Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My T-Shirt To Raise Awareness & Fund Research



As I can personally tell you, pituitary tumors wreck havoc on your physical and emotional well being.  So many go undiagnosed, and even when they are finally diagnosed, they are very difficult to treat much less remove.  The effects of pituitary tumors include everything from personality changes to blindness.   The list of symptoms and complications can be found on Harvard Medicine's website.  It is truly shocking.  

Although the pituitary is the size of a pea, it is called the "master" gland because it effects every system of the body.   When it stops working, the body follows little by little.  It devastates lives and families.  Please support the Pituitary Network Association.  Every penny counts!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014



Since I've boarded the savings train (CHOO CHOO), and since I love All You Magazine, I recently joined All You Reality Checkers.  It's a new online community where participants can get freebies, share savings tips, get exclusive savings, and possibly be featured in the magazine.  

About a month ago we were asked to share a story about a great bargain that we found.  I wrote about a terrific find that my husband and I made and today I got this letter:

Hi Kimberly,

I hope this finds you well!

You recently commented on ALL YOU Reality Checker Central about an AMAZING shopping score you found:

“For years, I’ve wanted the orange Rachael Ray cookware set. Back in the spring, Wal Mart marked it down from $199 to $99, but I still couldn't part with $100. Then my husband and I were waiting in the checkout line when an associate brought over a box—the last one of the set—and stamped it with ‘$49.’ I heard bells ringing! Sometimes, it really pays to wait.”

Good news! We'd love to include this quote (and you!) in an upcoming issue of ALL YOU magazine!

To be featured, can you please reply with the following info?
- Your full name, date of birth and where you live 
- A high-res photo of yourself (preferably smiling and looking at the camera)
- If possible, a photo of the item you're referencing in your quote

Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing back from you! Please let me know if you have any questions at all.


I'm very excited and I wanted to share this wonderful opportunity with you.  Join today and you too will get freebies, lots of savings tips, and possibly be featured in an upcoming issue of All You.  I have saved SO much money by reading All You ever month.  It pays for itself ten times over.  Peace, love, and happy savings!!!

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Grandma Knew Best: Pinching Pennies and Cheeks: Twenty-four Carat Love

Grandma Knew Best: Pinching Pennies and Cheeks: Twenty-four Carat Love: TWENTY-FOUR CARAT LOVE What is twenty-four carat love?   It is pure love, love without expectations or manipulation.  It is lov...

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Twenty-four Carat Love


What is twenty-four carat love?   It is pure love, love without expectations or manipulation.  It is loving someone so much that you would do anything to spare them any suffering.  It is honest.  It is unselfish.

My Mawmaw (or Momo) gave me twenty-four carat love.  Now that I'm getting older and I have my own granddaughter, I can look back and learn from her actions; I can and do appreciate the unselfishness of her love for me.  

So how do we know if we are loving completely, unselfishly?  All that I can do is give you examples of why I think she loved me that way.

  • She never lied to me, even if it wasn't what I wanted to hear. 
  • When I asked her to keep my secrets, she did.
  • She never talked bad about my parents, my friends, or anyone in my life.  She may have given me advice when she thought someone might not be a positive influence, but she did not try to turn me against anyone.
  • She never asked me to lie and taught me not to lie.
  • When she gave, she did not expect anything in return.
  • She listened and never judged. 
  • She spent time with me, even if we were just watching television or playing Old Maid.  She talked to me and showed an interest in what I thought and felt.  
  • When I suffered, she cried with me.
  • She let me make a mess even though she hated to have anything out of place.  
  • I always tried to do what she asked me to do, but if I couldn't, she did not try to make me feel guilty.
  • When I was upset, she didn't try to make it about her.  She just tried to make me feel better.
If only we could all love with twenty-four carat love!  I hope that when I am gone, my children and grandchildren will have such beautiful memories of me, memories that give them both roots and wings.  

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Toys From the 70's That You Can Still Buy Today!

Mawmaw taught me to take care of my baby dolls like they were real little babies.  I LOVED baby dolls.  I was amazed to find that some of the dolls and other toys that I loved are still made today!  Just click on the links to buy them.

Baby Alive!  You fed her, she pooped!  No wonder she is still around, cute as ever!

I NEVER went to sleep without my Raggedy Ann Doll! Remember the real heart on her little chest? It's still there!

Paper dolls!!!  They still make them!



Friday, August 8, 2014

We are Paper Dolls


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How many of these did I play with in the 70's?  I LOVED them! They came with cute outfits, and they were cheap!   My Mawmaw and my Moma bought me a lot of them.  They would help me punch out the little outfits because they tore so easily; they were fragile, especially in the hands of a five year old.

Like paper dolls, people are fragile.  Life is fragile.   No matter how fancy we dress or how careful we are, we are easily hurt or "torn" by those we allow in our lives.

One of my favorite quotes is by Bob Marley.

Your family may hurt you, but that is only because we hold them so close to our hearts that sometimes we feel we love them more than they love us, whether it is true or not.  They are worth the worry, the arguments, and the tears that come with living.   

If I could put anything on my grandmother's tombstone, it would be, "She was an amazing grandmother."  I only hope that whenever I'm gone, my children, my grandchildren, and my husband will feel that way about me, because without them I am nothing but a paper doll on a shelf, no life, no purpose.

FYI: I don't see paper dolls anywhere anymore, so I did a little googling, and guess what I found?  See if any of these bring back any memories!  You can still buy them by clicking on the link for each.  I think I'll buy a few for when my granddaughter gets to be a little older.  Right now she is ten months old and just enjoys the sound of tearing paper.  <3

Retro Paper Dolls and Where You Can Buy Them:

For a view of more nostalgic toys from the 70's, visit my Pinterest board labeled Childhood Memories.  Share some memories of toys you loved back in the day by commenting below.

Peace, love, & happiness!  

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Smart Grocery Shopping

My Mawmaw knew how to save money, but she always had the basic necessities to make just about anything we wanted to eat.  Today I find myself using Pinterest and other websites to accomplish what she did in her head every single day.  The older I get, the more I realize how smart, organized and creative she actually was.

The first thing Mawmaw did was stock pile grocery staples, ingredients that could be used to make a wide variety of foods.  She always had plenty of butter, eggs, sugar, flour, oil, meat, peanut butter, can goods, and other basics.  From these basics she could whip up everything from an entire Sunday lunch for eight, homemade cookies, beignets, cakes, etc.  She didn't have much money, but she planned well and used what she had before buying more; nothing was ever wasted.

I read recently that Americans waste over $500 per person per year on wasted food.  This didn't surprise me because I can't tell you how many groceries I've throw away because they spoiled or because I just didn't use them.  Luckily, I found a website that helps.  I'm not as smart or as organized as Mawmaw was; I need help!

Like Mawmaw, I rarely measure or follow a recipe.  I like to create as I go.  However, I need to make sure that I have enough of the basics to cover what I plan to make in the near future.  Therefore, when it is time for my monthly big shopping day, I use  If you take just a few minutes, you can enter stuff that you already have in your pantry.  Next, install the recipe clipper on your bookmark bar.  Just go to and follow the simple directions.  With this button on your bookmark, you can add ANY recipe that you find on Pinterest or any other website to your Saymmm account.  When it's time to make out your grocery list, click on the recipes that you want to make in the next few weeks and it will automatically add the ingredients that you need to buy to your list.  You can also plan menus and install the mobile app.  What I love the most is that it saves the items that you purchase the most on a "frequent items" list so that when it is time to make your next list, you can check through your commonly purchased items and add them to your new list with a click of the mouse.  You will waste less food, avoid running out of stuff that you need, and always have ingredients in your pantry to cook things that you like to eat.

Since I have been using this website, I find that I almost always have the ingredients to whip up all of my family's favorites.  In the next blog, I'll share some food storage tips that have helped me keep ingredients for a lot longer.  Now if only I could just stick to buying what is on the list like Mawmaw did!    

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014


When I was little, Mawmaw used to save green stamps.  Does anyone remember those? You would get them when you checked out at the grocery store.  You could save them for dishes or other gifts.  I wish that they still did that!

Even though green stamps don't exist anymore, there are countless ways to save and even get stuff for free. True, many of them are scams, but some are legit and very beneficial.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Do you buy Coke products?  There are codes under bottle caps and inside of 12 & 20 packs of all Coke products.  You can easily register on and start earning points today.  You can enter a maximum of 120 points a week, so don't forget to enter them each week.  They will even send you a reminder.  I haven't paid for a magazine in years.  There are other rewards such as electronics, gift cards, photo gifts, etc.  I just enjoy magazines.  I have subscriptions to seven magazines and I didn't pay for any of them.  
  • Join Sample Source- I signed up and one month later got a box full of goodies!  If you rate them when they send you a survey about the products, they keep you on the mailing list.  I got a full sized toothbrush that was AMAZING, coffee, over the counter medications, snacks, hair products etc.  
  • My favorite magazine and the best place for coupons, daily free samples and great tips on how to save a lot of money!





Thursday, July 24, 2014

"There's a Hurricane a Comin'"

I LOVE the Golden Girls, especially Sophia, maybe because, in many ways, she reminds me of my Mawmaw.  For example, when there was even the possibility of  trouble, like bad weather, both Sophia and Mawmaw went into panic mode.  In this clip, Sophia is frantically preparing for a hurricane before there is any sign of one because her friend's ankles have swollen, which they apparently only did when there was a hurricane "a comin'.".  Like Sophia, my Mawmaw did not play around when it came to bad weather.  God knows she saw her share of it.  In fact, she lived through one of the worst hurricanes in U.S. history, Hurricane Audrey.  More than 600 people lost their lives in that storm.  Perhaps that is why Mawmaw was so terrified of bad weather.

Unfortunately, Mawmaw's fear of severe weather was not just limited to hurricanes.  If there was a grey cloud in the sky, we could not talk on the phone, go near a window or get into the bathtub.  If the clouds got too dark, she would lock up the house and drag me to a neighbor's house until the skies cleared.  I wasn't afraid of bad weather, but I HATED it because I did not like to go to the neighbors' houses for hours.  Inevitably, I had to sit and count my fingers because they never turned on the television and  they did not have any toys to play with.  Kids today have no idea how good they have it; I would have killed for a smartphone, an IPad, or hell, even a portable CD player.  I had dolls and other little toys at Mawmaw's, but I never had a chance to grab anything before she grabbed my little hand and practically dragged me down the street before, God forbid, a raindrop might fall before we made it out of the house alive.    

Most of the time, we had to go to a particular neighbor's house who, although she was a good friend to my grandmother, drove me absolutely nuts.  Unlike my grandmother, she was slovenly and unpleasant.  She scared me when I was little and just plain got on my nerves as I grew older. For example, she made these loud, unladylike snorting sounds to clear her throat that scared the hell out of me. She also never even acknowledged m presence.  My grandmother's other friends were sweet to me, but she just acted like I wasn't there. Lastly, as trivial as it may sound now, it was disturbing to me as a 5 year old that she had a heavier mustache than my father and hairy toes that she never bothered to cover up with shoes.   I think she still lives in that same house.  I can only hope that the hair on her toes and upper lip has thinned with age.

After what seemed like hours, Mawmaw would finally decide that it was safe enough for the two of us to return to her house.  If I was lucky, it was just in time to watch Gilligan's Island, ironic if you think about how they ended up on the stupid island:  A STORM!

Now that my kids are grown, I am alone a lot, especially at night since my husband works evenings.  While I don't go to anyone else's house when the weather gets bad, I must admit that bad weather does make me nervous.  In fact, if it gets too bad, I call my daughter and ask her to come over with my granddaughter since my house is bigger and more stable. I worry about THEM being alone if the weather gets too bad.  I also always keep plenty of candles because I don't like being in the dark.  Wow...I guess I'm more like Mawmaw than I thought.   Although I don't have any friends with hairy toes, I have to admit that the older I get the more I cringe when I hear thunder and when the lights flicker due to bad weather.

At a family funeral a few weeks ago, my mother told her cousin that the only person more like her moma (my Mawmaw) than her moma was me. After all, I spent more time with her than with anyone else when I was a child.  I guess it is only logical that some of her values as well as some of her fears have become a part of who I am today.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

My Family is My Life

Proud Southern Mama & Mimi

Mawmaw taught me that family is everything, and she was so right.  My family means the world to me. 

My son Lane, who turns nineteen today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY SON!) is smart, handsome, and best of all, my inner-hippy in persona.  He lives his life responsibly but fully.  He brings out the fun side of me.  Macy, his girlfriend, is a sweet Southern girl who is also smart; she has the dimples and the good heart that melt this Mama's heart. If I need someone to talk to, I know I can call her and she will be compassionate and probably cry with me.   My grandpups, Minnie & Marley are so sweet that I don't care that they leave hair all over the house, lol.  Marley is a rescue pup that Lane literally found on the road.  He took care of that sick little puppy and loved him until, against all odds, he flourished and is now as big as Clifford the Big Red Dog.  He is the only big dog I have ever loved.  

My son, future daughter-in-law and grand-pups

My daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter on the day Eleni was born

 Brittany is my inner artist child.  I always wanted to create beautiful art and she does it.  She is beautiful and creative.  Like me, she is not afraid to stand up for what is right, and I love that about her. There have been many long days since I became ill that would have been very lonely if Brittany had not come over with Eleni.  Thank God they live a stone's throw away from me.   Her husband Graylon cuts my grass and does anything I need him to do.  What more could a mother-in-law ask for?   Most of all, I will forever be grateful to him for allowing me to be in the delivery room when Eleni was born.  I will never be able to thank him enough for that.  

My husband and I in Paris

 My husband and I have been married for almost 13 years.  Like any couple, we have had our ups and downs, but he is my best friend.  When I'm sick he takes care of me and when I need him he is always there.  He coached T-ball, took our kids on our honeymoon, and loves them and Eleni like crazy.  I love you, baby!

My Sunshine, Eleni

Need I say more!! My sunshine is the light of my life.  I never understood how much Mawmaw loved me until Eleni was born.  You just can't be sad when this kid is around!!  I love you Sunshine!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Southern Lullabies

My Mawmaw spoke French ninety percent of the time, so when she also sang to me in French.  Remember this is Cajun French, not quite the same as real French, but knowing it helped me place out of two college classes.  Thanks Mawmaw!

Like most people, especially older ones, in Cajun Country, Mawmaw liked her Cajun music.  I knew these songs by heart by the time I went to Kindergarten, but I didn't quite understand what they meant.  I guess that's why my teacher looked at me funny when I sang to her about getting drunk and going to jail.  

Mawmaw rocked me until I was too big too rock, but I understand that now that I am a Mimi.  I'll rock Eleni and sing to her as long as she will let me.  Wouldn't you?  Look at this face!

Mawmaw sang her favorite songs to me.   Of course, just like Mawmaw, they were far from boring.  Her favorite one, the one I sang for my teacher, was  "La Porte d'en Arriere,"  or "The Back Door."  I thought it might be fun to put links to the song as well as the English translation so that you can see how colorful Mawmaw's lullabies were, especially when repeated by a five year old.  I'm so glad my Mawmaw was fun.  

Watch it performed here:

Thank you for the translation.  

"The Back Door"
1. Moi et la belle on avait étézau bal,
On a passé dans tous les honky-tonks,
S'en a rev'nu le lendemain matin,
Le jour était aprés se caser,
J'ai passé dedans la porte en arrière.
2. L'après-midi moi j'étais au village
Et je m'ai saoulé que je pouvais plus marcher,
Ils m'ont ramené back à la maison
Il y avait de la compagnie, c'était du monde étranger,
J'ai passé dedans la porte en arrière.
3. Mon vieux père un soir quand j'arrivais,
Il a essayé de changer mon idée,
J'ai pas écouté, moi j'avais trop la tête dure,
"Un jour à venir, mon nèg', tu vas avoir du regret
T'as passé dedans la pote en arrière."
4. J'ai eu un tas des amis tant que j'ais de l'argent
Asteur j'ai plus d'argent mais ils voulont* plus me voir
J'ai été dans le village et moi je m'ai mis dans le tracas,
La loi m'a ramassé, moi je suis parti dans la prison,
On va passer dedans la porte en arrière.
1. Me and my girl had gone to the dance,
We went to all the Honky-Tonks,
We came back the next morning,
The day was breaking,
I passed in by the back door.
2. That afternoon I was at the village,
I got so drunk I couldn't walk,
They brought me back to the house,
There was company there, some strangers,
I passed in by the back door.
3. My old father, one evening when I arrived,
He tried to change my way of looking at things,
I didn't listen to him, I had too hard a head,
"A day will come, my friend, you'll be sorry,
You passed in by the back door."
4. I had a lot of friends when I had money,
Now that I don't have any money they don't want to see me anymore,
I was in town, I got myself into trouble,
The law picked me up, and I was put in jail,
I'm gonna' pass in through the back door.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Why We Laugh at Funerals

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Why do we always laugh when it seems inappropriate? Is this a Southern thing? In our family, we cry and we grieve, but when the lights dim and everyone leaves except for the few who are willing to stay late into night, someone always finds a way to make everyone laugh, no matter how impossible it may seem at the time.

Although it is becoming less common, most of the wakes in my family have been all night affairs.  When Daddy died I did not want him to be alone for as long as possible.  I know it may sound silly to some, but I adored my father and was not ready to let him go.  I think some of our close family members stayed for a while so Moma and I could rest and change, but not before we had a hell a a scare.

I don't even remember much of Daddy's funeral because his death was so unexpected and so unnecessary that I had to be given medication to get through most

of the wake.   However, there is something that I definitely DO remember; Daddy made me laugh.

If anyone knew how big a chicken I was it was my father.  He used to like to tease me about it, so it was no big surprise when all of the lights in the funeral parlor went out at one in the morning.  There were about nine or ten of us still in the room.   All cried out, we began telling stories about funny things Daddy had done to each of us.  All of a sudden, darkness filled the room.  There was no storm, but half the town was suddenly without electricity.  I think I tried to scream, but nothing came out.  Instead, the generator kicked on within a few seconds and I could see me Uncle D's shoulders shaking with muffled laughter. Suddenly what was PROBABLY a coincidence turned into the comic relief we all desperately needed.  My uncle chuckled and said, "Boy, your Daddy sure had the last laugh."  We all felt his presence, and not in a spooky way.  We suddenly knew that even though we would still miss him desperately, the memories that he left us with would bind us to him and to each other for life.

When my Mawmaw died a few years later, someone else provided the amusement.  We were all kneeling down in the funeral parlor as we said the rosary in unison.  For anyone who has never heard it, it is beautiful but (sorry Mawmaw) extremely boring.  Mawmaw's rosary was not boring because we laughed so much through the whole thing that I think the priest thought that we were either high, crazy or possessed.

My mother's cousin, Cousin M., is loved by everyone.  She is a generous, loving, woman.  She is also one of the loudest people this side of the Mississippi.  On that particular day, I realized that she was also hard of hearing.  As the rest of us would finish the "Our Father" and wait for the priest to begin the next prayer, she would come in a line behind and ten times as loud as everyone with, "And deliver us from evil, AMEN!"  I looked at my Moma who had been crying for days, and she gave me "the look" that told me not to laugh.  Then she put her head down and I saw her lips curl up.  Well, that's all it took.  I started to giggle.  Then Uncle D stated to giggle.  Pretty soon the two front rows were unable to complete one, "Amen."  Ironically, my Mawmaw would have been the one to tell us to shut up and stop laughing in the funeral home.  However, on that day, I think she understood that those few minutes of laughter helped us to get through the unbearable pain of letting her go.

Yesterday my Uncle D. passed away.  I'm realizing now that he was the one who usually made us laugh when we couldn't stop crying.  I know there will be plenty of amusing stories told about him at that funeral home, but no funeral will ever be the same without his infectious sense of humor.  However, if Cousin M. is there for the rosary, and God knows she will be, I know that he will be chuckling up in heaven with every loud, offbeat, "AMEN!"  I think I'll tell everyone that story tomorrow.

Thank you for your humor in times of darkness.  Rest in peace, Pan Dew.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Aunt D's Shocking Past


 ‘Les Demoiselles D’Avignon’ by Pablo Picasso

My grandmother taught me to respect and to be hospitable to others, especially when they were guests in her home.  Through her stories and her behavior, she also taught me not to judge others.  Kind of like the parables in the Bible, she often made her point by telling stories instead of by saying things outright.  When I look back over all the the stories that she told me about others, especially those about some of our relatives, I think that she was trying to teach me that it's okay to have your opinions about other people's actions, but you should keep them to yourself.  After all, we all have things in our lives we wish we could do over. We have all done things that may seem questionable to others; but life isn't black and white.  It is easy to judge someone if you have not walked in their proverbial shoes.  My grandmother was one of the most religious people that I have ever known, but she never used her religion as a platform to judge others.  I love that she instilled that in me at a young age.

Mawmaw used to tell me a lot of secrets; the older I got, the more she told me.  The most shocking story was the story about Aunt D's past.  Aunt D married into the family long before I came around.  In fact, her husband died before I was even born, but she still came to family functions and visited my grandparents from time to time.   Aunt D must have been in her seventies when I was a child, but she sure didn't dress or act like it.  All of the elderly women I knew dressed like little old ladies, but not Aunt D!  I NEVER saw her without full makeup, jet black, teased hair, skin tight Calvin Klein's, sparkly button-up shirts, and four inch heals.  Despite her best efforts, her age showed in the lines on her face, but never in any other way.  She walked with amazing posture and confidence not usually seen in women her age, especially women who had lived through as much as she had.  Not only was she relatively young when she was widowed, but she also had three children who were constantly getting into trouble.  Aunt D also carried a big secret in her lines and Calvin's, one more shocking than I would have ever guessed.

One day when I was about twelve or thirteen, I asked my grandmother why Aunt D dressed and acted so differently from other women her age, at least the ones that I knew.  My Mawmaw told me, mostly in French, that it was because Aunt D grew up very differently from the other women that we knew.  In fact, before Aunt D married into our family, she was a full time prostitute.  I don't know if I was more shocked by Aunt D's past or by the fact that I was hearing this story come from Mawmaw, who was undoubtedly the most prim and proper woman I knew!   I had never seen my Mawmaw treat Aunt D any differently than she treated anyone else, so how could she be an ex (shhh) hooker?  I was so naive.

My grandmother went on to explain that my Uncle C met his future wife in the bar where she picked up clients.  Apparently, Uncle C fell head over heels in love with her the day that he met her, and he did not waste time before proposing marriage.   From what I hear, he worshiped her until the day he died.  She must have changed her ways and devoted herself entirely to him as well because they were happy for many, many years.  Even on his death bed, he begged his family to please look after his "beautiful wife."  He was felt guilty about leaving her alone.  (I'm tearing up here.)

My grandmother treated Aunt D just as lovingly as she did everyone else.  She explained to me that if Aunt D's past didn't bother Uncle C, then it shouldn't bother anyone else.  Because of my grandmother, I never thought less of Aunt D because of her past.  If anything, I just felt more compassion for her. I often wondered, and still do, what kind of childhood she had and what led to her feel that she had to do what she did to get by.  From research I learned that she had at least eight siblings and came from a poor family.  Who knows what other factors led her become a prostitute.  Perhaps it wasn't her choice at all.

It makes me think of the movie Pretty Woman.  Like Vivian, Aunt D met her prince.  He saved her from a life where she felt she had no choices; he made her feel loved and cherished, maybe for the first time in her life.  Now that she is gone, I wish that I could go back in time and do something nice for her. I wish that I could ask her about her life with Uncle C. Their love and years of commitment to each other is living proof that we are not defined by our pasts and that love can truly change our lives.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Ghosts in Our Family, Part One

Today I am going to tell you about my other grandmother, Mawmaw Thib (short for Thibodeaux).  I was close to her as well; I just didn't spend as much time with her as with the Mawmaw this blog is dedicated to, Mawmaw Aguillard.  I have a lot of interesting stories about Mawmaw Thib, most of them kind of eerie.

Mawmaw was one of the kindest people I ever knew.  She was also one of the most interesting.  Like Mawmaw Aguillard, she had lost people dear to her, including her first three children.  They were either stillborn or died shortly after birth.  Luckily, she went on to have four more sons, including my Daddy.

Mawmaw could not lie to save her life.  That's why her ghostly tales were so scary; I knew she would never just make something up to entertain me.  In fact, one of the scariest stories that she ever told me had a bit of physical evidence.

Mawmaw's grandparents in the woods somewhere around Breaux Bridge.  They didn't have electricity and the nearest neighbors were at least a half a mile away.  One night they were sitting in their living room lit by only a kerosene lamp.  The windows were open, as usual, because this was their only source of cool air.  Suddenly they began to hear a baby cry.  Thinking someone must have walked to their home for some unknown reason, her grandfather quickly opened the front door and walked out on to their porch.  When he didn't see anyone, he yelled out, "Hello, Hello?"  The crying got louder, but no one answered.  His wife joined him on the porch and they began to try to find the source of the mysterious wailing.  Grabbing the lantern, they began to search the property.  As they turned the corner of the house, they saw something on top of their rose bushes that stopped them in their tracks.  There was a tiny baby wrapped in a blue blanket ON TOP OF the rose bushes. The unfeasibiltiy of the situation was lost to the old woman as her maternal instincts took over.  She rushed to the bushes, grabbed for the infant, and held only a blue blanket in her arms.

The blanket stayed in our family for many, many years.  My grandmother's sister still had it when she told me the story decades after this baffling occurrence took place.

My Mawmaw Thib told me that her grandmother was never the same after that.  She just seemed to retreat into her own world.  No one has ever been able to explain what happened in those woods that night; maybe there is no explanation for such things, but they happen all of the time.

My Mawmaw Aguillard believed that these types of occurrences are often warnings or foreshadowing of some sort. I'm not sure what I believe, but I do know that there are far too many of these happenings in my family, things that I cannot explain with science, even though I would love to so that I would not have to worry about things that go bump, or cry, in the night.

Who could that baby have been, and why did the blanket not disappear with the baby?  I would love to hear your thoughts about this story or stories of the unexplained that have occurred in your own family.  Please leave comments below, and please don't forget to join my mailing list.  There are many more stories such as this one to come.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Christmas Hospitality

They say that every family has "colorful" people, and ours is no exception.  From cooky old men to washed up women of the night, our family has had them all. Don't get me wrong, most of our relatives are just regular people; they have their ups and downs but lead average lives with no big deviations from the norm. Life would be boring, however, if we didn't have some family members who live outside the box, and no matter how outside the box they were, Mawmaw still fed them, served them coffee on a silver tray (or had me do it) and made them feel welcome.  She raised my mother to be the same way.  They both taught me to treat everyone who came into our home with respect, no matter how crazy, drunk, annoying, or just plain nasty they happened to be.  Don't get me wrong, they couldn't wait until certain visitors got into their cars and drove away, but until they did, they treated them like they treated everyone else, with good old fashioned Southern manners and fantastic cooking.   Though I'm not nearly the perfect hostess like my mother and grandmother, their unconditional hospitality taught me to be less judgemental and more empathetic of others. Even though I don't judge them, it will still be a hoot to write about some of the hilarious things that they have done.

Though I doubt any of them will be reading my blog, especially the dead ones, I will still use initials to protect their identities.  Today I'll tell you about Cousin J, my mother's female cousin who showed up on our doorstep one Christmas Eve with a "present" Moma would never forget.

Moma was close to all of her cousins, including Cousin J.  Their families got together regularly, and Cousin J was, and still is, a kind, funny person.  Even though she and Moma were always friends as well as relatives, they lived in different towns, so they had different experiences, friends and influences.  As a result, they went in completely different directions both physically and morally.  My Mawmaw raised my mother to be a lady.  Not only was she prim and proper, she was genuinely flabbergasted by lewd behavior.  Cousin J had good parents as well, but she grew up to be a bar hopping, truck driving, love the one you are with kind of gal.  There is nothing wrong with that, but the things that she did and said sometimes shocked my rather sheltered mother beyond belief.

One Christmas Eve, Cousin J showed up on our doorstep with her daughter in tow. Her daughter was the same age as me; I think we were both nine or ten at the time.  She didn't have any gifts for her daughter, so my parents went out and bought a few things to put under the tree for her to open on Christmas morning. Moma and Daddy were by no means wealthy, but they worked hard and had big, generous hearts.

After sleeping in our immaculate guest room that night, Cousin J casually walked up to my mother, who was (surprise, surprise) cleaning before dawn, and asked her if she had anything for itching.  My mother, still in her suburban state of oblivion, innocently asked her if she "had a rash or something."  Her jaw then dropped to the you could eat off of the floor clean kitchen when Cousin J replied, "Noooooo, I have cooties!"  I don't know how my mother got through the rest of the day, but much to her credit, she never said a negative thing to Cousin J.  To this day, she still treats her the same way that she did before that Christmas.  All day long my mother cooked, cleaned and played the perfect host.  Meanwhile,  little blood vessels were breaking in her head as her anxiety and desire to disinfect grew intolerable.  Late that afternoon, Cousin J wasn't even half way out of the driveway before Moma snapped on her little yellow Playtex gloves and began to quickly yet thoroughly bleach anything and everything her cousin had touched, sat on or drank from.  Luckily, Cousin J had only used one bathroom (mine of course) while she was visiting because Moma didn't allow me to use that bathroom for weeks!

Cousin J was far from being our most most off color relative.  In the next few posts, I'll share stories about some others whose either lived on the wild side or who were not the brightest crayon in the box.  It takes a lot of colors to make a full box of Crayons, and our extended family about as colorful as a sixty-four pack.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Living Without Regrets

My Daddy,
Carroll Thibodeaux

“Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever? If so, then you know you can go your whole life collecting days, and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back.” 
― Mitch AlbomFor One More Day

My parents and my grandparents all lost way too many people they loved way too soon.  Because of their losses, they learned how important it was to treat those you love like there is no tomorrow.  Luckily for me, they raised me to do the same.  Sadly, I lost most my father and my grandparents way too soon.  The most difficult loss was the loss of my father who died when I was only twenty.  It was sudden and unexpected. There was no time to say goodbye, no time to prepare for life without him. I miss my grandparents and my father every day, but I find comfort in knowing that they knew how much I loved them.  If I didn't truly believe that they knew how much I loved them, I don't think that I could live with the regret and the grief.  The grief is far too painful on its own.

Rules that I was taught to live by:

  • Dont' assume that you have time to show those you love how much they mean to you because they can be gone in the blink of an eye.  
  • Friends are important, but your parents and grandparents are the ones who love you more than you can possibly understand.  You don't realize their impact on your life until you can't pick up the phone and call them or drive over to their house and see them.  
  • Don't ever end a conversation without saying, "I love you."
  • When your parents and grandparents get sick, take care of them and spend every minute that you can with them.  They WILL NOT always be there when you have more time for them.  Make time now.
  • Ask yourself these questions: If you never had another day with them, have you said everything you wanted to say? Have you shown them how much they mean to you?
I was anything but a perfect daughter and granddaughter.  I got good grades and I didn't get into A LOT of trouble, but I went through a rebellious stage just like most teenagers. However, I always remembered these lessons that were instilled in me from a young age.  When my grandmothers were ill and in the hospital, I would spend the night with them so that they didn't have to be alone.  I never ended a conversation with my parents or grandparents without telling them that I loved them.  I asked them questions about their childhoods and listened to their stories with genuine interest. I never let them feel like they were a burden when they asked me for my help. I spent every holiday with them, and I did not let anything stop me from spending time with them. Time is the greatest gift that we can give those we love.  When they are gone, we don't regret a single minute that we spent with them.  We only wish that we had just one more day, one more hour, one more chance to say, "I love you and you mean the world to me.  Thank you for loving me."

The love that I shared with my father and my grandparents still carries me on my dark days.  I still feel them guiding me when I feel lost and alone.  Sometimes my father guides me in very obvious ways.  The sadness that I feel when I cannot drive to my grandmother's house and just spend the day watching television with her or when my grandbaby smiles and I so want my father to see her will never go away.  However, I find great comfort in knowing that they never doubted my love while they walked this Earth and as they left it behind.  I thank God every day that I told them how much I loved them every day and, more importantly, that I showed them.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Faceless Woman

I was adopted by my parents when I was three weeks old..   They always told me that I was adopted, but the only information that we had about my birth mother was that she had given birth to me at a Catholic home for unwed mothers in Austin and that she was only sixteen years old at the time of my birth.  Even though I had amazing parents, grandparents and friends, I always felt like something was missing. There were so many unanswered questions  and just a feeling of never knowing who I truly was that often consumed my mind, even while I slept.

When I was about five years old, I started having a terrifying recurring dream.  I was out alone in the cold, dark night when I saw this big, eerie house through the fog.  Lost and all alone, I felt as If I had no choice but to go inside to  find someone to help me.  When I reached the big double doors of the ominous dwelling, I suddenly sensed that someone on the inside wanted me to open them without knocking. The doors were heavy, and when I finally pulled them open and stepped inside, they slammed shut so forcibly that I knew I would not be able to leave; I was trapped.

The inside of the house was just as creepy as the outside.  There was an expansive foyer with no furniture, lit only by the light of the moon shining in through the tall, Gothic windows.   The only thing in the foyer was a long winding staircase.  Hesitantly, I looked up at the top of the stairs and saw the silhouette of a woman.  I still get the chills when I think of her slowly descending the staircase and becoming more visible, more menacing. She wore a long blue dress that was cinched at the waist and her long black hair was pulled up in some sort of loose bun.  Then the light of the moon hit her face, and there was nothing there.  I couldn't scream; I couldn't move.  She just kept getting closer and closer until I knew that I would never escape.

After having this nightmare for months, I finally broke down and told my Mawmaw about it.  My grandmother was always very calm and sensible, so imagine my disquiet when she uncharacteristically became extremely upset, so much so that she called my mother at work.  I remember her telling my mother, mostly in French, that she was very worried and that my mother needed to do something about my nightmare right away.  She then tried to comfort me and assure me that nothing bad could happen to me because of a dream, but I knew that Mawmaw was worried.

Years later she would tell me that she felt that the dream was about my birth mother.  She confided in me that she had often feared that my birth mother would just show up one day and take me away from her. I told her that no one could ever take me away from her, but that I did want to find her someday just so that I could learn more about who I was and why she gave me up for adoption. My grandmother became very upset.  She said that she was worried that I would only be hurt by what I would find.  She told me to trust that there was a reason that God gave me to my parents and leave it at that.  Mawmaw was right.

I found my birth mother when I was eighteen and tried to have a relationship with her for years.  After countless empty promises and even being taken advantage of her financially and emotionally, I finally made the decision to cut her out of my life for good.

I am by no means saying that dreams are somehow prophetic.  Rather, I think that my grandmother had exceptional insight which was only magnified by her unflinching faith in God.  There are many other reasons that I believe she had an exceptional gift.   I will go into detail about those on another day.

I also believe that for some adoptive children, finding birth parents can be a blessing.  It ends years of wondering and can sometimes even lead to a renewed bond, especially if the adoptee has had a less than fulfilling childhood.   It can also be invaluable to know one's familial medical history.  Everyone should have the right to that information.

Luckily for me, my true family raised me with unconditional love and support which gave  me the inner strength to eventually realize that my I did not my birth mother's love or even her presence in my life to know who I was or that I was lovable. Even though I have made the decision to not allow her to hurt me anymore, I am still grateful to her for giving me life and for choosing to give me a better life than she could have given me.  Anyone who knows anything about my parents and my grandparents knows that she made the right choice.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Some Gifts Last a Lifetime

Mrs. Myrtle (photo courtesy of her daughter, Ann)

The majority of my childhood days were spent with Mawmaw.  Moma never seemed to have a vacation from her nine to five weekday job, and Daddy's oilfield job took him away for weeks at a time.  However, there were times when MawMaw was ill or, on very rare occasions, out of town for a few days.  When that happened, my mom was in a pickle!  There were VERY few people who I would stay with other than my grandmother.  Her home was my second home and she spoiled me terribly.  Why on Earth would I want to go anywhere else?

When I was about six years old, my Mawmaw had to have surgery.  It was Summertime so my mother was not sure what to do with me.  She knew I would throw a fit if I had to be away from my Mawmaw for two weeks.  Lucky for me, Mrs. Myrtle, one of my mother's dearest friends, convinced Moma that I would be just fine if she left me with her during that time.

Other than my grandmother, Mrs. Myrtle was the only one who made me things on a regular basis.  She made me beautifully crocheted blankets, dolls with big, ruffled dresses, and the cutest little crocheted Octopus.  She was so kind, so talented, and so beautiful inside and out.  She was one of those rare people who you meet and just instantly love.

When I walked into her house on that first day with my color books and frown, she wrapped her arms around me and told me that we would have so much fun that the time would fly by until Mawmaw was better. She was so right!  We cooked, we listened to music, and we watched television while she crocheted.  She made biggest deal over every thing I drew, buttered, or sang for her.  I was happy when Mawmaw was better, but I would miss spending time with Mrs. Myrtle.

Not long after that Mrs. Myrtle had a birthday and we were invited over to her house.  I told Mawmaw that I HAD to make her something because, thanks to the two of them, I already understood that gifts that you took the time and love to make were very special.  I wanted Mrs. Myrtle to know how much I loved her. My Mawmaw, bless her heart, spent all morning showing an impatient six year old how to sew by hand. She had the patience of a saint, and by the end of the day I had made Mrs. Myrtle a homemade gift.  I put all of my heart into what was the ugliest, most crooked holder for her crochet needles.   Of course, my Mawmaw told me that it was beautiful and that Mrs. Myrtle would love it. Mawmaw was right.  That night after everyone else had given her their gifts, I proudly handed her that ugly little pouch that I had made with so much love.  That sweet woman made me feel like I had given her a diamond ring.  Years later when I spent the day with her, she opened her crochet bag and showed me that she still kept her needles in that silly little makeshift bag.  How lucky I was to have known her and loved her.

Mrs. Myrtle and Mawmaw have both been gone for some time, but I still feel loved and inspired by them. They both took the time and the effort to make beautiful things just for me, and more importantly, they both made me feel like I was special.  They also inspired me to make my own homemade gifts for those people I love. Unfortunately for those people I love, I still make ugly homemade gifts.  I can't use a sewing machine to save my life, and I gave up crocheting a long time ago because I didn't have the patience to improve my skills. But I have not given up!  Still inspired by them, I'm starting to make crafts for my granddaughter.  In fact, I went to Hobby Lobby two days ago and stocked up on supplies to begin my new craft adventure.  Hopefully I'll be able to post a picture of it on my blog soon.  I want Eleni to have things that her Mimi made for her from the heart.  I want her to feel as lucky as I did when I was a little girl.  And when she makes anything for me, I will make her feel like it is the most beautiful thing anyone ever created.  Luckily for her, her mother, my daughter Brittany, is very creative and talented.  I don't know where she gets her artistic talents, certainly not from her parents.  Perhaps it was because Mrs. Myrtle was with me when I was in labor with Brittany and God blessed me by allowing some part of that lovely woman to pass on to my child.  I like to think so anyway.

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Funny Friday Flashback

My MawMaw
My Mawmaw was one of the funniest people I have ever known.  Whether her funny moments were intentional or not, she knew how to laugh at herself which made her even more lovable.  As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that her ability to laugh at herself and life in general got her through pretty miserable situations.  I will tell you about some of the terrible hardships that she faced another day.  Today is a day to remember a few of the things that she did or said that still make me smile all of these years later.

According to my mother, my grandmother was quite entertaining when her children had sleep overs.  Mom loves to tell the story about how Mawmaw had to hide a black eye for a week because she was too embarrassed to tell people that she got it when she was playing hide and go seek with a bunch of kids in the dark and ran smack dab into the open closet door.  I know she would have laughed her butt off at me when, doing the same thing, I got stuck on top of the refrigerator and had to yell for help.  I told you I was a lot like Mawmaw!

Another memory that always makes me smile is the great pants adventure.  My grandmother NEVER wore pants. She wore her homemade dresses when she stayed home or visited friends, and she wore her store bought dresses to church and other public places.  It didn't matter if it was twenty degrees outside; she would just put on her stockings and repeat over and over again, "Bon Dieu, il fait froid."  ("Good Lord, it's cold!)  I remember one time when she made an exception.  My family spent many weekends at "The Old Place," the piece of farmland about twenty miles out of town where my PawPaw grew up (and where I live now). My parents bought a mobile home and moved it out here so that everyone, friends and family, could spend family weekends barbecuing, playing, and growing our own vegetables. Mawmaw had terrible varicose veins, but she was determined to help in the ever growing garden. Therefore, my mother had took her to Sears one day and told her that she had to buy at least one pair of pants to protect her legs from the cold and other hazards if she wanted to continue to help them with the garden. After protesting for a while, she finally agreed.   The next Saturday we were all outside when out comes Mawmaw in her new pants, which she had slipped on under her old dress.   Mom never told her she had to wear pants again.

The last story of the day is my favorite.  My Mawmaw was a generous, sweet woman who was determined to help out wherever she happened to be.  At least one weekend of the month, my Pawpaw would take off for the weekend to "play cards" for two days.  Mawmaw did not stay home alone, so she would come to our house.  I loved those weekends because she would stay up late with me to watch television and do just about anything else that I asked her to do.  Most of the time Daddy was off working in the oilfield when she would come over for the weekend, but when he was home he was a bit less thrilled about her overnight stays.  He loved my Mawmaw to death, but she never let him sleep past 4:30 a.m.  By that time of morning, she was already in the kitchen starting lunch or just putting my Mom's pots and pans where she thought that they should have been to begin with.  Being the sweetheart he was, he never told her anything about the early morning clanging of pots and slamming of cabinet doors.  He would complain to moma, but by the time he got to the kitchen he couldn't help but grin because, without fail, Mawmaw would just look at him and ask as sweetly as possible, "Pourquoi vous lever si tôt?" (Why you up so early?)

A Few Funny Tidbits about Mawmaw:

-She loved to fill out the crossword puzzle in the back of the TV Guide. How did she do it?  She would use the answer key in the following week's issue and simply copy the answers.
-She believed that moth balls were necessary to keep away all things creepy crawly.  As she grew older, she just kept throwing more and more moth balls into closets, drawers, etc.   When she passed away in 1996, I took some of her favorite gowns and other belongings and stored them in one of her suitcases.  To this day when I open it, the scent of moth balls takes me back to Mawmaw's house.
-She and my PawPaw had a love/ hate relationship.  They argued so much that I think it became their way of showing affection.  He loved to complain that she fried her chicken so long that it damn near broke his teeth to eat it.  Therefore, when she was really mad at him, she would leave HIS chicken in the grease just long enough to make sure he damn near needed new dentures by the time he finished eating it. He never got home until after we had eaten.  When he complained about his chicken yet again, she would just tell him to hush because no one else had complained about it.  Of course, he didn't know that OUR chicken was taken out of the grease about ten minutes before his chicken.  You could hear him biting into that chicken from across the house.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cleanliness is Next to...You Guessed It!!

On all weekdays before I began kindergarten and on all school breaks thereafter, my mother would drop me off at my grandmother’s house on her way to her eight to five job. My grandmother had never learned to drive and my grandfather was never home before at least three o’clock, so we were alone most of the time. She had a strict schedule that she had developed which included heavy daily cleaning, cooking the meal for the day, praying her rosary, watching her “stories,” and teaching me how to be a little lady. She always allowed plenty of time to play, but there was plenty of time for little lady lessons as well.

There are so many examples of ways that my grandmother taught me to be kind, gentle, and nurturing. We prayed, we rocked, she sang, we cleaned, and we played. She taught me how to dress my dolls like proper young ladies, serve coffee to guests and speak French, the only language that she and my grandfather spoke ninety percent of the time. Looking back, if I had to choose one single example of a lesson she taught me, it is undoubtedly the sweetest, and the funniest lesson of all.

I have to begin this story by telling you that my grandmother was obsessed with cleanliness. Nevertheless, she did acquiesce to my fondness for making mud pies from time to time, especially if she had to work in her garden. Though the dirt on face and homemade dresses that she had lovingly made for me must have driven her insane, she never complained, nor did I even dare to resist her ordering me straight into the bathtub as soon as we went back into the house. I must have been the cleanest kid in Louisiana! (My skin is still dry to this day.) My mother laughs to this day when she says, "Sometimes I would get back from work and you had already had three baths."   “Ladies are always clean,”  Mawmaw would say as she powdered me from head to toe and put on my second or third dress of the day. She would then sing to me, brush my hair and make me brush my teeth- again!

Now that I am a grandmother, I find myself becoming more and more like Mawmaw. I let Eleni get dirty, but I am quick to clean her up. She has a little pink tub in my bathroom and we use it often, Of course, that is after I let her eat graham crackers and make a total mess. When she goes home, I clean, clean, clean. Until then, we play, play, eat, bathe. When I rock her to sleep, I sing to her. She is so used to it that if I stop signing, she pulls out her pacifier and hums until I start signing again. As she grows older, we will play with tea sets, give her dolls baths and, yes, make mud pies. I will even teach her some French songs that my grandmother taught me. I guess I should also buy some curlers for when she gets bored. God help me! As I do these things I realize just how much my Mawmaw loved me because I feel that love for Eleni. In that way, Mawmaw lives on, and I realize that she has been with me all along.

Mawmaw's Cleaning Tips: (Many of which I still need to employ!)

-Clean something in your house every day and it will never get dirty.

-You can never have too many dish towels.

-Begin your day by cleaning; get it over with. Plus, you rest better in a clean house.

-Rinse the bathtub after every use.

-Always fix your beds in case company comes over.

-Teach your children and grandchildren to clean at an early age.

-Don't keep stuff you don't need. She had virtually no closet space, but nothing was ever, ever out of place.

-Laundry hung out in the sun smells and feels better, plus it saves electricity. I could hang laundry on the line by the time I was five! Maybe that is why I keep bugging my husband to make a clothesline for me in our backyard. I miss the smell and feel of sheets dried out in the sun.

-Always have a few items of clothing washed and wrinkle free because you want to be ready to go; you never know when you will need them. Stuff happens when you least expect it to happen. Be ready and be clean.

-Now I need to go clean my house because if she saw it this minute she would fuss me for sure!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Money Doesn't Equal Love

This precious little girl is my first grandchild, My Sunshine, Eleni Renee. My daughter named her after my Mawmaw, Elena.  Being Eleni's Mimi is such a joy. Thanks to my daughter and son-in-law, I was blessed to be there when she drew her first breath.  Thanks to God, she lives across the field from me and I can see her every day.  From day one I have called her My Sunshine because no matter how rough things get, and they do get rough, she comes into the room and I cannot help but feel joy.

Three years ago I had to quit my job because of serious health problems.  Since then my husband and I have struggled, to say the least.  It is difficult not being able to help my children financially.  I often feel guilty for getting sick.  It is also difficult not to be able to buy little Eleni all of the things that I want to buy for her.  I see dolls and cute little outfits, and I just want her to have them.  Then I think of my Mawmaw.

My grandmother didn't have a lot of money, but I never seemed to notice.  She gave me so much of her time and her love that material objects just didn't matter.  I knew that she could not afford much, so when she did give me something, anything, I treasured it.  Year after year, I watched her save her coins in a bag that she hid in her bureau.  When Christmas Time came around, everyone would get something.  She couldn't drive, so she would give my mother the money that she had set aside for me and tell her to buy me something that I wanted.  When we went over to her house on Christmas Eve to open gifts, I was happy with whatever she bought for me, but I was even more happy to just be there with her.  Besides that, her food, especially her cake, was enough to make me happy!  All of these years later, I can still taste her homemade chocolate pecan cake.  She made the simplest things so damn special!  I will find that recipe and post it here before the Holidays.

Like my grandmother, I can't give Eleni a lot of material possessions, but I can show her every day how much I love her.  I sometimes have to stop myself from kissing on that child so she can breathe!  Like my grandmother did for me, I will bake her cookies, make her pancakes, stay up late and watch television with her, and most of all, love her to pieces.  I could not for the life of me tell you about any presents that I opened at my Mawmaw's house, but I can still hear the French songs that she sang to me, I can still feel the prickly curlers that she let me put into her hair when I was bored, and I can still feel the warmth of every time she held me when I was sad.  The gifts that she gave me were priceless; they showed me in countless ways that she loved me beyond anything I could understand until I held Eleni.

Mawmaw's Money Lessons:

- She never charged anything.  She saved until she could buy it with cash.
-She never spent change, particularly dimes (her favorite).  They went into her little bag so that when Christmas came around, she just had to start wrapping coins.
-She made a lot of her own clothes and saved her "good clothes" for special occasions.  One of my biggest regrets is that I never asked her to teach me to sew.
-She cooked (or reheated leftovers) every day.  Once she splurged and took the whole family out to eat at Ryan's, the buffet restaurant.  When the waitress came over and asked her if she wanted a plate for the potato bar, she made us all laugh our asses off when she looked at her like she was crazy and asked in her thick cajun accent, "Is that extra?"   She was frugal, but always generous.  When someone gives you something and you know that they had to sacrifice and save for it, it is so much more meaningful.  I'm sure she would have loved to have bought new dresses or new shoes more often, but instead she spent her rolled up dimes on her family.  That's love!
-Finally, she made a grocery list and did not get ANYTHING that was not on that list.  When I started driving, she sent me to the grocery store with her list.  One time I bought her something that wasn't on the list and she actually made me bring it back to the store.  Lesson learned.  Now I get it, Mawmaw.