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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Our Darling Friends...

2014 has been, well, frankly, difficult. Too often. The Leighton Gals are determined 2015 will be full of meaningful and significant changes and improvements. At least in terms of health issues/challenges. And, specifically, for Our Precious Little Leighton!

We have many readers who have been with us from the beginning! We thank y’all so very much. Your loyalty touches our hearts. Truly. We want you to believe how grateful we are for the time you so generously devote to this blog. One of our fondest wishes is to be able to someday meet, in person, those of you in different countries around the world or other places in America that have joined us month after month—year after year—in the sharing of our thoughts and experiences—the stories of our simple, sometimes cRaZy, lives. It’s as if your spirits have always been here with Texas.

We’ll be around next year—posting. Sharing. Praying. Complaining, maybe. A little itty-bitty tidbit. Dreaming. Praying. Believing. Yeehaw-ing and Yummy-ing. Planning. Praying. Stick with us! We think the BEST is YET TO COME…

Love and Smooches and Hugs to Each and Every Single Last One of Y’all—Our Darling Friends…


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Some "Un" Assembly Required...

Or…what goes up? Must come down.

TLC and I hope y’all had a lovely Christmas! We’re very grateful to be able to report that we did! On Christmas Day, My Sweet Hubby (MSH) and I made the two-hour trip Northeast to TLC’s home for a wonderful lunch (TLC is absolutely, positively the BEST cook…I’m so not exaggerating.). Biscuit (aka Little Leighton aka LL) showed Grammy and Pa-Pa what Santa brought her! We think she sorta/kinda gets it this year. Maybe. At least a wittle-itty-bitty bit. Santa brought her an adorable pink tricycle with a “Frozen” helmet that also has a tiara on it! Too funny. Could be a while before she can pedal—trust me, she was sure trying!

MSH and I couldn’t stay too terribly long, as we had to get back home to our Buddy Boo Bear (BBB). The Brown Lab that runs our home, don’tchaknow. We were gone from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00ish p.m. (BBB was stressed.) It was a sweet/fabulous/marvelous Christmas Day, thank You, Lord God Almighty!

So, yesterday, MSH and I did something we’ve not ever done. Or, at least, we can’t remember ever doing it. We took our Christmas decorations down before the first of the new year! We (I am using the term "we" rather loosely, as MSH doesn't participate too long in this annual procedure.) typically disassemble the tree, etc., on January 1st or 2nd. We’ve probably been as late as January 3rd. But not more than once of twice in our thirty-eight Christmases together.

As it turns out, we’ll be taking care of LL on New Year’s Day and until January 3rd. Knowing this, MSH and I decided, on Christmas Eve night, it’d be easiest, in the long run, to go put up all evidence of Christmas early. Like…yesterday.

I shall confess: I’m not a very nice person during “The Takedown.” I’m that gal who gets home from a trip/vacation and lives out of her luggage for a week or two because I despise unpacking. True story. MSH? The most organized, responsible, energetic husband I personally know when it comes to putting things back where they came from. Me? Not so much.

I was going to begin this disassembly at 9:00 a.m yesterday morn. I pushed it back to 11:30 a.m. Then it was actually noon—because I needed to have lunch first. We have our “process.” I take the ornaments off the tree so we can get it put back into our storage room in our garage. That was done by 12:30 p.m. It's my job, at that point, to put everything in the boxes from whence it all came. At 4:30 p.m.? I was Ms. DO-NOT-EVEN-THINK-ABOUT-TALKING-TO-ME-I’M-GETTING-ON-MY-OWN-NERVES. 2014.

Each year, as I put everything back in its designated box/place/closet/shelf, I also “purge.” I decide it’s time to throw or give away some  (or lots) of our Christmas items. This is one reason it takes me so long to do “teardown.” Yesterday, I also did an extra-extra good job (if I do say so myself!) of packing and organizing the boxes that go out to the storage room with the tree. There’re five of them. Three large/extra long boxes. Two semi-large/shorter boxes. MSH took the last of those out by 6:00 p.m. I parked myself on the davenport/couch/divan at 6:10 and stayed there until 10:00. At which point, I drug myself to bed.

This morning we did something else we’ve never done: We went to a movie before noon!!! Never, in our combined 130 years on this Earth, have we ever, ever, EVER gone so early. Ever. MSH read the book Unbroken. Told me—when he was about a third of the way through it—I would not be able to read it. I trust him. I knew he was right. Somehow I thought it would be okay/notquiteasawful to see the movie. Something about believing that Angelina couldn’t possibly put all the torturous scenes MSH described to me, as he read said book, in a two-hour movie. Wow. Was I ever wrong? It’s a tough one. Uber tough. I now have a newfound respect for Angelina Jolie. A tres sincere respect for her courage and talent. She’s my new hero. And everything I’ve ever complained about in my life? Am I kidding? Nothing has compared, or, I pray, will ever compare, to what this amazing man went through to survive his unimaginable challenges.

I cried almost uncontrollably the last ten minutes of the movie. For many, many, MANY reasons. (Lauren knows those reasons and admitted she cried, too!) Then I broke down, again, at lunch with MSH. We stopped for a quick burger at one of our favourite burger joints in Weatherford. I had questions, for MSH, about the book. I had statements—about this incredible Louis Zamperini. (I’m slightly worried there are people that thought MSH and I must be fighting.) I wanted to stand up and scream: We are beyond lucky to be sitting here. Having a burger. Being free!

We’ve been home for close to three hours. Unfortunately, I have about three more hours of “un-assembly” to complete. I didn't get it all accomplished yesterday. You see, I have a lot of Christmas “stuff” that goes up into our guest room (TLC’s former bedroom and LL’s current bedroom when she’s here!) closet shelves. This is the last thing I want to do. I want to get back on our davenport and watch football games with MSH. Okay. Not really. I want to go into our bedroom and watch some of the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies I've DVRed. However, this un-assembly must be completed. Sigh. Sheesh. Yuck.

Hope Y’all are having a Wonderful Weekend—wherever in the World you are! Take a moment to reflect on every good thing in your life, okay? I promise I’m going to…

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Yummy for Y'all: Stocking Stuffer Edition!

(I know...I know...NOLA. You've probably given up on a "Part Deux." I don't blame you. I think that will be one of my resolutions for 2015--FINISH THE POST!)

ELC has always been a fabulous "stocking stuffer." (She usually had a theme. I typically received pretty OPI nail polish each year, hence why I have a fairly hefty collection.) It was my favourite part of Christmas morning. I think she loved putting all of the fun treats and trinkets together as much (or more!) than I loved opening them!

A couple of weeks ago, ELC and I both decided we needed new mascaras. Y'all know how much we like finding our new go-tos (most always at Target or a pharmacy--we don't get too fancy with mascara). We happened upon this and thought we would give it a whirl:

L'Oreal's Voluminous Million Lashes (a sister to the Million Lashes we're equally fond of).

We both really like it! And you can't beat the festive red and gold packaging! I think this would be a perfect addition to a sweet gal's stocking come Christmas morning.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve...and to all a GOOD NIGHT! (I've had a long day of baking gluten-free gingerbread men for Santa--I'm headed straight to my cozy bed!)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

my wacky dream...

(I promise to finish my NOLA of these days!)

I have completely bizarre dreams. I don't always remember them. When I do, they're usually cRaZy. Such was the case Friday night.

This particular night, I dreamed the Pioneer Woman, her husband and kids wanted me and my family to accompany them on a mission trip to N.K. (The country I won't name but is involved with the Sony debacle.) My husband and I agreed to go (though I vividly remember thinking this wasn't a good idea -- well, DUH!) but left Little Leighton with ELC and My Sweet Dad.

Then there were the logistics of actually getting there, since you obviously can't fly direct from the U. S. of A. We opted to go via China. We boarded one of those huge, fancy planes. Ended up in the cheap seats -- a wooden bench with no windows. Sheesh.

We stopped in China for a bit to help some other missionaries build a school. I also remember something about Christmas presents...and princess toys. Not sure how those two things related to building a school. When it was time to catch our next flight, we were running super late. I remember flying through the airport (with my rolling bag and a box of diapers -- ???), searching for the ticket counter. I kept running and running, completely exhausted from all of my school "building." It was like I was on a treadmill -- because I was not getting anywhere.

I was beyond grateful to wake up...

(I'm hesitant to try to interpret this dream...yikes... many scary possibilities...)

Hoping y'all have had a Happy Sunday! And that your dreams tonight are peaceful...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Our Country Casa Christmas...

TLC is our Christmas Addict. I attribute that to the way she grew up and our determination to always make it a special time of the year for her and our sons. My Sweet Hubby (MSH)—for years and years—subjected himself to pain and stress putting thousands of little white twinkle lights up in the trees in our front yard. For TLC. (The boys? Could have cared less…especially since they sometimes had to help!) MSH would dread, beginning at the first of November!, this job. As it got close to the time to bring down the lights from the attic? He'd be a teensy bit cranky. I didn't really blame him. They’d be tangled. Even though each year he did his best to pack them so that the next year they wouldn’t be the awful, frustrating mess they’d always end up being. Many wouldn’t work. He’d go to the store several times during this 2-to 3-day process. (This is when we lived in town and a trek to Hellmart didn’t take an hour—roundtrip. Like it does now.) He did this for TLC. 

When we moved to the country, 14 ½ years ago, our Christmas Traditions/Routines/Decorating changed significantly. For one thing, there are no more lights outside. TLC was, at the time of our move, a teenager. Very willing to let her Dad off the hook when it came to outside lights. (He does put up at least ten Christmas wreaths—simple green ones with red bows—all over our place. At our gate. Along the road and up the hill to our home. On the wellhouse. Over at the Barn apartment. I love each and every one of the them.) We do put out a few Christmas decos around our front and back porch and in the garden.

Y’all know—the more you put up? The more you have to pack up. We always “undo” Christmas the day after New Year’s Day. As we age (one of us is 70!), we find this job gets harder and harder. I’ve given away a lot of our Christmas decorations in the past ten years. (After checking first with TLC, of course.) For what’s left? I’ve gotten much better about my organization of it all. TLC has inspired me with her OCDness.

Two years ago, I was being slow on getting our tree up. Then Sandy Hook happened. The shock, pain, and grief was simply too overwhelming. I felt sick. And tired. Hopeless. Guilty. I bought a tiny tree and put it on a table in front of our bookshelf. I had a small string of lights and an ornament for each child and adult who lost their life that day. It seemed respectful. Little Leighton (LL) was only about six months old. It was, for me, enough.

This Christmas Day, we’re going to TLC’s home. No other grandkids will be able to come for a visit. They’re too far away. We’re not having a Christmas party. I approached MSH with the idea of putting up our little tree this year. He was appalled. Because LL will be here this week. And a few days after Christmas. He believes it’s important that she see our big tree. That she build her memories of Christmas at Grammy and Pa-Pa’s with excitement and wonder. It is absolutely true: Christmas/Jesus’ Birthday and Santa are beginning to make a little sense to her. So there you go. The “big” tree was up the Sunday after Thanksgiving. 

Every year I do our tree differently! I use most of the same ornaments. Still, it’s never the same. And I usually add a few (very few) new trinkets to it. Sadly it’s not a “real” tree. When TLC was about six years old, I had to insist we get an artificial tree. I’d spent too many Decembers very sick and eventually realized it was caused by allergies to said “real” trees. TLC was heartbroken. Still is. Although she, too, has an artificial tree. For the same reason. It is what it is and, fortunately, artificial trees have come a long, long way, right?

Here, now, are eight pictures I’ve taken around our home. Things we love. Things that help us remember what matters to our family at this most amazing/incredible/special time of the year. Hope you’ll be patient as I share some explanations about each!

This first picture is my new outdoor doormat! It’s from Target! We have four doors that lead to our front, back and/or side porches. Each holiday season I need at least one new doormat, as, after a year or two of Morty the Cat, sun, snow, ice and/or rain, the doormats get cruddy looking.

We always put a little sign like this at the sidewalk one would take to come to our front door from the driveway. This is my third sign in fifteen Country Christmases. Since we live on a (biggish) hill, I’ve especially loved this one.

I don’t do much at the Barn apartment if we’re not expecting company, but I do always put out a “Santa” flag. Hubby puts up a couple of his wreaths (I'm sorry that you can barely see the one he put up over the rocking chair. The light was not great.). Morty the Cat insists on participating when we’re doing things over at his “place.”

I adore our bookshelves in our Great Room. Have since we built our home. I’m quite certain I have them too full of trinkets and treasures. TLC tries to encourage me to keep them a little more “sparse.” Can’t do it. When December comes along, I have fun adding our sweet/oldish/important-to-us ornaments/pictures/tchotchkes on the different shelves. (It also forces me to dust said shelves—something I do NOT enjoy!) On the lower right is a picture of TLC with Santa. She was about to be 6. (Yes. She played “innocent” about Santa for a bit longer than most kids—she’d figured out it wasn’t quite the same if Santa didn’t come to your house.) The little reindeer on the left? His antlers are LL’s hands! TLC made this for us last year. It’ll always be cherished.

This next one is a “Bear” Nutcracker (Clearly a nod to our "Royal" heritage since it looks like a Guard at Buckingham Palace.) and a Santa I’ve had for years and years. If I’ve never shared with y’all my passion for all things “Bear,” now is a good time to confess I LOVE BEARS. I always have. But when TLC was born, MSH started calling her “Sugar Bear.” When she was 9 years old, she told her Daddy he had to stop calling her that nickname. He’d just yelled it out at a Rec Hall basketball game she was in and she became quite mortified—looking up at him, in the stands, with a hugely embarrassed look. As we got in our car to leave, at the conclusion of the game, she said: “Daddy, I don’t want you to call me Sugar Bear any more. I’m too big for that.” MSH thought for a minute, then said: “Okay. What can I call you?” TLC was quiet for a few moments. “Just Bear. Just call me Bear.” Our hearts melted. For so many, many reasons. For the past five years, as we’ve tried to purge ourselves of stuff/junk/unnecessary items stored in every nook and cranny at our home and over at the barn, I’ve forced myself not to purchase any more Bears. I’m not going to lie—it’s a challenge.

Took a picture of our tree the other night. (Buddy Bear is kind of hard to see!) MSH and I are like little kids sometimes, I'll admit. We can’t wait for 5:00 p.m.—when we can turn the lights on! On cloudy days? Yep. One of us plugs ‘em in with glee.

The Three Little Santas. All Hallmark ornaments. All 25-30 years old. Of course, you know from our blog pictures, I love, love, LOVE those silly mustache/Groucho Marx glasses! The middle Santa says: "Kiss the Claus!" That’s for MSH. The Cook at our home. The third Santa is fishing. This is also a “theme” in our home/life. MSH adores fishing. Always has. Always will. These Santas make me smile.

Here’s a closeup of this year’s addition to our tree: Animal print ornaments! Found them at Hobby Lobby. Bought twelve. (MSH hasn’t even noticed yet. He has, though, told me that this year he thinks our tree looks the best it has in a long time. I’m not quite sure how to take that. I decided to take it as the compliment I think he means it to be.) Yes, you’re also seeing last year’s Christmas picture of LL—right by her “handprint” dough ornament TLC made for us. Be still my heart…)

I’m officially in the mood for Christmas!!!

Thank you for your time and patience, Sweet Friends…Hope you had a Marvelous Monday!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

our singing reindeer!

I know I promised y'all a "NOLA: Part Two," (don't give up hope--it's next on the docket!) but I wanted to share these pictures of my Sweet Little Leighton:

Today was her Christmas Music Program at the church preschool she attends. She wanted to wear a pretty dress and big bow and leopard print shoes (okay, okay, I probably had some influence in that). In all honesty, I don't think she had any clue she would be performing, though she had been gleefully practicing her songs for several weeks.

Grammy ELC and Pa-Pa made an extra early (and extra long--thanks to the terrible DFW morning traffic) trip up North to our little suburb to see her musical debut. LL was so surprised when she walked onto the stage and saw us (Daddy included!): her adoring fans! They sang several songs--"Jingle Bells" (accompanied by actual jingle bells!), "Away in the Manager," "We wish you a Merry Christmas," and her most favourite: The Reindeer Pokey. As ELC said, she "turned herself about with charm and enthusiasm!" We were all so proud.

It was such a fun and special morning. LL is filled with the Christmas Spirit this year. I adore every. single. second.

Have a holly, jolly Wednesday!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Sugar Cookie Yeehaw!

Not. It's tea!

TLC gifted me this cute box of tea a couple of weeks ago. (And, funny story, I had given her a sack—the very same day—with some goodies in it, including a “Candy Cane” tea! Great minds think alike, apparently…)

Anyway, this tea is beyond YUMMO. It absolutely, positively tastes like a sugar cookie. (How’d they do that?)

Since it’s decaf, it’s perfect for those nights in front of the telly (Hallmark Channel has the BEST Christmas movies EVER!) when you want something sweet but you really, truly shouldn’t have those peppermint Hershey's Kisses or M&Ms that seem to be calling your name. I put one Truvia packet in a cup of this deliciousness. (I’m sure Ms. “I’m-Not-As-Addicted-To-Sugar-As-My-MamaELC” TLC would leave sweeteners out. Although, she might use a teensy bit of honey. Good for her! For moi? The sweeter the better. No apologies.)

Try this some cold night soon…I’m betting you’ll like it!

Love and Smooches and Hugs, Sweet Friends Everywhere…Happy Weekend...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

nola, part one

As ELC mentioned, My Hubby (MH) and I were able to escape to New Orleans the weekend before Thanksgiving. It was a fabulous getaway, filled with food, food and MORE food. I tried to save up as many calories as I could before we left so I could splurge! After Little Leighton's Celiac diagnosis, we eat gluten-free (GF) with her as much as possible, so she never feels left-out or "different" with us. Because we knew Grammy and Pa-Pa had filled their cupboards with extra yummy GF treats for Our Girl (they always take such good care of her!), we thought it would be okay to eat "gluten-full" on our trip. (And we were able to really relax, knowing LL was having the BEST time bein' a "country gal!")

As ELC also mentioned, we traveled via Southwest Airlines. I firmly believe they are the BEST. They are efficient. Clean. Consistently on-time. And Love Field in Dallas is, well, just LOVELY! (Tee hee hee.)

Once we arrived in NOLA, we immediately hopped in a cab and sped to our hotel--the Omni Royal in the French Quarter. The location was prime--within walking distance to (almost) everything we wanted to see, tour and eat. The destinations we couldn't walk to? We took a cab (and only thought our lives were truly at risk once). After we checked in, we freshened up and headed down the block to the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone. We knew this particular place was quite tourist-y, yet also a can't-miss. Guess what? We loved it! It was quite crowded, filled with people of all ages, though our favourite acquaintances that evening happened to be two sweet cousins (maybe 75ish?) from the North--both ladies were precious. (One of them was a HUGE Patriots fan, but sweetly obliged me as I lamented my frustrations regarding Tom Brady, his first Baby Mama and Giselle. She told me she was certain his parents were very disappointed in the way he handled his relationship with Bridget.) Though I wish I would have snapped more photos, this is the only one I have from there:

Yes, that's my reflection, taking a semi-selfie in the spinning (yes, spinning! hence "carousel!") bar. YIPPEE!

After that, we skipped down to Acme Oyster House for the most scrumptious charbroiled oysters. Buttery. Garlicky. DELISH. At the end of our trip, we both agreed that we wished we would have gone back there for another dozen.

The next morning, we slept "late" (ahem, 7:45!) and quickly dressed to beat the long line at Cafe du Monde for their WORLD FAMOUS beignets. They are fluffy, little, fried pillows of dough, doused in powdered sugar. You have to make sure you don't exhale as you're taking a bite because the sugar will go flyin' all over you, your black jeans and purse. (Obviously that happened to me. Three times. Oops!)

After breakfast, we strolled around Jackson Square and the French Market. Then it was time to eat again! HA! This time it was a muffuletta at Central Grocery for lunch. MH and I split a whole sandwich, and, I kid you not, it was larger than my head. Tasty, nonetheless! The olive "salad" they use to top the muffuletta? Divine!

After a long nap at the hotel (what a treat!), we gussied up and headed to dinner at Peche. I had heard their "fish sticks" were not to be missed. They weren't! MH and I also shared crab claws in a tangy chili pepper vinegar "sauce" for an appetizer. I could have guzzled the vinegar. Straight up. We also each had a green salad--though simple in design, it was topped with, hands down, the best, most creamiest (redundant?) feta cheese I have ever tasted. Feta is easily my favourite cheese. I nearly fainted! To accompany my fancy beer-battered fish sticks, I had pan-fried Brussels sprouts in the same insanely good chili vinegar. MH ordered the smothered catfish and a side of white beans. The white beans were PHENOMENAL. I would have happily ordered a second "helping" so I wouldn't have had to share. Because we both clearly hadn't consumed enough (HA!), we ordered dessert--a pineapple rum cake with homemade caramel ice cream. It was then that I wished I owned a fancier pair of yoga pants I could have worn that would have allowed for lots o' stretch.

Stay tuned for Part TWO!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

You Better Watch Out!

Tomorrow is December 1st. Picture us in SHOCK. Eyes wide. Mouths open. Home Alone kind of shock, you know? We suspect all of y’all are with us on this one.

November was full of our good intentions. To post. At least twice a week. Then there was illness. Lots o’ illness. We've forgiven Little Leighton (LL) for giving every one of us her lovely cold. Thank goodness we all had had our flu shots.

This past week involved cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking (gluten-free), traveling (for TLC et al to Grammy and Pa-Pa’s country casa), eating, resting, eating some more, coughing (My Sweet Hubby's horrid cough is going on three weeks), more cleaning, and beaucoups of playing with LL. (On one outing, in the Jeep, around our place, LL got to see an armadillo! She wasn't too sure what to think, but she'd tell you Pa-Pa picked it up in his hands. Uh, no. No, he didn't. He did get out of the Jeep and chase after it to get a picture!) 

The Three Leighton Gals enjoyed a get-together/date (at the cutest coffee shop/cafĂ© ever called Beans & Franks in Stephenville) Friday morn with Sunny, Nelly and Nelly’s PRECIOUS (ALL CAPS AND BOLDED) new baby boy—H3. (His three names all start with “H”! How adorable is that? Seriously.) We also lucked into a fabulous sale going on at a fun store next to the coffee shop. Woo Hoo!

Today was devoted to decorating our homes for the holidays. Trees. Christmas trinkets everywhere! Outdoor wreaths, etc. We’ll share some pictures when we’ve both completed this task. My efforts won't be totally finished until at least Thursday. What can I say? I'm getting slower each and every year I'm on this Earth. Sigh.

I believe Ms. TLC owes y’all some posts on New Orleans. She swears they’re a’comin’. We shall see, won’t we, Dear Friends? If I were y'all, I wouldn't be holding my breath.

Get ready…Here Comes Santa Claus! He’ll be arriving before we all can blink—twice.

Smooches and Hugs…

p.s.: I predict some Yummies and Yeehaws may make an appearance this month!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fizzle . . .

…not “Shoot.” "Shoot" not as in gun. "Shoot" as a way to express frustration or anger. "Fizzle" is the word I’m desperately trying to use when I’m being Grammy Nanny to Princess Little Leighton (LL).

Last week, in spite of all the illness plaguing our two families, and because all of us Sickies seemed to be finally on the mend/turning the corner, TLC and Her Hubby (HH) made a well-deserved and highly anticipated trip to New Orleans! TLC had visited this amazing city with me and My Hubby (MH) twice in her lifetime. Once when she was about 12 and then again when she was 19ish. HH had never experienced it. Their trip had been planned for over two months. Pre-IckinessSickiness. When our colds/coughs/congestion descended upon us (beginning with LL), we all thought their adventure might not happen. Good did!

MH and I met TLC and HH at a Target in Colleyville last Thursday morn. We chauffeured LL to our country casa for three nights/four days of FUN! Her Mama and Daddy flew to NOLA via Southwest Airlines. (Going and coming were stress-free, lovely experiences. Thank you. Thank you, Southwest. Very much!)

I now must digress and go down another, short path:

Growing up, we (me and my siblings—my younger brother and two younger sisters) weren’t allowed to say “Shut Up.” Or call each other—or anyone else—“Stupid.” Worse words were certainly not permitted. There were consequences. Mostly “The Lecture” we preferred not to be subjected to—for the one millionth time.

It wasn’t until I attended college (My third and final!) that I discovered I had quite the “potty mouth.” Seemed like everyone said some awfully questionable words. Entirely too often. That, as y’all know by now, the way we communicate, is habit. Strictly, unequivocally, habit. The more you say tacky/bad/inappropriate/mean/useless words, the more you want to say them. The more you NEED to say them. And the more you, therefore, do.

I became a Step-Mom at the age of 24. To MH 's four sons. They ranged in age from 2 to 12. Three of them eventually came to live with us. It was IMPERATIVE that I not ever use cuss words. I worked hard to accomplish this goal. I’d say, overall, I was quite successful. Occasionally, I might have let a few of those words fly out of my mouth—but 98% of the time it was when I was around (adult) friends. I swear (teeheehee!) I never, ever used the really, truly bad words. You know what they are.

Once I gave birth to TLC, it wasn’t that difficult to squelch my potty mouth. I’d been doing it for over seven years. I, having been raised to speak as appropriately and kindly as possible, was quite clear on my job as a parent to have TLC find "nice" words  with which to express her feelings. Words that did not include “stupid" and “shut up.” All the “F” words. The “D” word (Darn was okay, in my opinion.). The other "S" word (and I don't mean "shoot"). Etc.

By the time TLC got to high school, we had grandkids that inspired MH and I to, once again, commit ourselves to decent, acceptable language. Even though, at this point, TLC was beginning to use some of those bad words! Typically, as she approached the age of adulthood, I let these lapses in her judgment slide. You pick your battles, right?

It was soon after TLC learned she was pregnant that we both began to notice our daily usage of those not-so-nice words creeping up to an almost out-of-control level. We vowed to get our mouths/habits/words in check. Which I believe we have done. "Mission accomplished."

A few months ago, when LL really started to talk and mimic a lot of what we all were saying, TLC asked me not to use the word “shoot.” Believing I was going above-and-beyond The Call of Grammy Duty in keeping the super bad words virtually non-existent/spoken, I tried to continue to get away with some "shoots" here and there. TLC patiently explained she was worried LL would mispronounce it—at her Methodist Church pre-school—and stayed on my case whenever she caught me saying it. It was true. Almost every time I've said it, I'm trying to change LL’s diaper and inevitably causing myself extra time and work by putting said diaper on upside down—or tearing off one or both of the dang--oops, that's not allowed, either--I mean, dadgum (I'll have to check on that one.) adhesive fasteners. Hence, I began My Determined Crusade to use the word “fizzle.”

I’m not sure that’s the best substitute—but it’s my "word of choice." If y’all know of a strong, but satisfying, word that might be better, do, please, let me know.

By yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, after playing non-stop with LL for three days and evenings, inside and outside (only to have a break during LL’s naps and at night), I was trying to get LL ready to be put in her carseat in MH's truck for the trip East to her home, when, low and behold and, naturally, I had some diaper issues. I slipped. I said: “Shoot.”

LL chimed in: Shoot, Grammy. Shoot. Shoot. SHOOT!

Grammy: Now listen, LL, Grammy shouldn’t have said that. Okay? Grammy is very sorry. Grammy should have said “fizzle.” 
"Pizzle," LL chirped, as she smiled. Then she giggled and said: “Shoot, Grammy! Shoot, shoot, shoot!"

Sigh. A Grammy’s challenge to be perfect is never done. Never. Ever. Ever.

{Look for TLC’s New Orleans’ posts—coming to a blog near you ASAP!}

If you’re American, I wish you the Happiest Thanksgiving! If you’re not, I wish you a Wonderful Week!  Feel free to have some turkey and dressing, smashed taters and green bean casserole, and pumpkin and/or pecan pie! You’ll LOVE all of these traditional yummies. Trust me on this.

smooches, Dear Friends...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

three more down...

The illness (or it’s cousin) that has plagued Little Leighton (LL) and TLC for over three weeks has three more of us down. I got sick Tuesday—while helping TLC and LL try to navigate through their illnesses. TLC’s Hubby and My Sweet Hubby (MSH) both came down with it Friday. MSH seems to be the third sickest of the five of us—after LL and TLC. I, fortunately, had rough days Wednesday and Thursday, but I’ve been recovering steadily since Friday.

To add to the yucky-ickiness of this cold/flu-ish/congestion-y stuff we all have, the weather in North Central Texas has been charm-free since the beginning of the week. In fact, it’s been bitter cold. Windy. We realize, from the news’ reports, that we haven’t had it nearly as bad as many, many other States in America. For that we are grateful.

This morning, MSH and I woke up to sleety/rainy/foggy-ish/misty-ish precip. We found ourselves flashbacking to the first week in December last year when this part of the world had a horrible ice storm—one that paralyzed millions of us for many, many days. Yikes.

If we can (ever) truly trust our TV weather peeps, this will move out by Wednesday. Don’t get me wrong: We Texans don’t mind some cold weather. It certainly helps us get in the mood for the holidays! What we don’t like is: (1) To be sick with endless congestion, sore throats, scary coughs, headaches and general, overall pain; and (2) Ice. Sleet. Treacherous roads and the possibility of losing our electricity.

I’ve asked myself about six times since 5:30 a.m. what day this is. One loses track of time when one's been in a house for approximately 88 hours. Since it’s apparently (hopefully) Sunday, I thought a lovely prayer might be appropriate and helpful. I have several books of prayers that I read from every day. The following prayer comes from a sweet little book entitled: Praying Through the Tough Times. By Lloyd John Ogilvie.


I cry out to You in times of physical pain. Bones ache, joints swell, nerves twitch with pulsating waves of pain. You know all about what I endure. It doesn’t even compare with the anguish of Your suffering. But what I’m feeling is mine, in my body. I can’t take it without the healing touch of Your hand. I yield my pain to You. Please, Lord, take it away, or give me the power to survive the devastating cause of it. I breathe out the pain and breathe in Your Spirit. Thank You for calming my panic.

I think of the time when four men tore a hole in the roof of a house in Capernaum where You were teaching. They lowered down a stretcher with their friend on it. Their deepest desire was to put the man face-to-face with You. I picture the moment his eyes met Yours and You reached out to touch and heal him.

I imagine myself on that stretcher being lowered down before You. Now I look into Your face: wondrous love! I look into Your eyes: compassion, empathy, merciful care. And then I feel the healing hand. It’s warm, tender, yet strong and powerful. I feel the surge of Your Spirit enter every facet of my being.

Lord, You are the Healer; You use medicine and doctors and nurses; You work through caregivers. And now I praise You that most of all You give Your healing touch when I need it so much! Amen.

From ELC:

Thank You, Dear Lord God Almighty, for over-the-counter meds! For doctors and nurses that help us decide what OTC and/or prescription medications might cure us. Doctors and nurses that care for us with kind concern. Thank You, Lord, for family members that give us the attention we require! That fix us hot tea or an icy cold drink. That retrieve and dispense our ibuprofen when it’s time. That keep our homes quiet when we’re napping. That fix us chicken soup and ask us every couple of hours if we’re any better. Thank You, God, for recovery—even though sometimes it sure seems like it’s occurring terribly and miserably S…L…O...W. Amen.

Hope each and every one of Y’all are having a healthy and HAPPY Sunday…Wherever in the World Y’all Are…

(Air) Kisses and (At-arms’-length) Hugs

Friday, November 14, 2014



Today's Public Service Announcement is brought to you courtesy of the cold weather and my trip to Starbucks on Wednesday.

Grammy ELC came north to take care of us -- yet, again -- on Tuesday. She spent the night. We've been sick all. month. long. (Technically before Halloween, but who's counting? Uh, me, of course.) We are OVER. IT. As per our new tradition, I stopped at my local Starbucks for lattes and muffins after I dropped Little Leighton at school the next morning. Because the Polar Vortex paid us an early visit this week, the drive-thru line was extra long that particular day -- as in, I couldn't even get in line or I would be sticking out in the middle of a (very busy) street. Since I had put on makeup and brushed my hair that morning (her teachers and fellow students had seen me way too "au naturel" for over two weeks -- I wanted to remind them that I did own proper clothes and concealer), I decided I could actually park and go inside and not scare anyone. It was FATE. As I was just about to order, I noticed this next to the register:

...and subsequently purchased it! Guess what? It's PHENOMENAL. Idina and Christmas music? What more could one want in life? LL is quite fond of it, too, since "Elsa" is singing all of the songs. I'm sure this can be purchased on iTunes (not sure why it couldn't be), but I think you should treat yourself to a Skinny Vanilla Latte, a Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin and these festive tunes!

Have a wild, wacky weekend, Friends!

Merry! Merry!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Gone Grammy . . .

It’s a beautiful afternoon in North Central Texas, Dear Friends! My Sweet Hubby (MSH) and I have spent the day doing “chores.” Many outside. Yesterday was pretty windy up here on our hill. Today it is positively perfect. After publishing this, I'll be ready to be lazy.

I simply cannot believe it’s November 9th and this is only our second post. Like TLC, I sincerely want to apologize. As she shared, Little Leighton (LL) has been a sick Angel Biscuit for too long. In fact, it’ll be three weeks on Wednesday that she was hit with this evil congestion illness. No fever. Lots of breathing difficulties (She doesn’t understand this, thank goodness, but her snoring rivals that of her Pa-Pa’s—and, well, okay, her Grammy’s sometimes, too.) and a scary-sounding cough. May be just a cold. But it's a booger. TLC has taken her to the doctor once. Thinks, perhaps, another trip may be forthcoming if LL isn't significantly better by Tuesday.

TLC got this yucky crud—or something similar—a week ago. She’s been struggling to breathe. Think. Move. She's also been to her doctor. (Neither of these gals were given prescriptions.) I've been suggesting, since yesterday morn, that TLC needs to go back again. STAT. I made the trip East last week to try to help out for two nights/three days. Could be heading that way, again, in a couple of days. God love My Puny Girls and bless them with His healing Grace.

About five weeks ago, TLC started the famously popular book Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. She finished it in two days. Quite the feat for my VERY OCD daughter that must have her home clean and picked up AT ALL TIMES and who must also fix wonderful meals (gluten-free, now, naturally) for her family. I’m fairly certain she stayed up entirely too late, burning the midnight oil. (Me thinks she was trying to accomplish this so she could see the movie. TLC and I both like to try to read any book that is made into a movie. "Try" being the key word.)

She gave me the book—hoping, against all odds, I’d finish it as fast as she did. Then we might have been able to figure out how we could go see the movie together. Something we’ve not been able to do since LL was born. "The Best Laid Plans of Mice and..." daughters and mothers.

BECAUSE...yep...first illness descended upon their casa and, then, I only completed it yesterday. Took me every bit of five weeks. Here’s my problem (and this happens to me at movie theatres—way WAY too often): When I get comfy and still, when the temperature is just perfect for my cold-natured body, when I have a Coke Zero and a couple of hours to spare, I get all cozy and focused and...fall asleep. Dead to the world. Out. Like a light. Virtually comatose. Occasionally doing that snoring thing Precious LL is forced to do. Which isn't so embarrassing at home. It is, however, humiliating at a movie theatre. Sigh. Sheesh.

TLC asked me every day, after she gave me the book and for approximately two weeks: “Have you had a chance to read Gone Girl? Isn’t it intriguing? Isn’t it suspenseful? Don’t you just love it?” I had to confess I wasn't getting more than about four pages read at each of my attempts.

After two weeks? She quit asking.

As I did get pages/chapters read, I’d tell her: “Wow. You’re right. This is compelling.” Then I’d try to guess where the book was going. Who the bad guy/gal was going to be. Halfway through the book, I said: “It’s going to be his Dad. Her Mom. Or his sister. Am I close?” Said TLC, calmly: “Keep reading. You aren’t going to be able to guess this one, Mom.”

Wowzer. She was right.

Could I recommend it to y’all? Since I may not actually know you? Or to my friends? Hmmm. I’m not sure. It’s very blunt. Has lots of racy/inappropriate language.  At least for Senior Citizen-type peeps like moi. Could be too-over-the-top for many. I'd completely understand.

And, yet…I'm certainly not sorry that I read it (I might have told TLC once or twice, the past few weeks, that I wasn't sure I understood why she recommended it to her Mama. She alleges that, since I love my Datelines', 20-20s' and 48 Hours' mysteries and murders, she had no doubt I'd relish reading this book. I get that. I do.) and want, desperately, to see the movie! I’ve had a few fun discussions with TLC about many aspects of the story and the (crazy and that is the understatement of the decade) characters.

I've told My Dear Friend (MDF), Mackie, who read it and saw the movie before TLC was unable to put it down, it would scare me to death if Gillian Flynn ever got into cahoots with Shonda Rhimes. I can barely get through Scandal and How to Get away with Murder every Thursday night. If Ms. Flynn contributed to these shows or came up with a new one/idea with Ms. Rhimes? YIKES. Bring out the smelling salts, please.

What will be my next reading choice? MDF has a suggestion. TLC has read a couple more books in the past weeks she thinks I'd enjoy. Hmmm. Not sure. Might take a break for a bit to build up my stamina and courage to read TLC's suggestions. I actually need to finish a book about an actress that was (finally, after many, many years) diagnosed with Celiac. It's hugely interesting. I stopped reading it to switch to GG. As per TLC's instructions...

Bye for now...this Grammy is GONE.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

i promise we're still here...

...just sick!

Poor Little Leighton was our first man down. Just when she started feeling better, I caught the bug. Our Sweet Grammy ELC had to come help take care of us this week. She made sure we had plenty of soup, orange juice, princess stickers and vacuumed floors. Her help is truly priceless.

Halloween was the first day LL really started to perk up. She was so excited to wear her fancy and festive hat-headband by day:

And her sparkly pumpkin dress by night to trick-or treat:

She loved her "treat bag." She called it her "pumpkin purse."

Hopefully, we'll be cured of these icky germs ASAP. In the meantime, remember--there's not much a pretty Autumn Day AND a cookie can't cure:

Happy Friday Eve, Friends!

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Top Ten Things The Leighton Girls Have Loved About October 2014!

1. Little Leighton’s continued healing!

2. Cool nights. Cool mornings. The Beginnings of crisp, lovely Autumn days!

3. Pumpkins!

4. Fall Fashion! Sweaters, sweatshirts, more jeans/less capris—which leads to less leg-shaving (does not apply, of course, to Little Leighton...lucky gal...), boots, and more scarves! (I say “more” scarves because TLC wears scarves year-round—even in the hideous Texas heat of August—Silly Woman.)

5. Little Leighton’s healing!

6. Fun Shopping Adventures! The days of browsing quaint shops feel much lovelier and tres pleasant, in terms of getting in and out of one’s car.

7. More pumpkins!

8. Trick-or-Treating! (As I type this, Little Leighton is two hours away…going from door-to-door in her neighborhood—dressed as…wait for it…DRUM ROLL…a Fancy/Sparkly Pumpkin!)

9. Thoughts of Thanksgiving and the upcoming Christmas holidays!

10. Little Leighton’s better and BETTER health! Yippee!!!

Happy Halloween, Our Sweet Sillies…Wherever in the World Y’all are…

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


First, I’m two days late on this post. Time flies when you’re babysitting Little Leighton (LL) while her parents go to a wedding! We picked LL up on Thursday morning in Fort Worth (She rode the bus! Ha. Just kidding.) and then took her back to TLC Sunday afternoon after her nap. She was sick, sick, SICK with a mean old cold the entire time she was with me and My Sweet Hubby (MSH). Still, when she wasn’t struggling to breathe while trying to nap or sleep at night, she was a DOLL. She’s a Funny Girl. Trust me on this one.

I’d thought I’d do a post Sunday evening. Too pooped. Then I flat forgot yesterday. I was gone for several hours during the day. Once I got home, I plopped myself on our davenport and started watching my Monday night shows. (I go back and forth between The Voice and Dancing With the Stars!)

As I looked up all the shows I DVR in our Great Room (That number would be 71. Yikes. Now, a few of those are MSH’s. I end up deleting a lot. My rule is this: If I haven't watched something I recorded four months ago? It's gone.) and in our bedroom (That number would be 17. Wow. Two or three of these are also MSH’s.), I realized it’s not surprising I have no time to read a book. (I’m currently on Page 124 of Gone Girl. TLC read it in 2 days. I’m going on two weeks. Sheesh.)

I intended to tell y’all about my NEW favourite telly shows. Unfortunately, there aren’t ten of them. And that is the requirement for this month’s posts. Ten of something.

I then decided my best bet would be to share with you my favourite shows at this time. The shows I cannot wait to see each week. The shows that make me laugh out loud. Cry.  Talk to some of the characters—like they can hear me. Like they’re real peeps. The shows that make me happy. Or cause me to think. Or, best of all—inspire me. I realize I’ve mentioned some of these shows before. Because, in January, we’ll begin our fifth year of this blog. Wwhhhaaaattttt? Wow.

Here’s My List (I’m numbering them but, truly, these are all equally important to the quality of the entertainment portion of my  life!):

  1. Grey’s Anatomy. Love it. Need it. Will simply not know how to cope when they all decide they are done. I’ll need therapy. Possibly meds.
  2. Parenthood. Didn’t begin this show until last year. That makes me very, very sad. I do intend to go back and watch previous years. It is incredible.
  3. The Voice. Love. Love. LOVE. Everything about this show. The Judges. (Blake and Adam are full of fun and charm. I adored Usher and Shakira. Miss them very much. But Pharrell and Gwen this season? They are two classy, CLASSY artists.)
  4. Nashville. I am a Country gal, Folks. I live in the country. I have been obsessed with country music since I was 19 years old. That’s a long, long time. I think it’d be a blast to live in Nashville. Tennessee is BEAUTIFUL. This show, to me, is fascinating.
  5. The Blacklist. MSH and I watch this one together. We have very few that we both enjoy. It replaced 24 for us—in the “scary/violent/spy/suspense” genre of TV. We don’t usually quite understand what the heck is going on—and we don’t even care. I’m serious. We could watch it without the sound on. It is a heckuva ride every single week.
  6. The Biggest Loser. I cry every single week. Every. Single. Week. I think Alison is fantastic. I treasure the trainers. Bob? My hero. I am beyond impressed with the courage of the contestants. I always say this to whoever will listen to me: Every person in America—or the World—should watch this show for inspiration. Period.
  7. Dancing With the Stars. When all my other friends (and TLC) abandoned this show, I couldn’t. I get furious with the Judges. I mean MAD. I think they’re too critical and rude. But Tom cracks me up. Most of these contestants inspire me, too. Even though I get it. They’re celebrities doing it for the exposure. Makes no difference to me.
  8. Shark Tank. Another show I insist (Oops—didn’t mean to say that!) MSH watch with me. Every week I try to think of something we could invent so we could be on this show. All six Sharks—even Kevin—are interesting people. I’d rather be home on Friday nights, watching this show, than at a 5-Star Restaurant in Dallas. Or watching a Texas high school football game. I’m not even kidding you.
  9. Modern Family. I thought I’d never get over the end of Friends. This show is unbelievably funny to me. It has helped me cope with my loss. I laugh out loud the entire 22ish minutes (I don’t do commercials. Ever.) The cast? SPECTACULAR. Seriously.
  10. The Middle. Another fabulous comedy I must watch. Each week I say something like this to TLC: Sue is my most favourite! The next week? It’s Axel. The next? Brick. The parents? Hysterical. Yes, I know, because of the writers. They admit that—I’ve heard them do it. But they are all talented actors and comedians. I missed the first year of this one. That makes me sad.
Humour me, please: There are five more shows I have to mention: Long Island Medium (TLC network). She rocks. The Millers. NBC. I think. Amazing cast/funny show! About a Boy. NBC. I’m out of adjectives. This one is beyond CLEVER. So extremely CLEVER. Chrisley Knows Best. USA. A reality show that TLC and I are both obsessed with—completely obsessed. The new season just recently began. Angels Among Us. TLC network. She’s as sweet and precious as Theresa Caputo. I believe in Angels. I believe this lady is remarkable.

Humour me, pretty, pretty please, for a few more new shows that intrigue me:

Marry Me. NBC. (A new one.)
A to Z. NBC. (A new one.)
Bad Judge. NBC. (A new one.)
How to Get Away With Murder. ABC. (A new one.) This show, together with Scandal, (Not a new one.) is raunchy. Irreverent. Shocking. Insanity at it's finest. In my humble opinion, both of these are completely inappropriate for the time of the evening they're aired. However, unfortunately, I'm hopelessly addicted to each of them. (Perhaps I'm actually a teensy-itsy-bitsy bit ashamed of this confession.) I cringe as I watch. I say things, to the characters, like: “How stupid could you be?” Or, to myself: "Well, that scene was completely unnecessary." At the end of this week's episode of each of these series? I cannot wait for next week’s. I need as much help, me thinks, as Shonda Rhimes. Yikes.

Yes. I need to turn off my telly and pick up a book. Or go to bed.  I’ll let you know how that works out, okay?

By the way: If it helps your opinion of me, in any way or at all, I rarely ever, EVER watch television during the day. Cross my heart.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

TLC's 10 Favourite Fall-ish Things To Do:

Disclaimer: I may not technically do all of these things. Some are "bucket list items!"

1. Decorate pumpkins. (Because carving is too messy for my OCD tendencies.) Pinterest has so many cute ideas! Monograms. House numbers crafted out of gold thumbtacks. Polka dots. Glittered stems. I want to do them all!

2. Wear a scarf. every. day. I LOVE scarves! (Little Leighton really wants one of her own, too!) I'm currently on the hunt for something Burberry-esque, minus the Burberry price tag.

3. Starbucks. As much as I love all things pumpkin, I actually prefer their Skinny Vanilla Lattes over the PSL. (But I'll have a Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin on the side, please and thank you.)

4. Visit lots o' pumpkin patches!

5. Go on a hayride! (We actually went on a hayride at a pumpkin patch this year!)

6. (Learn how to) Bake Gluten-Free Apple Cider Donuts. Yummy! I would actually love to go apple picking, too!

7. Sit on a quilt and gaze at the pretty, twinkling stars. Crisp. fall, evening air is enlightening.

8. (Learn how to) Knit or crochet a cozy throw blanket. 

9. Have a movie night--outside! We have friends that would host an annual Halloween Party. They would set up a projector and screen in their backyard. We would cuddle-up under blankets, munch on popcorn and have a ball! It was always so much fun.

10. Let a big pot of (Gluten-Free) Homemade Taco Soup simmer on the stove all Sunday afternoon. Nothing beats football watchin' and soup (and cornbread!) eatin'.

Gosh, Fall makes me so happy!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

ELC'S Top 10 Favourite Signs It's FALL At Our Country Casa!

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Those of us who live in North Central Texas love, love, LOVE Autumn/Fall! We've had it with hideously hot, stifling, horrible weather. Stick a fork in us. We're DONE.

Yes, TLC is completely, totally, FOREVER OBSESSED with Autumn. (That's one of the millions of things this Mama loves about her.) But My Sweet Hubby (MSH) and I need/adore/cherish Fall, too. For him, it's the beginning of having to mow (whether it's our lawn or pastures) every ten days to two weeks. Rather than every week. (Well, pastures are only mowed three to five times a year. But they are a big job that takes many hours when they require attention.) For both of us, it's the time of cool, crisp, simply delightful mornings and evenings. (It can still be quite hot at mid-day and in the afternoons in our neck o' the woods. Even in the typically "winter" months.)

Although we normally put out about forty pumpkins, this year we decided to cut back a bit. I think we've kept it to 20ish medium to large pumpkins. (I don't really count the tiny/small ones.) I have spared y'all pictures of all 20. You're quite welcome!

Here, then, are the signs around our place that it's Fall:

Hope each and every single one of you have had a lovely weekend...wherever in the world you are!

Punkin Smooches, Darlings...