Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

I learned last year, after just recently moving to Orlando that it's hard getting into the spirit of Christmas when is eighty four degrees outside and you're still wearing flip flops every single day.

Massey and I took this picture last year, the day before Christmas Eve, when we both got sunburned after an afternoon on Cocoa Beach together.

Surreal for these Georgia natives!

                                 This was us two years ago right before Christmas Eve.

We moved here the last week of September, 2016. We have yet to turn the heat on in our house. The closest we've come to being cold is having to turn the living room fan off.

I'm gonna be honest...I like it!

I haven't put on a coat since moving here. I've worn a sweater maybe three times.

Last year I couldn't get into Christmas at all. Seemed crazy to me  they were playing "The weather outside is frightful..." on the radio while I was sitting on a beach in a swimsuit.

I remember a manager from work, who was from the north, telling me I'd get used to it sooner than later.

They were right...I did.

I've also quickly gotten used to hurricane preparedness. This was our spare bedroom this past summer the day before Irma hit. We had to take the bed apart to make room for everything from our patio and yards, front and back.

We're  headed back on Friday morning for Georgia to watch our girl walk with her class at her college graduation on Saturday. Temps are perdicted to be in the twenties.


It will feel good to have Christmas temps again, especially knowing it's only for a day or two.

It's going to be wonderful and have all three of our kiddos around us again for the first time in several years...albeit wearing coats, hats and scarves.

As I so quickly grow older, realize more and more about not only my life, but my kids' lives as well.

'I'm growing tired and time stands still before me
Frozen here on the ladder of my life'

Till next time...COTTON

Monday, December 4, 2017

To Tree or Not to Tree

                                                To tree or not to tree? That is the question.

                                    The above picture is from our last Christmas in Georgia.
                                                              It was a twelve footer.

Tim, Massey and I were sitting around our tiny temp living room today talking, all within two feet of each other yet across the room from each other. Massey said "Not gonna lie, I want a Christmas tree this year."

Last year this time, none of us were in the mood for a tree. I slapped a tiny strand of lights around the plant by the kitchen doorway and finished decorating for Christmas in literally ten seconds.

This year is a different story.

We've settled in nicely and all with great jobs. Massey graduates college in less than a week and all is  good in the proverbial hood.

We're headed back to Georgia on Friday for her graduation on Saturday so I told Massey today we'd stop by our old house while there and pack up our Christmas decorations stored in the attic to bring back to O Town...all twenty seven years' worth.

If we used them all, would look like a Griswald Christmas 'round these parts, especially since they were used for a four bedroom three bath ,tri level house but need to get them down here anyway.

At least it will look a little bit more like Christmas here this year, albeit with temps in the low to mid eighties...and no chimney to hang those stockings from.

On the other end of the holiday spectrum, am freaking out about how much time I'm taking off from work.  Four days for Thanksgiving, three for Massey's graduation and three for Christmas. I'm making pretty good money now. Two years from now will be back to  making airport money. In five years will be putting half of every paycheck into savings. They are developing the entire area around our restaurant, already held the ground breaking  and will be one of the coolest hot spots in Orlando.

The only downside about being a  professional server is that if you don't work, you don't get paid.

No built up time off or unused vacation to cash in.

That's where a savings account comes into play.

When we moved here a little over a year ago, my savings were pretty hefty. It quickly went down the drain. I expected to be back at work in a few days. Instead I floundered for months before getting on my feet again.

                I spoke over the phone with my sister last night, and as usual she calmed my nerves.

Why fret over something before it happens? I'm just going to work the rest of my shifts this week, load up the car on Friday morning and go watch our daughter walk at graduation with her class in Georgia.

That's what the most important thing is right now.

We're having her graduation party at my sisters' after wards so was also kind of worried about what to have for the party. I'm not the type to invite people over and just set a bag of chips and some dip on a table. Neither is my sister.

I talked with Massey about it and suggested making a huge pot of chili with crackers and all the fixings...jalapeno peppers, shredded cheese, sour cream, and chopped spring onions. Massey thought it was a good idea as well and my sister agreed.

True to fashion, my sister offered to make the chili as well as baking a Pig Licking cake ever and one of Massey's favorites.

I told my sister I'd supply all the beverages, paper goods and ice.

Bam! First problem solved.

                                           As far as Christmas goes...totally winging it.

Christmas has always been a big deal for us, as you can tell by the gigantic tree from our last year in Georgia.

We had mighty slim Christmas' for a number of years but always pulled the decorations out of the attic and made it look festive, even if we didn't feel festive.

Then while I had my amazing cash cow of a job at the airport, we went redunkulous. So grateful for all my brother and sister had done for us, I paid it forward.

I feel bad I couldn't do it last year and certainly can't this year, but you know what?

                   Love is truly the greatest gift of all and we are more than blessed this Christmas.

Not stressing anymore...about anything. Christmas will be fine, it'll be more than fine. It'll be great!

                          The best gift you could ever give, ask for or receive is the gift of love.

                                              Peace on earth and good will towards man.

                                                                     I know we can do it.

                                  Don't fret over little things...worry about the big things.

Till next time...COTTON

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Count Down

This is one of my all time favorite pics of Massey. My sister took it when Massey was about four.

Hard to believe she is graduating college a week from tomorrow.

                       She's our only daughter and one of the best friends I've ever made or had.

She's exuberant to the point of exhaustion. The kid never quits. She's determined to change the world.

                                                    My money's on her doing exactly that!

When Tim and I hit the skids after our twenty year run of constant advancement, she was in high school and all too aware of what had happened.

It was a double edged sword and in hindsight, was the greatest lesson we could could ever teach her.

I wouldn't change the past or what happened to us, even if I could. It is what defines us.

Our oldest went to Georgia State University for a year after graduating high school, then took a year off to make some easy money. He never went back, but has succeeded tremendously after a bit of waffling and doing absolutely great financially.

Our younger son and middle child, Zach never even  wanted to go to high school much less college...although is of the smartest (albeit stubborn) people you'll ever meet.

            I say kudos to him for not wasting money on something you have no interest in doing.

He floundered like a fish on the dock for far too long but after learning the hard way, has made it on his own back in Georgia without us for over a year now. He's doing what he wants to do...cook. He's currently the Sous Chef at a new up and coming  high end restaurant back home where we lived.

                                     Three kids, three different stories. Three different lives.
                                       Who can choose a better life for yourself than you?

Massey has always been driven to get a college degree. She quit all extra curricular activities before her junior year in high school and brought her GPA up to Honor Student status.

We supported her every step of the way, even when we couldn't. I'll never forget that day we helped move her into her freshman dorm. Her room mates' parents were there as well, hauling in a flat screen TV, microwave, little fridge, WiFi router and every other single thing a girl could dream of to have in her first dorm room.

I brought a tunnel fan I'd bought at Walmart a couple of years back. I was totally embarrassed. Kudos to her room mates' parents, who acted like I'd brought a Tesla for them both to drive around campus.

 My brother has been more than instrumental for Massey getting her degree. When Tim and I didn't qualify to help her get a loan, he stepped up to the plate...and has again and again for the past few years.

        My family loves me, with all my many faults. Lucky for me, they also love my daughter.

She's finished her degree here in Orlando on line from Georgia and this next Saturday we will have our very first college graduate.

We're all going back (including my brother) to see her walk with her class at graduation. TJ and his lil' fam are coming from North Carolina. Our Lost Boy, Zach will be there too and having a graduation party at my sisters'.

It's been a tough decade for us, but feels so wonderful for us all to  have survived, flourished and carried on.

My girl. Our girl.

She's got a way about her.

"Dear Massey,

This is your Momma writing to you via the web. Your dad and I are both so proud of you, along with your two brothers and countless family members.

If there is anyone in this world destined to make a difference, it's you.
Go kick life out of the park.

Thank you for loving me with all my faults and thank you for being You."

                                                       You'll aways be my bestie.

Til Next Time..COTTON