Find us at porchandpine.com
One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is the excitement and anticipation of gift giving. I value investing in items that promote imaginative play and skill building. I try to shy away from loading my kids up with too many toys because if I’m overwhelmed, I know they are too! Here’s hoping this gift guide inspires you to seek out a thoughtful, fun gift for the little ones in your life!
1.Lovelane Designs has the cutest dress up collections that aren’t character specific, which I love! (prices vary), 2. The Nugget ($229) is one of the things I’m most excited about this Christmas! I’m thrilled to reclaim my couch cushions and I know my kids will be excited about all of the lounging and fort building options in their playroom!, 3. This Farmer’s Market Playtime Kit from Seedling is perfect for any mini entrepreneur or horticulturist ($25 – their website is under construction, shop Seedling on Amazon), 4. CINEMOOD Storyteller is one of the tech options that I could definitely get on board with. It is a mini portable projector that contains pre-loaded content: movies, cartoons, digital books, etc. ($299 – OOPS! currently sold out but available for pre-order with January delivery), 5. If your kids love forts as much as mine (or if you loved that giant parachute in gym class) the AirFort is sure to please all ages ($40), 6. Letterfolk’s adorable Kids Passport Collection books are great gifts for school age children who enjoy documenting life and looking back on special memories. ($10 each), 7. Plus-Plus kits are a fun twist on a classic building toy. Love this Buddy the Elf set! ($8)
For as long as I can remember, writing has been my way to make sense of the world. What doesn’t quite make sense is how often I forget to do this. I fail to remember just how necessary it is for me to write or type my thoughts in the hopes that I can be more perceptive to what it is I’m feeling. Other times I don’t write because the time and emotional energy it takes to do so aren’t readily available. Since it’s quiet in the house today and I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, I’m going to attempt to collect my thoughts and share with you a glimpse of my Nanny through my eyes.
Nanny was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s some years back. The date really does not matter as we look back and realize the signs were there for quite some time. At first, it seemed slightly concerning, yet manageable. I’m sure the frustration of her own forgetfulness was painful at times. I later learned that this was only the beginning stage of a heartbreaking disease. The lines are blurred between the beginning and middle stages but we all were keenly aware of the progression of the Alzheimer’s. I remember worrying about her safety and well-being for the first time in my life and thinking that the role reversal was quite odd and sad. I’m sure my mom and her siblings felt this even more so.
So many of the months and years of the middle stage run together in my mind. I guess that in raising two kids, the sleepless nights contributed to memory loss of my own. I do remember being painfully aware of the distance between Nanny and I that the disease created. So many of the things she would do and say just didn’t seem right and I suppose that’s because they weren’t. Her brain was sick. I’m now able to look back and laugh at the times she accused me of stealing her silver hoop earrings and antique crocheted doilies. If she had been in her right mind, I believe she would have also laughed at the silliness of her “lost” goods. They were often found right where she left (or hid) them.
While I do believe that laughter is some of the best medicine, I don’t think that it diminishes the hurt that we all endured at the hands of this disease. It was during this time that I came to terms with the fact that I could no longer pick up the phone to have a “normal” conversation with her. I believe that this revelation, among other occurrences, jump started the grief process in my own heart. I felt myself slowly losing my grandmother though her body was still on this earth.
I firmly believe that the Lord does not allow the suffering of his children to be in vain. I’m thankful that Nanny’s suffering of the body and mind ended when she was called Home.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.
Revelation 21:4, CSB
In some ways, I’m grateful that we knew this was coming. We learned she was very ill in the beginning of January. I think being able to mentally prepare myself was helpful. I had the opportunity to sit down and gradually sort through my favorite photos of Nanny over the years. I’m so thankful for the snapshots I captured of her rocking each of my babies. I’ll never forget taking them and thinking, “You’re going to miss this.” I vividly remember the last day the kids and I saw her in her house. I cried on the way home. We all knew she could not continue living on her own but the knowledge that she was no longer in the same comforting place she had been for most of my life was heart wrenching.
I remember the context of so many of our visits just by looking at the photos I’ve taken. I can hear her voice giving advice–unsolicited usually! It’s funny how the things that can drive you crazy about a person are often the things that you miss the most when they’re gone. Nanny had an opinion about everything. I guess when you live 86 years on this earth you learn a thing or two. Her wisdom was always imparted in some way every time I had the opportunity to be near her. I would often call her when I was frustrated or upset over a situation and needed clarity. She didn’t have much of a filter and was quick to give an assessment of any given circumstance. She usually told me things that I needed to hear whether I was ready to listen or not. I wish she could give me one last bit of advice.
So much of her advice came in the form of product recommendations and beauty rituals. It sounds like a funny, light-hearted memory, but those that knew her were well aware of her skincare obsession! Have you ever really been to Nanny’s house if you didn’t hear mention of her all-time-favorite Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion? Or perhaps she schooled you on the importance of using Pond’s Cold Cream to remove your makeup nightly. “Putting on” her face was the term she used for applying makeup–something she did daily whether she was going to the grocery store or working in her yard. Penciled in eyebrows and lipstick are two things that have stuck with me. Secret deodorant was her go to. The Listerine must be original. Mentholatum for congestion or stuffy noses. Campho Phenique for cold sores and various other ailments. I find some strange form of comfort in the predictability of her medicine cabinet line up.
Nanny was the true definition of an independent woman. She was a “Do-It-Yourself” kind of gal before it was cool. She lost her first husband unexpectedly and had to carry on with two small children. She later remarried and added two more children to her family. After divorcing her second husband, she pulled herself up by her boot straps, once again, and pressed on. I have a lump in my throat when I think about the challenges she must have faced as a single mom of four heading into the workforce in the 1960s. I can’t help but wonder if she would have preferred to be a stay at home mom like myself. I’ve admired her grit every time I’ve reflected on this season of her life. She worked for the Texas State Highway Department and made many lifelong friends over the course of her 25 years there. When she retired, she never stopped being active. Though I’ve heard the stories of how she loved to go two-stepping, I never knew that side of her. I must admit, it makes me smile to think of her throwing back a Coors Light and dancing the soles off her custom boots. She wasn’t grandmotherly in the ways that most expect but the parts of her that I knew are the ones that continue to serve as an example of the kind of woman I want to be.
It wasn’t uncommon to find Nanny in her yard. On any given day, I could pull into her driveway and find her picking up pinecones, raking up pine straw, or tending to her hydrangeas. She push mowed her own yard well into her 80s! It would have been unfathomable to her to not take care of her lawn. She even got into a tizzy with a neighbor once over said neighbor trying to encroach upon her property line! Oh, Nanny! Unfortunately, I did not inherit her passion for yard work.
Nanny didn’t just pride herself on a neat yard; she also enjoyed taking care of the interior of her home. I find it amusing that I never connected the dots of where my mom and I both learned our love of decorating until recently. Nanny singlehandedly completed a most impressive makeover on her home. Painting walls, hanging wallpaper, minor plumbing jobs, moving furniture–nothing was too difficult for her. If it needed to be done, she did it. Every room in her house was skillfully decorated and incorporated the perfect mix of new and antique/well loved items. She was ahead of the HGTV game! I like to think I exhibit a little bit of this “Nanny behavior” each time I complete a DIY project of my own.
Each of her children and grandchildren have fond memories of her food. Roast with all of the fixings, fried salmon patties, chicken and dressing, chicken stew, and (the not-so-fancy) scrambled egg sandwich are a few of my personal favorites. I learned not too long ago that Nanny’s job growing up in her large family was to be the dessert maker. This is where her talents in the kitchen really impressed us all. Rice Krispie treats, brownies and cookies were typically reserved for us grandkids and our friends. Pies were second nature to her and she cheerfully brought them along to any special event. Vanilla Wafer cake is probably one of my family’s most treasured recipes and one of the few things that I’ve dared to make on my own. It was a recipe given to Nanny by a precious, long time friend whose neck I absolutely had to hug at the visitation–if only for the coveted recipe, hand-written on a pink index card! Some of her holiday specialties included: peanut brittle, fudge and *drumroll please* Martha Washington candies. I will forever admire the ease and comfort with which she operated in her kitchen and think of her often when I cook in mine.
Perhaps one of the most commonly mentioned characteristics of Nanny by others is her feistiness. She had a sassy streak a mile wide and a quick wit all her own. I think so much of that is attributed to having to think on her feet and make decisions for herself and her family. She took care of business and expected others to do the same. She made no apologies for her convictions and I don’t believe she would mind me saying that she didn’t take sh*t off of anyone! Take it or leave it, she was the best combination of spirit, spunk, grit and glam.
I’m moved to tears at the realization of just how blessed I was to have someone like Nanny in my life for 27 years. The great loss of her presence on this earth is gain to her loved ones in heaven. I can’t wait to see her again one day. “I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck!”
Please visit alz.org if you have any questions about Alzheimer’s or would like to make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Now that Remi isn’t the only quotable kid in the Lange household, I’ve decided to add little sister in the mix. Since we’re together the majority of the week while Remi is at school (with the exception of Mother’s Day Out), I’ve amassed quite a bit of humorous quotes. I’m still trying to work out the kinks for how to best share our collection of conversations in a way that flows and is easy to read. Hang tight–you’ll love the new spin on the Remi-isms! We’ll start with Ruby, move on to Remi & end with group conversations. Hope you enjoy!
Ruby: I got booboo, Daddy
J: Well, I’m not gonna kiss it right now
Ruby: Later, Dada?
J: Yeah, later.
Ruby: I need coffee, too! Where my coffee?
Me: Daddy’s sleepy
Ruby: No ma’am, Jose!
Me: Ruby, you made my lips look so pretty with lipstick!
Ruby: Dat my job.
Ruby: Mayleigh, be quiet. I rinsin’ Bubba’s hair.
Me: What’s wrong?
Ruby: I ‘cared of dark
Remi: Ruby, we’ve been over this TWENTY FIVE times!!
Ruby: I tired now.
Me: What do you want to do?
Ruby: Take a nap more.
Me: OK. You can rest while we are in the car.
Ruby: Noooo I not sleepy. I just being silly.
Ruby: I takin’ my baby to Bible study! It be funnnn!
Ruby: *asks my dad* You like Paw Patrol?
Ruby: Look at all dese babies I got.
Me: Awww so many babies to love and take care of!
Ruby: Dey’re killing me!
Ruby: Can I check da coon trap?
J: Yes, let’s go.
Ruby: I gotta brush my teef! Hang on!
Remi: You have Candy Crush?! That’s my favorite game!
Me: How do you know about Candy Crush?
Remi: Aunt Audrey and Uncle Johnny! Hello. Is anyone in my mind??
*we just had a conversation about doing things the first time you’re asked – trying new food*
Remi: My tastes buds are saying no but my body is saying yes.
Remi: *eating dinner* Listen. I don’t mean any harm but…this chicken…I just saw a booger on it.
Me: You only get a treat if you tee tee in the potty.
Remi: I’ll tee tee in the potty!!
Me: Ok but you’re already potty trained so you don’t get a treat.
Remi: Aww man but it was a good try!
Remi: That little giggly girl! I love my sister. All I want for Christmas is my family!
Remi: I would NEVER lie about getting a green dot because I know that would be double trouble!!
Remi: Momma, I try to get lots of green dots at school and that’s why I get in trouble at home because it takes all of my good out!
Remi: Why is she so whiny? Ugh! We need to get some manners into that girl! The way she’s been acting with me…it ain’t happenin’ any more!
*picking out nail polish colors*
Me: Oh, that will probably match your dress pretty good.
Ruby: Dat match my dress! It ‘pecial to me!
Remi: That matches her dress?
Me: Yes, it’s hanging in her closet if you want to go see.
Remi: I’m just not really in the spirit of walking around but I’ll go see.
Ruby: I do Playdoh!
Ruby: At my ‘chool!
Remi: I wish I got to do Playdoh at my school but Bubba’s past those days right, Momma?!
Me: Remi, did you get cold at school today?
Ruby: I got cold at ‘chool today!
Me: You did? Oh no!
Ruby: DAT TERRIBLE!
For some reason it feels like I just posted one of these…then I realized I hadn’t posted any Remi-isms since September. I guess life moves faster once you have a kid in school. At least that’s how it feels!
“I’m just looking around Longview because I kinda miss it.”
“Awww! She’s just so cute. I can’t stand her cuteness!”
Me: Why do you feel the need to tear stuff up?
Remi: I feel the need to tear stuff up because I’m a man.
(I was talking to Jarrett about how Remi had taken a nap the previous day)
Me: He was knocked out yesterday!
Remi: My daytime spirit was knocked out of me!
Me: Go potty.
Remi: I’m gonna hold it til I get to the deer stand with Daddy.
Me: No you’re not. Go potty.
Remi: I gotta stretch. My little arms and my little legs and my–
Me: I’m about to stretch out my hand on your little bottom!
Remi: (giggles) That sounds funny but it doesn’t feel funny!!
“Sometimes, at night, I do quiet poots.”
“I’m gonna call my arm pits, “pits.” Actually, I’m gonna call them “pits of joy.”
Remi: Honey was acting like my parents and not my grandparent.
Remi: Because she didn’t give me everything I wanted. She usually does. Honey wouldn’t let me have Max but Cheri bought it for me. So now Cheri’s being the good one. She was never ever like that. (**for the record, I know this makes him seem terribly bratty but if you know his Honey and Poppa then you know he’s just preaching the truth- he usually does get what he wants! and as for his Aunt Cheri, the “good one” he’s referring to is because she always picks on him and acts silly!**)
[when Jesus was born..] “Did they have a Walmart? Chick-fil-A? Sprite?”
“I wish the pantry was my bedroom.”
“Sometimes you make me smile when I look at your face.”
“Ruby, you’re never gonna get to drink coffee– until you’re 14!”
Me: God gave you each other. Siblings are built in friends.
Remi: Um…Mom…we’re not the kind of kids you’re thinking about. We’re the kind of kids that like to play by ourselves.
Me: NO Ruby!
Remi: What does she have?
Remi: OHHHH those are one of the final touchdowns for spankings!
Remi: Please do not hug me like that.
Me: Remington Lange, I am your mother. I brought you into this world & I can take you out of it! (How’s that for a movie line? ha!)
Remi: (not missing a beat!) No you can’t! And plus, Jesus brought me into this world!
Remi: How old are you, Momma?
Remi: Then you should be in heaven by now.
“I thought this medicine was going to taste good but it actually tastes horrible. Some medicine just tastes horrible. Horrible, I say!”
“Momma, you just made me feel love in my heart.”
Ways to support the school:
We are passionate about education and want to do our part. Thank you in advance for helping Remi’s school!
P.S. We would also love to receive any Box Tops you may have around the house! Those help support our school as well and Remi is in a little classroom competition to collect the most!
So sorry if some of these are redundant! I found them in a note from April in my phone and didn’t think I ever used them! I really need to change the picture for the Remi-isms posts since he’s in Kinder now and this pic is at least 2 years old…one day!
Me: I’m worn slap out!
Remi: That’s a bad word.
Me: Oh…sorry. I didn’t know.
Remi: It’s ok. Everyone makes mistakes.
(while shopping for Ruby’s birthday party a few months back)
Me: Let me know if you see anything with palm trees or flamingos.
Remi: PALM TREE!
Remi: I was just trickin’ you!
Me: That wasn’t nice!
Remi: But it was funny!
Remi: That kinda looks like palm trees.
Me: You’re right. It does.
Remi: Hey! We should get that just to shake things up at Ruby’s birthday party!
“My little head is full of smarties!”
(after Jarrett hung up the phone because of a bad connection)
“I can’t believe he hung up on his own son!!”
(I’m sure you’ve heard the story of me having to bring Remi a second lunch to the school because he decided to eat the one I packed him for breakfast. I sent the second lunch in a brown paper sack. He pulled the paper sack out as soon as he got in the car that afternoon..)
“For goodness sake, I put this in my backpack sneakily so my teacher wouldn’t throw it away!”
“Mrs. Townsend, I’m so tired. I really want to go home and snuggle up in my sheets on the couch and watch Netflix on the TV. Please.”
(said to my brother-in-law, Dakota, while he was spraying off the carport with water)
Remi: You better not even think about spraying me with that, KoKo!
Dakota: What are you gonna do about it?
Remi: I’m gonna tell my Momma!
Dakota: Oh yeah? And what’s she gonna do?
Remi: She’s gonna give you a spankin’!
Remi: Momma, I wanna sing you a new song so you’ll remember it.
Me: After dinner, ok?
Remi: No, I can eat and sing.
Me: You can’t talk with your mouth full.
Jarrett: Mamaw told me a long time ago that you’re not supposed to sing at the dinner table. You know why?
Jarrett: You’ll marry a crazy woman. I should have listened to her.
Remi: Daddy! You think my mom is crazy but she’s not!!
(on the phone with my mother-in-law, aka Honey)
“Honey, I’m gonna go where no one can hear our words.”
(I follow him in his room to see what on earth he’s talking about)
“Ummmm…Mom, can you give me and Honey some privity?”
“…And thank you for Gladewater. And Longview. And for letting us live where my Daddy grew up. Amen.”
Me: Remi, are you ready for the Shark Week party?
Remi: Yeah! Text that!
“Ruby! Are you naked?! You sly dog!!”
“I got a lot of (dance) moves back in the day…when I was four.”
“I’ve seen all the Scooby Doo’s. Pretty creepy, eh?”
“Thanks, Mom. You make my life feel a little bit better.”
“Momma, you have to tell me if you go somewhere. That scares me. I’m not trying to be mean, OK?”
(sent to me by my sister-in-law, Audrey)
“Aunt Audrey, I have to ask you sumfin’. One day, will you buy me some gum? That would be very helpful to me.”
Remi: What’s Wylder’s dad’s name?
Remi: BILLY?! And Jodi?! That sounds like a cartoon!!
“Did you know Dottie got stung by a stunk?” (translation: My mom’s dog got sprayed by a skunk! haha!)
Remi: Do I have bones in my tummy? (I did my best explanation)…then how does my tummy live like this?
Remi: Mom, my movie’s not starting.
Remi: OH. It’s starting now. I know. You actually have to give it a minute!
Me: (talking to my sister) It’s impossible to do anything with kids just so you know what you’re getting yourself into!
Remi: You’ll see, AA when you get that baby out of your tum-tum. It’s all troubleness!
(Talking to Ruby) “will you marry me, my lady?”
“I’m kissing my money before I give it to you because I’m gonna miss it.”
Remi: On Thursday im gonna be a policeman …on Saturday a Doctor…on Tuesday a firefighter! I’m gonna be a nurse and I’m gonna be a daddy every day. I’m gonna play with my kids and I’m gonna kiss my woman.
Me: Your woman?!
Remi: Uh huh. that I’m married to. And I’m gonna sing a song to my kids when they’re sleepy. I’m gonna find a pretty woman to marry and if that pretty woman finds me I’m just gonna be done findin’ womans.
“Ruby, why are you being so hateful to me?”
Me: Ruby slept all night without waking up! Can you believe it?!
Remi: You know why? Because I prayed she would!
Me: Thank you so much, Remi!
Remi: Don’t thank me!! thank Jesus!
(This was during a very serious & drawn out bedtime conversation and I was so annoyed with him for trying to say up and saying he was scared.)
“When I’m scared I shake. I shake badder than maracas”
(Same conversation…he makes some valid points! Lol)
“Well, I won’t be scared in our new house because I been there like 40 days and I see it builded. But I don’t know how this house was builded so I’m just scared and I don’t feel safe.”
I picked Remi up to carry him to his bed. He tooted and I tried to ignore it because I wanted him to wind down for bed. A second later he muttered “that was awkward.” And of course neither one of us could control our laughter!
“Hey! What’s this situation?!”
“Does everyone in the whole wide world have snapchats?”
Me: Remi, come here.
Remi: why do girls always want me?