My Mother-in-law and how she shows me unconditional love…

One of the best things that happened to me a few days ago, on my birthday, was receiving a birthday card from my Mother-in-law.  Most years she forgets to send out cards so I’m ALWAYS honored when I go to the mailbox and see her handwriting on the outside of an envelope.  I’ve got to give her credit though because she’s a whole lot better about remembering than I am!  I’m ashamed to admit that I truly suck at making a day special for my loved ones.  The people living in my house reap the rewards but those that don’t live here rarely get remembered.

The point of the post isn’t to talk about remembering though.  It’s to tell you how I’ve been SO blessed by my husband’s family.  You all know by now, what MY family is like.  I don’t know what it’s like to have a close family or what it’s like to truly be loved by a family.  I know what it’s like to be “judged” and “used” by my family.  It was a shock when I was shown unconditional love by a family who didn’t have to show me love.

First of all, I want to tell you what the card said from my Mother-in-law…

“Any woman can be a daughter-in-law.

But it takes a certain spirit,

an openness,and generosity of heart

to make the “in-law” part

drop away,

leaving that comfortable word

“daughter”.

You’re a caring person…

loving wife…

giving mother…

and your presence

in the life of our family

is simply a gift.  “

Dang!  That made me cry.  I don’t even know how to accept love or compliments!  I guess it hit me so hard because my own mother doesn’t feel the same way AND I know that Katherine (Mother-in-law) really feels this way.

She didn’t have to accept me the way she did.  Ben’s family had gone through the horror of his 3 other marriages before I arrived.  They’d “accepted” every one of these former wives, even when they knew they’d never last.  Ben had a definite “history” when it came to women, that’s for sure.  But that’s a post for another day!  I’ll save THAT for when he makes me mad 😉  lol  I need to tell you that these people are Christian’s of the Southern Baptist type.  They scared me and that’s NO joke!  I’m Catholic and it’s no secret that Baptists don’t like Catholics.  These people actually READ the bible and LIKE the bible.  Except for religion class in Catholic school (a million years ago), I’d never read even part of the bible.  Ben’s family doesn’t just go to church on Sunday morning but Sunday night and Wednesday nights.  Their recreational activities revolve around church.  Mine never have.  They’re also very “Southern” people who didn’t really know or trust “Yankee’s” such as they think I am!  lol  They’re the type of people who say “Well, bless her heart”, in the sweetest most loving way.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that Southern people say this only when they think you’ve done something really stupid and they’re too kind to call you out on it.

When I tell you about Ben’s Christian family, you might imagine people who don’t live what they preach.  Christians get a bad rap for being hypocrites but not THESE people and most especially NOT his mother!  She lives what she preaches and believes.  Only she doesn’t preach at all.  She leads by example.  She very quietly sits and reads her bible and only talks about it if you ask her about it.  She’ll mention something in passing but doesn’t shove it down your throat.  She’s so kind and loving that you can actually FEEL her love as soon as you get out of the car to hug her.  I’ve never been around anyone like this.  She believes in being a submissive wife.  It’s no secret that I DO NOT believe that I should EVER be submissive to ANYONE, but most especially my husband, her son.  I could go on and on.

Okay, you can imagine the amount of adjustment my new Texas family had to go through and that I had to go through for a few years.  Although, they never let me see that they were having to adjust to me.  I’m loud and bossy and sarcastic.  I say words like “God” when I get mad (that’s a very bad word to them) and I call people “dumb asses”.  They probably dropped to their knees at night in prayer over the things I’ve said and did!  They only showed the world how proud they were of me though.  I have ONLY ever been shown love by my mother-in-law.  She’s cried with me and laughed with me.  She’s felt my losses as if they were her own and she’s shared her thoughts and feelings with me.

Most of all, she’s treated my children as if they were her own grandchildren.  I wasn’t expecting that and neither were my kids.  We knew they’d TREAT my children with love and respect but we just weren’t prepared for them to actually LOVE them.  My girls feel closer to Katherine than they do their own biological grandparents.

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(Here’s one of my daughters snuggling in Memaw’s bed with “Ming-Shoe” the doll that Katherine made for her.  Julia feels safe and comfy in Memaw’s bed and I love that!)

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(she just sits, ready to give love to all her little one’s no matter their age)

Most of the time I spend in Texas, Katherine allows me to run her house the way I do everywhere I go.  You know the Mother-in-law on the sit com “Everybody Loves Raymond” right?  That’s how I expect mother-in-laws to be but not Katherine.  She’s happy to sit and read a book while I destroy her kitchen.  And TRUST me, I DO know how to destroy a kitchen.  She’s so gracious and never imposes her will on me.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I impose my will on her.  She’s not used to a whole lot of commotion and when I’m there, I bring my chaotic life crashing into her’s.  I’ll never forget the time she asked me if she could “help” in the kitchen.  Of course, I thought I was being considerate and polite when I told of “of COURSE you CAN’T help in the kitchen”.  I just wanted her to sit there and rest.  I felt like I didn’t want her to go through any trouble when my family was there.  For YEARS I did this.  Finally, a few years ago, she so softly, and kindly explained to me that sometimes a mother wants to feel wanted and needed.  We live over 10 hours away from her and she never gets to be a “mom”.  Sometimes she likes to show US how much she loves us.  Wow!  She didn’t want me to be ashamed because she’d NEVER want anyone to feel shame BUT I was SO ashamed.  I learned to step out of the way and allow her to be the mom when she wants to be the mom.

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(here’s me not only taking over her kitchen but taking over her kitchen AND even wearing her apron!  lol)

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(Another picture of the mess I make in her kitchen but THIS time I had some help from my little niece Selah!)

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(here I am even taking over her Christmas tree…  Geeze, I’m just so BOSSY!  lol)

Like I’ve already said, my Mother-in-law teaches by example.  She rarely needs words.  She’s watched, through the years, as I’ve ignorantly allowed my children to get themselves into trouble.  I was a LOT more lenient than she would have been but I had more faith in my girls than I should have.  I allowed one of my daughters to spend WAY too much time with some boys she met and became friends with in Texas.  They were friends of the family’s so I felt like it would be okay.  It got to the point where she was never home for dinner and she would only come in once a day to say hello to Memaw and GG (Katherine’s mother).  I didn’t want to be too strict with my daughter and I wanted her to have fun too so I allowed her to spend the night camping with these friends and family.  I could tell that it was bothering Katherine (mine and my daughter’s actions were not only improper but just down right rude) so I began to make my daughter stay home more often.  After all, we were only there for a week or two.  Later, we found out that my daughter was doing things that I won’t mention here.  Point being that Katherine knew she was in trouble and instead of imposing her opinions or judgments  on me, she quietly let me know that I was being too lenient by her actions.  She prayed for my daughter and cried when she learned that my daughter was hurt and was going down the wrong road.  She cried real tears like she would do for her own biological granddaughter.  I still can’t get over that.

Over last summer, when I was hospitalized in ICU, my husband called his family and I guess told them that I wasn’t going to make it.  They’ve been in this rodeo more than once with me and have never made the drive to St. Louis to come to the hospital.  I didn’t expect them to this time either because Katherine is responsible for taking care of her 93 year old mother.  Besides the fact that her OWN health isn’t great.  The trip is very hard on them and impossible now for GG.  My sister-in-law told me that Katherine prayed about it and felt like God was telling her to “go now”.  They immediately packed the family up and made the hard drive with 2 small children and 3 adults JUST to see me one more time.  I don’t think they expected me to be conscious but when they walked into my hospital room, I was awake and able to speak.  I believe I was hanging on because my husband told me that I needed to hang on just a little while longer to see “Mom”.  I remember feeling SO much love radiating from Katherine when she walked through that door!  It made me WANT to get better for her.  I promised her that it wasn’t my time yet and that God was good and I was sure I was going to live.  Actually, I was more worried about her making that trip and then turning around and needing to go home the very next day.  SHE wasn’t though.  She was there for me, to hug me and to hold my hand and pray, in person, over me.  The way a REAL mother would.

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(Katherine lovingly does her mother’s hair for church so that GG can feel beautiful too.)

I feel unworthy to call Katherine “Mom”.  I know she wants me to and she certainly deserves the title…  but something inside me won’t let me most days.  I feel like to be her “daughter” , I should be a whole lot more deserving or full of grace.  I’m getting better about it but I’ve been in the family for 12 years.  Today, instead of feeling unworthy, I just want to take a second to thank God for this woman who has shown my family and I so much love.  I’m smart enough to recognize that’s it’s not very often that a wife can brag about the fact that they actually LIKE their mother-in-law.  I don’t just LOVE her, I respect her and actually LIKE her.  Thank you God for this woman.  Because of her, I know the love of a real mother and I am blessed.

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(she loves us all like we were her very own)

Congratulations to me! I won the Liebster Award!

I’ll have to admit that this award is intimidating to me ONLY because they take so much time to ask and answer specific questions.  However, someone I admire VERY much, Comely Miss, nominated me and I love her AND am honored that she thought of me…  so here I am again!  Feel free to skip this post because I’m positive you’re all sick and tired of hearing all the fun facts about myself.  lol   I won’t know the difference and I know you all really love me, right?  lol

Here are the rules:

1. The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
2. Each blogger should post 11 random facts about themselves.
3. Each blogger should answer the 11 questions given to you.
4. Choose 11 new bloggers to pass the award on to and link them in your post.
5. Create 11 new questions for the chosen bloggers.
6. Go back to their page and tell them about the award.
7. No tag backs.

Now the 11 facts about me.

1.  It’s getting extremely hard for me to come up with anything new and this is hurting my brain.

2.  My first “love” was named Pete and when he broke up with me, I started dating someone who looked a lot like him and his name was ALSO Pete.  Pete #2 became the father of my oldest daughter.

3.  I am an EXTREMELY strong woman who’s personality sometimes is intimidating to others, or so I’ve been told.

4.  I’m not very proud of this but I like to smoke.  I don’t ever smoke in the house or enclosed enviroments and I respect others right NOT to breath my smoke.  I try to hide when I’m outside in a public place.

5.  I appreciate art but am not good at it.  I can spend ALL day at the art museum.

6.  One of my favorite places to go EVER is the Smoky Mountains.  I could live in a mountain cabin, away from everyone.

7.  I’m a VERY social antisocial person

8.  I’ve been very blessed to have my husband’s family in Texas.  They’ve shown me unconditional love and are teaching me to show unconditional love.  Sounds like a no brainer for most people but I wasn’t raised with anything CLOSE to unconditional love and sometimes I put too much pressure to be perfect on my own children.  Here’s some pics of my family in Texas 🙂  They ALWAYS make me smile!

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This is Bobby, our cousin.  He doesn’t know it but he’s one of my hero’s.  He’s just a regular man who is probably one of the most funny people I know.  He’s studying to be a preacher but you’d never know it.  He’s so non judging.

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Bobby’s wife and our cousin Netta.  She’s always annoyed with me for snapping pictures.  lol  Another very strong woman and so accepting.  She’s a role model for me 🙂

ImageMy sister in law Lisa and her husband Stace 🙂  Love them both so much!  Lisa is the stereotypical Southern Belle and exudes LOVE.  She’s just like her mama.  When you’re around these people, you feel like you’ve always been in their family.

9.  In July of last year, I came very near to death.  After I was released from the hospital I had a dream that God told me I was supposed to go to a hot spring.  I woke up and told my husband that I needed to go to Hot Springs Arkansas so he packed us up on THAT day and we went.  I spent a day at the hot spring bath house and drank the mineral water.  I was barely able to walk when we arrived in Hot Springs.  By the time we left, I was SO much better.  I believe I was really supposed to be there and drink the waters.  Crazy I know but it worked.

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Here’s the view from our hotel room in Hot Springs.

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The bath house we spent the day in.  Awesome place.

10.  The only time of year that my mom’s enormous family gets together is at Easter.  She came from a family of 10 kids and between them and all of us grandkids and now great grandchildren…  there has to be 100 of us who gather at my cousins house.  I look very forward to seeing all my aunts and cousins every year.  Oh and EVERYONE is a fantastic cook so the food is something EVERYONE would be jealous of 🙂

11.  I’m having issues with “aging gracefully”.  I mean I believe in aging gracefully BUT, in all honesty, if I had the money to have a complete makeover (plastic surgery)… I probably would.  I know, vain.  Honest though 🙂

Here are the questions that Comely Miss wants me to answer:

♣ What caused you to start blogging? (I like this question, so I’m keeping it!)

Okay, I started blogging for a site called Vox and I LOVED the sense of community!  Sadly, Vox went away but I missed it and couldn;t get the same feeling on FB (although I love my fb friends).  I finally found WP a few moths ago and LOVE it 🙂

♣ What career did you think you’d pursue while you were growing up?

I thought I would be a psychologist.  I also PROMISED myself that I would open up an abused women and children’s shelter.  I have done work for some of these but I’m going to keep my promise, I think.  One day, before I die I WILL open up one of these homes.  I think it’s my destiny.

♣ Who do you think has had the biggest influence on your life?

Sadly, I think my mother has had the biggest influence on my life.  I was CONSTANTLY trying to receive her love and her pride.  I always, without fail, fell short of making her proud.  I viewed her as perfect and knew that if I could EVER do 1 thing that would make her REALLY love me and be proud of me, I would have succeeded.  That never happened.  I feel like I’ve wasted WAY too much time not loving myself because I always felt like I didn’t deserve to be loved.  If your mother can’t love you, there MUST be something wrong, right?  The problem lies with her, not me.  However, I feel pretty good about myself that I finally figured that out.
♣ What kind of games do you like to play? (I don’t care if it’s video, board, or mind games, I’m just curious. ;) )

I LOVE playing LIFE with my daughter and grew up playing board games.  Sometimes, I secretly play WOW (shhhhh… don’t tell), I loved Diablo and still love playing UNO, Skipbo, Yatzee and Dominos.  I pretty much just like playing games.  Oh and there Apples to Apples and Pictionary 🙂

♣ What is your favorite movie?

This is hard.  Sound of Music?  Breakfast at Tiffany’s?  Gone with the WiInd?  Beasts of the Southern Wild?  Wizard of OZ?  It’s a Wonderful Life?  I just have so many 🙂

♣ How did you meet your husband/wife/significant other?

I actually met Ben online.  American Singles.  I didn;t want to meet another man in a bar!  lol  Although I’m not entirely sure online dating is any better, from what I’m seeing on TV these days.  lol  It worked out for us though!  I met him when online dating was kind of new in the early 2000’s.  I don;t think the weirdo’s perfected the games they played with people.  I wonder, now, if I were single, what the best way to meet people is?  It’s ALL scary!

♣ Have you ever had any “unusual” pets? (This may be unusual based on species or attitude.)

The most unusual pet I ever had was a rabbit.  lol  In the 80’s and 80’s though I used to show and breed Alaskan Malamutes.  I also used to sled with them… like they do in the Iditerod?  Pretty cool.  I miss that!

♣ How do you unwind at the end of the day?

I blog when everyone is sleeping in my house.  lol  OR I’ll play a computer game or read or play the piano OR go on Facebook.

♣ What is your biggest pet peeve?

Oh GAWD!!!  I have so many I don’t know where to start.  I think the thing I bitch the most about is hair in the bath tub.  I don’t like dirty bathrooms and am pretty anal about keeping it clean.  When I go into the bath tub I don;t want to see little hairs stuck to my bath tub.  It will NEVER change, meaning it doesn;t matter how much I crab about it.  My husband is the culprit and I swear I’m going to start posting pictures of these little hairs.  GROSS.

♣ What item is to your left?

HAHA!  Good one!  My coffee cup on a coaster!  Never without coffee 🙂

♣ How do you think of material to blog about?

Whatever pops in my head.  I haven;t really had a problem running out of material.  If there’s nothing in my head, then I read all of YOUR blogs 🙂

Okay now I’m going to name some people to pass this award on to.  I’ll get as close to 11 as possible but I think people are getting tired of me nominating them.  lol  It’s a lot of work but I just want you guys to know that even if you don;t want to do awards (and I don’t blame you)… at least you know I believe you’re deserving of the award!

1.  http://thelazysuzan.com/

2.  http://kellyvision.wordpress.com/

3.  http://fleurdeselsf.com/

4.  http://theartstudiobymarkmoore.wordpress.com/

5.  http://transcendingbordersblog.wordpress.com/

6.  http://ssbits.wordpress.com/

7.  http://otrazhenie.wordpress.com/

8.  http://prayingforoneday.wordpress.com/  (haha  gotcha back FINALLY!)

9.  http://mamacristinasworld.wordpress.com/

10.  http://wordsforworms.com/

11.  http://canoecommunications.wordpress.com/

Here are my questions to all of you!  Now THIS will be fun!  And I hope that at least ONE of you will answer 🙂

1.  What’s your favorite thing to watch on TV?

2.  Have you ever experienced the death of someone close?

3.  Do you color Easter Eggs?

4.  How is the biggest influence in your life and why?

5.  What do you enjoy reading in a blog the most?

6.  What book are you reading now or what was the last book you read?

7.  How many people were in your family when you were growing up?

8.  What was the biggest disappointment so far in your life?

9.  What has been your biggest achievement in your life so far?

10.  Where do you go to find peace?  For example, a river, the woods, a room in your house?

11.  What do you want to be when you grow up?

*Deep breath*  It’s over.  lmbo  Remember, I don’t want any of you to feel obligated.  If you have time and feel like sharing, please do 🙂  If you don’t, that’s cool too.

Snow on the clover!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Hopefully the rest of the world is having GOOD weather and you can celebrate safely on NON ice slicked roads!  In Mid America, where I live, I woke up to snow and ice on our clover patches.  We’ll be staying indoors, where it’s safe and warm 🙂

To celebrate, in our own very simple way, I’ll be making my Irish Beef and Guinness Stew.  If you haven’t tried this recipe yet, today’s a VERY good day to give it a whirl!  Remember, it looks like this when you’re all done (and taste even better!).

Can’t stop there though!  I’ll be making a different potato dish other than the usual mashed!  lol  I get my Irish recipes from a cookbook called, Ireland’s Comfort Food (Pidgeon Press Publishing) and I haven’t come across a bad recipe yet!  The recipe’s I’ve tried have been PACKED with flavor.  That’s what I look for in a good recipe 🙂

*Note:  This recipe calls for Durrus Cheese and from what I’ve been learning, the closest that I can come to Durrus Cheese is Gouda or maybe even Swiss.  Today, I’ll probably use a mixture of Gouda and cheddar.

Roasted Red Potatoes with Bacon & Cheese recipe

Durrus & Potato Melt

2 pounds waxy potatoes, cubed (I use small red, quatered)

2 onions, finely chopped (I use sweet or Vidalia)

2 TBSP butter

1/2 LB bacon slices, cut into small pieces

1 LB Durrus Farmhouse Cheese, cut into cubes (I will use some Gouda and shredded cheddar)

8 oz tub of creme’ fraiche (I will use sour cream because that’s what I have)

butter, enough to butter an ovenproof dish

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Parboil the potatoes and set aside.  Meanwhile, saute the onions in butter until translucent or clear.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crisp and crumbly but not burnt.  Mix the creme fraiche, potatoes and Durrus cheese together.  Add onion and bacon, mix well and pour into a buttered, oven proof dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring gently, halfway through cooking.

What are YOU doing for St. Patrick’s day?