Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Happy New Year!

I’m so excited! Know what you’re getting? (I’m getting one, too!)

Hints: It’s big. It’s full. You can do anything you want with it. And you get to open it tonight.

Give up?

It’s a Brand New Year!

I’m kind of weird about it, but I love starting the new year. Having 365 days I can fill any way I want is exciting.

I know, so many things in our lives feel as if they’re set in stone. But if you don’t like it, YOU are the only one who can change it. And this (now!) is absolutely the time to start that change.

It isn’t easy, but if you stop to think about it, it’s absolutely worth all the trouble it causes. So, how do you go about changing something?

  1. Decide what you want to change. (It’s best for me not to be too specific or too general, but you must do it the way that works for you.)
  2. Research ways to make that change and decide on your best course. (Be flexible enough so if one way doesn’t work out, you can try another.)
  3. Talk about it as you go so you don’t shock the people around you too much.
  4. Write it down. (I’m big on goal setting.)
  5. Post it to your vision board.

I’ll do this in several areas of my life: Spiritual, Health, Home, Writing, Personal Relationships.

Want an example? Okay, I want to lose weight this year. (Health)

  • Decide approximately how much I want to lose.
  • Research weight loss programs. (I’m hoping to find a Christian based program, but I might decide on Weight Watchers.)
  • Research ways to circumvent problems. (When I’m hungry between meals, what can I eat that’s not a Plan Wrecker? What can I keep for Mindless Munching that’s not a PW?)
  • Research exercise plans. (Best ones for burning calories!)
  • Resolve that no matter what the celebration or what anyone else has cooked what’s going on in my world, I’m going to stick with my plan.

This is hard for me, because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feeling if I don’t eat their goodies. And I feel as if I’m no fun to be around if I don’t eat like everyone else. 😦

  • Tell the people around me what I’m doing. (Reserve the right to whack the back of the head if someone answers, “good, you need to.”)
  • Stay away from people I know will try to sabotage me, no matter how much fun they are.
  • Write down my objective and strategic plan so I can’t fool myself or change my mind.
  • Post a picture to my vision board. Either an old picture of me before weight gain or a picture of someone else who looks the way I want to.

What’s a vision board? Whatever you want it to be. Mine is a poster board with pictures or a couple of words about my goals. The trick is to hang it where you’ll see it every day. Then remember to look at it, so when you get back to your everyday grind, your goals won’t slip your mind.

I have a feeling mine’s going to be pretty full this year. 🙂

Question: Do you make resolutions or set goals for the New Year? Will you share one or two?

 

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Hodge Podge

Want something really good to eat that’s easy and surprisingly good (well, mostly) for you? Well, Hodge Podge is the dish you’re looking for. Matt, my middle son, loves it. When he was in school if I ever said, “What do you want for supper?” his answer was nearly always, “How about Podge?”

It’s easy to double, triple or even quadruple if you’re having a crowd.

Here it is, straight from FC3’s Fancy Country Cooking cookbook–

1 lb. ground beef browned

Add: 2 cans Rotel tomatoes

2 cans Ranch style beans

3 cans Minnestrone soup.

Put in a crock pot and simmer 3 hours. If cooked on burner, add a little water. Also chopped onion if you desire. Simmer 1 hour.

From Susan: If you put the chopped onion in with the meat while you brown it, you’ll get an even better flavor. And I never simmer for an entire hour. As long as it’s heated through, it’s good to go!

Try out Hodge Podge some time. Serve it over Fritos and top with shredded cheese. Good stuff, easy and quick to fix.


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Make Me Cry

I know, it’s not hard to make me cry. Sometimes I think I’m a rainstorm, looking for a place to happen. I found that place Christmas day. 🙂

A few weeks ago, I looked out the front door of our office and I saw it. There, katty corner across the street, in front of Nick Nack Memories (one of two fantastic antique-y shops here in C-Town) sat the trunk of my dreams.

Who sits around dreaming about trunks? Me!

Without telling anyone where I was going, I rushed over. It was old. And gorgeous! I looked inside  and (gasp!) the tray was there. Since I’ve never found a trunk with a tray, I was thrilled. AND the paper that lined the trunk was just practically perfect.

I LOVED IT!

When I asked the woman who finds all the treasures for the shop how much, she gave me a very reasonable price. Oh, I wanted that trunk! I’ve wanted one just like that for years, but somehow, I’ve never found one.

But Christmas was just a few weeks away, and I hadn’t finished my Christmas shopping. I just couldn’t justify buying myself the trunk, no matter how badly I wanted it.

By the next day, though, I could justify it. After all, I’d looked for it for years. And the price wasn’t just reasonable, it was fantastic. So back across the street I went, check book in hand.

It wasn’t out front, but the owner rarely puts the same thing out two days in a row. I went inside, but didn’t see it. Oh, no. “Did you sell the trunk I liked?”

The woman nodded happily. “Yes, I did.”

Okay, I get retail. You have to turn your stock–sell it and get in more–to make a living. But did she have to sell my trunk? And so quickly???

I was unhappy, upset and just a little bit mad about it. “That’s awful! I just can’t believe it. I hope their check bounces!!!”

I wanted her to repossess the trunk so I could buy it, but I’m not sure I said that out loud.

Now fast forward to Christmas. Christmas Eve was a little quiet–if a place can be quiet when my number one son is present. 🙂 Unlike past Eves, only #1 son, DIL#1, G-Man and I were here. The next morning (when we usually open our gifts) #1 and #3 and their women were here.

I got exactly what I wanted for the big day. Pictures of my family through the years, some framed and others ready to frame from Danny and China. (I’ll post some of them for you later.)

Crocks from Bradley and Nicole. (I have a thing for crocks, too.)

A Martha Stewart craft cabinet from my man. (Mine is picket fence white.)

And G-Man gave me two books I picked out. One’s a romance by Rachel Gibson. The other one is called, “How Not to Look Old!” (I can’t wait to learn everything that’s in there.)

Then, finally, Matt and Nikki showed up. They opened gifts to catch up with the rest of us, then handed me a present. A pretty box, wrapped up and tied with a gorgeous bow. So I opened it, and it was stuffed with tissue paper. When I moved all the tissue paper, I found a red envelope.

The Christmas card inside said, “You might want to go to the front porch to see your present.”

What can it be? I wondered. A car is a little too expensive for a Christmas gift–at least one I didn’t pick out. 🙂 Rather than guess, I headed for the porch.

There, next to my planter, was a humongus red bow.

And under that bow was my trunk. The trunk from Nick Nack Memories. The trunk I wanted before Christmas. The trunk I wanted the Memory lady to repossess. 😉

Okay, since then I changed my mind.

I know this will shock you, but for the second time that morning, I cried. (Boo-hooed over my pictures, too.)

Apparently, when I came back from meeting my trunk that day, I told DIL#2 where I’d been and she, with a little help from Omega (Thanks, Amy!) took it from there.

I had my whole family together for Christmas, so I got everything my heart desired. Wonderful things, no matter how old and wonderful, like antique trunks, are only temporary. Family is eternal.

I know it’s hard for a lot of people, but I’d love it if you’d post a comment and tell me what you got for Christmas that made you cry. Okay–that would have made me cry.


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The Best Gifts!!!

I think I mentioned my man and I met on a blind date on December 7th. (Thanks again, Mary and Sam!) By Christmas, my mama knew I was in love. Took me a week longer to admit it to myself. But by New Years Eve, I knew!

By February 2nd, G-Man knew, too. 🙂 (That’s when he asked me to marry him.)

Like every bride in the world should be, I was head-over-tea-kettle in love. As we prepared for the wedding, one scripture kept running through my head. I asked our preacher to use it in the wedding. He said he’d be glad to.

So we got married on May 19th. I wanted all the people I loved around us that day.

Dad walked me down the aisle, but I really wanted both my parents to do it. (That was back when it was hard to flout tradition, even one that small.) My sisters, #3 and #4, were our candle lighters. Sister Debbie was my maid of honor. Baby sister Amy was the flower girl. My piano teacher played the organ, Mom’s good friend sang, “Oh, Promise Me.”

The preach said all the normal words, but he didn’t use the scripture. I was so disappointed. I didn’t know if he’d forgotten or if he’d never heard it done before and decided not to use it.

I got the ring on my finger, put my man’s ring on his and we kissed. The preach introduced us as mister and missus and we started back down the aisle, music swelling just like at the end of a great movie.

That’s when I heard it.

16And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:17Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

Isn’t that beautiful? That’s King Jame’s Version and the way I memoried it a long time ago. Here it is in The Message:

16-17 But Ruth said, “Don’t force me to leave you; don’t make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I’ll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I’ll die, and that’s where I’ll be buried, so help me God—not even death itself is going to come between us!”

That’s not a woman talking to a man or a man to a woman, it’s a daughter-in-law talking to her mother-in-law.

Ruth’s pledge of faithfulness was what I wanted to be part of our nuptials. But I think God had something in mind all those years ago when He planted scripture in my heart.

With all my heart, I believe it was a blessing God had for G-Man and me, and because of it, He has blessed us with three of the most wonderful daughter-in-laws (daughters-in-law?) in captivity. 😉

Each one is absolutely so much fun, so thoughtful, and just the perfect blend of sugar and spice! It’s amazing that all my sons found women I could love so much.

Susan’s Sons’ List of Wife Requirements:

1-Sharp
2-Pretty
3-Spunky
4-The daughter Mom always wanted.

This started out to be a blog about my Christmas gifts, which were so wonderful I cried with joy all Christmas morning. But deep in my heart, I believe that the best gifts my boys have ever given me are their wives.

That’ll stay true at least until I get a grandchild!!!

Tell you about the gifts later. 🙂


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H♥B♥D♥ KENDAL

Happy Birthday to You!

Today is Kendal Grace’s birthday. I won’t tell you how old she is, but I’ll tell you she’s beautiful, exciting, full of energy and has an adorable son and a great husband!

I’ll always remember the day before she was born.

That year, the Spess clan went to OKC to celebrate Christmas. Her mama, Sister Cindy, was very, very pregnant and spent a lot of that day in her chair. Our son, Danny, seven, was a joy. Matt was three and Brad wasn’t a year old yet.

Danny played with his cousins that day and had a great time. Baby Buggy (Brad) was easy to take care of that day, but poor Matt had a disaster. Although he had a big pile of gifts from Santa, the only “friend” he cared to take along was the same one he took everywhere.

Puppy. His stuffed Snoopy with a blue shirt that said, “Puppy Love” that he’d swiped from his Aunt Amy. Matt dragged Puppy every place we went by his ear, his tail, his leg or however he could grab him. Just as long as Puppy was by his side like some kids take a security blanket, Matt was a happy camper.

That day, Matt was playing around with the other kids and, of course, Puppy, when he pulled the dog’s nose right off.

Matt wailed so loud, you’d have thought he pulled off his brother’s nose.

Of course, Brad was having his mid-day “meal” when the emergency happened, so I had to work one-handed. Sister Cindy found us a needle but only one color of thread. While Brad nursed, I sewed on the nose (a black pom-pom type nose) with great big stitches. Great big purple stitches.

And it stayed on, just like that, until Matt outgrew his security dog. (He’s still here, in my house somewhere, with the faded purple stitches.)

We’d hoped Cindy’s baby would be born while we were at her hosue that Christmas, but it didn’t happen. Late in the afternoon, everyone–including Mom and Dad–went home.

THEN Cindy went into labor and had Kendal not too long after midnight.

And the girl has kept us entertained ever since!

Love!

That!

Girl!!!

This is Kendal a couple of years ago. Since then, she’s had a baby who’s now a very smart(!) and active two-year-old. And sweet Kendal is a thin, active and very beautiful wife and mama.

Want to read about Kendal’s wedding? Check it out here! 


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Christmas Leftovers

A Christmas tree at Santa Claus' Park. In 2005...

I hope your Christmas was everything you dreamed it would be. Mine absolutely was. All my children were home, together, at the same time. All their spouses and spouses-to-be were here. No one cried except me, and it was the good kind of crying.

And I got to see my Dad and all my sibs except #4. I heard from her, though, so the day was p-e-r-f-e-c-t!!!

I had a couple of Christmas memories I didn’t get a chance to share with you before the big day, so I thought I’d shake them out now.

Christmas trees growing up were always cedar trees. The kind that grow like weeds in this part of the world and the government will pay you to get rid of. But as kids, we didn’t know that. We thought they were beautiful.

Besides the fact they poked you if you got too close, lost their needles (I’m not sure what a cedar has in place of leaves, but I’m calling it needles) if you looked at it too hard, and couldn’t hold up an ornament that weighed more than about three ounces (spun glass and tinsel, anyone?) what’s not to love?

After all, they were green and smelled kind of wintery-outdoorsy for about a minute and a half.

So every year, Dad and Granddad would cut several cedar trees for our houses and a few of the neighbors. I always thought they were so kind to share the trees off our land with other people, and at no charge!

When I was about ten or twelve, I found out the really good part was going out to cut the trees. We’d bundle up, pile into a pickup or station wagon, drive out to the farm and walk through the woods until we came to the “perfect” tree.

The first time Dad handed me the axe, I was so surprised, I nearly dropped it. But I stepped right up and chopped that tree right down. I haven’t cut one in years, but it seems like they were very easy to cut down. I think he let #2 cut down the next tree that day.

We never did cut the bottom off and stick it in water so it wouldn’t dry out, like they say you should do if you want your tree to stay “fresh”. We put them in water, and if they wouldn’t drink we figured they weren’t thirsty.

The worst part was undecorating the tree and getting it out of the house when the holiday was over. Not only was the tree scratchy, it kind of exploded when you moved it. Remember in Christmas Story when they go to buy their tree and one leaves a perfect ring of needles?

That’s the way our cedar trees defoliated themselves after weeks in a house with dry air. Rub past it. Thrum! Bump the wall with it. Bam! Shove it through the door. Kaboom!

Clouds of dry cedar needles. They burn well, too.

Other happy (now, anyway) and favorite Christmas memories:

  • The year #4 put “makeup” on Sister Debbie’s brand new doll with an indelible ink pen.
  • Finding gifts months after Christmas that were hidden in Grandmother’s closet and forgotten by Santa.
  • The year Mom’s beautiful bracelet (from a jewelry store!) disappeared from under the tree. When we couldn’t find it, Mama asked #4 if she knew where it was. Oh, yeah! She’d hidden it in the ice cream freezer. Upside down, smashing the bow.
  • Every Christmas, dressing like Mom and my sisters in velvet dresses that Mama made. Sometimes Brother Jeffrey got a matching vest or jacket. For some reason, Dad never sported velvet. 😉 (Not that we minded.)
  • When my kids were one, three and almost eight and they took turns opening presents so they could fight over every gift. (Mostly the one and three-year-old really picked on the eight-year-old.)
  • Hanging of the Greens.
  • All the Family Christmas Eves at Grandmother’s house.
  • Knowing the real Santa Claus (because he knew my boys by sight.)
  • My parents living out the true meaning of Christmas.
  • Knowing the One whose birthday we’ve celebrated for over two thousand years. (No, I don’t remember quite all those years.)


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Merry CHRISTmas

Merry Christmas

Taking a minute from the merriment this morning (Biscuits, gravy, gifts and kids. Can you think of anything merrier than that?) to wish all y’all a very merry Christmas. I hope all your wishes come true, your loved ones make it safely home and you have the happiest Christ-centered Christmas ever.

http://youtu.be/Vnt7euRF5Pg

Take a moment if you can and watch Youtube video above. Even if you’ve seen the Flash Carolers before (my name for them) watch them again. Let them bless your heart and start your Christmas right.

And because this is the last time I can share it this year (maybe) I hope you’ll listen to BREATH OF HEAVEN, below.

http://youtu.be/iCyxi6E0DUg

Merry Christmas, EVERYONE.

Celebrating the Reason for the Season all year ’round!