Tag Archives: family

Grams

I’d like to start this post by acknowledging that it’s been awhile since my most recent active blogging. I don’t have a list of reasons as I believe when you want to make something happen badly enough, you make it happen. So no excuses here, just the simple fact of life changing turns that put other priorities in need of my attention. So after a short break and rejuvenation, I’m back to writing with some exciting new updates coming soon!

Today is the 3rd of April. 82 years ago a beautiful spirit was born and I’m honored to say she played a major roll in my life. I’ve written before of people who have passed on in this lifetime and their impact on me and the memories that followed their departure… but I’ve sat here for too long with an abundance of words that aren’t forming any proper sentences. I feel that nothing can truly express my interpretation of the amazing woman named Marth Sue Young (Jackson).

(Enter hours of staring at a blank screen here)

Still without a quality beginning, I figured I’d just start by admitting that words and photos simply can not translate the significance of this bright smiling, warm hearted, stubborn, hard working, gorgeous woman that loved unconditionally. We called her Grams. Beyond raising three daughters and my dad, Grams was a wife, sister, aunt, great aunt, grandmother, great grandma and even survived the birth of her 2 great-great grandchildren! She fostered the youth with mental disabilities, cooked for new moms and often brought meals to local families in distress. Even in her weaker days she’d guide me in the kitchen to bake for someone in need. She rarely complained of her own discomfort and usually kept focus on her family. She was capable of making you do something (with love) without you even knowing you were doing it. She hand pushed her own lawn mower until she was 80 years old (and don’t dare to try and take that from her unless you’re prepared to lose a finger). Hungry? Before you could even answer she’d have a hot meal at your chin with dessert waiting. My uncle J.E said Sue was the only woman he knew that could walk into the kitchen, throw flour into the air and come out with an award winning coconut cream pie. She had magical powers.

When I was young we used to sit together and watch the Price is Right after eating her famous pancakes that she had so creatively designed into recognizable designs. We’d flip through warn pages of the Sears “Maz-uh-geen” (apparently that’s how I used to pronounce “magazine”) while nibbling on Cheeze-Its. I’d ride buddy style on the back of her bike as we’d chase the ice cream man to get our favorite vanilla cones. Many more precious years allowed for several cooking lessons, summer vacations, late night frozen yogurts and countless hours of putting together puzzles. Priceless memories to say the least.

When I loaded up to start backpacking over 5 years ago, she kept her spare room ready for my return and the kitchen stocked with my favorites. I’d bring back international treats that we’d giggle in question if it was edible or not. I’d show her bizarre photos from abroad and eagerly answer her intriguing questions that often led to stories of my travels. 

If you’ve been following this blog, chances are you’ve read several posts written directly from her front room. Here’s one of the last photos I captured as I wrote in my usual spot with the view of our typical silly socks.

This is where I feel a heart felt message would be appropriate about how she’s gone but her spirit still lives or maybe a few quotes about how she’ll never be forgotten… but I must admit again, words don’t even scrape the surface of her everlasting presence. I’m confident to speak for other family members and dear friends when I say that Sue Jackson Young is and always will be unforgettable.

Hot with a 92% chance of muggy

I landed in Arkansas to visit an extraordinary girl that I’ve been able to grow up with and watch develop into a strong woman and nurturing mom. You’ve seen her before in several posts including Dear highway, will you ever end?  and Look Keka, I got a bullfrog! World, meet my cousin (more like a sister) Lana Lane. We didn’t have much time for quirky photos or big events, but we dig snag a picture of the road trip to Oklahoma- me, her and her family. 

Once arriving to Oklahoma we immediately started our giggles with her sister, which of course means my other sister(ish) cousin, Lacie Lane. Things that would never happen in her home: strangers– because everyone’s welcome with a smile, hunger– because she’d give you her last to make sure you’re fed, misbehaving children– momma bear means business! From left to right, Tennesee (Lacies daughter), Lacie, muah and Lana.

We all joined her son in his first soccer game of the season. You’ve seen sweet Dane in the post Time to work hard(ish).Once the cousins went back to their Monday routines I ventured to my family’s house for some sibling summer fun! Kind of strange to be writing after all these years as if you, the audience, knows these kids personally. I suppose if you’ve been following since the beginning you’ve seen them grow from little tykes in Till next time Oklahoma to the most recent in New found higher love.  Now they range from 6-18 years old! 

I was flattered when the boys invited me on a sunrise fishing trip. Just us, a few poles, bait and priceless time to catch up.

The walk home brought a bundle of fish and some growling tummies. I’ll give you one guess on what we ate for lunch…

Wondering what the temperature is in Oklahoma on a sunny September afternoon? 

Hot with a 92% chance of muggy. 

Our cure? Swim! Last year my carefree siblings were livin it up using a horse trough as a pool. Check out the turkey that joined them in the post You know you’re a country kid when… This summers swimming pool? Well from their mouths, “it’s a real one Keka!” (They call me Keh-kuh)

Have I a mentioned how lucky I am to be surrounded by such wonderful energy? These kids are irreplaceable.

New found higher love

I recently visited tornado alley known as Oklahoma with what seemed to be… well, a tornado of a trip. The whirlwind flew by with a few false storm alarms and some quality time with the family. For the sake of me looking back on this blog someday, I’m going to post a couple pics of my amazing siblings to remind myself of the beautiful growth they’ve shown. For those of you who have been following for sometime, you may rememeber these little guys from years past.
 And now… These kids have continued to brighten my life beyond expectations. 

In order from left to right is Hannah, Joseph, Sarah, Rachel and to the right of me Ben. We will also always keep loving memory of little Elizabeth.

A refreshing thought crossed my mind the other day that has filled my heart with all that mooshy stuff and provided some unexpected new feelings. As we all know, I’m not a mother. Yes, I’ve been an “adult female figure” or “role model” when teaching youth sports, working in schools and volunteering in orphanages but to date, I have never adopted or given birth. With all that said, the love I feel for these 5 kids extends beyond the ways of description. I feel aching when I know they’re in pain. To the type of depth in which I’d do anything to remove their burdens. The single thought of any situation that I couldn’t protect them seems devastating.  These feelings are acocompanied with the highest of love from within… Almost beyond my little human ability (if that makes any sense). When they sing for me, it’s everything I have not to allow the tears to roll down my face. At the very sight of they’re smiles, my world seems magically brighter. It’s powerful.

I can express first hand what it’s like to have protective parents (love you guys!). Feeling the intense love can be comforting yet suffocating at times. All in all I’d rather have their concern for me than the other extreme. That topic could be an entire new post but I’d like to stick with the new found love I’ve felt. I appreciate my parents more everyday and now make a conscious effort to try and understand why they do what they do. If I feel this way about my siblings, I can only fathom what one must feel towards their own child. 


So to all the parents out there who have children at a stage in which desire independence or don’t need you as much as before, please remember that for most, the love will just grow as they do. The way it’s expressed will always be changing and in my experience, the comprehension of what you’ve done for them and the unconditional nurturing that comes from within will be acknowledged and honored more in time to come.

On the subject of family…

There’s my dear little grown-up cousin Annie. This young lady has a natural (and you slight Youtube enhanced) skill of makeup artistry. Considering my extent of makeup maxes out at actually putting on mascara, it was exciting to sit down and let her play! Step one: I sit, she giggles and the process begins!




I felt way out of the fashion loop when she busted out tape… Like from a dispenser. Enough said.

 Annie, you are a talented girl with a contagious smile and a magnetic personality. Keep that powerful attitude of yours focused on the right path… your path. Love you cuz!

I’m finally in Instagram! (Thank you Ryan for the helpful push). Find me under herhappytrails. 

#itsabouttime

White Christmas… snow or sand?

Who do you spend your holidays with? 

Relative: a person connected by blood or marriage.

Friend: a person who you like and enjoy being with; one who is attached to another through affection.

Family: a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation (in my opinion it’s a combo of the above).

If I were to get a little emotional in my writing, I’d tear up as I tell you how lucky I am to have gotten to spend several holidays with some of the most amazing people I know. You’ve seen my dearest family in Oklahoma in which this time of year calls for freezing rain storms and an abundunce of sweet treats. Then there’s my incredible mother who so eagerly makes every occasion so special with our time in Florida. My childhood friends in California never fall short to extend a welcoming invite to spend the winter days with them as seen in the holiday 5k run and Dream-catcher with the hawk. I’ve even been fortunate enough to have celebrated abroad like St.Patricks day in Argentina, Thanksgiving in Japan and the unforgettable Easter in Panama.

This year I wasn’t in Florida with my mum for the actual holiday but it wouldn’t seem complete if I didn’t mention our Christmas festivities (which is summed up by the photos below). I love you mom!  

 

Christmas in the Caribbean is surprisingly more similar to what I knew as a child back in the states.  There’s jolly carols playing in most of the shopping areas with random decorations lining the malls and public buildings. Store attendants have Santa hats on and St.Nicholas may appear randomly throughout the weeks leading up to the 25th.  If I had to outline the differences from what I can remember in the cold USA to the island life now, it’s obviously the weather and possibly the stockings.  Aside from candy, we got gloves and mittens, flannel pajamas and little trinkets.  Here they get Catch bars, sunglasses, flip flops and surfboard wax. Instead of snow angels, it’s sand angels and the pine trees that are brightly decorated in the front windows have been imported from overseas, instead of hand cut down on a visit to the mountains. 
Here’s a tiny snip of some of the scenes around here on the magical island of Barbados.

   

In regards to dinner, the typical meat served around here includes fish, ham, turkey or good ol’ fried chicken. The sides range from macaroni pie, sweet potatoes, plantains, greens, boiled vegetables and other random family recipes. If you’re lucky there will be some fried okra, homemade cassava rolls and breadfruit! Like a bit of spice? I wouldn’t pass on the local pepper sauce! Is your mouth watering? Check out all of the posts listed here for a much clearer canvas of the Bajan food that I have fallen in love with.  

 This Christmas I was welcomed into a variety of meals, toasts and family affairs that left me overflowing with love!  

In respect of all lovely people I encountered and homes I visited, I’ll keep this portion private and simple. (I also fear that if I begin to mention all the names of the hugs that I got to embrace that I’d leave out someone and we don’t want that). So for what it’s worth, here’s a just a small bundle of an entire day of joy! 

 I’ll close with some fun by taking a look at past and present winter photos. Wonderful to think that while some are strapping in snowboards, others are on surf boards and when a bunch of you decide which scarf to wrap up in, others are debating on which swimsuit to wear. Warm veggie soup verses a freezing fruit smoothie, snow boots or sandy toes… The list could go on and on!

  

    
 

  Ok, so the 25th has passed and all is quiet on the island… 

                                                       Yeh, if you’re the only one that lives in a cave! 

Next post will expose what is now one of my favorite events that takes place on December 26th, look out for Boxing Day!

Can chickens smell a chicken?

My father is an exceptional plasterer. I suppose he should be since he’s been doing it from his teen years. Even though experience says a lot, there’s a reason he’s still requested for work after 40 years of building a reputation. I explain this because we just found out he was hired to do a job in New Mexico. So with a short notice (and super-woman for a wife) his entire family was packed, kitchen and all, to hit the road for an extended out of state stay.    
As I say good-bye, they’re explaining the chores that I had offered (silly me) to take care of. Just two pups, a few feathered animals and a garden. Couldn’t be that hard… right? Ha. Ha. Ha.

The first day wasn’t to bad as it was mainly just checking things out. Food, check. Water, check. Pick the garden and walk the dogs… check, check! 

Ticks: Small arachnids (that I have a hard time finding a reason for their existence) that live off of the blood from mammals, birds, humans… pretty much anything that bleeds. I got my first after day one, so here’s my attire for future chores. 

 Day two: I remembered my cell phone today because yesterday I had left it at my Grams’s. Her mindful thoughts brought her all the way out to make sure the length of time I had been gone wasn’t due to any mishaps. (This is necessary for a story below).

First up, I fed the pups after a long walk up their country dirt road. Meet Shadow, the black dog that just appeared into the family’s yard one day and Captain, the lovable beagle my sister waited patiently to get.
   
 The 4 legged kids are fed and happy, so now it’s on to the feathered friends. Check for eggs and make sure the feed and water is full. Easy enough…

This is the view of the main chicken yard.

 I opened the wooden door to reach for the feed and walked in with confidence, chickens can smell a chicken right? Why I get goosy when a rooster heads for me, I have no idea. When I entered, like always, I lightly pulled the door behind me. Click click. It shut.. and locked. No big deal as I turned to look for the pull string that would release it from the inside. Non-existent. So there I was, trapped in a chicken coop on a hot sticky Oklahoma afternoon.    

  MacGyver time! Feathers? Too weak.   

  This metal device? Too angular.  

A stick! Too large.  

 I could crawl through the… nope. Turns out the chicken door is smaller than the doggy door I’ve had to climb through (don’t ask).

 After a solid 15 minutes of sincere efforts to make an exit, I finally decided to call upon my grandma to come let me out. Call her with the phone that I left sitting on the truck! Can you see it?! 

 Great, she won’t be heading this way anytime soon since yesterday she did for no reason. Especially after this mornings joke of “I’m bringing my phone this time so you don’t have to worry”!

After debating on kicking in the door or just waiting for anyone to come over, I glanced down and saw my last hope. Success!   

Since I made the great escape with time to spare, I made my way to the garden for an afternoon playing in dirt. Corn, okra, tomatoes, yellow squash, 3 types of peppers and one happy camper! 

 
  I learned quickly to make sure I ate before picking veggies. 2 tomatoes in the basket and one in my belly. An okra for home and one for now (yes, I even like them raw!). Have you ever enjoyed the sweet taste of yellow sun-kissed corn right from the stalk while standing waste deep in the garden? Me neither.  
Side note: If there are no chemicals that would harm these guys, there’s no chemicals to harm you. Hooray for organic gardening! 

 Even this mini crawler made it all the way home. “No worries little fella, I don’t blame ya… I’d live in the garden too if I was your size!” 

  

3 things I learned about myself while taking care of my family’s property:

1. I jump just as high if a monkey were to jump on my back or if a grasshoper leaps to a leaf in front of me.

2. I don’t want to live anywhere that ticks do.

3. When I grow up and have my own place… there will be a garden.