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Teaching A Kid To Fish

We live in Louisiana which is known as "The Sportsman's Paradise".  The weather here is always either so mild during the winter or hot the rest of the year that people can enjoy the outdoors pretty much all year long.  I, along with most folks here, grew up in a family that hunted and fished.  And trust me, it wasn't just for sport.  My grandfather provided food for his family during The Great Depression by fishing and hunting.  And even after that period of time was over, he worked as a commercial fisherman, providing for his family.  But, traditions run deep here in the south and like I said, most people hunt and fish and eat it!  So for us, teaching our children and grandchildren how to do these things in a safe manner is so important.  Not only to have a fun outdoor activity for life but also to acquire  some good, fresh food.

Hubby took Parker Ann fishing when she was just a wee little thing and she immediately loved it, continuing to fish with her daddy whenever she could.  Beckett was also taken fishing by Poppi at a very young age but Holli, however, had never been fishing.  She saw videos of Beckett and Poppi fishing and kept saying that she wanted him to take her when she came to visit.  Well, that day came this past summer and all 3 of the older Grands made the trip!

A friend of ours has a dock at his house, just down the road so we loaded up the fishing poles, bait and the kiddos.  OK, and their parent too; everyone wants to go when you mention fishing!  Excitement was in the air as the little ones ran down to the dock to impatiently wait for their poles to be baited.  My friend has some pieces of wood in the dock that can be lifted up and a fishing line just dropped in.  The kids were marking their place and anxiously awaiting their pole.

                                                   Everyone wanted their line baited first!
Parker Ann is an old pro by now.  This beautiful little freckled-face girl has ended up liking not
only fishing but also catching frogs!
                                     Holli got her wish...She got to fish for the very first time!
                                                And everybody wants Poppi to help them.
                                          It's also really important to show off your catch!

The excitement, chaos but most of all the smiles.  In the end that's what makes it worthwhile.  That and making memories with our family.  Just think about how much time is wasted on electronics and  sitting around watching television.  Why get so busy and caught up in life that you don't have the time or energy to get outdoors and make fabulous memories with your children and grandchildren while teaching them a skill they will use for life.  Just passing it on to the next generation...
“You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.” (Chinese proverb.)

Lila Kate Turns 2!

It's tough having a birthday in December.  MY BIG FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY has 3.  It's especially tough if your birthday falls on Christmas Eve which one of ours does.  Lila Kate is our "Christmas Eve Baby".  And because of that, so far she has celebrated her birthday in mid-December each year.  And without a Christmas theme I might add.  This year was no different as we celebrated her second birthday (a little early) with a Peppa Pig party.

Lila Kate is our sassy little curly haired girl who marches to the beat of her own drum.  And that's what I love so much about her!  Only family was invited to this party and some were out of town.  But the thing about such a large family is that there will still always be plenty of people in attendance.
This year it was the boy cousins who were in attendance and when I got ready to snap a picture Beckett asked, "Can I be in the picture too?"  Of course you can, sweet boy!
And Lila Kate loves playing with Grayson.  He's not quite a year old yet but he's already won all the girls' hearts over.  Oh, and notice what a cute little Peppa Pig tutu dress Lila Kate is wearing.  Notice later that she makes a wardrobe change halfway through the party.
I love this photo.  You see, it has a very sweet story behind it.  That box is filled with items that are Parker Ann's.  She found some of her favorite things and put them in a box to give Lila Kate for her birthday.  If you know children then you know that sharing is difficult.  You really have to love somebody to give them your stuff.  And also notice that Beckett is holding something.  It is a page of stickers that came out of the box.  When he asked if he could have them, they said yes.  Precious moments...
Here it is...The wardrobe change!  All of the girls are really into wearing costumes these days and whenever Lila Kate opened this one, she immediately took her Peppa dress off and donned it.  I loved watching her open her presents too.  She's one of those kids who takes her time and looks at everything she opens and wants to spend a little time with each present before moving on to the next one.  Hey, you only get a birthday once a year...why not make it last?
                                            And then it was time to sing "Happy Birthday".

                                           What a sweet, sweet big 2 year old we have now.

Someone asked me once how in the world did I split my time to give each grandchild enough attention.  Well, coming from a YaYa who had four children of her own I answered there's always room on YaYa's lap.  Each child knows that they have a special part of my heart.  And I love the fact that God made each of us so individually unique.  They all have different personalities and I bask in the joy of that.  I love spunky and lively and cuddly and loud and quite.  I love it all!

When Christmas Seemed to Have Slipped Away...

As I sit here listening to a rainstorm this morning I realize that Christmas has already slipped away and another year has welcomed us in.  This year Christmas just didn't seem the same for me.  Oh, the entire family was here, the Christmas tree was lit up and the little ones ran around anxiously awaiting the arrival of the big man in the red suit.  But for me, this year was different.

I suppose I can blame part of my woes on being sick for almost the entire holiday season.  Beginning in November I was struck with an awful respiratory infection that hung around for about a month.  I took so many medications that eventually I had some pretty serious side effects from them but I managed to push through.  I also had a bone graft done in preparation for a dental implant and on top of that I got the stomach flu.  Yep...I think that alone was plenty to keep me from feeling very festive.  And is a somewhat lame excuse to ignoring the blog for quite a while.  I did, however, find time while stuck inside to knit quite a bit and do some watercoloring.  Enough that some folks got handmade gifts from me this year, which hasn't happened in quite a while.

Even with all of the sickness that I experienced this year, I still managed to get the decorations up, attended the church Christmas musical and finish my shopping early (Thank you, Internet shopping!).  I was feeling like things were going to be OK until my mother, who is 88 years old, began having some health issues.  The week before Christmas found us in the doctor's office having some tests on her foot which appeared to have a bone infection.  She was in terrible pain and on the 23rd (the same day that Caitlin and her crew arrived), we were referred to a surgeon about the condition, which at this point looked pretty bleak.

Knowing that we would not be able to get in to see the surgeon until after Christmas, we made our plans for the holiday.  My sister would take my mother to celebrate with her kids and grandkids on the 23rd and I would celebrate with her on Christmas Day with my children and grandchildren.  It was all set; that was the plan.  Well, you know how plans go sometimes.  Often times they do not go as we plan.  And that is exactly what happened this year.

My entire family was able to attend Christmas Eve church service with me and I felt ahead of the game for the moment.  I had made my dressing and several other items for Christmas lunch at my house.  All that was left to do was leave cookies and milk by the fireplace for Santa and fill the stockings.

Christmas morning was exciting as Caitlin's kids woke up and began to see what Santa had left under the tree.  We got text messages and face time from the others across town, drove around the corner to see what David's boy had gotten.  The day actually started out pretty good.  I told my mother to expect a call from me around 10:30 to awake her and someone would come pick her up around noon;  She was excited to see all of the little kids.

I rang her only to find that she was in terrible pain with her foot and could not get out of the bed.  She would not be able to come out for Christmas Day and hospice would have to be called to start her on a stronger pain medication.

My mother's condition did not improve and the Monday following Christmas she was hospitalized.  On Tuesday she was transported to the emergency room of another hospital and admitted into ICU.  For five days she stayed there with not only problems with her foot and circulation but now A-Fib and gastric bleeding issues.

Definitely not the holiday I had planned for.  But sometimes that's the way life is.  We think we have it all planned and figured out and BAM!  It hits us full force in the face.  Which eventually causes us to reflect.  And reflection can be a good thing but also a painful one.  It's when we reflect that we can see more clearly what is happening and what we can or cannot do about it.  I was so exhausted, both mentally and physically, trying to just put the puzzle pieces together.  Trying to "fix" things (if only in my mind...).  Not knowing where this journey was leading me but pretty sure I didn't want to go there.  And that's when I stopped.  And believe me, it's sorta difficult to stop my mind once it gets going.  But I stopped and meditated.  I went to church on Sunday, the first day of the new year.  And the pastor emphasized having some quite time every day.  I had previously done this but once things got all caught up in a whirlwind of craziness it seemed I had no time for quiet time.  I know, sad, right?  Instead of giving my problems and worries over the God, I was trying to solve them myself.  Laughable, huh?  I mean, I could continue to spin my wheels getting nowhere or I could just surrender everything.  And once I decided to do that my whole mindset changed.  Things didn't seem so desolate any more because I wasn't going to worry about things I couldn't change.

Giving my worries over to God was a really big thing for me.  Because I am a "fixer".  I like to examine the situation and figure out what's best for the person in question and then bend their will to mine.  Yes...I really did say that.  Because deep down inside I suppose I think I always know best.  But I don't.  I know what I think is best but often times we just have to let people make their own decisions even if we don't think they're the best ones.  It's called letting go.

My mother is still in the hospital and it has taken me all week long to just get this one post out.  She has had vascular surgery on one leg and we are waiting to see how effective that will be.  Tomorrow she will be having a cardioversion to shock her heart back into rhythm and I truly expect that she will go home into hospice once more in a couple of days.

If you're not there yet, I'm just going to give you forewarning; watching your parents grow old and begin to have failing health is hard.  No really...it's something you never expected whenever you were a child and they were taking care of you or a teenager fighting for your independence.  You want to help them and do what's best for them all the while they are now fighting you to keep their own independence.  It's not a place you are going to want to be but it's coming.  And so I encourage you to hold on tight because it's going to test your strength more than you will ever expect.

And so now you know why I think Christmas seemed to slip away from me this year.  The festiveness of the season may have slipped away but the reason for the holiday did not.  It's a gift that I rediscovered a few days afterwards.  It's the gift of letting go and allowing God to take control for me...

The Christmas Story House

I've been pretty much out of commission for the past month because of my asthma, an upper respiratory infection and dental surgery.  Yea...what a way to spend the holidays, right?!  I've been frantically shopping online and receiving multiple packages on a daily basis.  The tree (artificial this year because of my illness) is up, the decorations out and I was really getting cabin fever from being inside for so long.  That's when Hubby decided that we would take a spur of the moment trip...I mean like the night before we booked it...to Cleveland.

We were originally planning to attend the Christmas Festival in Natchitoches that weekend when the weather forecast called for about 6 inches of rain.  Well, with me still recovering from sickness and a couple of the Grands with runny noses, there was no way we were going to get out in that mess.  It was also Caitlin's birthday weekend and I hadn't spent a birthday with her for four years.  So, we packed a bag, hopped a plane and were in Cleveland the day before her birthday!

It was cold there, I'm not gonna lie.  And I still really don't like Cleveland in the winter.  But for my baby girl's birthday it was well worth it.  And while we were there she asked me if I knew The Christmas Story House was located there.  WHAT?!  Are you kidding me?  How did I not know that?  That is one of my all time favorite Christmas movies!  Right then and there I decided that we HAD to go before heading home.
This is the original house where the movie was filmed.  Whenever it was purchased from a man out of California, houses in that neighborhood were selling for around &30,000- $40,000.  He offered $120,000 sight unseen for it.  Of course, the owners sold it.  However, when he and his wife came to look at it, the house was in terrible condition and about to be condemned.  They spent countless hours and money to restore it to what you see today.
When you enter the living room you see the "Leg Lamp".  Ahhh...the "Leg Lamp".  Just one of the many things that make the visit to this house so exciting for everyone who is a fan of the movie.

And then, leaning against the fireplace, near the Christmas tree is the Red Ryder BB Gun!  My nephews and my own boys alike, had BB guns and I can remember telling them to be careful with them as well.  They didn't put any eyes out with them but I do recall the glass in my French doors being shot out once!
And...the kitchen.  Where so many scenes in the movie were filmed.  Where Randy smashed food all over his face laughing the entire time.  It looked the same, however, it was so much smaller than it looked on film.

And the Christmas turkey!  You know... the one that the dad was so anxiously waiting to eat for lunch that the dogs destroyed and sent the family out to eat Christmas lunch at a Chinese restaurant.
                                 Then we moved upstairs to Ralphie and Randy's bedroom.

Holli was fascinated by the typewriter.  Imagine an entire generation who doesn't know how to use one of these things.  Yep...I remember taking a typing class in high school.  YIKES!  I think that dates me.
                The Bathroom.  Where so many important (and funny...) things happened.
Remember the "Secret Decoder Ring"?  As I was remembering the moment that Ralphie found out that it was merely an advertisement for Ovaltine (Who out there even remembers what Ovaltine was??), I didn't notice that Holli had picked that ring up as a new-found treasure!
See it in her hand?  I was insisting Hubby snap a photo of me reliving Raphie getting his mouth washed out with soap for the "Oh Fudge" scene and she was holding her new little treasure.  Luckily I saw what she had in her hand and replaced it (Whew!)
             We ended the tour of the house in the backyard, where the original shed can be found.

And that wasn't all!  Directly across the street is the museum which houses original costumes, the school blackboard, and many many other items that were found over the years to display here.  The gentleman who conducted our tour was wonderful, telling us all sorts of things that happened during production of the movie and things to look for the next time we watched it.  And yes...I have already watched it this year and with new eyes!

There is also a really cute gift shop next to the museum where individuals can purchase everything from "Oh Fudge" fudge, the fuzzy pink bunny pajamas that Ralphie got for Christmas, the Red Ryder BB Gun and, of course, The Leg Lamp!  If you are ever in the Cleveland area stopping here is a MUST!  And it is opened year round so it doesn't matter when you are in the area.  AND...if you haven't ever seen the movie (Are there actually people out there who haven't?!), then that is a MUST also!  And now is the perfect time because it is currently being aired during the holiday season.

             Click HERE to see the web site with all of the information about The Christmas
                                              Story House in Cleveland, Ohio.

 RIFLE." Ralphie

A Black Friday Baby!

Thanksgiving around here was quiet.  It was the kids' year to be away at in-laws.  And that wasn't a bad thing since I have been battling my asthma and upper respiratory infection for  3 weeks now.  And then there was "Number 8 " who was due to make their arrival on Black Friday, if not sooner.
And so it was that "Number 8" did not decide to make their appearance before Friday so a Black Friday Baby it was going to be!

It was already decided that Justin and Sarah would bring Parker Ann and Lila Kate over Thursday evening to spend the night since her induction the next morning would be early.  And although I wasn't feeling well, I had promised the traditional tree decorating for not only them but Beckett too.  And trust me, the little ones do not let you forget anything so I sent Hubby up to the attic to retrieve the boxes of ornaments and then laid out the ones that couldn't be broken for them to place on the tree.

                                     The step stools were quiet popular with the older ones.
When Parker asked Beckett if he was spending the night too, he replied by saying, "Well, I really, really want to..."  And so they all snuggled down beside my bed to watch a movie before going to sleep.

I haven't ever really been a Black Friday shopper myself, opting to put my Christmas decorations up on that day every year.  So a Black Friday Baby sounded good to me!  I couldn't wait to meet Number 8 and see if it was a he or she!  And it didn't take long at all because by about 10 a.m., the newest member of OUR BIG FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY made their debut...

          Meet MISS PEARSON ELIZABETH ROGENMOSER, weighing in at 8 lbs., 8 oz!

We didn't tell the girls if if the baby was a brother or sister and waited until they arrived at the hospital to find out for themselves.  We knew that Parker Ann was already so excited but we weren't quite sure how Lila Kate was going to take to a new baby.
I tried to snap as many photos to capture the moment the girls first saw their new baby sister.  As you can see, Parker was elated!

One could have never guessed in a million years that Lila Kate would be immediately so in love with her hew new baby sister.  So much so that she really didn't want anyone else to hold her.
And so in order for family to get a chance to hold Pearson, we took Lila Kate downstairs to get a snack.
    But she didn't really want a snack...she just wanted to get her hands on that baby again.
Poppi was actually the first one to get his hands on the new little one since he was already in town that morning whenever I called to say that the baby had arrived.
                                        But it wasn't long before YaYa was on the scene too!

It was so much fun not knowing the sex of the baby this time around.  And we couldn't be happier to welcome a sweet new little girl into this ever growing family!  She doesn't know it yet but I foresee many happy days with those two older sisters of hers and all the cousins to boot.  Family holidays and vacations.  Birthday parties and playing dolls.  Making the best friends for life...Yes, we are so happy and feel so very blessed to have another healthy baby come into our family this year.

Take This Quiz To Find Out What Type of "ORIGINAL THINKER" YOU Are!

Kimberly- Clark reached out to me recently and asked if my readers and I would be interested in taking a quiz they have created.  It is a quiz that defines what type of "Original Thinker" you are by answering just a few simple questions.  Well, of course, I was interested!  I love taking quizzes of all sorts and I know that most of you do too.  And the best thing about it is it takes only a couple of minutes and you will immediately find out what kind of "Original Thinker" you are!

If you aren't familiar with who Kimberly-Clark is, let me refresh your memory...because I'm sure that you purchase many of their products.  The one that I associate the company with is Huggies diapers which I used on my own kids.  But here is a little history on how the company got its start that I thought was really interesting.   Kimberly, Clark and Co. was founded 144 years ago in 1872 by John A. Kimberly, Havilah Babcock, Charles B. Clark, and Franklyn C. Shattuck in Neenah, Wisconsin.   The group's first business was operating paper mills, which the collective expanded throughout the following decades. The company developed cellu-cotton in 1914, a cotton substitute used by the U.S. Army as surgical cotton during World War I. Army nurses used cellu-cotton pads as disposable sanitary napkins, and six years later the company introduced Kotex, the first disposable feminine hygiene product. Kleenex, a disposable handkerchief, followed in 1924. Kimberly & Clark joined with The New York Times Company in 1926 to build a newsprint mill in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada. Two years later, the company went public as Kimberly-Clark!

Kimberly-Clark, as you can see, is very committed to the consumer and creating new and innovative products.  And that is exactly why they developed the "Original Thinker" quiz; to determine what individuals' strengths were and where they could best be put to use.  Not only did I think it was a fun little quiz but it also let me know a little about my own strengths.  Because, although, I no longer work outside of the home, I do work on a volunteer basis for organizations where this information could be very helpful.

                                 What type of "Original Thinker" am I?  I'm a MUSE!

Take the QUIZ, yourself right now too and leave a comment to let me know what kind of "Original Thinker" YOU are!

Turning My Office Into a Playroom

Boy am I glad I decided to keep that office in our house plans when we built this house.  Because if I hadn't I don't know where all of our grandkids would be playing!  Seriously, if you only have one or two grandkids, you can get away without them having their own space for toys, books and games.  However, I'm about to have Number 8 and Number 9 and that is just a little too much chaos even for this YaYa.  That's why, recently I decided to do a complete makeover of my office into a playroom.  And while doing so, I came to the realization that I'm still really a second grade teacher at heart.  Here's a peek into where my little ones spend most of their time while visiting me...

                    Behind this door cousins play and pretend and become best friends for life.
Here you see our teepee (Land of Nod), book collection and art wall.  I wanted this space to be a positive, fun place so I looked on Etsy to find all of the stick-on lettering and poster you see.  On the art wall is a quote from Picasso:  "Every child is an artist".  And as you can see, it is where I put all of the art either my children or grandchildren created.  In the foreground is a table with lots of markers, crayons and coloring books.
This little train table is popular with both the boys and girls and when not in use, I have the perfect spot to get it out of the middle of the room.
I purchased bins for books and toys to keep things organized.  The toy bins are on the wall you see there.
The Dr. Seuss quote you see on the wall was one I chose to celebrate everyone's uniqueness.  Some of the Fisher Price Little People toys (which by the way, I love...) can be found at arm's reach for the toddlers.  Some of the other toys for the older kids are in the bins.

I also searched until I found the perfect poster that has the "Playroom Rules" to also display on this wall.
 It was bright and fun, but also said all of the things I wanted to teach the children.  Parker Ann was curious about what all it said and later told Uncle Ryan that this was the room where you GIVE BIG HUGS!
This particular corner of the room is quite popular with everyone.  On the floor you see a play mat (Doug and Melissa) where they can play with cars and trucks.  Also sitting on the mat are the Little Critters.  This is where I have seen the kids enter a world of creative imagination.  If your little ones haven't found these yet, you must check them out!  Small woodland creatures who live in cottages and tree houses, drive campers and row tiny boats.  By far, this is one of the best toys I have discovered and my kiddos can play for hours with them.
 And finally, here is my children's farm table.  I realize this photo isn't very good, but hopefully you can see it well enough.  Hubby and Caitlin designed and created this table for me for Mother's Day this past year and I just LOVE it!  It will seat 10 (maybe more...) comfortably.  I'm hoping that the benches will be ready for Christmas so I can seat all of the little ones there for Christmas dinner.  But this is where they spend a lot of time too because they love to color and create.

Yes, I'm so happy that I decided to keep my office on the house plans because I believe children need their own space.  And believe me, they know that it's their room.  Whenever they arrive at my house, they slip around the corner and into the playroom to make memories I hope they will cherish forever.