Sunday, November 28, 2010

In Memory…Mary Holmes

What turned out to be a day of going back home and relaxing ended up being a day joy and heartbreak. You see,  on our way coming home from our Thanksgiving in Dallas, TX I got the news I knew would one day come. My grandmother, Mary Holmes, was about to pass away. You know you think you have prepared yourself for these moments, but when they happen you find your not as well prepared as you thought. What makes it so crazy is that I spoke with my Grandmother on Thanksgiving morning and something inside me knew that things weren't right.

We actually began our drive back to Mobile, AL a little late. We planned to leave at about 4am, but we didn't get on the road until 5am. Thanks to my son, Little Ernest, neither of us got a lot of sleep either. As soon as we got to the hotel room last night he woke up and stayed up all night long talking to us constantly in our sleep. LOL. He was so excited about returning home he couldn't sleep at all.

The ride home seemed a lot longer that getting to Dallas, TX. I think it was mostly due to the fact that we made more stops. We stopped at WalMart, a few gas stations to fill-up as well as wake up, and had a very uneventful breakfast in Bossier, LA called Mobe's Restaurant.  We were about 2 hours away from Mobile, AL when I got the text from my Aunt Ruby that I need to call my cousin Shonny. The minute I saw that text I new exactly what it meant and my heart dropped. Once I called her my suspicions had been confirmed. She had not passed away yet at this time, but I was told that it was any time now. That she would not make it before the day was over. Of course I had to make the heartbreaking calls to family including my sister, Gabriel, who now lives in Chicago, IL. From that moment on I found it hard to think all the way home.

Once we got here, though, my brain took a small break spending time with my In-Laws. Ernest's nephew James was in town with his wife and two adorable little girls. We had to make sure that we saw them before the left for Omaha, Nebraska. It was nice being with everyone. Even the occasional hollering of the children. But after spending a few hours there it was time for everyone to go their separate ways. For me it was calling more family members, looking into what needs to be done for the funeral, and trying hard not to have a nervous break down.

My grandmother was a wonderful woman. Many thought of her as a bit harsh. Even my own mother. But I always looked at her as a very strong and determined woman. She knew what she wanted and how to get it. She also was a very talented woman. I think that is where I got my love for drawing from. I remember growing up and watching my grandmother paint. Her favorite thing was to paint still life and landscapes. She use to do it with such little effort. I even remember one early morning her showing me how to properly draw a tree, mountains, and a house. I think I was about in 4th or 5th grade then. We had just moved back to Denver, CO from Dayton, OH. She was amazing. Feisty little thing til the very end of her life. I remember when my mother passed away how I was so concerned about her, but she made sure she was there for me. It was the day she told me how proud of me she was. It was also the first day I could ever remember her saying she loved me.  She wasn't one to always express her feelings, but from that day on she always made sure to told me that.  If anything at all makes me sad it's that I wasn't there for her in the end. Part of my quilt of being so far away from her. I love my grandmother so very much and I will miss her deeply. She was in her early 90s so I know she lived a long life. She survived the death of her husband, her two daughters, her two sisters (one who just passed a few months ago), wars, poverty, and so much more. I should be celebrating her next life of peace. She is no longer suffering. She is in heaven now with those who have gone on before her. But you know it doesn't ease the pain I feel. This will be very hard for me, but I do know I have the Lord and my family on my side. That for sure means everything during this time.  This is must honestly say is what makes me truly thankful.

Photos of Mary Holmes

The Iron Bowl and Great Food

Today wasn't filled wasn't filled with anything extraordinary. I was very surprised, though, that Little Ernest and I slept in until about 9am. 9:30am for Little Ernest. We spent most of the day in our hotel room relaxing and watching TV. Actually, waiting for the Iron Bowl to come on. See in Alabama the Iron Bowl is one of the best college game rivalries. Here your either for Alabama Crimson Tide or your for Auburn Tigers. There are no in-betweens. Alabama is filled with lots of tailgating, home parties, bar celebrations, rivalry trash talk, etc. You would think it was the Super Bowl time.  Unfortunately, My Roll Tide didn't win the game. We lost it by 1 darn point. However, it was an excellent game. Both teams played hard til the very last seconds of the game. It could have went either way.  Not happy they didn't win, but at least we saw a great game. Of course I will be hearing Auburn fans brag about their win for another month or two. LOL.

After watching the game we decided to go out for a family meal at P.F. Chang's. I had heard so many great things about this place. I didn't know they had one in Birmingham, AL and in Destin, FL, but I wanted to go here for our first visit. Thought it would be great to go along with the Horse-Drawn Carriage ride that I had hoped we would take. Both are in a shopping center called Watters Creek. When we pulled up to the center we had no idea what to expect. Let me just say that we were all amazed. Christmas decorations already setting the scene and of course the boys loved it.

The atmosphere at P.F. Chang's was simply breath taking. Amazing how dim lighting and a great staff can make a wonderful impression on someone. The hostesses were very hospitable. We were expecting a 20-30 minute wait, but they had our table in 10-15 minutes. The moment we sat down the entire staff made sure we were comfortable and we had everything we needed. Our waiter's name was Alex and from the moment he introduced himself he provided superior service. He gave suggestions and answered any question we had. In fact, he helped me decided on my alcoholic beverage....P.F. Chang's Green Tea.

Now keep in mind that I have very picky children. They have never been into Chinese food at all, but this place achieved getting my boys out the box...LOL. Little Ernest had the Kid's Chicken Lo Mein and he loved it using the child chopsticks. Robert had Kid's Chicken Fried Rice and he also enjoyed his meal.

Ernest and I had the P.F. Chang's for Two and is was an excellent meal. We tried both their Hot & Sour Soup and Egg Drop soup. Both delicious, but we both voted the Egg Drop Soup as our favorite between the two. Seasonings and tastes for both, however, were just right. We also enjoyed the Chicken Lettuce Wrap and I know now why that it is the favorite of many of my friends. We loved it!!! Our entrees were Beef & Broccoli for my husband and I had Cantonese Shrimp. For dessert hubby had the Red Velvet Mini Desert and I had the Chocolate Mousse Mini Dessert. All of them were delicious.

To make our meal even better the manager even came by to make sure we had everything we needed. It was a great meal that my entire family enjoyed and were impressed with. What really amazed us both was that there was a group sitting behind us and as they were all leaving a lady walked over to our table and complimented us about how well behaved our boys were. She told us that she had never seen such well behaved children their age in a restaurant before and that it was refreshing. Ernest and I both looked at her like, "huh"? Cause in reality we didn't think that were that well behaved. I do remember repeating several times to them both, "Sit down!" "Eat", "Calm down", and the always famous "Shhhhh". LOL, but oh well. It was nice to hear that anyhow.

After having such a fantastic meal we decided to enjoy the scenery at Watters Creek. The place was just simply beautiful with all the decorated trees. It was packed with people everywhere going out to eat and wanting to take advantage of the Horse-Drawn Carriage ride. We didn't get the change to take advantage of that ride ourselves. It was actually a little late in the evening and a bit chilly. We figured it wasn't the best for the boys at this time. Just driving around and viewing the wonders it had was enough for all of us. Definitely lets you know Christmas is around the corner.

We ended our evening laughing, talking and getting to know my sister Renate's boyfriend. He was actually a very nice man and you could tell he is very happy to be with him. That's all that matters when looking out for family right. The boys stayed asleep the entire time, but it was a nice ending to a very interesting day and a great Thanksgiving vacation. I couldn't have been happier to spent this time with my sister. Meant so much to me and the boys.

A video of a tree in Watters Creek. Took it because the lights looked like snow was falling from the tree. Thought it was beautiful.

Thanksgiving 2010

Words cannot express to you just how great it felt to spend this Thanksgiving with my older sister Renate. See I have never met my older sister until this past June. We have the same father but different mothers, so we didn't grow up together.  We have an older sister, Lorita, that I have also never met. Over the past few years Renate and I have spoken to each other whenever she was with our father and last June during our trip to Dallas, TX we decided that it would be great for us to finally meet.  Well, after our first meeting we have been in constant contact texting and on Facebook. Hubby thought it would be a great idea for us to come back and celebrate Thanksgiving together. I am so glad that he made that suggestion.

You know, meeting a sibling or family member at an older age  can be very scary. You spend time thinking, "What do I say to them?", "Will they like me?",  "Will I like them?",  "Will we even get along?",  "Do we have anything in common?", etc. However, I have found that it just much easier to talk about whatever comes to mind and go from there. I have enjoyed getting to know my sister and knowing that I have another part of my family that is filled. Sort of like not really feeling complete, but your getting the holes filled in. :-)

Anyhow, today did end up being very long for us. Let me first mention that the day was a big change from yesterday when it comes to the weather. It was extremely cold at 41 degrees. Our day started out with us trying to find a place to eat breakfast.   At first we had planned to go to our favorite spot...Golden Corral. However, they were only serving dinner items all day so our next choice was Denny's. The Denny's we went to was very nice. Every staff member was wearing their Dallas Cowboys jersey and of course this made Ernest very happy. We also found that the tables had turned. There was Shreveport, LA where we surrounded by a ton of New Orleans Saints fans yet here we were in Dallas, TX and it seemed the Saints fans where in the private section of the restaurant. For the most part we enjoyed our breakfast and began to begin our day with my sister.

Once we arrived at Renate's we met with Ayisha. She is Renate's sister on her mother's side. She is very nice too. Poor thing had been fixing dinner for us since last night. You could tell she was tired. Unfortunately, Renate had to work that morning so we had to wait for her to come home. Ayisha and I got along great. Well, of course I did most of the talking, but I enjoyed my time with her.  By the time Renate came home everyone was laughing, hot, and watching the football game New England Patriots vs Detroit Lions. Another thing I must be honest and say I enjoyed. Everyone in the house very much into the football game. Especially the Dallas Cowboys vs New Orleans Saints game.  Not a fan of either team, but I so wanted Ernest's team to win their game.  They lost by a field goal.

It was about midnight by the time we left. We had good laughs and ate great food with family. That made for an excellent Thanksgiving Day in my book. I am very thankful to even be given the chance to have this moment.

You see some photos of artwork in my slideshow. My nephew Khiry is the creator. I had to show of my nephew's skills. He has such great talent. I hope to meet him one day soon too. :-)

I just had to take a video of Little Ernest helping his brother wash his hands. See Robert went to the bathroom and Little Ernest started questioning him when he was done by asking if he had washed his hands. Robert said, "Yes", but Ernest touched his hands and said, "No you didn't. Your hands are dry. Come on! I will help you wash your hands." and that is where the video comes in. LOL. Adorable don't you think?

We hit the Road

Well, we hit the road at 4am and as usual I think I lasted 30 minutes before I was fast asleep. The ride to Dallas, TX wasn't bad at all really. We didn't make a lot of stops which was nice, but hard on Ernest since he was doing all of the driving. He doesn't like to stop unless he absolutely has to. Sometimes it can be annoying, but I understand why he does it. He likes to get where we are going at the earliest possibility. LOL.

Anyhow, if anything our troubles began in Shreveport, LA. First it was our cellphones. We had a signal, but for the oddest reason my cellphone started freezing up and acting very funny. I was almost in tears because no matter what I did my phone would not act right. Ernest's phone didn't give him that much of an issue, but it did it's share of issues. We went to the same gas station we stopped at on our way home from Dallas, TX back in June.  Because it is Thanksgiving week the place was packed with cars. It was also packed with people who had no idea how to keep the lines moving. People were blocking others in just so they don't lose their spot while others walked around like they didn't have a care in the world. I am so surprised there wasn't accident at all. In the mist of it all my phone ended up resetting itself completely. Which meant all my apps, contacts, email accounts, Internet favorites, etc. were gone. Good thing my Windows Mobile phone allows me to always backup my phone and I was able to get everything back. I did have to reinstall my apps and email accounts, but I was happy to know I didn't have to reenter all those contacts. Geez!!!

Next stop in Shreveport was IHOP. Usually we don't have any problems going to IHOP, but by the time I left I was so ticked off I didn't even eat all my food. When we first got there everything was fine. The place was packed with New Orleans Saints fans. In fact, their was an actual Saints fan group sitting next to us. No biggie to me really since I am neither a Saints or Cowboys fan. Then SHE WALKED IN. I have never in my life met someone so arrogant. Even as a football fan. Now I talk crap, but I do give credit where credit is due.  The woman came in loud and trying to high five every Saints fan in the place. Ernest was calm since he was out numbered. She came to our table and tried to get Little Ernest to say "Go Saints". He just looked at her. To make it understood I told her that his dad was a Cowboy fan. She walked off saying "OK well we will act like your not here". If you know me at all...My attitude kicked in at that very moment.

Finally, our waitress arrived asking we wanted something to drink. I had to repeat myself like twice just to let her know I wanted coffee and the boys wanted juice. She didn't hear anything until Ernest said it and then repeated it himself.  They only provided us with 3 silverware bundles and the table had no sugar whatsoever. To make it worse we barely saw our waitress.  When we did she spoke to other tables, walk off, then come back to speak in passing.  All during this time that darn lady, who wonderfully sat next to me, was just yapping and talking so much crap about Dallas fans that I either wanted to slap her HARD or just move. However, Ernest was much calmer than I was and just said that it's no big deal so I tolerated it.  Then he became a little upset himself.

See Ernest's phone doesn't charge with the travel charger so his battery was pretty low. He asked the hostess if he could charge his phone up front. Where we were sitting we were in plain view to keep an eye on it. She told him that was fine, but she couldn't keep an eye on it or be responsible for it.  That was fine with him so he plugged it in and sat back down. Well, no longer after our waitress went and unplugged and took it to the back. When she finally came back to our table he asked if he could get it back. She made the comment that they don't allow guests to plug in anything, so he was a bit upset with the hostess for telling him it was OK in the first place.  She was suppose to get the cellphone and plug, but never brought it back. After waiting for sometime I got up and went by where all the waiters and waitresses were and asked if someone could get his cellphone. Everyone pretty much had a "I don't care" attitude and had no sense of urgency whatsoever. This includes the manager who pretty much ignored me. I stood there for about 10-15 minutes before the waitress finally brought Ernest's cellphone to me. By this time I was pissed off and simply ready to go. And we did only to have that woman piss me off more by turning to my son before we left and asked him to say "Go Saints" again. Of course, being a child he repeated. Really? Who does that crap? You know we didn't want him to say it, but because your so arrogant you do it again? Ugggh!!! I had to just grab the boys and leave. Didn't even wait for Ernest to pay the bill.

We finally, made it to our hotel around 3:30pm. Our hotel room was very nice and from the moment I checked us in the staff was very hospitable.  So that was comforting after a long road trip and the events of Shreveport, LA. We got in relaxed for a little, I made a few phone calls, we cleaned up and headed off to eat dinner. Our first stop was the Twisted Root Burger Co.. We saw this place on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Unfortunately, the place closed early for Thanksgiving so that was a big disappointment. We tried to find another place to eat close by, but nothing got our attention really until I ran across Randy White's Hall-of-Fame BBQ. Now I don't know why this was still listed at all on Bing because according to the guy at a hotel we asked this place hasn't been around in 5 years. So with another disappointment for dinner we decided on a place in the same section called Spring Creek BBQ. The place wasn't bad at all. The staff were actually extremely nice. So nice that Little Ernest found it easy to speak with them like crazy. Other than the macaroni & cheese not having much taste at all and, according to Ernest, the ribs were a bit dry we actually liked this place.

After all these events of the day we went back to our room, settled in, and fell fast asleep. You wouldn't believe how absolutely comfortable these beds here are.  LOL. On the Thanksgiving Day!!!

Our Thanksgiving Vacation Begins…

Well, It's finally official. Me, Ernest, and the boys are preparing for our trip to spend Thanksgiving with one of my older sisters, Renate, in Dallas, TX. Words cannot express to you how excited I am. Thought about it for months and now it's becoming a reality.

To be honest, though, at this moment I am extremely tired. The guys are all asleep and it's about midnight. Spent most of the evening cleaning and hollering at the boys. Now it's time to pack and give Ernest a few hours of rest since he is driving. Can't wait for us to be on the road. Mostly so that I can curl under my Bama Snuggie, grab a pillow, and fall fast asleep. It's about 10-11 hours from Mobile, AL to Dallas, TX so hopefully I will get some descent rest. I usually do until Ernest asks me to consult my phone's GPS. LOL. In the meantime I will finish packing and wonder why this woman keeps walking back and forth this late at night. People be seriously tripping' sometimes.

We don't have a whole lot planned like we did back in June. Wednesday and Thursday will be spent with my sister, and her friends/family. Friday will be our day. I would like to take the boys on the free horse-drawn carriage ride and maybe visit Santa. Ernest wants to go to some place called the Stockyard. Somewhere in the three days we want to go back to Texas Land & Cattle Steak House and I want to try P.F. Chang's. So all in all this should be a great trip. Taking lots of pics and videos during my vacation too.

I will say this, however. I am a bit sad. My sister Gabriel is in Chicago, IL and my son Cordell can't make it. I know Cordell is 22 now, but he will always be my baby boy and I really miss him. This will the first time my sister isn't with me for the holidays. I am missing her too. I suppose that is what life is all about. Changing and growing. I accept it, but doesn't mean I have to like it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

And so the Holiday Begins…

You know when the holidays have begun when you start making special school trips and your job begins their annual pot luck dinners. This year it has started with a trip to Little Ernest's school for Thanksgiving lunch.

Ernest and I paid $5 each and scheduled ourselves to attended Little Ernest's Thanksgiving Lunch at Just 4 Developmental Laboratory. They had waves so that the lunchroom wouldn't be so crowded with parents and children. Our wave was at 11:30am til 12:15pm, however, we were slightly late. No problem, though. We still got there in time to enjoy a great lunch with our little man.
He was so excited and happy about our being there no matter when we arrived. What was on the lunch menu? They served turkey, dressing, green beans, cranberry sauce, a fruit cup, mini sweet potato pie, and roll. Sweet tea was the choice of beverage. To be honest, it was better than I expected. I didn't even finish my plate. Got pretty full personally.

It was nice getting the chance to have my son show off his class hall displays. One they had to show what was their favorite kind of milk. His of course is chocolate. No surprise at all. The other was a writing of their measurements using an apple and a fish cutouts. Ernest wrote that he was 4 fish and 4 apples long. LOL

I think each class had their own special gifts for the parents to. When we first arrived one class was singing Thanksgiving songs with Indian headdresses that they made. Ernest's class didn't make headdresses, but each parent did receive name badges that said "I am thankful for... " and our child's photo. It was simply adorable and priceless. They made themselves pins with turkeys created on them.

The next event was Thanksgiving at Ernest's store in Grand Bay. He usually has one every year with his staff. He thinks it's a great team motivation kind of thing, which actually it really is. It's a great way for everyone to get everyone together and enjoy good conversation over food. It's always pot luck too. This year the food wasn't unforgettable, but it wasn't bad either. We had dressing, mac & cheese, ham, turkey, corn casserole, rolls, green, pecan pie, sweet potato pies, Lemon Meringue Pie, and an excellent red velvet cake. It wasn't as eventful as the other dinners we had but it was enjoyable. Ended up taking a lot of the leftovers home, however.

I had never seen the boys as active as they were at this dinner. Robert was running all over the place. They both tried to play with the son of one of staff members. He was simply adorable.I think he was about 2 years old, but not absolutely sure.

All in all this holiday season has gotten off to a good start. And I must admit that I am pretty excited about it this year. I am waiting with anticipation for Tuesday to come to enjoy our annual pot luck at my job. Every year their is a great selection of food and I always end up extremely full. As you know...will be blogging about that event too. With picture and possible videos. So stay tuned. :-)
Our Thanksgiving Lunch with Little Ernest

Robert Enjoying Himself at the Arby's Thanksgiving Dinner

Arby's Thanksgiving Dinner 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Youth Football Season is at an End

Well, Saturday was Round 2 of the playoffs in the Mobile Youth Football Conference (MYFC) for Peanut C (4 year olds) team. Officially it was Round 3, but the Peanut C teams didn't begin until last week so in my opinion it was Round 2. Anyhow, the boys had to play against West Mobile Buccaneers at Skidmore Park (also known as Saraland Park). We had to be there at 7:30am and the morning weather was not at all nice to us whatsoever. It was extremely cold. It wasn't cold as what I am us to during winter back home in Denver, Colorado but it was cold enough. On top of the cold weather, the day just didn't seem to go as any of us had hoped.

As I mentioned previously we were at the park by 7:30am. Surprisingly the park already had it's share of parents already there once we arrived which we had not seen all season. Usually when we arrived for a game there were very few parents there including the opposing team. Not sure if I could say the boys were fully awake. They looked like they were up, but not quite. However, regardless they did their best to prepare for the game. The plan was to give them hot coca to help them warm up. That plan didn't happen. Maybe it should have. LOL

The game started on time. Little Ernest for the second time was a team captain for the game and the boys did a great job holding the Buccaneers back during the first quarter. Parents were loud, cheering, and supportive from the very beginning. I don't think I had ever been as excited and nervous this football season as I was today.  Until the last minute of the 2nd quarter we had very high hopes our boys could win against West Mobile since they had beaten us twice before. But that one touchdown by the opposing team before half time gave us butterflies. After half time we realized that it just might not be possible for our boys to win the game.

It really didn't have anything to do with the boys really. Well, actually I think one child was sleepier than the others because it was on his side that they started getting touchdowns on. He refused tackle the boy with the ball at all. No. 11 just flew past him with absolutely no fight. I must also admit that it was a bit annoying that the other team did try to play a few cheap tricks to throw our boys off their game. At one point one of the West Mobile boy's was clearing holding with a referee in clear eye view. A touchdown that should have been brought back wasn't and we were a bit ticked off about that. If it wasn't for Ethan in under 3 minutes of the game I don't think we have gotten a point at all. The game ended with the score reading West Mobile Buccaneers 22 Cottage Hill Steelers 8. But it is all good. Although we we sad about the ending of the season, we were all proud of the hard work our boys have done. They didn't win but they played hard.

Personally I won't miss the 3 nights and 2 full hours of practicing week after week. Nor will I miss the waking up at 5:30am to be at a park by 7am for a game that begins at 8:30am. But I will miss the friendship I built with other moms and dads. I think our team had a great group of parents. I will miss the yelling and cheering on the sidelines. Miss watching Ernest get excited about every practice and every game. Even seeing Robert encourage and cheer his bother and the team on as they went to their weigh-ins and ran out on the field. It has been a great season and I am so glad that I was an active part of it all. Can't wait til next year already when Robert will begin his first year. We will have long game days then with occasional separate parks and watching all four boys play (Robert, Ernest, and my two nephews DJ and Man).

Speaking of my nephews, their game wasn't glorious at all. The ending score was Cottage Hill Steelers 12 Eight Mile Giants 36. Poor babies really didn't have their hearts into it. Plus having Navco Vikings parents behind them screaming and cheering loud for the other team didn't help much either. Navco was louder than Cottage Hill Peanut B parents and the Eight Mile Giants parents. I tried to encourage the boys who were sitting on the bench and he told me, "We're going to lose" and at the time they were ahead. What makes it so annoying and awful, in my opinion, was that Navco knew exactly what they were doing and were ruthless with it. Really? These are 5 year old children and they were simply being absolutely mean to these babies. You don't do that with youth league children. Am I sensitive about that? Yeah, but I have absolutely no respect for parents and teams that are that mean to children and cheap just for the sole purpose of winning a game.