good friend to me through the years.  We also had so much fun over the years.   Jane passed away several years ago and I miss her friendship.  But that song always brings back memories of her as she was born in Abilene, Texas.

"I Hope You Dance" brings back memories of my dear friend, Ellen Widmer.   This song was sung at her funeral when she died in 2003.   I have written previous blog posts about Ellen.  She was one of my best friends ever and I miss her.  There are other songs that remind me of her and the years we had together, but this one is especially poignant.  I will never forget the day that Ellen called me at Gilbert El and asked me to do the eulogy at her funeral.  I was honored and saddened at the same time, but I did it.   Was that ever hard!

"De Colores" always reminds me of my dear friend, Emilie Rodger, and her dad.    When he died several years ago, this song was played at his funeral.  I am so grateful to have Emilie in my life and as a friend.   Her family meant the world to me as they are much like my own big family.

A song came up today that I hadn't heard for sometime.  It is by Connie Francis and is named "Stupid Cupid."   That brought back some great memories of high school when I was president of the club that sponsored foreign exchange students.  We had a talent show (I think it was called a Hootenanny then).   My little "sister" Judy danced to this song.  I think she was probably around eight years old.  She was so cute doing that dance and I remember she was introduced as "Sheila's little sister."

And then there is "Mack the Knife" which brings back so many memories of my wonderful Aunt Dot!  This was her favorite song and is always played at any family get together that we have.   Dot was one of a kind!   She was always so good to me and I loved her dearly.  She has been gone since 1981 and I still miss her.   But the good thing is that I am close to her incredible children (my Park cousins) and I am so thankful for that!!!

So as I get my steps in each day, I am also able to remember different people and events in my life that have meant a lot.   

It is amazing how the senses of smell and hearing can trigger memories and emotions!!! I am thankful that they do because I have so many wonderful memories!!!