Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A lot has changed.

So this post was originally scheduled for last Wednesday.  But I never finished it.  A lot has changed these past few days.
Well, last week this was easy.  Turkey and dressing.  Actually, I pass on the turkey and go straight to the dressing and cranberry sauce.  Yes, please.  And all the vegetables.  But for the past several days, I've had sandwiches.  Not from leftovers.  Just sandwiches.  Lunch today, lunch and supper yesterday and the day before that and even the day before that.  I actually love me a good sandwich.

But I do have a couple of favorites.  Last week my bestie and I had a girls' day out and ate lunch at the Neiman Marcus Cafe.  All of it was so delicious and so girly.  But my absolute favorite was the ginger peach iced tea.  I mean, I think I drank six glasses and then took one to-go!  I don't think they serve this at all of their locations, just the one at Lenox in the ATL.  Because, you know, Georgia being the peach state and all.  But, seriously, I have to find me a recipe for that.  I love a good glass of sweet tea, but this was just over the top!

I had a little crop of fall tomatoes so I made a batch of salsa with them.  I can just eat all the Mexican food.  But then we went to Georgia.  I have a friend there who is from Nicaragua.  Her husband is from Colombia.  They've been in the states 20 years now.  Let me just tell you.  Elisa makes THE BEST salsa.  Hands down.  She loves to make big ole batches for her friends.  So when we went to church last week, guess what she gave me?!  Y'all.  This picture says it all.
Her salsa is in the big mama jar on the left.  Mine is on the right.  Now look.  I have to admit I was impressed.  I mean, mine looks like hers!  But let me tell you something.  It definitely does not taste like hers!  The only reason there is still salsa in this jar is because once we got home from Georgia, I turned around and went right back.  But this jar of salsa is going down the next few days!

Like I said, a lot has changed.  Last Monday, all of the Connell girl cousins and our aunts got together for lunch and a playdate.  I usually see Jenn and Denise at least once or twice a year, but I haven't seen Ashley in a couple of years, and even then it was at Brian's wedding so we really didn't get to hang out.

We have 14 children amongst the four of us.  Yes, 14!  The kids had a blast, and I so enjoyed spending time and catching up with my cousins.

And then Monday yesterday, we were all together again.  But this time we were joined by the boy cousins.
I honestly don't remember the last time all eight of us were together, but I think it was perhaps Christmas 2008 or 2009.  Jean said it so well yesterday so I'm just going to steal what she said.  Because I can't say it any better.

It's been years since we were all together.  These are my people.  They were my neighbors, my playmates, my entertainment, my friends.  Growing up in rural Pike County meant all you had was your family.  I'm thankful to have gotten to spend a little time with them the last two days as we laid our common bond, our Grandmother, the Matriarch of our family, to rest.  The memories I have with these people will last a lifetime.

So, yes, there has been lots of reminiscing these past few days, lots of old photographs unearthed, old newspaper clippings combed through, old cards read and re-read.  I pulled out all of Mama's old photo albums and went through each one page by page, some of them twice.  I walked through Grandmother's old, rambling farmhouse for probably the last time.  The memories are thick in that place.  One day soon, I will put pen to those memories.  But not today, not right now.

Besides that, I've been thinking a lot about this little girl.  Recognize her?  She has a birthday coming up this Sunday.  Hannah Kate will be nine years old.

I'm so so very glad it's "that time of year."  It's my favorite time of year, and I love everything about it . . . the lights, the carols, the stockings, the ornaments, the trees, the decorations, the parties, the traditions, the Savior.  This holiday season has been marred a bit by sadness.  But I couldn't help but think today how much Grandmother loved this time of year, too, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  And, so, maybe it's just fitting that it would all happen this way and during this time.  

When I opened the door this afternoon and walked in my house, the smell nearly took my breath away.  We had just enough time to get our Christmas tree before I hopped on a plane back to Georgia.  It's a Frasier fir this year.  And I'd been burning one of my Christmas-y candles before I left, too.  The smell of that tree and the candle made me want to come inside and never walk back out again.  I love it!

I stayed up late Friday night to put lights on my tree.  But that's all I had time for.  Just lights.  I don't remember how many strands I used, but it was either nine or ten.  Seth told me last night on the phone that the top half was out.  It was more like 3/4 of the lights were out!  So that was the first thing I did when I got home.  I fixed all but one strand of lights.  Even though there's a little dark spot, I love what will be my view for the next month.

I'm just loving that it's Christmas time!

Well, there was Thanksgiving in Georgia and lots of time with my family and friends.  We were there for a week and then traveled back on Thanksgiving day.  I flew out Saturday night and just got back today.  The children stayed with their Paw and Maw the past couple of days because Seth is in Wyoming this week.  He walked out to a blanket of snow covering his truck and the parking lot this morning.  It was absolutely gorgeous!  He's not even enjoying it.  And as for me, I'm a little jelly!

The children are busy wrapping up this first semester of school and getting ready for Celebratio in a couple of weeks.

We had parent observation week at dance a couple of weeks ago.

We packed our shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  We can't wait to find out where our boxes go!  I wish I would've kept up with our previous years a little better.  I can't find anything prior to 2013, but that year our boxes went to Honduras and Peru.  In 2014 they went to Togo.  And last year they went to the Philippines, Democratic Republic of Congo and a "hard to reach area."  

And, of course, we've been decorating for Christmas.

Well, a week sure does change things.  When I was working on my original post, I was dreading "the call."  I knew it wasn't going to be long.  It was only a matter of days.  It could've even been only a matter of minutes.  And no matter how long you've been preparing for this day, no matter that it is for the very good and very best, it still stinks.  It's still sad.  I still grieve.  That call came early Saturday morning.  And then I dreaded getting on that plane because of the reason why.  I dreaded Sunday afternoon.  I dreaded Monday afternoon at 2:00.  And I dreaded getting back on that plane by myself this morning.  

But I sure did love seeing my babies today, and I can't wait until that moment Friday afternoon when Seth finally walks through that door.  Truly I have so much to look forward to!

Obviously I still need to fix that last strand of lights.  And we still have to get the decorations on the tree.  We haven't decorated the trees in the kids' rooms either so we'll be doing that over the next couple of days or so.

Hannah Kate had to do a little genealogy project a couple of weeks ago.  I decided then and there to do a little research because we had a time tracing down parts of my dad's family.  It's funny.  Grandmother LOVED this kind of stuff.  She's the one who has all the answers.  But she couldn't give them to us.  Even before this past weekend, I decided to make this my new project.  Last week I visited two of the cemeteries where my family members are buried and took pictures of the headstones and made notes in my notebook.  I have a lot of work to do, but it was a start.  I'm sure it's going to take awhile though.  I have a lot of digging to do.

I'm a little behind on preparations for this year's Christmas musical at church so that's another big project right now.

Christmas!  I'm most excited about celebrating another season of Advent with the children.  Our first day will be Thursday, and I can't wait!  I bought hot chocolate and marshmallows today, and they have new pajamas.  So tomorrow night they are going to open their new Christmas ornaments for this year (Mimi gets each of them a new ornament every year) as we enter this season of expectation.  As we've done the past couple of years, we'll be using Ann Voskamp's book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.  It doesn't matter that this is our third year.  It gets better and better each time!  I'm telling you, if you don't have this, it's definitely a MUST HAVE for your children and your family!

I'm excited about our other little family Christmas traditions, too.  I mean, I love it all!

Mason and I finished The Hobbit.  Again, it's another classic I can say I'm glad I read.  He enjoyed it, I think, but probably only because of the movies.  I read Sarah's Key.  This was a very heavy book.  But I've recently been so intrigued by historical fiction, and this was no exception.  I'm almost finished with The Magnolia Story, Chip and Joanna Gaines' (Fixer Upper) book.  And I have to admit.  I'm enjoying every second of it!  I love memoirs, and I'm definitely loving this one.  I'm not sure what's next on my reading list.

And bring on the Christmas movies!  The kids watched Home Alone before bed tonight.  That's one of our favorites.  And I think I need to watch the Hallmark Christmas movies, too.  You know, the totally cheesy ones with the totally predictable endings.  As soon as I'm done with this, I'm going to watch the Fixer Upper episode I DVRed earlier.

I broke out my Christmas music today.  My current favorites are Christ Tomlin's Adore, Lauren Dangle's Behold, Michael Buble's Christmas (I mean, how can you not?!), Josh Groban's Noel and Andrea Bocelli's My Christmas (which I can't listen to while the kids are around because, oh, the howling that goes on!).

We have a couple of birthdays to celebrate!  And I'm hoping to sneak in a Christmas musical, too, but we'll see.

I think we already covered that.  But, if not, CHRISTMAS!

I really don't know how much more "new" you can get after just having buried your Grandmother.  It's been a very, very long time since I grieved the loss of a close loved one.  It was 1998 to be exact.  So, yes, there is a lot of "new" right now.     

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