Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Dad My Hero

Dear Dad, I really wanted to write this blog on the day of your birthday. But we were out of town at the time. Then when we got home we were greeted with company. I suppose I could have just written it while everyone was here, but I wanted to be able to sit and give this my full attention.
So here is your belated birthday post. Hope you like it.

Monday was Memorial Day, it was also my Dad's birthday. I thought about him all day that day. Hoping that his day was going well and wishing I could be there to give him a big squeeze and tell him to his face Happy Birthday.

My Dad has been an inspiration to me my whole life. He has made me strive to be a better person. I looked up to him when I was little and I still do to this day. He is the most caring, thoughtful person I know and I'm proud to say I know him well.

He is always concerned about his family and worries about us constantly.

He catches us when we fall and cheers us on when we take off running the race of life.

I remember being in Elementary school and taking part in a charity race. I've never been much of a runner and I tired out early in the race.
Just as I was getting ready to give up and walk off the track, I hear my Dad cheering. "Go Amber!! Come on! You can do it!!"
I started running again, unfortunately I tired out again and came in dead last. But he cheered me on the entire time.

He has always been one of my biggest fans. He pushes me to blog more and I find myself calling him up after I've finished a blog post. More likely than not he tells me he'll look at it as soon as we get off the phone.

He gets on to me if I haven't posted in a while because he tells me he checks it every morning. I like that he pesters me. I love that both of my parents enjoy my writing. If it's only them that get any enjoyment out of what I say then I'm ok with that.

My Dad has an amazingly cheesy sense of humor that cracks me up and inspires me to be just as cheesy. I love to sit and listen as he jokes and teases the grandkids with his extremely cheesy humor. They love it too.

He is a lover of Louis Lamour books, Home Alone Movies, and he is an all around amazing human being.

He is my Dad. I love you Daddy.

Staring Contest

I was cleaning out my emails today when I came across this email I had sent to my parents. Apparently it was written pre-blog.

I should note that the email is dated August 14, 2008. So David was just around 3 months old at the time.

So the other day David was being really fussy. He just wanted to be held. So I would hold and rock him till he fell asleep. But as soon as I put him down, he would start crying again. I kept picking him up and soothing him, but again he would start crying as soon as I put him down. It was Matt's day off so I threw my hands up and told him to please try and see if he could get him to sleep. I went into the next room and can still hear David crying.

A couple of minutes pass and I notice he's not crying anymore.

Matt proudly comes strutting out with a huge smile on his face, and says. "I put him to sleep!" I ask him HOW!?! (please share your secret so that I may use it too!)

He said he put him in his swing and then proceeded to stare him down. David just stared right back and eventually just went to sleep!

So come to find out, after all my failed attempts to put him to sleep, all I had to do was stare at him.

Monday, May 30, 2011

David turns 3!

My little bouncing baby boy turned 3 on May 11th. I've been realizing for some time now that my babies are no longer babies. I'm going to try to not dwell on that too much.

We had planned a modest birthday party for him. It was going to be at the park and we were going to make it as fun as possible on a minuscule budget.

I had plans to make newspaper hats for all the wee ones and have them decorate them. Then stuff them full of cake and ice cream and set them loose on the playground.

Unfortunately, the only thing that went according to plan was that David still turned 3.

The day of his birthday is started pouring rain off and on. Since I had planned an outdoor party I had to make the difficult decision to call around and tell our friends that the party had to be cancelled. It kept nagging at me that they would get all the way out here and it would rain....and then rain some more. Then we would all be stuck inside. Not that I wouldn't mind sitting and visiting with all my friends and my sons friends. It's just not what I had envisioned.

That bugged me.

I realize now that it must have bugged me pretty good because I didn't get very many pictures of him.

Of course he could have cared less. There was cake...and ICE CREAM!! And he could eat as much as he wanted! (ha! so he thought, we pulled him away from the table on more than one occasion.)

So to make up for my lack of picture taking on his actual birthday I included a couple other pictures that were taken not long after his birthday. My apologies.
The newly minted 3 year old helping to cut his cake. Cause you know...he's a big boy now. :)

Matthew made sure all birthday traditions didn't go unnoticed.

You see that blotch of red icing on David's nose? That is a birthday tradition (usually only involving me) where my mom puts icing on my nose. It's been going on since I was about 4.
Matthew actually pulled off this tradition. Nana...you should be proud!

These were taken a week or so after his birthday. The park down the street from our friends house had finally opened up. So of course we had to go check it out.

I think he approves.

Happy Birthday my little Rhino!! I love you! xoxo

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Mother's Day Tribute

Since I'm a few states away from my own Mother, I decided to work with what I have and write a blog about her.

Mom=Tanna Jo Hughes

So here you go Momma, I present to you...your very own blog post!
(imagine me dancing around throwing confetti in the air dramatically)

What is there to say about my Mom?

First off, she's just plain amazing.

She's always there for me. Whether it's for happiness, disappointment or sadness. She is always there to listen to me and cry along at times.

She was recently visiting when I got news that Lizzy (11-year-old girl that I lead in a church group) had suffered a major stroke. I was pretty upset. But Mom just held me and let me cry. We talked about Lizzy and some memories I had of her at the time. She had met her a couple of times so we just sat and talked. It helped me a lot. (Update: Lizzy is now doing so much better!)

After my Mom left, she continued to ask about Lizzy and I would read the updates to her that were emailed to me.

She has such an huge heart that mom of mine.

In fact her heart is so big that when she found out she would not be able to have children of her own, she and my Dad decided to adopt. And here I am. The result of that adoption. (well, actually my brother Steve is the 1st result, but I'M the 2nd!) I couldn't have asked for better parents.

I'd rave on more about my Dad, but sorry...this is MOTHER'S DAY. You'll get your post next month. Hee-hee!

I have to thank my mom for passing down her love of reading to me. When I was a teenager I would climb into her bed at night while she read. She always propped up her arms on a pillow while she read, so I would put my head down on the pillow and she would scratch my head until I felt sleepy enough to go to bed. It was so soothing and full of love.

So I grew up always seeing my mom read.

Because of that I have developed a pretty massive love for reading. I hope to be able to pass this love down to my own kids. Matthew does a little. I love sitting in my bed with one or both of my kids to quietly read and snuggle. It's very comforting.

I will say that I've also adopted the reading pillow habit from her. I'm just not comfy on my bed reading unless I have an extra pillow to put my book on.

She loves each and every one of her grand kids. There are 4 at the moment. *fingers crossed for more* (wink!!) And they love her just the same.

Another quick memory I want to share:
But first a little back story:

Matt joined the National Guard in October 2006. We didn't think we were going to have anymore babies at the time because Matthew was already 6.
Matt was scheduled to be in training for 8 months, so I decided to go stay with my parents, who lived in Arizona at the time.

Matt still denies he said this, but I know for a fact his memory...well, stinks. When we found out he was going to be gone for 8 months he joked that "wouldn't it be funny if you got pregnant and then I got back just in time for the baby and completely missed out on all the hormones and craziness? Wouldn't that be FUNNY!?" Ok, so not an exact quote, but you get what I'm trying to say here.

Back to Mom:
2 weeks after Matt left I take a pregnancy test and it comes up POSITIVE! I ran into my mom's room, where she was still sleeping, and started frantically waiving the stick! She went into "Mom-mode" and while comforting me that everything would be alright, led me into the computer room so we could look up Dr.s in the area.

Throughout the pregnancy she was there when I missed my husband. She told me that "You are the bravest woman I know." While at the time I didn't feel so brave, those words stuck to me throughout the rest of my time without Matt.

As I mentioned before, I'm adopted. So witnessing a live birth was somewhat new to my Mom. But she hung in there like a trooper for both of my labor and deliveries. She's one tough cookie!

I love her smile and to hear that laugh of hers.

So on this Mother's Day Momma, I hope you smile and laugh and remember that you mean the world to me.

"Can you feel my arms?" "They're wrapped around you, giving you a big hug."

I love you Momma!!!

Friends and Fun in a Box

This is Jana, Matthew's best friend. They hang around our house most days being silly and hilarious.

The other day they saw this box. They each climbed into it and proceeded to act out a scene in Spongebob. Meaning they went on wild adventures in skydiving, mountain climbing and anything else they could think of while using their IMAGINAAATION!!!

Being the photo-junkie that I am, I made them pose so I could add the rainbows that are used in the Spongebob episode.

As you can see, they happily obliged.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Nap Time

I was doing a little Spring Cleaning in my picture folders when I came across this picture. It instantly made me smile.

I think this may be the cutest picture of my Dad ever.

David, who is turning 3 next week, was just a couple of days old at the time of this picture.

If you look closely you can see David had his little arm propped up near his head, just like his Pop-Pop.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Grandpa and Grandma Hughes

My grandparents popped into my head this morning as I was getting ready. All of them actually. But I want to dedicate 1 blog post to each set of grandparents.

First up are my Grandpa and Grandma Hughes.

Otherwise known as J.P. and Ruby Hughes.

My Grandma passed when I was about 17 years old. My Grandpa passed almost exactly 2 years later. But this post isn't about their deaths.

I want to talk about the memories I shared with them.

~Grandpa and Grandma~

Growing up my family lived in Texas. My Grandparents lived in Florida. Kissimmee, FL to be exact. About an hours drive to Disney World. My brother and I visited them most summers and most summers they would take us to Disney World. It was fantastic! (Brag moment) I think I'm getting this right...my Grandpa helped in the constructions of Epcot. My dad did too I think. Growing up I always bragged to my friends about that. I thought it was pretty darn cool. Heck..I still do!

Going to my Grandparents house always guaranteed one thing. Tons and tons of fabulous food!! Man, that woman could cook! Every single morning she would make homemade buttermilk biscuits. My favorite thing to eat was a biscuit with a big ol slice of fresh out of the garden tomato. When I moved to the country and started growing my own tomatoes I restarted the tradition of biscuit and tomato sandwiches. I think of her every time I have one.

One time I asked her to show me how to make her famous biscuits. But it consisted of "a handful of this a handful of that. Mix it to it's about this consistency" At my young age I couldn't really grasp that whole idea and I gave up on trying to make them. This may be silly, but when she passed I would often miss her biscuits. Maybe because I thought if I had them, I would have her too.

I never have been able to recreate her biscuits. But I found a recipe a few years ago that comes pretty close. Close enough to qualify to have a slab of tomato applied to it!

~Grandma and a baby Amber~

Another food favorite. Black eyed peas. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my Grandma and Aunt Gladys (Grandma's sister, still kickin!!) shelling peas and talking. They always set me up with a big bowl of peas and let me go to work. I rarely finished a whole bowl by myself. But I loved sitting there and listening to their conversation and feeling all grown-up like. I have to note that they always went to the local farmer's field to pick and bring home multiple bags of black eyed peas. So it was usually an all day affair.

After all the shelling was done, the cooking began.

This is another recipe I have yet to master. But man oh man were they delicious. I feel sorry for you poor saps that have never tasted them. Ha!

She would make a huge batch and separate it into batches and freeze them. I would then come in grab some and warm it up. Add a slice of onion from the garden and I was GOLDEN!! Bonus if she had made cornbread that day.

The last time I had those black-eyed peas, she had already passed. My Aunt Gladys had found a batch in the freezer and sent them home with my dad just for me. Have I told you how much I love my Aunt Gladys? I think she deserves her own blog post.

My Grandpa was often stern, but always loving. He loved to tease me. Like when I would come in and out of the house 3 or 4 times in 10 minutes he would tell me. "You can't go back outside until those hinges cool down!" At the time I didn't know what hinges were. I just thought he was talking about the doorknob. So I would tentatively touch the door knob (like I thought it was going to be hot) and he would smile.

They had these wonderful spinning chairs in the kitchen. I loved to sit and spin in a circle while we were eating. He told me many times that if I didn't stop he was going to put me in a straight back chair. I listened...for a little bit. But I couldn't resist the call of the spin and I would be spinning my heart out not long after.

There was one (really, it was only one) time he made me sit in a straight back, non-spinning chair. It was a sad day for me. But I returned to the spinning chairs and I'm pretty sure it didn't slow me down too much. In fact, If I had a spinning chair I'd probably be spinning right now. Which is why I only have straight back chairs. Ha!

He loved to watch baseball games. I often would sit with him and watch too. I remember asking him what his favorite team was that was playing. Whatever his response, I would tell him that was my favorite team too.

There's so many more memories I could share. But those were the ones that stuck out in my head the most. I hope I did them justice in writing about them. I miss them very much.

Learning to Cook

Matthew decided today to try to make yeast doughnuts. With minimal assistants from us.

Well, he's just learned the first lesson in cooking.

At least it is when your still learning, or trying a new recipe. He was getting upset because he just had to throw out his 3rd batch of scalded milk. This time because he put 1/3 of a cup of salt into it.

Mom...Dad, if you reading this...go ahead and laugh. I know you are.

Let me share a story of long ago past:

When I was just about Matthew's age (I think I was 12) my Grandma gave me some cookbooks for Christmas. They were magnificent!! It was a complete set of 10 books. Each one containing recipes from different cultures and styles of cooking. I remember sitting and perusing each and every one of them. Marveling at all the wonderful food I would be able to create with them.

Truth be told, I rarely used them.

But there is one thing I made that sticks out in "The History of Amber."

One day I found a recipe for pineapple upside-down cake. That just happens to be my Dad's all time favorite cake. I told him my plans and he went out and bought all the supplies so I could make it.

I went to work! I measured and mixed and baked. It looked spectacular!! Really, it was a work of art. I called my dad in to marvel at my masterpiece. He "Ooh'd and Ahh'd approvingly. I was so pleased.

Then the time came for him to taste it. He grabbed a spoon and scooped up a mouthful...only to almost immediately spit it out into the sink. (Luckily it was close by)

As it turned out. I had mistaken a cup of sugar for...wait for it...a cup of salt.

There is a happy ending to the story. Being the awesome Dad that he is, my Dad returned to the store and bought the ingredients so I could try it again. The second one was a success. But no remembers THAT one!

I had to share this story with Matthew this morning as he was making his own cooking mistakes.

And let it be known, my family has yet to let me live that story down.