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:))