Saturday, April 25, 2009

May I have some Mayhaw wine, please?

So for those of you who have not heard, my Mamaw (my mother's mother) passed away last Sunday. We were able to go to Farmerville this past weekend and spend some time with her before she left us.

I believe that there is a Heaven, and throughout her entire life, my Mamaw showed others what it meant to love, and I believe that a love like that can only come from God. I consider it a great blessing from God that he would put such a wonderful woman in my path. I have learned so much about life because of her.

So I wanted to do a little tribute to my Mamaw. I wanted to tell you a little bit about her.

Audrey Pardue Hollis and her twin sister Aurlee were born to Calvin and Molly Pardue in the summer of 1922. They also had a set of twin brothers. She grew up in Dean, Louisiana. With her first husband she had three boys, Eugene, Rudolph, and John. She later remarried my Papaw (who had three children of his own, Jean, Bruce and Jerry), and together they had two children, Danny and Jane (my mom…the baby!). She loved to sew, I can remember her making all sorts of wonderful things including placemats, curtains, dresses, etc. She was also very involved in her church and community. She used to do some volunteer work at Union General.

Mamaw had 20 grandchildren, 26 great-grand children and 5 great-great-grand children. She had a very large family!

Below is a story she wrote for a book published in 2004 titled "I Remember: Life in Union Parish, 1910-1960."

Mama made jelly and wine from large red mayhaws that grew plentiful by our home on Morgan Ridge, near the Ouachita River. This is where my parents lived after they married in 1916. First came twin boys, Roy and Dan. They were very small, weighing about two pounds each. Mama put them in shoeboxes and set them near the heater to keep them warm. This was in 1918, during World War I.

Then in four more years, twin girls were born---I was one of them. My sister and I were big babies, weighing about eight pounds each. As we grew older, our mother had plenty of help picking mayhaws so she could have more berries for her "vinegar" as she called it. We knew better, and slipped around drinking a sip or two of that sweet red wine. It did taste good.

I remember the house had a heater in the big room for us to warm by in the wintertime. A wood stove in the kitchen was a good place for putting on your clothes. The doctor came around giving shots for whooping cough. I was so afraid and hid behind the heater. Somehow we survived those shots.

Mama encouraged education, so she had the boys walking to a small school at Dean. Sometimes they got to ride in a wagon.

Food was plentiful at this time. Our father was not only a farmer, he was also a fisherman and would sell most of his catch. He would leave Mama enough to cook for a meal. Then he went off to town with a load of fish and vegetables to sell.

The great flood of 1927 came and swelled the Ouachita River. The water rose and came closer to Morgan Ridge every day. I remember playing in the backwater, rolling off logs, and then getting "switched" by Mama. Daddy told Mama it was time for us to move from Morgan Ridge over to Dean. All of us and all of our possessions were loaded on wagons pulled by a horse. As we crossed a creek that was rising very fast, the horse fell into a stump hole and could not move. I remember crying and being afraid. But we got out of that creek, and continued our trip to our new home.

When we arrived, I was happy to see climbing roses and other flowers blooming in the yard. I had never seen such beautiful flowers before. We were very happy to have this new home. Daddy bought the land and started farming with a mule and plow. We were ordered outside to do our part. We chopped cotton, planted potatoes, picked corn and other vegetables. My father also raised sugar cane. We'd take the cane to a sugar mill in the community, where the cane was squeezed. The press was run by a horse walking around and around. The miller would cook down the juice until it became syrup; the miller kept half of the syrup as his payment.

I remember the Great Depression of the 1930's. Unlike many others, we had food and money. Dad always worked to take care of our family and helped keep other people from starving. I remember when he bought a new red truck. We were happy, but Mama said, "Save that money." But Dad won.

When Roosevelt was president, he created jobs for men to do and make a living. Men from the WPA (Works Progress Administration) came and built an outhouse for us. It had a concrete floor, a roof and a window. We gathered up catalogs and had a nice place to go sit. When company came, we were so proud to take them to see our outhouse, as we never had one before.

When war began in 1942, both of my brothers entered the service. This was a long war and many men were killed, including my brother Roy. He was a prisoner of war in Bataan and Corregidor, and never came home. My other brother, Dan, served as a radioman in the Royal Air Force in England.

When the war ended and soldiers returned, progress began. Electricity and telephones came to the rural areas. There were plenty of jobs for men, and GI's had a program so they could go to college. Many did. People were buying cars, electric refrigerators, irons, and other appliances. Progress was noted as the important product. Yet I still long for a sip of Mama's mayhaw wine.

Well I hope you enjoyed the story. I love to go back and read about what life was like in the early 1900's. We take so many things for granted! I spent a week with no power and bad bathrooms in Nicaragua, and I thought I was going to die. For them, it was just a way of life.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Who is Hugsy?

Jace and I realize that when we go pick up this little bundle of joy, the three of us will have very little in common. We won't eat the same food, or enjoy the same TV shows or movies. We won't look anything alike, our hair will be different colors, our eyes will be different colors, and our skin could very well be different colors. We won't really even speak the same language. So we are researching ways to bridge that gap. Find a way that we can bond with our little Tator-tot.

So after doing some thinking, we decided that we wanted to get our little one a stuffed animal. Something that screams our personalities and things that we enjoy, and something that will be just between the three of us. I think we have succeeded! I'm so excited to introduce "Hugsy."

He is a sweet and loveable penguin, fashioned in a lovely red vest with a hat and scarf. Now I'm fairly certain that there aren't any penguins in Taiwan, and the only ones I've ever seen in the United States have been at the zoo…so we sort of have that in common, hu? Ok…so maybe there are penguins in the Taiwan zoo too…anyway, the plan is to take Hugsy to Taiwan and give him to our little Tator-tot. The first present from his/her new parents. Then Hugsy and Tator-tot will live happily ever after in our home.

Note to all interested parties: I'm not planning to do the nursery in Penguins or any other furry creature. This is just a gender neutral gift that we bought the child so that he/she will have something to talk to on the plane ride home or whatever. And it is a great way to introduce the kid to our favorite TV show of all times! (for those that don't know what I'm referring to….I'm so very sorry). If you have a child of your own, we would love for you to go and fashion your own Hugsy, just like ours, but if you wish to buy our Tator-tot a gift, please steer clear of all stuffed Penguins, he/she already has one, and that's all he/she will ever need.

PS: A special "Thanks" to Aunt Tricia…you are the best!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How did your first Home Study Appointment go?

Great. The first home study appointment was great. I really like our social worker. She is a really sweet, quiet lady, and adoptive mom to two little girls (so she has lots of great stories…and lots of great information).

Well she showed up early, fifteen minutes early. Good thing I left work early. I wasn't really prepared. I wasn't finished printing out our autobiographical outlines (maybe I will do another post on that thing…lots of fun stuff there). Anyway, one of the questions on the outline was "If you could, what one thing would you change about your spouse?" I just finished explaining my answer to Jace when we realized she was here. For a few minutes I thought he was upset about my answer, I couldn't tell, and now it's too late to change it, she's at the door. So to begin our meeting, I'm sitting there wondering if my wonderful husband is upset with me. Still not sure on that one, I'll get back to you on it later (or maybe Jace will post something about his issues with my answer).

Well we all sat around the kitchen table and talked for a few minutes, you know, introductions and what not. She told us a little about her children (one was adopted internationally, and the other domestic). From there we went into paperwork. She was so impressed with my organized folder and such (shout out to Tricia there…thanks for the help!). All of our answers were typed up, so she could easily read them. We all know what Jace's handwriting looks like. After all that, she took a tour of our home. Nothing much to see there. She had lots of great suggestions for what we could do with the room we call the "Formal Dining Room." I think her idea for a kids game room (with the xbox, wii, and such) was a great idea. Forget an office, I want one of those game rooms. She got to see the mess of what we call an office, which we explained will one day be the baby's room. Then after that, we went to see our bedroom/bathroom. Well, it rained today, so our beautiful babies were locked up in the bathroom (too wet to stay outside), so she got to meet them, and they got to love on her. She was a real trooper and Lucy and Ella were so sweet.

After the tour, we went back to the kitchen table. We talked about our marriage, our desire to have children, and the reasons we decided to go with adoption. Jace did really good on this part. I'm so happy he picked me.

The only part we are kinda concerned about is the citation we got from the St. John the Baptist Parish Sherriff's Department for a dog barking issue. Yes, we had to discuss it. I thought we would be able to leave it out, but no…we had to sign a paper that says we are fully disclosing everything. Well that includes the citation for barking. She didn't seem to think it would be much of a problem, but I guess we will have to see what the reports say. I really hope the barking problem doesn't create problems with the adoption. Geez.

Then she gave us loads of information. Who would have ever thought we would need to contact a pediatrician in New York to discuss medical issues of our adopted child? These doctors get information from adopted parents all over the country, so they would know if the orphanage had potential harmful issues and they would know how to treat it. She also gave us a list of items we would need when we travel to pick up the child. Some of the suggested items include: Desitin (for diaper rash), Nix (for lice), cough and cold meds, thermometer, and baby shampoo. Ok some of these things I would have figured, but I'm sure I would have left the Nix at home…good thing I got the list.

She also gave us a list of positive and negative words to use with adopted parents. This was interesting. With this list, she gave us some suggestions on how to answer some of the questions people will ask. I covered most of these in an earlier blog…but here are a few new ones:

"How could her mother have given up such a beautiful child?" --- Answer: It must have been difficult, but she couldn't take care of any child. (This reassures the child there is nothing wrong with him or her).

"When did you get her?" ---Answer: I picked her up after school to come to the store.

"How much did it cost?" ---My child is priceless. OR How do you put a price on a child?

Just avoid asking people these questions. It's just not appropriate!

Well overall it was a great appointment. We meet again in a couple of weeks to discuss the finding from the Criminal background checks, and what she finds in the autobiographical outline.