Scraps from Their Pasts

For Christmas I put together scrapbooks of their early years for our two children. The idea wasn’t an original one. Studly Doright’s mom, Saint Helen, had given Studly and his four siblings scrapbooks several years ago as Christmas gifts and for him at least, it remains one of his all-time favorite gifts.

I’m not a very crafts minded person, but in preparation for assembling these scrapbooks I made multiple trips to Michael’s (for non-Americans, that’s THE place to go for creative types) in order to purchase the books and to find appropriate decorative touches for each page. I bought tons of stuff and ended up using only a fraction of it. Project ideas, anyone.

I’m so awful at this type of thing that I actually started all this at the beginning of 2016 and had planned on presenting them with their gifts at Christmas that year, but I got bogged down in the minutiae, and it took me almost two years to complete the task. I’m still not sure how my mother-in-law put together five such books without going crazy, because I’m fairly certain some of my sanity was lost in the process.

I’d looked forward to presenting the books to my kids in person when we were all in Nashville that Christmas, but since I was an entire year behind, and we weren’t getting to see them for the holidays this year, I had to put them in the mail.

Now, I’d worked my butt off cropping photos and arranging them with curlicues and doodads. I’d spent countless hours searching through old school pictures and awards. The thought of trusting these works of heart to the mail almost drove me crazy(er). So, before I boxed them up for shipping to Dallas, Texas, where our son lives and to Port Byron, Illinois, where our daughter resides, I documented each and every page with the help of my trusty iPhone camera.

I’ll spare you from viewing all of the pages (you’re welcome). While I wasn’t there when they opened the books they both assured me they’d enjoyed their trips down memory lane. I’m so glad I spent the time creating these, but even more glad that I had only two children.

Peace, people.

Clone?

One of the upsides to the social media site, Facebook, is the way it reminds of us photos and events we might have otherwise forgotten. This morning the following photo popped up in my Facebook memories:

That’s Studly and me with two of our grandchildren, Garrett and McKayla, from nine years ago. At first glance I thought the woman pictured was my mom. Then it dawned on me, that my mother died before ever meeting any of her great grandchildren.

Here’s a photo of Mom with our daughter, Ashley, who is the mother of the children pictured above. I think maybe Ashley was four in this photo.

Again, here’s the photo of me:

Holy cow. People have told me how much I look like mom, but until now I don’t think I fully realized it. Cloning. It’s real and apparently has been since the 1950’s.

Peace, people. (Miss you Mommy)

Christmas Recap

Doright Manor was too quiet this Christmas. Studly Doright and I had gotten together with our kids and grandchildren in Texas at Thanksgiving, so we had to suck it up and spend Christmas without them. I’m going to be honest and tell you, Christmas for just us two isn’t much fun.

We tried to be as festive as possible. We took in a movie on Christmas Eve and then drove around Tallahassee to view the holiday lights, returning home to open gifts from each other. We’d agreed neither of us needed any big gifts this year, so I bought Studly books (he really isn’t a reader, but I always hold out hope), and T-shirts featuring vintage motorcycle brands.

He bought me Star Wars stuff: a Resistance leader’s jacket, a BB-8 handbag, and several pieces of jewelry in the shapes of light sabers and droids. So if anyone in Tallahassee sees a late middle aged woman sporting any of the aforementioned gear, you can be fairly certain it’s me. Say hello and we’ll go find some First Order thugs to put in their place before heading for coffee.

Our dinner on Christmas Day was outstanding, even if I do say so myself. I ran Studly out of the house to work in his shop, opened a bottle of Chardonnay, and made a meal for the ages. I’m a much better cook when fueled by wine, and that’s a fact. Studly went back for seconds and thirds which I took as the highest compliment. And the pecan pie, oh my word! It was one of the best ever. Studly said I was going to have to stop telling people what an awful cook I am.

We went to another movie after dinner, getting home much later than is our norm (10 p.m! Absolutely decadent!) and then spent a quiet post-Christmas Tuesday. I had planned and executed the perfect turkey and cheddar sandwich on soft white bread for dinner, while Studly warmed up the leftover turkey and dressing for a repeat of Christmas Day’s meal.

So, while nothing exciting happened, and we missed being with our children, we had a pleasant holiday. I’m writing this on Tuesday evening and thinking I might have to have one more piece of pecan pie. Wednesday’s post most likely will deal with how none of my pants will button. Exciting stuff. Stay tuned.

Peace, people!

Birthday Boy

Happy 15th birthday to our eldest grandson, Garrett. I remember the day you were born like it was yesterday. We paced the halls and worried the hospital staff with endless questions. It seemed like you’d never arrive, and once you did, our lives were forever changed.

You’ve enriched our family in so many ways that I’ve lost count, and you’re the only kid I know who can consistently spell better than I can. Love you more today than the day before.

I can’t wait to see what your future holds.

Christmas Shopping Angst

Every January I pledge to begin my Christmas shopping in August, yet every December finds me scrambling to buy the perfect gifts for my grandchildren. I’m such a loser.

We’ve done the “something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read” method of buying Christmas gifts for the grandchildren for the past few years, but I’ll be the first to admit that this system has its drawbacks.

For one thing, I’m woefully out of touch with the current styles. I’m happy wearing flip flops and capris every day. Why shouldn’t the grandkids be satisfied with the same attire? Sure, it’s 32° in Illinois, where three of the kids live, but maybe they should toughen up a bit.

And what if the line between a want and a need is blurry? Maybe they WANT new shoes, but they also NEED them. Then what?

I’ve already bought each of the five grands two books each whether they want them or not. I like books, so by golly, they’re getting books.

Two of the girls are easy to buy for. One is into American Girl dolls while the other likes Disney princesses. The other three kids, though, are nearly impossible to shop for. They don’t want clothes or toys. I’m thinking lumps of coal might be an option.

I’ve texted their parents, a.k.a. my children, to press the kids into declaring their wants and/or needs. Hopefully they’ll torture the kids into coming up with some affordable ideas. I know one of them wants a horse, but that’s not happening. Can’t we all just get along?

Peace, people.

Saving the World

We spent Thanksgiving with Studly Doright’s family in Hereford, Texas. Studly’s mom, Saint Helen, lives on the outskirts of town in a pleasant home with a generously sized backyard. The yard is decorated with a variety of cute gnomes and small plaster animals that have always delighted her great grandchildren.

Our youngest granddaughter, Harper, invited me into her world of make believe in this backyard paradise, telling me that a bad villain had taken over the world and turned all the real gnomes and animals into statues. Only by defeating this villain could we bring the statues back to life.

Five-year-old Harper launched an impressive attack on the villain using a mix of martial arts and boxing, admonishing me to stay out of the fight unless things looked really dark. At one point she staggered back and urged me to enter the fray.

I must say I was something of a whirling dervish, kicking and clawing at this imaginary bad guy. I threw in a few impressive head butts and Harper said, “Nana, you can stop. You won several minutes ago.”

“Harper!” I exclaimed. “We did it! We saved the world!”

In her most serious, matter of fact voice, Harper replied, “Of course we did.”

We then went around the yard waking up all of the animals and watching them reanimate.

“They’re all alive now,” she smiled. “Well, except this one. He’s still headless.”

I guess we didn’t save everyone, but we came so close.

Peace, people.

You Might Be Studly Doright If….

Studly Doright (aka David Noyes) seemed to enjoy his birthday celebration on Thursday. After an outstanding Thanksgiving feast orchestrated by his mother and sisters, we settled in to fete Studly as he prepares to enter his sixth decade on earth.

First our son, Jason, emceed a game show pitting our five grandchildren against Studly’s four siblings in a quest to see which group knew more about Studly. I’m not sure which team emerged as the winner, but we all got a kick out of the questions and accompanying vintage family photos that served as clues.

(Above, our two oldest grandkids, Garrett and Dominique, discuss their team’s answer.)

Our daughter, Ashley, led us in an activity called, “You might be David Noyes,” in which participants had an opportunity to share humorous recollections about the guest of honor in a format similar to Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck.”

The contributed memories had everyone in stitches. I can’t remember many of them; I was laughing too hard. One I shared was, “If you ever tried to claim gravy is a liquid to justify eating it while prepping for a colonoscopy, you might be David Noyes.”

The grandkids got a kick out of these revelations about their Poppa.

(Above, our youngest grandchild, Harper, listens as her Poppa explains one of the many shared stories. She might have been angling for a piece of the birthday cake, as well.)

Afterwards, Studly read cards from family and friends. He got a little emotional at times, declaring this was his best birthday ever.

Thanks to everyone who made it so special.

Peace, people.

Lessons in Holding

I realize the photo is grainy. It’s a screenshot taken during a FaceTime chat with my daughter and her kiddos on Saturday morning.

Five-year-old Harper, the one being held, climbed into her big brother, Garrett’s arms, where she began wriggling around like someone with ants in their pants as Garrett tried his best to keep from dropping her.

“Garrett,” Harper said. “You really need to take lessons in how to hold people.” We all lost it.

Couldn’t we all use lessons in holding? Not too tightly, but in a way that makes others feel secure. Sign me up!

Can’t wait to see these guys in person. Shhhh! Studly has no idea we’ll see them on Wednesday!

Chicago, Here I Come!

I’m flying to Chicago out of Panama City Beach on Friday afternoon. Once in the Windy City I’ll meet up with my daughter and our middle granddaughter for a weekend of shopping, dining, and Les Misérables-ing.

In preparation for the trip I’ve been listening to the Les Misérables soundtrack, because one never knows when they’ll need someone to fill in for a cast member. I probably don’t look much like Jean Valjean, but I could sing his part in a pinch. And Cosette’s role? I’m ready to don her dress and belt out her lyrics. Just in case.

My tastebuds are already anticipating a Chicago-style pizza, as I recall the ghosts of pizzas past. There’s simply nothing better than a deep dish pepperoni. Mmmmm. Can you smell it? I can. Now all I have to do is convince my daughter and her daughter that we need to head downtown for dinner Friday night!

Of course, Friday will be my daughter’s thirty-somethingth birthday. I’ll let her choose dinner on Friday, but Saturday is pizza for sure. Am I excited? Duh!!! And the best part? Getting to see my family! I’m packed and ready. Let the party begin.

How Do You Like Your Eggs

While Studly Doright played golf on Saturday morning I watched the 1936 film, “The Plainsman,” starring Gary Cooper as Wild Bill Hickok and Jean Arthur as Calamity Jane. The old movie wouldn’t be deemed politically correct nowadays with its portrayal of Native Americans as aggressive savages and women as nothing more than flies in the ointment of men’s lives, but it wasn’t without humor.

In one scene Gary Cooper asked another cowboy how he liked his eggs. “Well,” said the man. “I like them just fine.”

I couldn’t help but giggle. Studly walked in about that time and asked me what was so funny. He’s an aficionado of good one liners, so he got a chuckle out of the egg quip, as well. I then recalled the first time anyone asked me how I liked my eggs.

I’d gone with my grandparents to Houston to see the oldest of their three children, my Uncle Jack. I might’ve been five, and I adored Uncle Jack. He lovingly called me a little jackass–which I, in turn, took to calling others, much to my parents’ chagrin.

On one morning of this trip Uncle Jack treated us to breakfast at an International House of Pancakes. I’d never been to one before, and it was the most wonderful place I’d ever seen. The variety of pancakes on the menu was staggering. I took my time choosing just the right item. As I recall I ordered a combo that featured a pancake festooned with strawberries and whipped cream, along with bacon and eggs.

When the waitress took my order she asked, “How do you like your eggs.”

In my sweetest five year old voice I responded, “Cooked, please.”

Everyone, my uncle, my grandparents, even the waitress, laughed. My Nanny quickly told the waitress that I liked my eggs over easy, but I was mortified. I didn’t order eggs any way other than scrambled for many years after. I was a sensitive kid, you know.

Now, many years later I can marvel at how naive I was. How do I like my eggs? Well, I like them just fine.

Peace, people!