Thursday, December 29, 2011

Family Christmas Pics

So as the end of the year comes to an end, I thought I would share our Family pics for 2011. I LOVE taking pictures of the family and creating a Christmas card every year! It's one of the many things I look forward to. Love capturing the kids each year looking their best~ It's a stressful day getting everyone ready, but so worth it after you get the pictures! Enjoy...

Me and my girls! I hope we are the bestest friends ever!

My husband, my rock. I couldn't do anything without this guy right here!

Sweet sweet Athena, full of goodness. My little perfectionist, she may be tiny but she is mighty!

Oh Zoe...she will keep us all on our toes! Watch out Fresno!

This guy is my sweet sensitive lovable son. Has the biggest heart...

Here he is sweet, not often that he is so sweet, but I will keep this picture to remind me

Heart breaker right here...

I will miss these times when my boys are young, playful, confident, and innocent. I pray they become men of God and cherish and enjoy life as much as I do!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Till Death Do Part

"I Paul, take you Stella, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy law, and this is my solemn vow." This is what my dad promised 44 years ago. 44 years ago, he didn't know he was promising to commit to a women who would suffer from early onset Alzheimer. 44 years ago a young boy named Paul didn't know he was promising to take care of a wife who would not be able to take care of herself after the age of 60. 44 years ago, Paul was promising to love a young Stella who captured his heart with her good looks and love of life! He was marrying a beautiful girl who made his heart skip a beat, who he could see his life with forever. And so life went, full of surprises, ups and downs, but they always had each other until this disease stole that life. Until this disease we call Alzheimer took Stella away. They don't travel to Vegas anymore or take random trips to Carmel or Nordstroms. They don't watch the grand kids together over night while we go out and play. No, they don't do that anymore. Instead dad gives mom a bath and dries the entire bath tub before he helps her to get out. He changes her clothes and brushes her teeth. He cooks her meals and cleans up after her. He does the grocery shopping and keeps up the house. When mom had a difficult time using the toilets because of the distance, he bought higher toilets throughout the house so the Queen, as we call her, would feel more secure when sitting down. When the house wasn't getting warm enough, her changed out all the units in the house to keep it warmer longer. When she is scared he holds her. This is my dad, a man who took his vows seriously. When he promised, he promised. He could easily put my mom in a home, but he knew she would be sad not being in her own home. So he hired someone to help, and keeps her in her home. He could easily do what Barry Peterson, a famous journalist whose wife suffers from early onset Alzheimer, has done to cope with the loss of his wife. You see Barry put his wife in a home and because she is not there mentally, he is seeing other women because that is what his wife would of wanted had she known what was happening. And together with this new love, they visit his wife and he has written a book about this showing us how to handle something like this is our own lives. But I would rather take Paul Dictos' way of coping with the loss. Sticking by your wife till death do part, not till sickness do part. So during this Christmas season with your loved ones around and some not close to us, remember your vows to one another, to your children, to your families. It's never easy, it's not supposed to be or else what would be so special about it? I pray that when in this very situation the man I married would be a Paul Dictos, one who would honor his vows till death do part. I love you dad and everything you exemplify. Merry Christmas to the father that has not only shown me and the world what it means to love, but what it means to be a man of your word. Stella is a lucky girl to have Paul as her man. She will be taken care of for life, with class. Love you more...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Celebrating Stella

So it's Christmas and we all have those pictures with Santa in dorky outfits and quirky hair cuts. Most of our parents did a good job of taking us to see the man in the red suit so we could really believe that there was a Santa. And so the tradition continues as many of us wait in a line with our own kids and enjoy their anticipation of Good ol' Saint Nic. I know my sissy and I do it every year and we chronicle it in a book marked Holidays. Whether it's with Santa, The Easter Bunny, or Halloween Costumes, we have one for every year with all kiddos in matching outfits. So as I sit here and celebrate the woman I call mom, it takes me back to good old Weinstocks. My mom used to take us every year on the the Friday after school was out for Christmas Break, to have lunch with Jolly Old Saint Nic. I remember the red plastic booth couches and the "Denny" style plates and cups. She LOVED seeing our faces light up as Santa came by and sat with us and asked us what we wanted for Christmas and if we had been a good boy and girls. We of course were dressed to the nines, even if we were in our school uniforms, our hair was pristine! I remember my mother laughing and everyone knowing her by name. Where ever that woman went she was known and loved. She loved people and getting to know them and helping them if they needed it. She would give you the shirt off her back if you needed it! Where is that Stella, oh my mom. The love she had for life and everything in it. Now she sits at home and still laughs, but she would of loved going out and shopping and seeing Santa! Sometimes she would get in the pics with her grand babies and smile big! I love you mom. Thanks for giving us the joy of life and enjoying everything we have. Whether a lot or not too much. You are the greatest role model of a classy women, loving mommy, and yiayia. Love you more! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Family Recipes-Chicken Casserole

So tonight my sister reminded me of a family cookbook that our aunt gave to us at our Wedding...10 years ago...and as I thumbed through the pages I was reminded of some great family recipes my mom would make as well as family members. So tonight I thought I would share some good old fashion dinner recipes that remind me of home. I will try to be good and post weekly, but you know how that goes around here! So tonight I;m sharing Chicken Casserole.  In the memo here it says that Charlotte (the originator of this recipe) serves this would jello salad and thin slices of nut bread. (ha!) Anyways, enjoy!
Chicken Casserole:
1 cube melted margarine (I use butter)
1 1/2 cups sharp cheese, grated
6 cups cubed bread
4 whole cooked chicken breast cubed
2 Tblsp onion flakes
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms (I do without)
1/2 can water chesnuts, sliced
1/2 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
6 eggs
5 cups milk
1 pkg frozen peas
1 tomato sliced
Additional grated  cheese

Combine butter, cheese, and bread cubes. Put half in bottom of 9x13 inch casserole. Cover with chicken, onion, mushroom, water chestnut, peas (uncooked), and seasoning. Add remaining bread cubes and more grated cheese on top. Beat eggs and add milk. Pour over casserole and arrange tomato slices on top. Cover with foil and refrigerate one hour or night before. Remove foil and bake at 350 for 45-50 mins. Serves 12-16
Let me know how it goes!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Celebrating Stella

Well the Christmas spirit has taken up all my time these past few weeks and I have been missing my time of remembering my mother before the disease we call Alzheimer. It is fitting how some of my fondest memories of my mom was her love of Christmas! The entire house would be decked from the mantle, the tree, the centerpieces throughout the house and of course that dinning room table. Always set from the 1st of December till after the New Years. She loved decorating the tree, and I know all of us have some memory of your own family and how you decorated the tree. My kids will remember that mama had "her" tree will all her "pretty-pretties" and they had their own tree (one for the boys and one for the girls) and that we all couldn't wait to decorate. My memory of my family was that we always decorated the day after Thanksgiving. We sometimes had real trees, but when my mom discovered the magic of fake trees we always had one and we all had to fluff-my least favorite part of the job. But my mom always taught us how to decorate the tree and make it apart of who you are as a family. Our tree had all our ornaments on them on the back:) and beautiful ornaments from Martins on the front. She would make bows and keep the decor throughout the entire place. The bookshelves were decorated, the mirror on top of the fireplace was taken down and a wreath was hung. Christmas floor mats, Christmas bathroom decor, you name she had it. She LOVED this time of year. She created such fond memories of Christmas and New Years. I just love looking at the pictures where life was abundant through her eyes. She would light up any room she entered with her joyfulness. Her tree always shined the brightest, she put a lot of lights on her tree. More than recommended. Her tree was a reflection of her, her brightness, her creativity, and her love. I hope this Christmas you all shine bright and enjoy you family and your friends. Health is a precious gift and if you are well, live bright, love creatively, and be joyful. Merry Christmas...

Mom got us matching vests...I still have mine:)

Dad loved spoiling his Queen

Try to ignore the fashion, and check out the tree

The night Johnny proposed...look at that tree

We now decorate mom's tree and as she sat and watched us she made a comment, one that let us know she's still there..."where's my big tree?" She had a 12 footer that she gave to me a while back. Here's your big tree mom, it's shinning bright just like you
(ignore the ladder:))

Monday, November 14, 2011

Celebrating Stella

As the holidays are approaching quickly, it reminds me of how many tables my mother has set and how many family and friends gathered around for Stella's home cooking. So many pictures of her kitchen table being set for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and for no special reason than to have friends and family over to eat, and make memories. My mother was always about making memories, enjoying life, and looking good doing it. We always had someone extra at the tables too...she always set an extra seat in case someone unexpected joined us. She had a gift of making everyone and anyone feel welcomed and a part of the group. I love that about her. She never judged, just opened her arms and invited you over for dinner. My sister is so much like her in that aspect and I love seeing that continue. That generosity. So I always have an extra plate set for my guests when I host and always welcome my friends who have no where to spend the holidays. I love you mom and the hospitable person you always were. You will always be the hostess with the mostess!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Celebrating Stella

Notice the punch bowl, lady finger cake, crystal plates, and that festive Halloween runner!

So today is my birthday. I celebrated by visiting my parents this morning. I told my mom it's my birthday and even though this illness has stolen her personality and abilities to do simple things, she immediately responded with "oh, where are going to celebrate?" That's how I remember my mom. She was always ready for a party. She celebrated every one of our birthdays with a party. She'd lay out her gold spoons in a pattern on the table. Her punch bowl was never missing and she would fill fancy bowls and dishes with fruit and nuts. And in the center of the party table was her infamous lady finger cake. We always ate birthday cake with those gold spoons. These traditions she created are ones that as an adult I have come to appreciate even more than before. I just love how this woman came from a different culture without her family and started a new family with her husband and new traditions. She created a life of joy and love for all who she came into contact with. My home was always filled with love and an appreciation for life! I love this woman and all the special touches throughout our lives. On this 35th birthday my kids have celebrated me and my husband has spoiled and my father always providing for me and my family, and my dear sissy giving everything she has. But my mom, we would of gone out together all day and she would of spoiled me with things I couldn't afford or needed because that's how she was. She is my mom and she always spoiled me. She was always the one who would be frivolous on my birthday and I miss her. Love you mom!

I think this was my 2nd birthday

I think this was NOT a lady finger cake!

Glass cups, lady finger cake

Punch bowl...sissy got a bike that year!

Lady Finger cake

Lady finger cake

(my sister is the bald character-don't know why)

My mom's birthday...the lady finger cake

Jason's first bday! Notice the gold spoons, and the punch bowl.

Lady finger cake again...and a skinny mama!

Lady finger cake again!
My mom LOVED my dad, so PROUD of his this moment captured in this picture.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Celebrating Stella

So my dad handed me this picture today and was reminded how vibrant and alive my mom used to be. This picture brought back the beauty he fell in love with many years ago. And it's hard to remember her like this when all we see is the disease and what it's making of her. We forget that she did so many things, so many talented things. She too wanted the best for her family, her husband, and her grandkids. She was me. She was me without her parents close by to ask for help with the kids when she needed a break. She was me, baking cookies and cakes and making flower arrangements for parties. She was me and every mother out there today trying to raise a family and love her husband and friends. She was me, wanting to look nice and keeping her children looking nice. She was me, wanting to be remembered by her children as a great mom who was always there for them and who created memories and traditions they would do with their own families. I hate this disease. I look at this picture and I think if my mom only knew what would happen to her mind so early on in life. How would she have lived her younger years? Are there any regrets? Any trips not taken? Anything she wished she would of said or done? I love you mom and I am going to keep your youthfulness and vibrance alive for as long as I can. And if this is my future, I hope my girls will do the same. You are an awesome mom, talented, and the best friend I could ever ask for. Love you more!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quick and Easy Zesty Chicken in Crockpot

I just had to share a REALLY super easy and tasty dish for dinner...Zesty Chicken. I found it on Fancy Road House Blog and have shared it with many friends. So, I thought since it was such a big hit with everyone, I would post! Enjoy!

4-6 Chicken Breast
1 Zesty Pack of Italian Seasoning
2 cans of cream of chicken
1 pkg of cream cheese

Place chicken in crockpot
Melt Cream cheese and cream of chicken over stove top
Then pour cream cheese and cream of chicken onto the chicken in the crockpot
Put on low for 4-5 hours and dinner is served! SO EASY!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Celebrating Stella

Times are tough here at the Jonesy household this week. We had to replace the pool vacuum, our water service pipe, our car battery, and our garage door. Money becomes tighter every week and easily I can sit here and complain about it (which I have), but Gracie (a wise friend of mine) reminded me tonight on Facebook that all is well. As she said "All living things are OK; material things can be replaced." So true, so true. I bet my mom would give anything to be in the midst of my life and helping me in every way. So I sit here tonight dwelling on my mom and the joyful spirit she always tried to share with everyone. As I look back at this picture taken in Athens, Greece (isn't she stunning?) I remember all the parties our house hosted for friends and family. You wonder why I love to be the hostess of parties? Well I blame my mother! I found this old picture in the house on Madison where we grew up. My birthday is the day before Halloween and I just love the details captured in this photo of my party table. If you look closely you can see the effort my mom put into it to make it special and memorable. We always had her lady finger cake which was layered with peaches and whipped cream. And on my birthday she would always add some spider be festive. Look at the napkins and plates and paper cups...all layed out strategically, with purpose. Even the gold plated spoons. Yes those are real, from her china set. The table cloth, the candles, and behind that flash spot were my cousins nuts, ART nuts. I think those were everyone's favors! Love it! And let's not forget the orange balloons hanging from the kitchen chandelier. My parents didn't have much when they came from Greece. My dad came here with 200.00 in his pocket and I wonder if my mother ever worried about that like I do tonight. As a child I never wanted, I always had and those memories fill my heart as I type away tonight. Somehow all those material items that keep breaking down around us and those bills that keep accumulating slowly fade from the front of my list. Love you mom. Thanks for all my beautiful parties and your smile! You always made me feel better, you still do tonight:) 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Celebrating Stella

Wow...another week has flown by! I can barely catch my breath, let alone my voice! I seemed to have lost my voice this week and battling the cough...however, I had to post today about my mom. We were always brought up to make our beds and have a clean rooms before we left the house and started our day. And somehow I just remember our rooms being spotless! How my mom did that, I do not know because I am constantly yelling at my kids to pick up their rooms and make their beds! There is a picture of my sister and I  making our beds with a smile in our cute matching pajamas. I was six and sissy was seven. We always made our beds, no matter what. When my mom so graciously watched my kids when I worked full time as a teacher, I would leave my house at 6:45 and my bed would not always be made. When I would come home my bed was perfectly made and my house so clean. I miss those days when my mom would come by and just help me survive. She would fold my laundry, clean my house, always swept, and made my bed. I always make my bed now. And when I do I think of her and how perfectly she kept house. Hers and mine. I miss those moments of mommy help, they would make my day so much better! She loved her grand babies and watched mine every day 6:45am-4:00pm. Love you mom, you used to do so much and I am so thankful for that!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Celebrating Stella

So I haven't updated my blog since last Sunday...the week has not only carried us away, but it also carried me away from my computer. I don't think I did much on my computer since last week! Wow! Busy moms all around are nodding their heads as they read! But, I didn't want to stop my special celebration of my mom so tonight I stop my laundry folding, lunch preparations, outfit schedules for all kiddos, and cleaning up to take some time for my mom! She actually just left my house an hour ago. Both mom and dad stopped by with chocolate milk and bananas. Kids were thrilled. But I digress, there is an image implanted in my head and I wish I had a phone in my younger days to snap this image and post it for all to see. It's of my dad in his whitey tighteys early in the morning as all of us are getting ready for the day. Each in our own rooms dressing and getting our essentials together, my dad would walk out with black socks mid-calf, whitey tighteys-no so tightey and a dress shirt that my sister and I were responsible for ironing. "Girls", he would say in his heavy Greek accent, "Come, I show you how to iron a shirt properly!" And we would come and watch him put the iron in between the buttons of the shirt and along the shoulders. "This is how you do it! Learn the right way for your husbands!" We were in high school. All this to bring me to mom...she was in charge of the house. She got a pay check every two weeks from dad and she took care of the house, which included 30 dress shirts! My sister and I each had 10 and my mom the last ten. Needless to say I did not marry a man who wears dress shirts, my sister however did. She does not iron her hubby's shirts (sorry to throw you under the bus), but my mom did. My mom never laundered my dad's shirts. She would wash and we would press. She did everything-everything. And I see how she cannot do anything anymore and it saddens me to think she used to do EVERYTHING. I love you mom and think about all you have done and praise you! Go hug your moms!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Celebrating Stella

Engagement picture

Every Sunday night I plan to celebrate my mom. She has Alzheimer, as most of you know, and watching this disease slowly progress in this person who I remember as vibrant and so cheerful, breaks my heart in immeasurable ways. Instead of tears though, I was to celebrate who my mom was before this disease defined her. And so once a week, I am going to share with you the women Stella is in my eyes. I hope you celebrate her too, as I know if she knew what was going on right now she would be devastated. So tonight I was to celebrate a memory I so fondly hold on to of my mother.  My mom did many things as we grew up. But I always remember how well she took care of herself. Her hair was always done perfectly, make-up was essential, and the right clothes to hide your imperfections were an absolute necessity. She never wore shorts or short skirts because she always felt her legs were too skinny. She always stayed away from pale colors because she felt they made her look a little too pale. She had her colors done and she was warm fall colors and she stuck to them. She was always complimented wherever we went on how beautiful she looked. And to this day people will stop and ask how she is doing and say she was always so pretty! Once in an airport in Germany, a man stopped in front of use while walking to catch another plane and said "wow!" to my mother and went on his marry way. And now as this disease has taken away her ability to physically take care of herself in that way, my dad does her hair in the morning, bathes her like he is washing his own self, and dresses her with the right clothes in her "color". Her make-up is still done daily and she still is so beautiful. Love you mom...
My dedication

One of my favorite pics of mom...her pearls with her summer dress...we were probably going no where fancy, just groceries, planting, and dinner making!

Sissy's wedding time I think...

That is Athena in her arms...oh how she loved me having a little girl! She still has a soft spot for her Athena!
Celebrating my dad on his birthday! 
Planting trees in my yard and teaching Niko the ropes...yes she always does her chores dressed up!

She so loves her Athena...don't know where her bow was!
Niko's 3rd birthday...
Niko's third b-day...someone had to hold problem! Loukas...she used to get her nails done weekly and always red...a must!
4th of July with her girls! She LOVES her girls and they LOVE her!!!