Thursday, January 18, 2018

What I Learned Growing Up in a Big Family

1. You own nothing. You might think you do, but you don't, really. Your siblings are always taking your stuff. Even your money--if you had change sitting on your dresser, they would replace quarters with nickels, dimes with pennies. Luckily, mom marked our clothes. I had red "x's". I could force the twins to take off their shoes and show me their socks. Even when you think something is indisputably yours---like your First Communion prayer book that your grandmother wrote your name in her beautiful script so there could be no doubt---your sister will write her name in the front with a red crayon! Even when you get a brand new bike for Christmas, but can't ride it because of a broken arm---you siblings get it first!

2. What little you do have, you take care of. You can't afford replacements--no matter who breaks it or messes it up. Your siblings don't have any money either---unless they were the one who swapped out your coins. No way to know for sure.

3. You learn to share. You can't afford to be selfish. You might have something really cool (game, record, clothing) but if you don't share, you don't have access to your siblings stuff. As I've said, you don't really own anything anyway, so you might as well share what you do have. Less fights that way. And less chance that your stuff will be vandalized "accidentally on purpose!"

4. There is always someone who will go along with your schemes---sneaking cookies out of the freezer or eating cherries or pickles until they are gone. You have to have someone so you can't be snitched upon! On the other hand, there is always someone willing to play whatever you want. You might have to go down the line and be stuck with a littler kid, but still there was someone to play with.

5. It's never quiet. You learn to read while blocking out crazy background noise. Watching tv was just about impossible unless it was Leave it to Beaver or The Flintstones. The noise and fighting would get to our mom. She was always yelling, "You kids are driving me to the nut house!"

6. If you forget to call "place back" you're relegated to the floor. We never had seating for nine in our living room. Many fights over that---"you didn't call placeback!" "Yes I did too call placeback!" And on and on.

7. There's really nothing wrong with fighting and we did a lot of that. You learn what hurts and what doesn't. The twins had tender heads where as it didn't hurt to pull my hair. I pretended like it did while I yanked theirs out!!! They thought they were killing me---my fake screams were among the best. I say "they" because since "they" were twins, they fought in pairs.  Inside, I just laughed, because pulling my hair didn't really hurt. Now, gouging me with their fingernails--in the face---was another story! You survive.

8. You have a lot more sins to tell in confession. "Bless me Father for I have sinned, it's been one week since my last confession. I hit my brothers and sisters 12 times. I lied 3 times. I stole cookies twice." It was important to tell what you stole because stealing cookies from home or candy from a sibling was a "venial sin" while stealing from a store or another person outside your family was a "mortal sin" which meant you'd go directly to hell when you died. There's a difference.

9. Washing dishes alone is terrible and takes 3 hours. We were supposed to work together: set the table, clear the table, put the leftovers away, wash, dry, put away, take out the garbage, wipe everything. We fought so much that my parents made us each take one week and do everything by ourselves. It was bad when it was your turn, but then you had two weeks off. Somehow, those two weeks flew by. It always felt like I was doing dishes. Dishwashers were a God-send. It wasn't until after I married and moved out that the family got one. Of course by then Butch and I lived in a cheap apartment, then on to a rental house, another apartment in West Virginia. I didn't get to stop washing dishes by hand until 1978. Assuming I had to start washing dishes at 5, I hand washed dishes for 21 years.

10. We didn't have much at Christmas, but we never knew it. We got a lot of practical things: socks, underwear, tshirts, pajamas, new crayons (which were broken within two days---see #1 above), and always a big life saver book (In those days, you got 12 packs of lifesavers inside. Now-a-days you only get 8---bummer). We got a few toys and books (always my favorite). But here's the thing, mom wrapped EVERYTHING! With so many in the family, it was amazing to see dozens of presents under the tree. That's why I wrap everything too. You can spread out the gifts to fill the room and make it look like a wonderland! It definitely was at our house!

11. You missed out on the pickles if you weren't around when someone opened the jar. See #4 above. Mom had shelves in the basement where she stored extra food. Beware if you were the one sent down there to get pickles or cherries or crackers. You'd come up with nothing but a jar full of juice or an empty box. Even though we were all in on it, whoever had to reveal the crime got it the worst!

12. If you make a pact with your siblings to confess to our parents all the "wrongs" we'd done (crossing the street, sneaking cookies, saying bad words, playing doctor (the worst) or breaking something)---you better be sure to go first. Too many times as soon as the first one unloaded and we saw the trouble they got in, the rest of us chickened out! Bad for us because the "goodie two shoes" confessor now had all kinds of stuff on us. That's how Ronnie got my Mickey Mouse pencil box I got for my 8th birthday. Blackmail always works in a big family.

13. Your sibling will NOT stick up for you!! If you found yourself in trouble, you were on your own. If you were being blamed for something you didn't do, no one will step up on your behalf. They just stand on the sidelines---happy it's not them in the crosshairs and praying they won't be! On the other hand, if someone outside the family messes with you, the others will jump in.

14. You were on your own when it came to schoolwork. No one would help you. In fact they'd more likely laugh and make fun if you had homework and they didn't! They'd make a point of doing fun stuff without you.

15. You mostly hate your siblings. Sometimes you sorta liked them, but mostly you hated them. Some more than others. Nobody hates the baby. But when you grow up, you love them all! And that's the truth!

Growing up in a big family---I wouldn't have traded it for the world!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What I Buy Wednesday

It's been awhile. I like "what I buy Wednesday" to document what I bought during the year.

We were at Sandy's for Jordan's birthday right before Christmas. We went to the show to see The Disaster Artist. Oh my gosh! It was so good! James Franco was unbelievable. In fact, we were pretty sure he would win an Academy Award for his performance. After winning the Golden Globe, all of the allegations of sexual abuse came out. I doubt he'll even be nominated now. Still, it was a great performance.

The movie is a true story about what is being billed as the worst movie every made.
The Room was financed and produced by Tommy Wiseau. That's him on the cover. The guy himself is a mystery. No one knows where he's from or where he got his money. He's creepy looking and Franco portrayed him perfectly! The movie ran for only two weeks---at Tommy's expense because he wanted it to be considered for an Academy Award (apparently a move has to play at least two weeks for a nomination). The Room has developed a cult following. In fact, it played just last week here for one night. Morgan, Jordan and I wanted to go, but I had theater tickets that night. Instead, I bought it for $10.00. Now we'll have a good excuse to get together to watch it.

I bought a few other things, but they haven't come in, so I'll save them for next week!

What did you buy this week?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tuesday Thoughts about...

...Pecan Pie.

In years past, I've had:
"Monday Mysteries"
"Monday Memos, Mail and Me"
"What I buy Wednesday"
"Five Things Thursday"
"Throwback Thursday"
"Friday Funnies"
"Showtunes Saturdays"
"Storytelling Sunday"

I realized that I've never had anything on Tuesdays. Today,  I'm starting a new meme called "Tuesday Thoughts about..." I'm going to try to share some stories on Tuesdays about something in particular. They will be random with ideas coming from whatever hits me at the time. We shall see how it goes. For today, my"Tuesday Thoughts" are about pecan pie.

My bridge partner, Joan, brought a pecan pie when they joined us for Christmas dinner. It was a nice gesture and we enjoyed some of it. I don't really like pecan pie anymore. That got me to thinking about it.

I grew up in St. Louis. My mom only cooked Italian. I never had pecan pie---nor had I ever heard of it. I'm not sure how it was that my best friend, Reenie and I ever tried it. At the age of 10---yes 10---in the 5th grade, we were allowed to ride the bus to Riverroads Mall. It was one of the nation's first enclosed malls. The only stores I really remember were Stix, Baer and Fuller---a department store which 25 years later was bought out by Dillards---and Woolworths. Woolworths is at the heart of this story.

Reenie and I would have "lunch" in the Steamboat Room at Woolworth's. Our lunch would consist of sharing an order of fries, a medium coke and a piece of pecan pie. Every. Time. I don't remember how we came to try that pecan pie for the first time, but man, I'll never forget it! We had to hold ourselves back from having lunch too early. We couldn't wait to get to that pie. I don't remember what it cost, but I do remember that we were generous tippers of a nickel each!!

It wasn't until we moved to Louisville, KY in 1978 that I discovered Derby Pie. Basically, it's a pecan pie with chocolate chips and bourbon. I made it every year for the Derby parties we had for over 20 years.

Pecan pies were the easiest pies to make---mix a bunch of stuff together, pour in to the pie shell and bake.  It was always rich and gooey with the crispy pecans rising to the top. I think it's because of the ease of making it that has burned me out on it. I made it too much. Now I find it way to rich and sweet for me.

I put Joan's leftover pie in the freezer after Christmas. I got it out yesterday to make room in the freezer. I don't want it. In fact, no one does. The girls all eat healthy these days. It's sitting on the counter. I'll toss it in a couple of days. Maybe Butch will want a final slice. Still, I'm happy about the memories that pie has evoked.

The pie needs to go, but my memory of pecan pie will remain one of my sweetest!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Those Twins!

I grew up with twin sisters. They were two years younger than me. Hate is a rather strong word. But my feeling for them growing up came close!

Today is their birthday. I love them so much! I've come a long way since childhood! Janice and Jennifer---here's to you!!
I can still tell them apart: Jennifer and Janice. Mom said that when they were babies, she had to put an extra diaper pin on one of them to remind herself which one she held while feeding the last time. She had to prop the baby and hold the bottle while she cradled and fed the other.
Jennifer and Janice. I was only two when they came along. I don't really remember anything about them.
Jennifer and Janice.
 Jennifer and Janice---they really look like mirror images here.
 Jennifer and Janice. I guess mom always put Jennifer on the left for formal photos. This is how they still look at each other!
Janice and Jennifer
 Jennifer and Janice (this was Easter--we all got new Easter dresses including hat and purse. We also got a new dress at Christmas, but I don't recall get hats or purses then.)
Janice and Jennifer. This picture was taken in our front yard. You can see that we lived in the "country" of St. Louis. The road in front of our house was paved, but the side street and driveway were gravel.

We loved that no one outside the family could tell them apart. If they didn't know who was who, they just called them "twin."  Janice and Jennifer dressed alike all the time when they were little. I'm not sure when that ended, but they definitely dressed alike through most of grade school. They would still look identical if they wore their hair (and hair color) the same. They don't. 

Happy 64th you two!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Showtunes Saturday

I haven't done a showtunes post in ages. This week, Connie, Nancy and I saw Jersey Boys for the 3 maybe 4th time. I still love it. Who doesn't? Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons just for you:

Friday, January 12, 2018

Birthday Presents

American Eagle---15% off my entire purchase (haven't shopped here in years--it's where I took the girls)
Bonefish Grill---free Bang Bang Shrimp (yum!)
Christopher & Banks---15% off entire purchase (don't need any clothes)
Godiva Chocolates---a free chocolate (don't need it but might get it if I'm at the mall--unlikely)
Honey Baked Ham---the email said have lunch on them for my birthday, but in actuality, I have to buy one lunch to get one free! (not doing it---well, maybe I might)
Lipsense---10% off and free shipping (I'll be placing an order)
Macy's---free shipping on any purchase.
Panera Bread---free bagel every day this month (this might not be related to my birthday, but I'm claiming it!) Then I also got a free birthday pastry. I'm definitely getting these.
Pillsbury Dough Boy---(yes, that's right) 9 birthday treats recipes I can make for myself (I don't think so)
Red Lobster---free Tasting Plate (whatever that is)
Regal Cinema---free small popcorn (which I'll be using today as I see The Commuter)$5.00 off my next order (certainly don't need any scrapbooking supplies---plus this wouldn't even cover the shipping!)
Starbucks---free food or drink (they only give you two days to get it before it expires)
Sun Glass Hut---$50.00 off a $200.00 purchase (this is actually a good deal if you need sunglasses---which I don't)
Vera Bradley--25% off my entire purchase (don't need anything from VB)

Texts: 23
Emails: 9
Cards: 5
Calls: 3
Instagram posts: 1
Facebook well wishes: Oh my gosh---I can't even begin to count!
Messenger: 4 (I don't really understand this. It's just like a text, so I don't get the difference)
Well wishes at bridge: 8

Gifts: 7 (including those 2 inheritance checks from mom!) and 4 more on the way!
Gift to myself: not making my bed today (actually, I was running a little late due to a long phone call from Sandy)! Yeah, that's my story.
Gift I'm buying myself: That air fryer like I gave Justin for Christmas.
Gift I would love to buy for myself if I could fit in to it:
This adorable Kate Spade dress with little pink Chevy convertibles. It's hard to see, but it has "off we go" written here and there.
Of course I would have to have the matching purse too! OMGosh! I wouldn't care what it cost!! I love Kate Spade! (Trivia: did you know that Kate Spade is the sister-in-law of David Spade? She's married to his older brother.)

So, after I got ready and didn't make my bed, I went to Panera and got my free bagel and birthday pastry. I got the cranberry orange muffin. It was AMAZING!! I have never had a muffin there before and I cannot describe the flavor--okay, I guess it was orange and cranberry! It was just delicious. I also went by Starbucks and got the "snickerdoodle hot chocolate."
OMGosh! It was so good. I only drank half because with each sip, I kept thinking that it had to be a kazillion calories since it was so creamy and good! Plus, if I'm honest, it wasn't tea. When it comes to hot drinks, tea is my first choice. Since it was a free drink, I wanted to try something more expensive! It seemed less like a drink and more like a dessert. After the muffin, I just wasn't hungry.

I played bridge---but it wasn't a good day at the bridge table. We came in about 7th or 8th of 13 teams.

When I got home, I pulled in to the driveway to see Sara (my garden girl) and her son, hauling our gigantic, 125 lb. nutcracker around to the garage. She said that she didn't want me to have to help Butch with it. Then she wished me a happy birthday. Social media!

After a little reading (having a tough time with our book club book--A Gentleman from Moscow--highly rated, but most of us are struggling) and a brief nap, Butch and I went to Home Depot to look at side-by-side refrigerators. He made reservations at the Bonefish Grill. We used our coupon for the Bang Bang Shrimp. I got the sangria as I always do. It's homemade and the best I've ever had anywhere! I ordered the lobster stuffed shrimp with spinach and au gratin potatoes (brought most of that home---too full). We shared the key lime pie for dessert. I'm not a huge key lime pie lover, but I do love theirs. It has a pecan crust. Butch loves key lime pie and even agrees that this is the best ever---anywhere!

Back home, in to my jammies and chilling in front of the tv! It was a  pretty perfect birthday!

Thanks to all for the well wishes! It was a great day!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

It's My Birthday! It's My Birthday!

I started to think about my past birthdays. I don't remember many of them. The earliest one I recall---and probably only because of the pictures---I think I was about 6 or 7. I was sick. We were all around the table and I was in my pajamas. I didn't blow out candles that time. Still, I had a birthday cake. (Side note: 6 of us had birthdays in January and February. We loved having so many birthday cakes!)

Next would be this one:
I'm 8 here. I had my first birthday party with school friends. I got this really cool Mickey Mouse pencil box---you know the one with the snaps and a drawer that contained colored pencils, little ruler, pencil sharpener, scissors and little flag stamps? It looked something like this.
Well, I loved that little pencil box. I think I actually had it for about 5 minutes. My brother, Ronnie liked it too. He blackmailed me. He said if I didn't give him the pencil box, he was going to tell dad all the stuff he had on me. I gave him the box. When my dad asked about it, I told him that I didn't want it and gave it to Ronnie! I'll have to ask him if he remembers that!
Next would be when I was 17. (I'm not 17 here, but it's a good picture of Ronnie and I). He threw me a surprise party. Here's the thing. He told everyone that I liked the Mamas and the Papas. I didn't. I got him back later in the month on his birthday. I told our friends that he liked the Temptations.
He didn't. We traded and all was well.

I remember my 21st birthday because I wanted to go dancing and all the places you had to be 21. I ended up getting mad because it was my birthday and we ended up bar hopping! I never really liked the bar scene.
I'm a little older here, but the next birthday I remember was my 31st. Who gets a surprise party for their 31st birthday? I saw Yentl with my, then, best friend, Caryn. When we got home, I was really surprised! Butch planned it and made all the food. But then he served it in Tupperware rather than my good bowls. Still, it was a great party. Sandy and Stephanie helped him.
These little cuties played a key roll on my 35th birthday. They are 3 here. I was babysitting Mindy's friend, Leigh. They were playing with our cat---Astro. Apparently they were fighting over her---tugging and pulling on her. She got away and let's just say, she had an accident all over the kitchen! As I was on my knees cleaning and retching due to the stench, I was crying, feeling sorry for myself, "I can't believe I'm cleaning up s**t on my birthday!" That was definitely memorable!
And then there was my surprise 40th birthday party that Connie threw for me. All of our friends were there and we played games all night!

I've had plenty of birthday celebrations and many great gifts. But these are the ones that stand out in my mind!

What birthdays do you remember?